The Asics Novablast 3 is a lively and bouncy cushioned shoe that’s great fun to use for easy runs, although it lacks the versatility of the best daily trainers.
- Improved FF Blast+ midsole
- Lighter than past versions
- Fairly stable given stack height
- Outsole grip not perfect in wet conditions
- Ride dulls a little over time
- Not as versatile as I hoped
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The original Novablast was, for Asics, an uncharacteristically soft and springy shoe that was unhyped but proved extremely popular. For some runners the ride was a little too unstable, but that complaint was remedied by the Novablast 2, which had a firmer and more stable feel – although it lost a little of the fun in the process.
Asics has managed to split the difference with the Novablast 3, which has a livelier ride than the 2 while being more stable than the original shoe. It’s one of the more enjoyable cushioned shoes on the market, but falls just short of the standards of the best running shoes.
Asics Novablast 3: Price And Availability
The Asics Novablast 3 is available now and costs $140/£135, which is a small rise on the $130/£130 price of the Novablast 2.
Design And Fit
Asics has made a few important updates to the Novablast 3: the most significant is that the midsole is now made from its FF Blast Plus foam, which is softer, lighter and bouncier than the FF Blast foam used on the Novablast 2.
The midsole is also wider, which improves the stability of the shoe, and the stack slightly higher, with a millimetre of cushioning added to both the heel and forefoot, so the 8mm drop is retained. The overall stack height is listed at 31mm at the heel and 23mm at the forefoot, but Asics does not include the outsole and insole in its measurements so the Novablast 3 is probably comparable in height to 35mm-plus stack shoes from other brands.
The updated midsole foam makes the Novablast 3 lighter than its predecessor. The new shoe weighs 9oz/257g in my UK 9, whereas the Novablast 2 was 10.2oz/289g. That’s very light for such a cushioned training shoe, and you can save even more weight by going half a size down, which I’d recommend because the Novablast 3 is quite long in the toe box.
Asics has changed the upper and tongue design on the shoe, with the mesh upper being made from at least 75% recycled materials. The collar of the shoe is well padded and my heel didn’t slip at all.
I did have slipping problems with the outsole, however, especially in my first couple of runs in the shoe. On greasy pavements the thin rubber outsole often failed to find reliable traction and the shoe did regularly slip a bit on landing. This knocked me off my stride, particularly when running quickly.
Fortunately with extended use the outsole seems to have roughed up and the grip has improved. I’m still a little wary when using it on early-morning runs when the pavements are slick, but it’s become more reliable in the wet.
How I Tested This Shoe
I have run 60km in the Asics Novablast 3, using it for a range of types of training runs including very easy efforts, and some progression and tempo runs. I have also tested both of the previous versions of the Novablast.
I loved the first couple of runs in the Novablast 3. It felt like the perfect versatile daily trainer. The ride was terrific – enjoyably soft and bouncy without being unstable – and the reduced weight of the shoe made it better for faster running.
Since then, however, I have found that the feel of the midsole has dulled and the ride has lost some of its spring. It’s still a bouncy shoe, but it’s not nearly as fun as it was fresh out of the box.
The bigger consequence of the loss in bounce has been that the Novablast 3 doesn’t feel as versatile any more. When using it for progression runs finishing at a steady or tempo pace, it now feels a bit big and cumbersome, and even a little heavier than it actually is.
I still enjoy using the shoe for easy runs, but where it once looked set to be one of my favourite versatile daily trainers of 2022, I now rate several shoes higher than the Novablast 3 in this category, such as the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3, Hoka Mach 5 and Puma Velocity Nitro 2.
Is The Asics Novablast 3 Worth It?
After an exciting start the Asics Novablast 3 lost some of its charm, and while it’s still a great option for runners looking for a bouncy daily trainer, I prefer a rotation of several shoes.
There are great plated options in the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 and Puma Deviate Nitro 2, while the Puma Velocity Nitro 2 and Hoka Mach 5 are excellent, versatile daily trainers without plates. Opt for either of the Puma shoes and you also get a much better outsole than the one on the Novablast 3 – outsoles that will increase durability as well as improving better grip.
All the same, the Novablast 3 is the best version of the shoe yet, balancing stability with the springy ride the line is known for while also reducing the weight. If you were a fan of the Novablast 1 or 2 then the latest version will almost certainly be to your taste as well.
Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.