Strengths: Good cushioning Look good (for Asics) Seem to get better with use A decent start for a radically new shoe
Weaknesses: Heel fit Weight Price Value when compared with other Asics shoes
Overall: Through careful shopping I managed to get my last 3 pairs of shoes (Asics GT2100, NB1050 & Asics DS Racer) for a combined price less than the Kinsei - even better I won the Kinsei through reviewing the NB1050 against the GT2100.
As I liked the GT2100 I was keen to try the Kinsei to find out what a shoe twice the price would feel like.
I was initially dissapointed as I got a blister on the outside of my left heel (never had one there before). The shoes also felt quite firm on the road and made a distinctive "plopping" noise. I also didn't like the heel to toe tranistion which wasn't as smooth as the GT2100 and they also felt heavy. I like a shoe that you put on and forget about but I couldn't do that in these. In fact I preferred my NB1050!
I took them with me to the Asics gait analysis roadshow, and found that at least they were correcting my slight overpronation. While I was there I explained my plight to the Asics man. He told me to persevere.
Since then I have to say that things are improving. Either I am getting used to them, or they have softened up a bit as they now feel very cushioned and comfortable and the transition from landing to toe-off now feels seamless. Maybe it takes a good few runs to soften the heel gel a bit? I have also found a lacing pattern that has helped the heel fit, although I still don't feel it is as good as other shoes I have used.
All-in-all I am getting to like these shoes, although to be top class, for me, they need to lose some weight and improve the fit. Would I buy a pair with my own money? I doubt I would ever spend this much on running shoes when you can get really good ones at half this price.
I would however like to say well done to Asics for investing time in developing this radical design which in time may well turn into something special. Even the Kayano and other Asics classics started somewhere.
[Update 04/10/06] I commented on the heel fit in my original review. Since then I have developed achilles tendonosis on my left side and my physio has advised me not to run in these any more as they don't seem very stable. I wouldn't recommend these shoes to anyone other than a neutral/ very mild pronator.
Strengths: Value for money (available from £20!) Durability Plush feel Lots of width sizes for a good fit
Weaknesses: Heavy Poor grip in wet
Overall: I’m a male 74kg runner with moderate stability needs. I got my NB1050s a few months ago now, in fact only a few weeks after buying a pair of Asics GT2100. I bought them largely because they were on offer at Decathlon for only £20 – how could anyone resist?
The NB1050 has received mixed reviews in the forums on this web-site, with many complaining of blisters: I wonder how many of these were bought off the internet at a bargain price without trying on first? Most NB shoes come in a number of width fittings, so there is no reason why you shouldn’t get a good fit and avoid most blister problems. Having taken my own advice and got a pair that fit, how do they compare with the Asics GT2100 – recently voted the “Best Shoes on the Planet” by this magazine?
In use they are quite comfy and cushioned, although they feel a bit “wedgey” – in fact they seem to encourage a different running style landing more on the mid-foot than the heel – something like the “Chi” running in the June 06 edition of this magazine. They are noticeably different to my Asics – not necessarily worse though.
The NB1050 are fine for my stability needs, although don’t feel as stable as the GT2100. They are certainly heavy and for lighter runners certainly wouldn’t be the first choice for faster runs or races – I like them for longer slower runs where their cushioning makes for relaxed miles and even after a fair number of long runs they are wearing well. For heavier runners or those who go through shoes quickly, they may a particularly good choice. I do find them to be slippery in the wet though.
To sum up, how do they compare. Well, at list price I would go for the Asics GT2100, not because the NB1050 is a poor shoe, rather because the Asics is so good. However, if the choice was NB1050 for £20 or so, and putting the difference towards my next shoes I would go for the NB1050! “Budget” would certainly beat “Blow Out” in my opinion. Be warned however, there are a number of reasons that make it vital that you should try these before you buy. After all even a bargain price is expensive if you can’t use them!