If you’re looking for an easy/recovery run shoe and you don’t care about its weight, the Kinsei Max is an option. It has a ride which borrows elements from the GlideRide, Superblast and Nimbus.
If you want a versatile, lightweight and durable trainer, you should look elsewhere. If you want a trainer with a high level of ground feel, the Kinsei Max is also not for you.
Gel is a heavy technology and it doesn’t add many performance benefits. ASICS has started to realise this in the last few years. They’re still using gel in some legacy models but it’s in the form of a hidden, silicone gel pad inside the shoe.
With the Kinsei however, gel has always been its signature feature and even though the amount of gel in this latest version has been toned down, there is still some visible gel in the heel.
The Kinsei Max costs $180. The fact that it’s priced almost exactly the same as the Adidas Ultraboost Light tells us who ASICS is targeting with this shoe: sneaker heads, gym enthusiasts and casual runners.
It weighs 11.7 oz (333 g) for a men’s standard US9 which is very heavy for a running shoe these days. It’s a slight weight reduction over the previous version, the Kinsei Blast which weighed 11.9 oz (337 g).
When I tried the Kinsei Max on in the store, the toe box felt way too narrow, similar to the Nimbus 25. I needed to go up a half size.
The first run was a hill sprints session and I could tell immediately that the Kinsei Max was designed for slow-paced running. I found it difficult to pick up the pace when going uphill, mainly due to its weight.
Landings felt very padded and transitions felt incredibly smooth. It reminded me of 2 other shoes: the GlideRide 3 and the Superblast.
The Superblast also has no rubber on its outsole so it has padded landing similar to the Kinsei Max. The GlideRide also has a plush upper, and a plate inside its midsole with a forefoot rocker.
The Kinsei Max’s upper is built for comfort and it feels quite similar to the Nimbus 25. The material is not as stretchy but it also has a flat, knitted tongue.
The tongue is semi gusseted so I don’t experience any tongue slide. The collar is very well padded and the inside lining has a smooth, luxurious texture. With all the padding in the upper, it feels warm so it’s more suited to cool climates.
There’s an internal heel counter and foot lockdown is great- there is no heel slippage. There’s also a reflective strip on the heel pull tab.
The only negative thing about the upper is that it runs a half size small due to the narrow toe-box so most runners will need to go up a half size.
The Kinsei Max has a really comfortable, plush, cushioned ride. It has a more modern ride than other ASICS trainers like the Nimbus and the Cumulus due to the absence of rubber on its outsole.
The midsole is dual density with FF Blast+ Eco on the top, and FF Blast on the bottom which forms the outsole. The ride feels a little bit firmer than the ride of the Nimbus 25 which also uses FF Blast+ Eco in its midsole but it’s still a very soft, protective ride.
Versatility is not the Kinsei Max’s strong suit. I only enjoy using it for easy or recovery runs which are 5:30 minutes per km (8:52 per mile) or slower. Long runs are also not that fun because it doesn’t feel efficient. The main reason why it can’t pick up the pace is because of its weight- most of the weight comes from the gel in its heel.
There’s a generous amount of gel in the heel but if you look closely, you can see that it’s not 100% gel- in the centre of the gel is a foam core. ASICS calls this Hybrid Gel and its main purpose is to save weight however I can’t really notice the difference during runs.
There’s a TPU plate situated in the heel and the midfoot. Unlike a forefoot plate that makes the shoe more snappy (like in the GlideRide 3), this plate merely smooths transitions from the heel to the midfoot so that you can’t feel the difference between the gel in the heel and the foam in the midfoot.
Stability is very good considering it’s a neutral trainer. It has a wide base and the midsole is not overly squishy so there’s no major lean bias. It feels more stable than the Nimbus 25 and Cumulus 25.
On the outsole, you get a thick layer of FF Blast with just a small amount of AHARPLUS on the outer lateral heel area. Outsole durability is significantly lower than other ASICS daily trainers and I’ve noticed quite a lot of wear on my pair on the heel.
Traction is not very good in wet conditions because of how flat the outsole is but it’s fine on dry surfaces.
If it wasn’t for its weight, the Kinsei Max would actually be a very good running shoe. It’s one of the most comfortable running shoes I’ve tested this year but I would rather use it for gym or casual wear rather than running because it feels so cumbersome.
The Kinsei Max falls into the same category as the Adidas Ultraboost Light. They are both luxury, cushioned trainers designed for slow running. The Kinsei Max is much better though because it has a softer, smoother ride with a more comfortable upper.
I think at $180, the Kinsei Max is way too expensive. I wouldn’t recommend it over the Novablast 3 or the Cumulus 25 which are $40 cheaper. The GlideRide 3 is also much better value at only $150. The Kinsei Max is not as versatile, not as durable and much heavier.
The Kinsei Max is designed to appeal to a very specific runner: an older runner who feels some nostalgia from ASICS’ traditional gel technology, which used to be the main feature in most of their shoes for decades.
I won’t continue using the Kinsei Max in my running rotation. Even though I like the look of gel in a shoe, I don’t think the benefits you get from it warrant its extra weight.