ASICS are changing the long distance running game with the MetaRide.

The brand's most innovative running shoe to date, ASICS’ expertly assembled team of designers and scientists at their Institute of Sport Science (ISS) in Kobe, Japan spent over three years mastering the new silhouette. After crafting a model designed to make long distances feel much less strenuous while offering a  “completely new running sensation”, Complex headed out to Japan to find out more about how the silhouette was made and to see if the shoe to see if it really lived up to this reputation.

Upon learning about how the MetaRide was created, it was clear that the ISS took the process of running shoes very seriously. The designers and scientists at the Institute implement eight key factors when designing a new design;  flex, fit, weight, cushion, durability, stability, grip, and placeability. You could immediately see that when we were presented with the model.

 

Aesthetically, the MetaRide is one of ASICS most distinctive looking models to date. The slick, black upper is accented with a striking red colourway over the mid and outsole, which is where the magic of the shoe really takes place (more on that later). Once you stick them on, the immediate feel of the shoe on foot matched the sleek look of the silhouette. Complete with a knitted upper gives you a really snug but breathable feel that you barely notice and a revamped asymmetrical lacing system that provides more comfort and lock down with the foot, the shoe contains cushioning in all the right places for your feet to quickly adjust to the model when they're still box fresh.

The stationary feel is definitely weird at first. The highly curved shape of the mid- and outsole gave the shoe a rocking-chair-like effect, but there's good reason for it. The sensation is channeled by the model's Guidesole unit, which eases your foot quicker from heel to toe with each step and cuts out more wasted energy from where your foot moving from side to side from when your ankle joint strikers the ground. 

The midsole cushioning contains a pretty thick 30mm stack height in the heel and an accompanying block of ASICS' bouncy Flytefoam linking up with the brand's traditional gel cushioning in the heel, the shoe provides solid shock resistance and maximum comfort. ‘Metaclutch‘, an ultra-lightweight, flexible but extremely strong heel counter that keeps your heel in position – and the fusion of these separate bits of tech deliver a serious reduction in energy loss, according to the team of researchers in the ASICS lab in Kobe. Charting results made in Japan and at the company’s own research done in conjunction with Loughborough University, the MetaRide delivers close to a 20% reduction of energy loss at the ankle joint – a sizable figure to consider for those wanting to go further, and longer. 

Kenichi Harano, has worked at the ISS for 27 years, and explained to Complex in more detail how the MetaRide breaks new ground in long distance running, “The shoe's concept and Guidesole technology are fundamentally different to any other shoe we’ve ever made or that’s on the market today.  We looked at run efficiency in a uniquely ASICS way to provide a new ‘feel’ whilst maintaining our promise of performance and protection.”

ASICS' key message with the MetaRide is it's 'energy saving' quality, rather than any record-breaking potential. It's been designed specifically to make heel strikers run more efficiently and making long runs less of an ordeal, with the focus being placed on being able to enjoy the shoe over a long period of time without it hindering your performance.

With this being said, upon trying the shoe out on an initial 5k run in Tokyo,  the shoe definitely provided the unique propelling sensation promised from the tech incorporated in the MetaRide.  While rival brands focus more towards a forefoot running technique, these shoes are actually designed to help heel strikers be more efficient. If you're a heel striker, you can fully reap the benefits of the model's rocking motion.

Trying it out for longer distances is when the shoe came into its own. Despite feeling slightly heavy with all the support underfoot, the model offers amazing impact protection and bouncy ride when in use for prolonged periods. While the cost of the MetaRide could be a factor which puts people of buying the model, one of it's biggest strengths is it's durability and consistency over a long period of time, making it a purchase that will stand the test of time.

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Going forward, Yasuhito Hirota spoke to Complex about ASICS’ commitment to continue to accelerate how runners move through cutting-edge product and services, “We believe this new technology has the potential to disrupt the world of long-distance running. Our athletes and runners have told us that MetaRide is already transforming how they train, race, run and recover. This is just the beginning of a new era for ASICS as we bring the best innovations to our fans while attracting a new generation of runners.” 

The MetaRide is the first in ASICS' new energy-saving franchise, and the company will later make the same concept and technologies available to more runners at different price points, with a takedown model is planned for release this autumn. With the London Marathon taking place this weekend, the ASICS' MetaRide tech feels like the brand's ultimate answer to making every stride of the 26.2 a more enjoyable experience and look set to aid people in the long run for many years to come.

You can purchase the ASICS MetaRide here.