Asics DS Trainer 18 General Info:
Asics has been building the DS Trainer series for 18 years now and the line has certainly had its ups and downs with long time fans.
However, Asics seems to have taken a ‘back to basics’ approach with the design of the newest DS Trainer.
The shoe is still built with the mild to moderate over pronator who wants to go fast without sacrificing the protective features of a daily trainer.
A weight reduction and no price increase will certainly attract extra attention from fans of this legendary shoe.
Asics DS Trainer 18 First Impression:
Apparently, Asics hoped to make a visual statement with the DS Trainer 18 and they certainly did. The shoe is rendered in ‘highlighter’ green with welded black overlays circling the entire upper.
The upper has also been simplified with the removal of the asymmetric lacing and two piece heel collar. The DS Trainer 18 still offers a comfortable close fit appropriate for a performance shoe.
Asics DS Trainer 18 Sole Unit:
The DS Trainer 18 is rebuilt from the ground up and Asics started with a new medial posting system called Dynamic Duomax. This replaces the previous Duomax foam and promises to offer some correction for over pronation while removing any jarring from the running experience. In this new iteration the Dynamic Duomax medial post is framed in by Asics premium SoLyte midsole foam which is also used throughout the rest of the midsole. In the rear foot area is a medium sized wedge of Asics hallmark GEL cushioning compound.
Also included is a new Propulsion Trusstic mid foot shank. This new design is simplified from the previous version but still works quite well to shore up the middle of the shoe and still travels through to the forefoot flex point for increased response at toe off.
Asics retains its Guidance Line channel underfoot that ties in to the Asics Impact Guidance System (IGS) which is a design philosophy to smooth out the transition of the shoe and help the foot travel more fluidly and naturally. AHAR+ (Asics High Abrasion Resistant) carbon rubber stands guard at the heel and ensures many miles of wear while the forefoot gets the softer blown rubber treatment to enhance cushioning.
Asics DS Trainer 18 Upper Unit:
It seems Asics took the on core of the upper design with an eye for pragmatism over all else. The DS Trainer 18 is back to a standard eyelet row and a the ‘heel clutch’ system has been abandoned in favor of a more standard looking external heel counter.
Contrasting the stripped down, utilitarian approach is the use of modern materials and construction techniques. Most apparent is the generous use of welded overlays and a segmented eyelet row. The welding of overlays allows for the removal of stitching and reduces the weight of the shoe and avoids potential spots of irritation to the foot.
Even the Asics tiger stripe logo is welded into the overlay pattern which is a first for this reviewer. In fact, the only stitching I found is in the toe box cap and at the very edge of the eyelet row that, undoubtedly, is used to secure the tongue. The segmented eyelet row will also allow for a bit more freedom of flexibility as the runner moves through foot strike.
The flat laces of the DS Trainer 17 are also deleted in favor of the semi-flat style found on most every high end running shoe. The tongue is on the thinner side until about halfway up and then gets a little beefier near the last eyelet row.
The only upper component left untouched is the ComforDry foam sock liner.
Asics DS Trainer 18 Opinion:
Last year I was pleased overall with the DS Trainer 17. I’m glad to say that Asics has improved the shoe in most every aspect. I like the welded upper design, even if it looks like a flying, stinging insect, and this was the first Asics shoe that I’ve tested that didn’t overheat my foot.
Runners with bunions should be careful though, as the welded overlays circle the forefoot all the way around and will not allow quite as accommodating a fit as before. The DS Trainer 18 is narrow in the mid foot and medium/narrow in the fore foot. I usually prefer a more open fore foot but I had no issues with the fit here.
Although I didn’t have any trouble with the previous heel clutch collar, I do prefer this version’s simplified, more traditional design. However, I do not particularly care for the external design as it is made of a pretty weak plastic that does not hold the rear foot as stably as it could.
Make no mistake, it’s not the heel fit that I’m taking issue with but the lack of stability. The heel fit itself was medium to narrow and I had no slippage. The shoe is fairly shallow as a performance shoe should be. The arch is still located back near the heel where I like it. The Dynamic Duomax ran fine and I think this shoe is slightly more stable than before and that’s a good thing in my book.
The DS Trainer 18 runs smoothly and quickly with a hint of soft touch. There’s still some good road feel but Asics shoes always seem a bit more insulated from the road than rival shoes. Even with a substantial weight reduction, the DS Trainer 18 still ends up heavier than its competition. The only real issue I had with the midsole is that the lateral heel could use a bit more of a bevel to smooth out heel strike.
Small issues aside, Asics has done it again this year even with wholesale changes that could have gone terribly wrong. Instead, mild and moderate over pronators are getting a great performance shoe that combines proven designs with modern, high tech construction and blazing good looks.
We thank the nice people at Asics for sending us a pair of DS Trainer 18 to test. This did not influence the outcome of the review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.