Runners with medium to low arches, little need for extra support in a shoe, and who have a “normal” gait (do not roll too far inward) or who tend to run on the outside of their foot will appreciate the cushion and fit in Gel-Excite. Wear this shoe for most runs training for a half marathon on down; it is a basic, everyday running shoe.
This is not the shoe for runners seeking support or who end up with heavy wear patterns on their soles; if this describes you, check out the Nike Downshifter 12 for a similarly low-priced shoe that will meet your needs. This is not recommended for heavy weekly mileage such as training for a full marathon.
Gel-Excite is a neutral running shoe that has been quietly making runners happy for 10 editions now as it ticks a lot of boxes and looks great while doing so: low price, smooth roll through the footplant (which is huge for me), general comfort in upper and sole, breathability, and moderate durability.
The last time we reviewed Gel-Excite here at RunningShoesGuru (the 7) Frank May wrote a line that I still think fits this shoe: think of it as getting the street-legal version of your favorite race car. You’re getting “racing inspired” tech that’s affordable and actually decent.
ASICS tries out their latest technology in the more expensive lines but keeps using quality materials in their budget models like Gel-Excite.
Running in this shoe back to back and side by side with Nike Downshifter and adidas Duramo, the shoes range from most stable to neutral: first Downshifter, next Duramo, then Excite. The same order follows for outsole grip and durability.
Softness underfoot, roominess in fit, and smooth ride go the opposite direction with the highest levels going to Excite, mid to Duramo, and least to Downshifter.
For the budget shoes I’ve run in, you get the “middle” of all qualities in Duramo with either extreme your running style needs in Downshifter and Gel-Excite.
Out of the box, Gel-Excite looks like a standard running shoe. It has that “running shoe” look without the fancy overlays, midsole cut-outs, or bright neon of the more expensive running shoes these days.
This shoe gave me the same impression on my first walk around the kitchen as I found in the first 50 miles: basic comfort and no issues with ride, feel, or fit.
The shoe just works. It does what it looks like it will do and what we expect it to do.
It fits true to size and also comes in wide width.
The engineered jacquard mesh upper in Gel-Excite is more roomy than it looks. It is comfortable and breathable. On a bright, sunny day you can see the light shine through the top of the toebox, which is where I feel a chill from the fall breeze as well.
The tongue is on the thin side of medium thickness but protects the foot since the laces are medium width—not so thin that they dig in easily. Laces run through a loop in the tongue to keep it secure.
The sides of the heel are supported by the top of the midsole curving up around, similar to how the Guiderails function in Brooks stability shoes, but the foam in Excite is softer and so less of a guide.
A low-scale heel counter surrounds the heel for support; this is more of a heel cap than found in Duramo but less than in Downshifter. The ankle opening has a fair amount of cushion, similar to the amount in GT-2000.
Like Downshifter, there is an easily-hookable heel loop to help put the shoe on, but also like Downshifter I did not need to use it to put the shoe on. It is pretty easy to slip on since I do not have to use any special lacing techniques to hold my heel in (when I do it makes the shoe more difficult to put on).
The sockliner is average, normal, and provides basic comfort. There is enough room in the shoe to accommodate switching this liner out for custom or drugstore orthotics if these better suit your needs. Today I had a very nice six mile run in Gel-Excite with my custom orthotics that support my arch and add some stiffness to the shoe.
In general this is a great shoe with the standard sock liner, too, which I kept in the shoe for at least 50 miles.
Amplifoam+ in the midsole is comfortable and promises decent durability but average spring back into your step-off. The ride is smooth with average propulsion into toe-off.
There is an 8 mm. drop from the height of the heel down to forefoot.
The medial sole angles out to provide some mechanical resistance to overpronation.
A thin layer of rubber covers the lateral side all along the outsole, the medial heel, and the full forefoot with ridges sliced into it for grip. For regular road or treadmill running the grip functions just fine; it is not as suited for high wear or precipitation as Duramo or (especially) Downshifter.
The shoe bends mid foot under moderate pressure.
Gel-Excite is a great buy for a shoe that brings most of what runners appreciate: comfort, breathability, and a smooth ride.
Neutral runners and beginning runners will be happy with this shoe for most running up through half marathon distance.
ASICS uses quality materials for their budget shoes as well as top-end shoes, so runners can be confident about getting their money’s worth from Gel-Excite.