The Asics GEL-Nimbus 18 sits on top of Asics’ neutral shoe category. It beats out the GEL-Cumulus and GEL-Flux for this category. It’s very similar to the 17s, so there’s no drastic change like we saw going from the 16s to the 17s.
Overall, the GEL-Nimbus 18 provides a fantastic package where cushioning, durability, and mild stability meld together.
Asics GEL-Nimbus 18 General Info
This was my first time running in the Nimbus line and I can confirm the plentiful cushioning that everyone keeps talking about.
You can’t just use the terms “Nimbus” and “Gel” without the consumer expecting a cushioned ride, and Asics stayed true to their word by providing little clouds for your feet to slip into.
Ok, they’re not literal clouds, but they’re the most plush shoe I’ve tested in the past year. The Nimbus 18 had a cleaner look compared to the 17s.
The Nimbus 18 features smoother lines on the Asics logo, fewer bumps along the edges of the midsole, and a more organized overlay pattern.
I didn’t have the opportunity to test 17s, so I relied on the word of a friend who ran a bunch in the 17s and tried out my 18s. According to his quick test, the “ride” feels very similar, and only shows minor signs a redesigned sole.
I’ve tested several cushioned shoes this season, and the Nimbus 18 takes up a special spot in the cushioned shoe section. The Nike Lunar Tempo 2s have similar cushioning, but with less durability and support.
The Adidas Boost Ultra ST shoes have wonderful springy cushioning, but with a lighter heel and higher price point. The only shoe I think might come close to the Nimbus 18s is the Triumph Iso 2 by Saucony.
Asics GEL-Nimbus 18 Sole Unit
What a busy sole! There are a few areas underneath your foot where Asics used 7 different materials.
There’s the plush insole, the equally plush liner below the insole, a darker foam running beneath that, Gel, a lighter toned “FluidRide” foam, a plastic stability plate, and finally the outsole rubber.
Asics combines these elements slightly differently for each gender. The Men’s version ends up with a 10mm drop, while the Women’s version has a 13 mm drop.
The outsole on the Nimbus 18 has an ample amount of thick rubber, except directly beneath the heel and along the “Guidance Line”.
Asics combines this line with their “Trusstic System” to provide enhanced gait efficiency and extra midfoot structure.
The plastic “Trusstic System” prevents twisting motions along the length of the shoe, and the guidance line encourages the shoe to flex in specific areas.
Asics uses the industry standard soft rubber in the forefoot and harder durable rubber in high wear areas to maximize comfort and durability.
Their version of soft blown rubber is called “DURASPONGE” and their harder more durable rubber is called “AHAR”. Overall, the outsole looks very similar to the previous model.
Just above the outsole is the rearfoot and forefoot gel cushioning system that grabs your eyes. It’s a flubber-like clear material that’s wedged beneath the heel and forefoot.
Asics picked this Gel Cushioning system because it reduces shock during landing and toe-off. Asics designed the shoe for heel strikers, so I might be missing out on the shock reduction since I’m primarily a midfoot striker.
In addition to the Gel Cushioning system, Asics uses a “FluidRide” midsole to combine cushioning and lightweight durability.
Sitting on top of all that is the plush insole and material below the insole which provide most of the initial cushioned feel that makes you wonder if this shoe is related to a memory foam slipper (in case you’re curious, it’s Solyte 45 foam and not memory foam).
All this cushioning makes the shoe a good choice for runners that need forgiving shoes that reduce the initial impact on landing.
Asics GEL-Nimbus 18 Upper Info
Asics kept their seamless and smooth looking upper from the 17s and made a few tweaks to make the 18s. Your feet are wrapped in the “Comfordy X-40 Sockliner” (Asics should have their marketing team name the next jet planes).
This sockliner does a pretty good job wicking away moisture while staying comfortable around your feet. The tongue and area around the heel have a thicker, squishier fabric that gave me some trouble early on.
My first run in the shoe felt loose because I didn’t realize how much this squishy fabric could give. The solution was to tie everything up a bit more snug than normal.
This shoe is designed to hold onto your feet, especially since it has the “Heel Clutching System”, which is a strong external plastic heel counter. This heel counter reminds me of the Saucony Hurricane Iso 2s.
What’s extra nice about the heel counter on the Nimbus 18s is that Asics put patches of reflective material in the exposed holes of the counter.
In addition to the heel counter holding your feet in place, Asics uses discrete eyelets to aid in distributing lace tension. Or that’s what they say. They’re just metal eyelets along the upper.
No tension distribution system like Nike’s Flywire. However, these metal eyelets will last much much longer than the feeble strings that Nike uses on their Flywire shoes.
The FluidFit upper is the icing on this cake because the overlays sort of look like icing, and because the upper nicely adapts to your foot. The Asics logo overlay even adds a tasteful amount of style and structure to the upper.
If you’re really keen, you’ll discover there are two little stretchable strips beneath the toe box mesh that add a small amount of support in the upper. You can tell Asics put a lot of thought and testing into this upper.
Asics GEL-Nimbus 18 Conclusions
I see why there’s such a strong following on the Nimbus Line of shoes. They’re well built, they offer great cushioning, they’re stable, and they’ll get you on a date with Australian sprinter Michelle Jenneke.
Fine, I lied about one of those, but even without it, the shoe is still a hit. I feel like the price point is justified for what you get in this shoe and for the durability the shoe provides.
The main drawback to this shoe is that it’s on the heavier side for a trainer, but that’s an inescapable drawback if you’re looking for a durable cushioned shoe. I’m giving the Asics Nimbus 18 a 5/5 for a neutral, durable, and cushioned shoe.
We thank the nice people at Asics for sending us a pair of GEL-Nimbus 18 to test. This did not influence the outcome of the review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.