Asics MetaRacer - Lateral Side1 Asics MetaRacer - Sole2 Asics MetaRacer - Sole1 Asics MetaRacer - Sole Asics MetaRacer - Pair1
Editor rating:
9/10 on
TAYLOR GUPTON
User's rating:

PROS

  • Surprisingly soft ride
  • streamlined design
  • incredibly lightweight
  • durable

CONS

  • Narrow footbed & tight midfoot
  • long tags sewn onto the underside of the tongue
  • frivolous “drainage port” detail in the toe

OUR VERDICT

The MetaRacer is Asics’ first foray into the world of carbon-plate racers. The MetaRacer is effective as a race shoe for distances as short as 5k, but it truly outperforms traditional racing flats over longer races up to the marathon distance.

With the carbon plate situated between the midsole and outsole, this flat is shockingly soft underfoot while delivering unbelievable response with every footstrike.

Despite the incredible responsiveness, this shoe won’t work for everyone. The footbed and toe box are very narrow, which becomes increasingly uncomfortable on longer runs.
SHOE INFO
Brand
MetaRacer
Model
Type
6.6 oz. (187 gr.)
Weight
200 US$
MSRP
9 mm
Heel Drop
WHO IS IT FOR
Neutral runners with narrow feet looking for a game-changing race shoe for everything from 5k to marathon.

Asics MetaRacer Intro

The MetaRacer is Asics first carbon-plate racing flat.

While Asics is 1-2 years behind Nike, Brooks, Hoka, & Saucony in releasing a carbon plate shoe, the company has done an excellent job in perfecting the construction of the carbon plate and midsole.

It is highly effective in maximizing energy return and stride efficiency. However, the extreme narrowness of the shoe limits who can comfortably race in this shoe.

The entire shoe is very narrow resulting in a tight fit that is likely to be uncomfortable for regular and wide feet. Understandably, the fit is very snug and runs true to size.

The shoe is moderately cushioned and features a 9mm heel to toe offset. I tested the MetaRacer on both road and crushed gravel trails.

It performed exceptionally well on both surfaces. The ride is soft and incredibly responsive; ideal for speed and racing.

Asics MetaRacer First Impressions

Asics MetaRacer - Pair

Asics MetaRacer – Pair

Upon first stepping into the MetaRacer, I immediately felt the curvature of the Guidesole technology & carbon plate – a very different sensation underfoot, but not a bad one.

The shoe is extremely stiff due to the plate, but is surprisingly quite soft. My first run in the MetaRacer was a 3x mile (1600m) workout at 6:40-6:30 pace on a packed crushed gravel surface.

During each mile repeat I could literally feel the carbon plate springing forward with every stride.

The MetaRacer is the first carbon plate shoe I have tested and the feeling is like nothing I’ve ever worn in my 16 years of competitive running.

I experienced a notable difference in the level of effort required to make my legs turn-over at 6:30 pace. Aerobically, it wasn’t any easier, but my legs didn’t feel like they were working as hard as usual.

Typically after speedwork, my legs feel stiff and a bit achy, but after this workout in the MetaRacer, I felt very little fatigue. This is the real advantage of a carbon plate racing shoe — the ability to delay muscular fatigue.

Asics MetaRacer Sole Unit

Asics MetaRacer - Sole

Asics MetaRacer – Sole

The MetaRacer employs Asics’ Guidesole technology to deliver an ultra-smooth and efficient heel-to-toe transition. The shoes also feature a revamped Flytefoam midsole compound that is exceptionally soft and responsive.

The bottom-loaded position of the carbon fiber plate distinguishes the MetaRacer from other carbon-fiber plated flats that are available.

The carbon plate is situated in between the rubber outsole and the Flytefoam midsole to provide a high level of shock absorption while maximizing energy transfer from the carbon plate.

This gives the sensation of being propelled forward with each stride. The MetaRacer is perhaps the most responsive shoe I’ve ever run in.

The shoe’s outsole is constructed with Asics’ Wet Grip rubber for a higher level of traction when running fast.

Asics MetaRacer - Medial Side

Asics MetaRacer – Medial Side

After several runs in the MetaRacer in wet and dry conditions on pavement and finely crushed gravel, I give it high marks for traction, but not the highest.

Flats like the Adidas Adizero Boston still have it beat in that department.

The outsole is extremely durable for a racing flat and the curved-rocker Guidesole design means less time spent in the heel-strike position before quickly transitioning through to toe-off.

As a heel-striker who tends to wear down the lateral heel faster than any other part of a shoe, I appreciate this durable design. The durability equates to a more cost-effective purchase.

I expect these flats to last twice as long as competing carbon plate racers like the Brooks Hyperion Elite which only lasts 50-100 miles.

Asics MetaRacer Upper Unit

Asics MetaRacer - Top

Asics MetaRacer – Top

The no-frills Meta Racer upper exhibits nearly seamless construction for a lightweight, barely-there fit.

The simple upper gives the MetaRacer a traditional racing flat look, but as the innovative midsole technology proves, this shoe is far from traditional.

The nimble engineered mesh is designed to facilitate as much airflow as possible. Asics even included a “drainage port” or ventilation slit at the end of the toe to maximize air movement and allow any water to drain.

Personally, I think this is a pointless detail and it actually ended up letting more moisture and water into the shoe when running through shallow puddles than would have gotten in otherwise.

In general, the upper hugs the foot very snugly with a narrow midfoot fit and toe box that is best suited for runners with slender feet. Like the upper, the tongue and laces are thin and lightweight.

Perfect for a racing flat. There is no heel counter so the heel cup can get smashed down if you step on it while putting on the shoe.

While this is a bit of an annoyance, it still hugs the heel very well and I did not experience any rubbing or irritation.

One detail that is frustrating to discover in a $200 pair of flats is the long tag sewed onto the underside of the tongue in both shoes.

With the tongue being so thin, the tags are quite noticeable and can get scrunched up when putting the shoes on.

As easy as it was to rip the tags out, I don’t understand why Asics couldn’t make the extra effort to print the tag under the tongue or inside the heel for their most premium performance shoe.

Asics MetaRacer Conclusion

Asics MetaRacer - Heel

Asics MetaRacer – Heel

The Asics MetaRacer has definitely upped the game on carbon-fiber plate racing shoes by situating the plate below the midsole to provide a soft ride with powerful propulsion and less cushioning that make it appropriate for shorter races down to the 5k.

In all honesty, I was a bit skeptical of carbon-plated shoes and wondered if I could really feel a difference in performance.

After running several speed workouts in the Asics MetaRacer, I can assure you that the hype is real. If you’re a highly competitive runner (with narrow feet) looking for an edge on race day, this flat is for you.

At this point, I’m not sure I could ever go back to racing in a traditional flat again.

We purchased a pair of Asics MetaRacer from runningwarehouse using our own money. This did not influence the outcome of this review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.

Asics MetaRacer Price Comparison

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