Updated: Jun 23
In recent years, I have been really impressed with Asics in regards to their innovation and their big, but not overly sprawling, range of high quality running shoes. They haven't been afraid to cut models which haven't been performing (which I know some have been frustrated with!) but then replace them with something fresh yet reliable.When I retired my Asics DS Racers earlier in the year, I discovered that the DS Racer line was one to suffer such a fate - so I wanted to see what the alternative was and so I arrived at the Asics Gel-451 and boy was I excited to try it! A shoe that shows that Asics aren't afraid to mix things up a little, design and technology wise!
Weight: 193g (Size UK8)
Durability: Low (~250 miles)
Stack Height: Low - 22mm (Heel) - 16mm (Toe)
Fit: 4 - Snug
PK RAVES SCORE: 76/100
Similar Shoes: Adidas Adizero Sub2, Nike LunarSpider R6, On Cloudflash, Reebok OSR Harmony Racer
- Decent value for money for a niche racer
- Size range is adequate, but no additional widths available
- Amazingly Lightweight - perfect for race days
- Good stack height for the fast runs
- Fit is snug, not unlike most racers, but maybe too narrow for the average runner.
- Heel Offset is perfect for both high and low offset runners
- A very different shoe with only a few competitors to compare to
Cushioning and Fit:
The Asics Gel-451 is a racer geared towards the triathlon market - although they obviously doesn't have to be exclusively triathlon shoes, all runners are suitable to give them a go! But being a racer, its cushioning is limited in comparison to all the others we have done so far, such as the Gel -Kayano 25. The cushioning is designed to be comfortable enough, but the shoe is all about speed and so a lot of weight has had to be shed from the cushioning. But, needless to say, as hinted in the name, the shoe does boast Gel-tech, Asics most treasured shock absorbers, in the heel. The foam cushioning is a basic EVA integrated with Asics own 'Magic Sole' - a design of sole which allows for greater ventilation, and also helps any unwanted water to easily pass out. I was actually quite surprised to hear it was only a basic EVA as the feel of the shoe is actually very comfortable and plush underfoot, making me feel that it was something more like Asics premium foam - FlyteFoam. But it is a shoe built for racing, not miles. And the shoes totally pays respect to that and is the lightest shoe we've tried yet, knocking the ON Cloudflow off its top spot for lighest shoe.
The fit, as implied in the Quick Stats, is the narrowest we've tried at PK, fitting rather snug. It's not the tightest on the market by any means but many review the shoe to be snugger than most. For the Gel-451 the fit is about a 4 / 20. So right down the fitted end of the scale. But again this is not uncommon for a racing shoe.
As you may see from the photos, it's lacing system is a little different... Taking some innovation from the Skiing and Snowboarding world, they have utilised a Boa system - Asics answer to a quick shoe to slip on for triathlon transitions. A simple twist to tighten and you're off. In theory, I was like, this is awesome - I love a brand who's willing to try something a bit different. And they're clearly confident as they have incorporated the Boa it into other shoes including the Dynamis 2. Now this in practice was not as smooth as I may have imagined; it requires a touch of practice to work out how tight I wanted it and also to distribute the limited lacing across the foot to reflect my foot shape better, but once that was done, I couldn't complain! The plastic of the Boa system itself was hardly notiable whilst I was running - showing Asics had put some thought into the materials used and the positioning of the Boa sytem in regard to flex points on the shoe.
As most racers tend to be, this shoe is completely neutral allowing the ankle to go where it naturally wants to. Stability features tend to add weight to a shoe and, generally, as a racing shoe will only be used occasionally, most will be able to use this shoe and get the benefit. However, a handful of racing shoes do have minimal support systems to give those who feel dependant on support some piece of mind and for the longer distances. But the Gel-451 isn't one of them.
Stack Height and Offset:
The Gel-451 has a rather modest offset sitting at the 6mm mark for heel to toe difference. Smaller offsets are also common in racers, again for weight reduction reasons, but also because it helps with a fast heel to toe transition. You may argue that 6mm is still fairly generous particualrly for a racer, but when you think that most of the Asics range sits at 10mm offset, there is a considerable reduction, and it means that those who are used to the luxury heel cushioning of a traditional Asics high mileage shoes can transition to this shoe easily.
The stack height is also low, sitting at an average of 19mm. This will be apart of the reduced cushioning underfoot for, again, you guessed it, weight reduction - Asics weren't going half hearted when they said they wanted to create a new racing shoe!
Surfaces and Durability:
The Asics Gel-451 is built primarily for road. And as a racer, the grip is also noticeably less tacky and grippy to save weight, so not even a stretch of wet grass or mud would be suitable - save these for the summer months if want to explore off road with them, but otherwise keep it to the road. The durability of the Gel-451 is low. Built for speed and hence race day and the odd tempo run; the Gel-451 will clock about 250 miles before needing to be considered for replacement.
So, the Asics Gel-451 is a racer through and through. Asics have thought this shoe through carefully, keeping it simple and making just sacrifices to make it one of the lightest shoes on their range. But, to be fair, despite the reduction in cushioning, it is a plush feeling shoe, so you won't feel as minimal and firm as some racers on the market. So if you're looking for a first racer, the Gel-451 is safe option to enter into the world of racing shoes - it's different, a bit of fun and faster and lighter than you'd expect from an Asics shoe.
You can check out the Asics Gel-451 at the brands website here:
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