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Asics Gel Lyte33 v2 Running Shoe Review

Asics Gel Lyte33 v2It’s been a long time since I’ve worn an Asics shoe. Back when I first started running I had a pair of the 2100 series that I liked, but since moving to more minimal footwear Asics has simply not had a lot to offer a runner with my preferences aside from a few racing flats (e.g., Hyperspeed, Piranha).

A bit over a year ago Asics introduced its “33” series, presumably to compete with the lightweight, stripped down offerings from competitors like Brooks (PureProject) and Saucony (Kinvara/Mirage/Cortana). Most of the shoes in the 33 series represented a fairly mild departure from more traditional running shoes, and only one caught my eye as something that might appeal to me as a minimally-oriented runner – the Gel Lyte 33.

Over the past year I’ve heard good things about the original Asics Gel Lyte33. In his 2012 Shoe Award post, John Schrup over at Rogue Rundown labeled it as the “Best Shoe That’s Aaaalllmost there…”, but he complained about the upper and narrow fit. I respect John’s opinion on shoes since we seem to have similar taste, so I took a pass on the original Lyte33. In his review of the original, John commented that the upper and fit were supposedly being addressed in version 2, so when I was offered the opportunity to test them out I agreed (Disclosure: the shoes reviewed here are media samples provided free-of-charge by the manufacturer). Turns out the new version is a complete makeover, and you can find a rundown on the updates from the folks at Rogue as well.

I’ve now put over 40 miles on the Gel Lyte 33 v2’s, including multiple double-digit long runs (max of 16 miles in one run), and I have to say that I really like the shoe.

Asics Gel Lyte33 sideAsics Gel Lyte33 medial

Based on my preferences, I would classify the Lyte33 as an easy run/long distance shoe. It’s lightweight but not skimpy (mine weight 9 oz in a size 10.5), it’s well cushioned (Running Warehouse reports stack height at 24mm heel, 17mm forefoot), and it fits very comfortably on my feet. In fact, “comfortable” is probably the best single word I could use to describe the shoe – this is not a shoe that I think of as being “fast” or “responsive.” It’s not a shoe I would wear for my next 5k, or even in a half marathon. It’s a shoe for wearing when you want a soft, plush feeling underfoot.

Asics Gel Lyte33 top

The upper of the Lyte33 v2 is pretty substantial. It’s not really so much that it’s overstructured because it’s not, it just seems like they have used a lot of material to construct it. Asics could probably cut a bit of weight from the shoe by simplifying the upper a bit and removing some of the excess material. The interior feels very soft against a bare foot, and I haven’t had any hotspots or abrasion while running in them (this is pretty rare for me!). I also very much like the fact that there is no rigid heel counter, and the cushion around the ankle collar feels great. Arch support in the shoe is not extensive – it comes mostly from the contour of the sockliner, and when you take that out the arch actually feels pretty flat.

The sole of the Lyte33 is very well cushioned, and it has a softness reminiscent of the Brooks Launch, Saucony Virrata, or Skechers GoRun 2. This is not a firm shoe, and thus works very well for me for long distances (I like a soft shoe for easy runs and distance). Forefoot cushioning is excellent, which is also a plus. The outsole appears to be durable carbon rubber on the heel, and a softer rubber under the forefoot. This makes the sole slightly more noticeable underfoot at initial ground contact, especially when compared to a shoe that has a sole mostly composed of exposed EVA. The tradeoff is that I expect durability should be better in the Lyte33 compared to a shoe like the Saucony Virrata.

Asics Gel Lyte33 sole

One of the technologies that Asics is promoting in some of their new shoes is called FluidAxis. It is intended to allow the sole to flex in the direction of sub-talar joint movement rather than simply longitudinally. You can see the flex grooves in the heel the cross diagonally over the sole – that’s the FluidAxis. The shoe does not flex particularly easily along these groves when manipulating it by hand – I don’t think they’re deep enough to be really effective. I also am not a great subject to test this aspect of the shoe since I’m not a hard heel striker. I tend to contact slightly to the heel side of midfoot, but having run on a force treadmill my pressure profile more closely matches that of a midfoot strike. As such, my stride wouldn’t make much use of the flex grooves back in the heel.

One final comment about fit – I had heard repeatedly that the original Gel Lyte33 was a pretty narrow shoe. I’m happy to report that the Lyte33 v2 is plenty roomy on my feet, I’d go so far as to call the forefoot spacious. I definitely feel like it has more room than the Saucony Kinvara or Virrata, though I would still opt for either of the latter for a marathon due to their lighter weight and the fact that I like the way a less prominent outsole works with my stride.

Conclusion

My personal feeling is that shoes like the Gel Lyte33 (along with the Brooks PureProject, Saucony Kivara/Mirage) should be the new center of the running shoe spectrum. It would be a great place to start as a runner since it would feel familiar and well-cushioned, but it’s a lot less shoe than more traditional models. It’s also a great choice for someone used to more traditional shoes who wants to try something less without making too big a jump to more minimal footwear. And at an MSRP of $90, it’s a reasonably price shoe on the current market.

For me, the Lyte33 works very well as an easy run/distance shoe, and for that reason it’ll likely retain a spot in my rotation.

The Asics Gel Lyte33 is available for purchase in selected colors at Running Warehouse. Outside of the US it is available at Sportsshoes.com.

It is available in a wider selection of colors at Zappos.(see below)

Click here for Zappos.com!
ASICS - GEL-Lyte33 2 (Periwinkle/White/Sun) - Footwear ASICS - GEL-Lyte33 2 (Electric Royal/White/Flash Yellow) - Footwear ASICS - GEL-Lyte33 2 (Titanium/White/Lime) - Footwear
ASICS - GEL-Lyte33 2 (Black/Lime/Red) - Footwear ASICS - GEL-Lyte33 2 (Black/White/Pink) - Footwear ASICS - GEL-Lyte33 2 (Titanium/Chili/Black) - Footwear
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About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a recovering academic who currently works as an exercise physiologist, running coach, and writer. He's also a father of three and a fanatical runner with a bit of a shoe obsession. In addition to writing and editing this site, he is co-author of the book Tread Lightly, and writes a personal blog called The Blogologist. Follow Pete on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and via email.

Comments

  1. Pete,

    Great Review! Any idea how forefoot cushioning in these compares to Cortana2?

  2. Gregory Woodard says:

    Great post. I’m a forefoot striker, and due to my being a military chaplain working with infantry Marines, I recently had the “joy” of boots & utes run. Now my left forefoot seems to be perpetually hurting. I am using a Saucony Kinvara, and have done well in them. I need more forefoot cushioning, and want to stay pretty minimal. The Lyte 33s sound like a good possibility.

  3. shonofear says:

    just received my Lytes v2 today in the mail. they feel a little tight in my forefoot/toe box area while walking around the house with real thin socks on, thinking I should of gone half size up.
    Hey Pete, as with most of your shoes, did you take out the insole and put a thinner one in?

    or did you just run barefoot in these shoes. wearing no socks seems to give me some breathing space.

    before getting these shoes ive been using my old Nike Frees 3.0v3 without the insoles which i liked, but these without the insoles feel not as comfy.

    main reason purchased these was for my recovering metatarsal sesamoid problem area, so the extra soft forefoot helps, but needs the ability to splay out naturally, like my Merrell Bare Access 2′s.

    cheers 4 ya help and reviews as always.

    • Pete Larson says:

      I did not have to swap the insole in these, but I have a pretty average width foot. You could try swapping in the insole from the Free 3.0 since hey tend to be pretty thin compared to most other shoes, at least in the older models. Half size up also often does the trick for me.
      Sent from my iPad

  4. Hi Pete,

    I am currently running in a pair of Gel Lyte 33 2s and I really like them. They are middle of the road…not too much shoe, but still some protection, and that’s what I enjoy about them.

    I am looking to get a second pair of shoes to rotate with them (the current pair of shoes I’ve been rotating isn’t working out for me anymore) and I was looking Inov8s. The models I am researching are the womens’ Road-X 238, the unisex Road X-233 and the womens’ Road X-treme 188.

    I have heard that Inov8s usually offer a firmer ride in general. I can agree with you that the Asics Gel-Lyte 33 2s are quite soft. Because I have gathered that the Inov8s would be a bit firmer than the Gel-Lyte 33 2s, I am unsure of which model of Inov8s would be smartest for me to start out with. The Road X-233s and Road X-treme 188s both have a 6mm offset, just like the Gel-Lyte 33 2s, while the Road-X 238s have a 9mm offset. My question for you is, because the Inov8s are not as soft, should I opt for the 9mm offset? Or would that be like backpedaling to more traditional shoes, making it a smarter idea to go with a 6mm offset model?

    Higher-heeled running shoes tend to aggravate an IT band injury I have recently overcome, while shoes that are too low seem to give me a sore Achilles. Would a shoe with a 9mm offset be considered ‘high-heeled’, or can it still be considered a ‘transitional’ shoe I could probably work with, given what I currently run in? Sorry for the little novel. I am just curious what your opinion would be since you have run in the Gel-Lyte 33 2s and the Inov8s alike. Thanks in advance!

    -Allison

  5. Greg Strosaker says:

    Good review Pete. I’ve gone love->hate->like on version 1 of these shoes, and they now fit the same need you described, a long distance trainer, not necessarily a fast shoe but light enough and cushioned enough. They are now my highest heel-to-toe drop shoe. I just got a 2nd pair of the first version but am looking forward to V2.

    One thing I didn’t see you mention was stones getting caught in the “Guideline” groove – this was an issue that I know Stein (on Believe in the Run) and I both experienced in the V1 – any comments on this?

  6. Soekawan Holip says:

    Thanks for another great review Pete. My next pair of shoes may be this, or, the Virratas, or, the Altra trisome (have you tried these? Would love to read a review on them). Cheers

  7. Thanks for the review! I just bought a pair of these on impulse – tried them in the store and really liked them – so its nice to see a positive review!! I bought them because, as you say, they seem to fill a gap between cushioned shoes and flats. They feel remarkably well cushioned for the weight, at 276g (UK11.5) they’re the same as my Mizuno Wave Musha’s and 15g lighter than my Nike Bowerman’s, both of which feel a bit flat after 20 miles or so. Can’t wait to give these guys a long run tomorrow!

  8. Really nice review, Pete. And right on! Comfort is where it’s at. It is, arguably, what ASICS does best; it’s how they got everyone into all those Nimbii and Kayanoes.

    The kind folk at ASICS seeded at pr to me, and I agree completely with you–super comfortable! The upper is way improved from the first go ’round, much cleaner fitting; but the lower is justthatside of too soft for me personally. Which means that most people will like it. I also agree that this shoe, and the Launch, et al, are the new center of the shoe universe. If it were up to me, and it never is, I’d combine the midsole of version one with the upper of version two. Not to sound all Princess and the Pea, but I swear I could feel the difference in the two EVA’s that overlay one another in the second version. The midsole of v. 1 had a titch more responsiveness in them, which ultimately made me long for the Tarther again.

    I think ASICS might be on to something theoretically with the whole Fluid Axis thing, though I didn’t notice any difference in the performance of the shoe, and I doubt very seriously that most people will.

    I have a great idea! Let’s come up with a couple of million dollars and start our own shoe company!

  9. Scott Whitacre says:

    Pete, saw in the comments you bought the Super J33s for review. Do you have an ETA for the review or a quick comparison to these shoes?

  10. brandon finn says:

    Hi Pete

    thanks for the excellent review. I have been running in Kinvara 3s with my own custom made insert soles. i found the 4mm drop to be quite rough on my Achilles/ calves and got silicone wedges for my heels. it’s time for me to get new shoes, and i am moving from half marathons to full ones. how would this rate for me. i would prefer to drop the silicone wedges but stick with my inserts.

    thanks

    brandon – cape town

    • Pete Larson says:

      It’s a solid marathon shoe, drop is a but higher than the Kinvara so it might work ok for you. Well cushioned for a lightweight shoe.
      Sent from my iPad

  11. Thanks for the review! Does Asics have a similar model (lightweight, low drop, good cushioning) with a little bit of stability?

    • Pete Larson says:

      I think the Super J33 may be the one you are looking for, just ordered a pair myself for a review.
      Sent from my iPad

  12. I love this shoe so much that I just bought a second pair. Me: narrow heel, wide forefoot, need some cushioning but nothing crazy. The GL33-2 worked for me right out of the box. LOVE!

  13. starless says:

    I’ll have to chime in with a somewhat different opinion here. I received a pair of these a few months ago, and I’ve run and walked a bit in them over the winter.

    For one, Fluid Axis is just a convoluted way of expressing something we already have an adequate adjective for, namely “flexible”. Nothing revolutionary here, just plain old lack of features marketed as “technology.”

    I also don’t think that the Lyte 33 is anywhere near a universally helpful step towards minimalism for most runners. It’s simply not a safe shoe for the sloppy heel striker with any amount of overpronation. Shoes like these allow you to run with crap form, and, at the same time, they are extremely unstable. Their soft sole and excessive stack height will not work for all runners. For a runner with “normal” pronation, I guess they’re fine, but anyone who needs any bit of stability would be better off in something else – a traditional shoe or a true minimalist one.

    In my experience, for a lot of runners (especially the injury-prone), proper footwear is either–or; this “middle ground” simply won’t work for them. For some, the road to minimalism must be an active choice; they’ll have to go all the way to reap the benefits of less built-up footwear.

    The last couple of years, I’ve run almost exclusively in minimal shoes (Vivobarefoot, Inov-8, VFF …). But I’m also a an overpronator (ankle valgus, forefoot varus). I guess my form and leg strength is good enough to be able to run in Lyte 33, I find walking in them extremely uncomfortable. At heel strike, my foot “pivots” and twists the shoe medially; this in turn leads to lateral ankle pain. (With less leg strength, I imagine many would experience unnecessary discomfort in the posterior tibia, as well.) I have a similar problem with the Adidas Gazelle, by the way, but those shoes I like for speed work, where I’ll be higher on my toes.

    My take: this is a problematic category, and I think the lower sole and more stable platform make something like the Saucony Kinvara/Mirage a safer choice for a wider range of runners. (If you want cushioning and little heel-to-toe drop.) A better approach to minimalism than simply slowly migrating down the support/drop scale, is to start with proper minimalist shoes and adjust your training accordingly. For some of us, this is the only way we’ll be able to handle soft and unstable shoes, if that’s the kind of footwear we see ourselves running in.

    (Sorry about this somewhat lengthy comment. Guess I should try to put my conviction more poignantly at some point.)

  14. Can you feel the 7mm drop or does it feel like less?

  15. I only read this review now. I absolutely agree with your conclusion: “In fact, “comfortable” is probably the best single word I could use to describe the shoe – this is not a shoe that I think of as being “fast” or “responsive.” It’s not a shoe I would wear for my next 5k, or even in a half marathon.”

    I miss the responsiveness of the shoe, which is okay in an easy run, but not for fast runs. The first few times I didn’t like the Lyte at all! I thought I could hear every step I made, unlike other shoes. After a few runs, I noticed the difference when I ran more on the forefoot and not. The shoe gives a much better feeling when I run more on the forefoot (but that’s typically not what I do in slower, easy runs).
    This shoe won’t be a favourite for me. Thanks for your review!

  16. Kspinner1955 says:

    I tried the Gel Lyte33 3 recently. I have 150 plus miles on them and found that on longer runs I had trouble with them being narrow up front, bruising my baby toe. It also seems to be verry stiff on the foot strike.I don’t like to announce my arrival with slapping noises. In contrast my Nike Frees are stealthy. I am a midfoot striker and generally wear my shoes pretty evenly from mid heal to forefoot. I was looking for more padding for long runs – for me that means 7+ – and I am disappointed. So, I bought the Kinvara 4 today. I liked the padding and your reviews helped too. I hope they are wide enough in the toe box. Your comparison of the width of the Kinvara 4 and the Gel Lyte 33 bothered me though. I will see how it goes over the next couple of runs.

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