The trend for stripping back cushioning and moves towards more natural barefoot running continues unabated (thank you Born to Run) and the ASICS Gel-Super J33 is a great example of the direction things are taking.
The 6mm heel to toe drop certainly throws the runner forward to encourage a more natural forefoot strike and toe-through/off and the distinct lack of weight (450g pair, UK 8) makes the Gel-Super J33 a good option for longer road runs.
The Rearfoot GEL® Cushioning System ‘attenuates shock during impact phase and allows for a smooth transition to midstance’, in other words provides the cushioning and shock-absorbency through the heel, although the relatively flat design shouldn’t mean this sees too much action. Despite being fairly stripped back there is plenty of suitable cushioning further forward thanks to the ‘SpEVA® Midsole Material’ and the extra width afforded through the toe box helps with comfort.
The responsiveness impressed us too; with less cushioning that traditional road shoes there’s always a balance to be struck between being able to feel the ground in a good way and being able to feel the ground in a way that is going to promote bruising and bursitis. Thankfully the Gel-Super J33 judges this well.
One of the innovations ASICS are keen to trumpet is the use on the J33 of the FluidAxis technology; this involves anatomically aligned grooves on the sole – in practice meaning tread and grip is compartmentalised in a fashion that broadly allies with the bones of the foot. The intention here is that the shoe should flex and respond with the interaction between foot and running surface – hard to judge in any practical or meaningful way, but this probably throws back to our observation that the shoe felt impressively responsive.
Technically the ASICS Gel-Super J33 is intended as an over-pronation shoe, but the correction doesn’t appear to be that substantial and the drastically over-pronating might do well to look elsewhere or at least give them a good test run before committing.
Despite the (lack of) weight and slightly flimsy appearance of the J33 TriGear has managed to put a lot of test miles into them without noticeable wear and tear. To date these are shoes that have broadly impressed although it should be noted that the lack of a gusseted tongue and gossamer-thin upper make them no friend of the British weather. As summer road shoes they shine.
The ASICS Gel-Super J33 retail at £100 – further details and online purchase at asics.co.uk