If you’re looking for a daily trainer with a smooth ride that can be used for easy runs and long runs, the Novablast 3 is a great option. It has no major weaknesses and it has a very comfortable ride.
The Novablast 3 is a pretty versatile shoe that can be worn by many different runners. What it does not excel at is increasing speed – so fast runners or runners looking for a race shoe might be better looking somewhere else.
For me, the Novablast series has been one of the most exciting non-plated series over the past 2 years. What made it so exciting was its super fun, bouncy ride. ASICS managed to achieve this with the Novablast’s unique midsole geometry.
The Novablast 1 and 2 had a deep decoupled groove underneath them which started at the rearfoot and extended all the way into the forefoot. The sides of the midsole also had a scoop shape with deep triangular indentations which allowed a high level of compression when the shoe was loaded.
This created the “trampoline effect” which felt as if the shoes were propelling you upwards and forwards. The “trampoline effect” gave it the ability to pick up the pace for faster runs while its thick, cushioned midsole made it also great for easy and long runs. Versatility was a big strength of the Novablast.
The Novablast was one of my highest-rated trainers last year and a staple in my rotation.
Every year, the Novablast gets a full house of changes. This year’s version has a brand new upper, midsole and outsole. Version 2 weighed 9.7 oz (275 g) and version 3 now weighs 8.9 oz (252 g) which is a significant weight loss. The midsole of version 3 has 1 more millimetre of foam in the heel and in the forefoot, making it even more cushioned. The price has gone up by $10.
The first time I walked around in it, it felt surprisingly firmer than the first two versions. I was expecting the FF Blast+ midsole to be extremely squishy like the midsole of the Nimbus 24 but this foam felt denser.
My first run was a 30 kilometre long weekend run. The Novablast 3 felt fantastic right out of the box and it didn’t need to be broken in. The ride felt firmer than previous versions but it wasn’t uncomfortably firm.
The midsole felt very well-cushioned and I felt like I could have run further if it wasn’t for the late morning heat. You could easily run a full marathon in the Novablast 3. The upper felt extremely comfortable although I experienced downward tongue slide.
I noticed that the ride felt muted and not as springy as previous versions.
The FF Blast+ foam was disappointing and didn’t deliver much energy return. There were periods during the long run where I could pick up the pace but overall, it felt slower and more relaxed than previous Novablasts.
The Novablast 3’s upper is stripped down compared to previous versions. The tongue is now flat with no padding and the jacquard mesh is thinner so it’s overall a more breathable shoe.
ASICS still hasn’t fixed the length problem. It runs too long so if you go true to size, it feels like you’re wearing clown shoes. I found that if I wear really thick socks, the fit is fine but then my feet get really warm. If you have low volume feet, you can definitely go down a half size.
The flat, asymmetrical tongue is gusseted but it slides down so I prefer the thicker tongue of v1 and v2. It has wide wings so it doesn’t slide sideways at least but for easy day shoes I prefer the comfort that comes with a thicker tongue.
There’s no heel slippage and you don’t need to use a runner’s knot but I did do so because I found that the laces are too long. The collar padding is plush so there’s plenty of comfort in the rear.
We’ve already seen 2 trainers this year that were modified to be more mainstream- to appeal to a wider group of runners. The NB Rebel v3 and the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 have both become stabler, and more cushioned but have lost some of the fun factor which made them so popular to begin with.
We also see this trend with this year’s Novablast 3. ASICS has done a few things to the midsole geometry to achieve this: the first is that the base is now wider because the midsole flares out. This makes the ride much stabler; stability was previously a big weakness of the Novablast.
The midsole sidewall design has also changed which results in less midsole compression and less lean bias. There are no longer deep cutouts in the sidewalls which encourage compression. This change results in less “trampoline effect”. Running in the Novablast 3 feels noticeably flatter and I miss having that fun bounce which was present in the first 2 Novablasts.
The decoupled groove is shallower compared to the previous versions. This makes the shoe ride firmer because there’s less space for the shoe to compress at the bottom. It also makes ride transitions smoother because the outsole is a flatter configuration.
The FF Blast+ foam in the Novablast 3 feels like a completely different foam to the FF Blast+ in the Nimbus 24: it’s noticeably less squishy and doesn’t compress as easily. This FF Blast+ reminds me of Flytefoam, ASICS’ ancient midsole foam. I would definitely enjoy the Novablast 3 more if it was the same softness as the Nimbus 24.
I’m marathon training at the moment and I did mostly easy runs in it. It’s great for soaking up miles when speed isn’t important, however the one long run I did in it I was able to do the same pace as I did in the Endorphin Speed 3 and that shoe has a plate in it.
The Novablast 3 has a gentle rocker and really deep cushioning which is ideal for long runs. The FF Blast+ midsole does a really good job at absorbing impact and keeping your legs fresh.
When it comes to speed, I can do very short bursts below 4 minutes per kilometre in it but it’s definitely not a shoe that I would do long intervals or long tempo runs in- its forefoot is too flexible so it feels a tad sluggish.
The Novablast 3’s outsole is very similar to version 2 but the rubber is a flatter profile so it makes transitions smoother. Grip is a bit dodgy on wet surfaces though because of the flat rubber. The outsole rubber on the rearfoot doesn’t extend over the edges like it did on the Novablast 2 so the edges get slightly scuffed.
There’s thick rubber coverage on all the high wear areas so the Novablast 3 has decent outsole durability. On my pair, there is average wear after 80 km’s so durability is acceptable for a daily trainer.
The Novablast used to have the “wow” factor but this year’s Novablast 3 didn’t sweep me off my feet. It feels like a very ordinary trainer. I miss the bouncy trampoline feeling that I got in the first version and to a certain extent in the second version.
The Novablast series was all about being fun but the Novablast 3 is more business-like: more structure and tamer. If I can find a Novablast 1 in the shops, I’ll snap it up because it has such a unique ride. The Novablast 3 now feels very similar to other daily trainers.
Stability is one area where the Novablast 3 has improved so if you found previous versions too unstable, you’ll get along much better with this version. The weight has decreased substantially thanks to the new midsole foam and ride transitions are now smoother due to the shallower decoupled groove underneath the shoe.
For me, the Novablast 3 is less versatile than versions 1 and 2 because I find it less lively, not as energetic. I’ll still use it in my rotation for only easy/recovery days but there are other daily trainers which can pick up the pace more easily such as the On Cloudmonster and the Hoka Mach 5.
The Novablast 3 is a very good long run shoe and just eats up miles. I enjoy it much more than other “traditional” daily trainers like the Pegasus 39, Ghost 14 and Wave Rider 25 because of its higher level of cushioning and its lighter weight.