Asics Novablast 4 review

7 expert score
10 user's score
As editorial policy, we do not accept free samples. We purchased this pair at Running Warehouse with our own money.
Review written on 18th December by Brandon Law Marathon Runner and Shoe Expert
152 other reviews

Asics Novablast 4 Verdict

The ASICS Novablast 4 is a firm-riding daily trainer which is more suited to faster-paced runs than relaxed runs. It doesn’t quite have the same fun, bouncy ride that the early Novablasts had but it still has a relatively lightweight build. Version 4 is firmer and more stable than version 3 due to its new FF Blast+ Eco midsole. It’s also a little bit heavier and not as versatile so it can’t be called an improvement. Runners who prefer a firmer, more stable ride will prefer version 4.

The pros

  • Better stability due to the firmer midsole
  • More comfortable upper
  • Cooler upper
  • Faster ride

The cons

  • Not as fun/bouncy as previous Novablasts
  • Weight increase
  • Firmer ride


Rating breakdown

Comfort
9.0
Build quality
7.0
Upper
8.0
Sole unit
6.0
Landing
7.0
Transition
6.0
Toe-off
6.0
Traction
7.0
Durability
7.0
Value / Price
7.0

Facts / Specs

Brand
Model
Novablast 4
Previous model
Weight
9 oz (255 g)
MSRP
$140.00

Heel
42 mm.
Toe
34 mm.
Heel drop
8 mm.
Carbon plate
No plate

Size/Fit

Sizing
True to size
Heel fit
Normal
Midfoot fit
Normal
Toebox fit
Normal

Cushioning & ride

Type of cushioning
Responsive
Amount of cushioning
Highly cushioned
Stability
Very stable
Flexibility
Medium

Usage

Racing
Speedwork  
Daily training
Long distance racing
Ultra distance racing

Who should buy the Asics Novablast 4 ?

If you’re looking for a lightweight trainer which has a firm but stable ride, the Novablast 4 is the shoe for you.

Who should not buy the Asics Novablast 4 ?

If you’re looking for something similar to the first 2 versions of the Novablast which were energetic and bouncy, the 4th version is not for you.

Asics Novablast 4 Introduction

Picture of ASICS Novablast 4

I went to my local ASICS store on the Novablast 4 launch day and there were 5 different people all trying it on. At the most recent weekly Sunday morning KL city run, I counted 12 people wearing the Novablast 4.

In a very short time, the Novablast has become one of the most popular ASICS running shoes and here in Malaysia it has a cult following. Not only does it have a really modern and futuristic design but it’s also relatively lightweight and affordable (compared to the Nimbus/Kayano).

When the original Novablast came out, it was the complete opposite of the other ASICS trainers which were available at the time. It was light, it was energetic and most importantly, it was fun. Its main drawback was that its ride was wild and unstable- a small price to pay for such an engaging trainer. It was one of my favourite daily trainers because it was so different.

Over the years, the wild Novablast has been tamed and it has become more and more like daily trainers from other brands: firmer, stabler and less bouncy. I didn’t use last year’s Novablast 3 much for running after testing it. It felt like a very ordinary daily trainer and it was missing the Novablast essence.

Like most of ASICS’ bestsellers, this year’s Novablast gets a substantial update with a brand new upper, midsole and outsole.

The Novablast 4 weighs 9.2 oz (260 g) which is 0.3 oz (8.5 g) heavier than the Novablast 3. There’s an additional 0.5 mm of stack height in both the heel and forefoot, making it 41.5 mm/33.5 mm. It remains $140, the same price as last year.

Asics Novablast 4 First Impressions

Picture of ASICS Novablast 4

My first Novablast 4 run was a very slow recovery run, slower than 6 minutes per km (9:40 per mile). I didn’t enjoy that run because of how firm the new midsole felt.

It felt blocky and without any energy return, like an EVA foam shoe from 5 years ago. It reminded me of the Brooks Ghost 14 & 15 but in a slightly lighter package.

It felt to me like it was more of a speed trainer than a versatile daily trainer. The ride felt too firm for easy and recovery runs.

The new upper fitted like a glove and it was extremely comfortable. The upper fit was the highlight of that first run but overall, I was disappointed with the Novablast 4 after the first run and it didn’t have the wow factor.

Asics Novablast 4 Upper

Picture of ASICS Novablast 4

The Novablast 4’s upper is my favourite feature and the best Novablast upper to date. It now uses a thin, woven material which feels more premium and more foot-conforming than previous Novablasts.

There are small holes on the top of the toe-box so breathability is slightly better and a heel pull tab has also been added to a new raised heel tab.

The tongue is still flat and gusseted but it has a thin layer of padding in the middle which feels more comfortable on the top of my feet. There’s a large amount of downward tongue slide because there’s no loop on the tongue to hold it in place. I’m not sure how ASICS let this happen when so much wear testing takes place when it’s developed.

In previous years, the Novablast fit was a half size too big but this version’s sizing is perfect and is true to size. For me, the fit is the best with medium thickness socks.

Asics Novablast 4 Sole Unit

Picture of ASICS Novablast 4

The Novablast 4 rides not only firmer than most daily trainers, but also firmer than most speed trainers. The Magic Speed 3, Endorphin Speed 4 and Boston 12 are all softer than the Novablast 4. This is fine if you’re only doing uptempo runs, but the Novablast is supposed to handle all types of runs, including very slow paces.

The FF Blast+ Eco in the midsole of the Novablast 4 is completely different to the one in the Nimbus 25. The Nimbus 25 midsole has a pleasant squishiness when you load it. The Novablast version feels more like ASICS’ old Flytefoam from a couple years ago: lightweight but firm.

I only enjoy the Novablast 4 when I’m doing uptempo runs: hill repeats, steady runs, intervals or short tempo runs. This is mainly because its midsole doesn’t compress much when loaded so it provides a firm platform to push off from. I have to be running faster than 5:30 per kilometre in order to enjoy it. It has smooth transitions which are quick for a non-plated trainer and a stiff forefoot which feels snappy.

I feel that FF Blast+ (like in the Cumulus 25) would make the Novablast 4 a much more engaging shoe and would increase its fun factor. ASICS says that the Novablast 4 has an energised ride but I disagree. To me, it feels very flat. The longest run I did in it was 35 kilometres and while it was cushioned enough, it didn’t give me a warm and fuzzy feeling.

Picture of ASICS Novablast 4


ASICS says that the Novablast 4 has a trampoline-inspired outsole to increase energy return. While that was the case in the first 2 versions of the shoe, I can’t feel the trampoline effect in version 4; the midsole is just too firm and doesn’t compress enough to take advantage of the geometry.

The decoupled groove underneath the shoe that runs from the rearfoot to the forefoot is slightly deeper than the Novablast 3. While it’s supposed to aid in cushioning and energy return, the firm midsole prevents this from happening.

Picture of ASICS Novablast 4

There’s a new outsole rubber (AHAR Lo) on the Novablast 4 which is a lower density than on the previous versions. The lower density is designed to increase traction but I didn’t notice a big difference compared to previous versions. Traction is just average.

Outsole durability is also average. After 80 kilometres, I’ve noticed some wear on the forefoot section, on the foam part which isn’t covered with rubber and on the outer lateral heel.

Asics Novablast 4 Conclusions

Picture of ASICS Novablast 4

By going firmer than previous versions, I think ASICS has gone in the wrong direction with the Novablast 4. It no longer feels like a versatile daily trainer- it now feels like a speed trainer. ASICS already has the Noosa Tri (non-plated), EvoRide (non-plated) and the Magic Speed (plated), so another speed trainer isn’t needed.

The Novablast 4 has lost the fun, bouncy essence which made it such a popular trainer to begin with. I would pick all the previous versions over this latest version. In the ASICS middle range, I would pick the Cumulus 25 over the Novablast 4 for daily training. Its softer ride provides more comfort and more protection. It’s the same price as the Novablast.

The Saucony Ride 17 is an ounce heavier than the Novablast 4 but it can handle a wider range of paces: it’s softer and it returns more energy. The Supernova Rise is also much more versatile. Both are the same price as the Novablast 4.

I still think the Novablast 4 will continue to be a bestseller and one of the most popular running shoes on the market, mainly because of its sleek, modern design and the hype around it.

How does the Novablast 4 compare?

Asics Gel Cumulus 25
Asics Novablast 4
Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 40
Expert score
8
7
7
User score
Retail price
US$140
US$140
US$130
Brand
Weight
9.3 oz
9 oz
9.4 oz
Heel Drop
8 mm
8 mm
10 mm
Recommended for
Daily training
Speedwork
Daily training
Cushioning type
plush
responsive
balanced
Cushioning amount
Highly cushioned
Highly cushioned
Medium cushioning
Flexibility
flexible
medium
flexible
Stability
very stable
very stable
very stable
Sizing
true to size
true to size
true to size

Why you can trust us

As editorial policy, we do not accept free samples from companies.
We purchased this pair of Asics at Running Warehouse  with our own money.

This page contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. Read more about our policy.

Reviewed by Brandon

This review was written by Brandon Law on 18th December.
Brandon is a South African who lives and trains in Malaysia. He is a marathon runner who eats, sleeps and dreams running shoes. While most people wear shoes to run, he runs to wear shoes.

User feedback (4)

  • avatar-comment-1034502
    Wilson
    2 months ago

    I like your reviews bro, that your honest and str8 to the point. I watch reveiews all the time, cause i keep around 40 oairs in rotation that i buy. Keep it up

  • avatar-comment-1034101
    Peter
    2 months ago
    10 score

    Brandon, you are an excellent reviewer. Not just this review, but all of your reviews are in-depth, accurate, and well written. Keep on running.

    • avatar-comment-1034413
      Jon
      2 months ago

      I agree, Brandon is my favorite reviewer by far and I read lots of reviews.

      On the subject of the Novablast, some of us actually prefer the “unstable” feel of the first version. I haven’t enjoyed a shoe as much since, with the possible exception of the Saucony Endorphin Speed 2. I wish Asics would bring the original Novablast back.

    • avatar-comment-1034109
      Brandon Law
      2 months ago

      Thanks Peter for the kind words and thanks for reading my reviews!

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