Asics Gel Lyte33 v3 Running Shoe Review

Asics Gel Lyte33I reviewed version 2 of the Asics Gel Lyte33 last year and liked it a lot. It had a roomy fit, softish sole, moderate drop (6mm) and it worked really well for easy and long runs. As such, when offered a chance to try version 3 of the Gel Lyte33 I was happy to do so.

(Disclosure: these shoes were review samples provided free of charge by Asics).

The Lyte33 v3 retains almost everything I liked about v2, and manages to do so while dropping an ounce or two in weight (my pair in size 10 weighs in at only 7.4oz). The sole dimensions are the same (23mm heel, 17mm forefoot), and the weight loss comes from a combo of the new, more minimally structured upper, what appear to be thinner outsole pods, and a change in the compound that composes the midsole (full Solyte rather than a Solyte/SpEVA blend in version 3). It’s a solid shoe, but suffers from a flaw that I’ll detail below.

Fit and Upper

My first impression upon putting on the Gel Lyte33 v3 is that it felt even roomier than the previous model. The forefoot is downright spacious, and offers a ton of room for the toes to wiggle and spread. I love the fit.

Asics Gel Lyte33 top

The new upper is lighter and more breathable, both also big pluses. Asics has done away with the stitched-on overlays from v2 and replaced them with welded overlays, and this makes for a much lighter and more minimally structured upper. The shoe also has no plastic heel counter, so it’s one that I often recommend to people who have insertional Achilles tendon pain (sometimes a hard heel counter can aggravate this).

My only concern with the new upper is that it’s made of the type of synthetic mesh that sometimes seems more prone to tearing at the forefoot flex points. I haven’t had any issues with my pair (a bit over 40 miles on them), but it’s something to keep in mind.

Internally the shoe has a soft, comfortable lining and I have not had any issues with abrasion or blistering.

Sole

Asics Gel Lyte33 sole

The sole of the Lyte33 v3 is where things get a bit problematic for me. I want to love this shoe, and for the most part I’ve really enjoyed running in them. I’ve done up to 14 miles in a single run, and I really like the amount of cushion that this shoe provides in a lightweight package. I’d classify it as a very soft shoe, probably softer than the Saucony Kinvara. Closest comparison might be something like the Altra The One2 (in terms of both fit and feel).

My problem is that the forefoot of this shoe feels lumpy. I can feel a distinct lump on both sides right behind my second toe. I initially thought that maybe I just got a defective pair, but a few weeks ago I was at my local running store and while chatting with one of the employees about the Gel Lyte33 he mentioned the same thing (before I had said anything about it). I’ve since asked others about this and some say they do feel the lumps, others do not. I’m not sure if maybe there was a bad batch or if some people simply are not sensitive to the change in firmness in that region. It is strange to me that it is present in the same spot on both sides.

Asics Gel Lyte33 side

For the most part the lumpy forefoot has not interfered with comfort on runs, and I wasn’t going to make a big deal out of it. But, last week I started feeling a bit of an ache in my right foot behind my second toe. It wasn’t until another run in the Lytes that I noticed that the sole lump was directly below the achy spot. The previous week I had done several runs in the shoes, including a long run. I’m not 100% sure that the Lytes were the cause of my foot ache, but it was enough of a concern that I will likely not continue to run in them. It’s a shame because in all other respects this is a really nice shoe, and it’s a relative bargain at an MSRP of $90.

(Note: In a situation like this I will often look at reviews on Amazon and Zappos to see if others have complained about an issue that I noticed. In fairness to Asics I will say that none of the Amazon reviews report issues with a lumpy forefoot. But, I still have concerns given that I know of a few people who independently noticed it.)

IMG_4032One other thing to note – one of the outsole pods under the outer forefoot is beginning to delaminate on one of my shoes (see photo at left). Nothing a bit of glue couldn’t take care of, but does add to my suspicion that something might be off with the sole of my pair.

Conclusion

So would I recommend the Asics Gel Lyte33 v3? I would say yes, but try them on first and feel out the forefoot. If it feels good to you, then the shoe is a great option if you are looking for something with a soft feel, moderate drop, and a very roomy forefoot. If I had a pair that felt right to me, I’d not hesitate to use them in a marathon. But the lumpy forefoot on my pair scares me a bit, so they will likely not see further use.

The Asics Gel Lyte33 v3 is available for purchase at Running Warehouse (currently on sale), Zappos, and Amazon.com. Outside the US they can be purchased at Millet Sports.

How about you – have you tried the Asics Gel Lyte33 v3? Did you notice anything odd about the feel of the forefoot?

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. Mark Kapitan says:

    Pete,

    I had been using this shoe pretty extensively but the black blown EVA chunk that is surrounded by rubber on the outside of the forefoot had so worn down after about 100 miles I had to relegate them to a casual shoe. Was wondering if you noticed this on yours as well or is it just my wonky stride causing this?

    Thanks,
    Mark

  2. Good review for a shoe I’ve been very interested to hear your perspective. I had high hope for the 3′s; I was a huge fan of the 2′s doing most of my miles and running my last marathon in them. Unfortunately they ended up being a let down for me, but for different reasons than you concluded. I LOVED the fit of the 3′s, they just felt good with plenty of room in the toe box and just the right amount of snugness everywhere else. But the more miles I put on them, the more problems I had with them.

    I think the drop in weight changed the whole feel of the shoe for me. I don’t get that it is a very soft shoe at all, quite the opposite. Compared to the 2′s, I felt much less cushioning and got more slapping the ground from them when I was running. Another problem I had is with the front of the toe box collapsing in and irritating my big toe while running. It’s hard to explain, but I took this picture that shows exactly what is happening: link to farm4.staticflickr.com The welded overlay across the toe seemed to cause it to bend inward just enough to touch my toe. Interestingly, I didn’t get any lumpiness at all! I wear orthotics, so they may have been blocking any sort of lumpiness. Anyway, I gave up on these shoes after 90 miles. Moved on to the new Kinvara’s which are working out nice. Loving the cushioning and overall soft and quiet ride.

    • Have heard others call this a slappy shoe, which is something I have not noticed. As I mentioned in another comment here I really wonder if these is some manufacturing variance in the sole of this shoe. Mine feel very soft, and have that lumpy forefoot. But I also hear the slappy comment often enough that it makes me wonder what’s going on. Have not had that toe overlay issue, but have seen that on some other shoes. Hopefully Asics will continue to dial this shoe in since the fit is awesome, and I like that they don’t use a heel counter.

    • Just got the Gel Electro33, tried it on after writing my previous response to your comment. Pretty nice shoe, feels a bit more cushioned than the Lyte33, and the upper is a really nice engineered mesh (like the Nike Terra Kiger, Free 3.0 v5, Pegasus 31). 9mm drop, but under 10oz. Looking forward to giving it a go!

      link to asicsamerica.com

  3. I’ve had mine for a few weeks, have put in a few good runs in them, including a 14km race. I agree they are a soft sole, compared to my old Kinvara, but so light! I’m not sure how that bodes for longevity, but so far so good. I have not noticed any lumpiness in the fore foot in particular, but I am liking the unstructured upper, and most importantly for me, the wide fore foot. Most lightweight/fast shoes seem much too narrow for me. This is quite a different shape from the DS Racer, or the Super J33. Mine are a Women’s 7.5, the same size as I used to wear in the old GT_21xx years ago (and my old Kinvaras, though I went up to an 8 in NB890v3 or Fastwitch).

    • I bought the Super J33 and the fit is awful, never ran in them. Reminds me I need to put them on Ebay!

      • It took me about 1 minute in the store to decide I didn’t like the SuperJ33. Just did not feel good.
        Though, I have noticed the toe collapse thing that Jeff comments on in the Lyte33-3, but it hasn’t bothered me (yet…).

  4. Kevin Grant says:

    I’ve had mine for a couple months (the LA Marathon colorway) and haven’t noticed the lumpiness you speak of. I tend to be pretty sensitive to bumps or lumps in the footbed, too.

    I do like the roomy forefoot area.

  5. I just wanted to say THANK YOU to you, Pete. As a runner with wide feet AND a touch of Haglund’s, I have a hard time finding shoes that work for me. I tried these because of what you wrote here and in the forums. So far – so good. It’s great to add another arrow to the rather slim quiver of shoes that work for me.

  6. I’ve got right at 100 miles on these and they’re okay but not great. They’re light and have the right amount of cushion, but they feel “slappy” to me. I’m not sure if it’s due to the 6mm drop when I’m used to less or what. I also tend to get hot spots on the balls of my feet when running moderate distances (6-8 miles for me) in the shoes. I have tried them both as-is and with Superfeet black insoles. I don’t remember that phenomenon a few months ago when I first got them, so the hot weather may be a factor.

    • I have heard that slappy description from several people, but never felt that myself. Really wondering if there has been some variation in the sole among different pairs of this shoe, my pair feels soft, flexible, and has that lumpy forefoot.

  7. Allison says:

    I have to agree that they do feel a little ‘slappy’ to me as well. I liked version 2 better than these.

    Pete, I read that the NB MT 110s irritated your posterior tib tendon. How long did it take for it to calm down when you went back to using different shoes to avoid the problem? I just ask because I think the Gel-Lyte 33 version 3s did the same to me. I was wearing my long run shoes for all of my runs the last few weeks because my left big toe was a little cranky from a half marathon I had run in the beginning of May. My long run shoes are more cushioned so I wanted to keep my toe more protected so to speak…until it felt better. Well it did start to feel better,so I decided to wear the Gel Lyte 33 3s on a short and easy recovery run. About halfway through, I started getting moderately significant pain on the inside of my foot (post tib tendon area). I went for another half a mile to see if it would go away…and it seemed like it was starting to. But then it intensified again. So I walked home and put on my long run shoes (Saucony Triumph 11) and finished the rest of my short run with only very little discomfort. I postponed my long run by a day to let things settle and I got through my long run just fine in the Triumphs (12 miles). I did feel a little discomfort towards the end of my 7-miler today and mildly on and off throughout the day, but nothing major. So, I think the Gel Lyte 33 3s irritated my PTT in my right ankle/foot. I just hope that avoiding wearing these from now on will keep the problem at bay and that I didn’t do any actual damage.

    • Took a few days if I recall. Just avoided those shoes and never had another problem.

      • Allison says:

        Thanks, Pete. I only had the initial problem this past Friday so I’m hoping it’ll clear up in the next few days, as I haven’t had any major discomfort since discontinuing use of the Lyte 33s. It’s a shame because I ran just fine in the previous version of them and never had issues. I’ve never had pain in that area of my foot before either, until I started trying to wear the new version again after being out of them for a couple of weeks. It was very sudden. Now I need to go find another pair of shoes to rotate with my Triumphs. I have a hard time finding ‘the one’ when it comes to running shoes. I don’t want too much shoe, but I also seem to get a sore achilles when it’s not enough shoe.

  8. I’m on my second pair of Lyte-33-1, and also have a pair of Lyte-33-2. I love the first edition, it’s my primary racing shoe right now. I don’t hate the 2, but the heel feels much bulkier, and the shoe is softer in general. How firm is the 3 compared to the 2, and with either pair have you noticed the heel effecting your stride?

  9. Denzil Jennings says:

    I just broke the 100 mile mark with my Lyte 33s, and I have been very pleased. The only other shoes I’ve really logged any serious miles on prior were various generations of the nimbus. After getting more serious about running and starting to add miles I invested in a gps watch, and after learning about cadence and foot strike I determined that I was not a heel striker so I felt I would get away from the bulky nimbus. This is the first time that a shoe has disappeared on my foot before. It’s so much lighter, and it wraps my foot like a comfy slipper. My legs and feet felt noticeably fresher after the switch, and have continued to do so. They’ve been a joy to run in. I initially chose the Lyte 33 3s because I felt the 6mm drop was a good transitional shoe from a 10mm drop. After I wear these out I plan on moving to a Kinvara to see how that suits me. I honestly considered just staying where I’m at though since I’ve had such a positive experience.

    • Glad they’re working for you, they are a really solid shoe minus the forefoot issue I had. Kinvara would be a reasonable one to try if you like the Gel Lytes.

  10. Is it comparable to nike free 4.0 ?

  11. Peter,

    I like bright shoes so I was naturally attracted to lime green. You’re correct for a light weight shoe it did offer decent cushioning and room in the toe box.

  12. Hello Peter! I am so thrilled to have stumbled upon your shoe reviews. I really value all your insights on the matter. I do have a question though. What brand/model do you recommend for people with flat feet? I like something sleek, popping colors and of course, protection. I’ve been using overpronation shoes by new balance but it seems not really working so well for me. I hope you find time to answer my question. Thanks!

    Mark

    • I’m not of the opinion that flat feet necessarily require a special running shoe, the evidence does not support the practice of assigning shoes by arch height.

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