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