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Asics Gel Kayano 26 vs 25 Running Shoe Comparison Review

by Sportitude
3 Jun 2019

Josh shares his personal experience and expertise on how the new Asics Gel Kayano 26 running shoes compare against the previous model, the Asics Gel Kayano 25.

Engineered for overpronation control, it falls neatly into the stability running shoe category - smoothly managing the inward rolling of your foot or collapsing of the arch during the gait cycle.

The Asics Kayano 26 provides road warriors with comfort for high mileage running, with standout features including an airy jacquard mesh upper to allow your feet to breathe and a slightly deeper forefoot area to allow your feet to expand naturally on longer runs without feeling suffocated or restricted.

Responsive FlyteFoam Propel cushioning delivers a springier toe-off and energy-returning ride without compromise to stability, while the Dynamic DuoMax system provides arch support without being overly weighty.

Check out the full review with transcript below.

Hey guys, Josh from Sportitude here and it's shoe review time. We are doing it on the new and improved Asics Gel Kayano 26.

Now it's a little bit dirty. No surprises here, I’ve done some running in this shoe. I’ve had it for roughly for about three weeks now in the pre-release Kayano 26, which is coming 1st of June 2019. There is a lot to talk about with this shoe in comparison to where it’s come from in the Kayano 25.

With all my reviews as you know I like to start from the ground, go midsole, then talk all things upper and hopefully give you enough information at home on whether the Kayano 26 is a shoe you’ll consider.

Without further ado, let's get stuck in.

Foot Type

With the outsole, midsole and upper there is considerable changes from the 25 to the 26. Please get a pen and paper and take note… just kidding. 

What this shoe is engineered for and designed for is an overpronator - the runner that comes down on the heel and as they go through to midstance before toe-off, we’ll see some tibial rotation or medial collapse in the arch.

This shoe is designed to cater for the runner that does roll in over their arches. That is important to know because the outsole, midsole and upper all have components engineered in this shoe to minimise that impact on the running cycle.

Outsole

Getting to the outsole. What we’ve got in the 25 is the Asics Guidance Line. You can see my finger follow it all the way through this Trusstic beam through to that forefoot.

The Guidance Line has been engineered by Asics and used for a number of years to provide a smooth transition - almost like a map for the foot to follow from the heel to toe-off phase.

We’ve almost done away with it on the 26. We’ve got a sort of Guidance Line that comes through and almost goes further to the lateral side. You can see the outsole is encapsulated through here.

In the 25, lateral and medial sides are split with the Guidance Line running straight down the middle. With the 26, the Guidance Line or guidance ‘philosophy’ stops there, then you've got the outsole that sits across the medial to lateral side all the way through that forefoot.

Why Asics have done that is to provide a slightly more stable toe-off through the gait cycle because a lot of the change in this outsole has a lot to do with the midsole, which I’ll get to in two ticks.

The heel is split from the forefoot with this thermoplastic beam which sits across the middle of the arch. The heel outsole and cushioning system is all technology back through here.

For midstance support you can jump to the Dynamic DuoMax. That Trusstic beam provides a stable setup when you’re going from heel to midstance. It plays a really critical roll keeping that foot nice and stable.

As you come through the forefoot as we touched on before, the forefoot stability of the outsole that goes the whole way across provides a slightly more stable, but a nice flexible toe-off as well.

Midsole

Let’s dive into the midsole with this shoe. Now there’s a couple of take backs to a few years from now. I’m looking at the 25. You can see the lateral or the exposed Gel cushioning system is relatively flat and seamless, and it ties in quite well with how the midsole is constructed. It’s hardly noticeable but visually you can see it.

Enter the Kayano 26. We’ve got almost like a three-dimensional concept of that Gel pod. If you go back to catalogues a number years past and look at the Kayano 17, you'll see they took this exposed Gel construction and re-engineered it into the 26.

I can’t tell you why they’ve done that and to be honest with you it hasn’t made any difference in regard to the feel underneath the foot. From the 25 to the 26, I wouldn’t say one is softer in the heel unit because of that Gel pod.

Where the magic happens in this shoe is the white foam setup - that’s your FlyteFoam cushioning system. FlyteFoam is the lightest foam Asics have used.

Then the blue line through here and blue to grey fade through there and on the medial side that top layer midsole, that’s FlyteFoam Propel. Quite a mouthful!

But the Propel system as its name suggests is a very responsive cushioning system. The reason they’ve got through predominately that forefoot is to provide a nice, snappy forefoot toe-off.

As you can see, we touched on before with the additional flexibility through that forefoot, with the horizontal grooves. Having a more responsive forefoot in conjunction with that setup will provide that very similar ride to the 25, so you’re not losing stability or feel. You just get a more responsive, snappier gait cycle as you go through that toe-off phase.

As you come through the medial side, you’ve got the Dynamic DuoMax system. You can see the white foam how it slightly grades away through that midstance phase. Dynamic DuoMax, as I touched on before, provides a little extra support stability for that foot that does roll into that arch.

It’s not as heavy as it used to be with the dual density systems of the years gone by. I’m not talking 25, I’m talking back a number of years now to the Kayano 17s and 18s where the DuoMax system was a relatively weighted construction, which added support but it added weight to the shoe.

Enter Dynamic DuoMax which has been in the market for a couple of years now and the Kayano 26 have followed suit using that technology for arch support. 

Upper

As we come through and talk all things upper, I’d like to touch on the heel counter first. You’ve got that external heel counter construction, which was introduced a few years ago in the Meta Clutch system which they used in the MetaRun and then rolled over to the Kayano series.

We’ve got the Asics Gel Kayano 25 and 26 and you can see there is a not a lot that has changed. It almost has the same construction. A couple of little tweaks in regard to adding a little bit more support through the middle of the calcaneus or the back of the heel with that external beam in comparison to the 25. A subtle change there.

Then we talk about what we see inside the collar around the heel unit. It’s not quite as thick as what I’ve experienced in the Kayano 25, but this was too thick and too padded. There is a little bit more foam at the back of the 25 then what I experienced in the 26.

It’s probably a good thing. I don’t like to have too much foam that sits around the back of my heel collar, but I found this to be certainly enough padding to provide a plush feel on my foot. However, it didn’t feel like my heel was being suffocated by additional oodles of foam. That’s all thing heel counter.

As we are coming through to the midsection of this shoe, we’re talking about the arch area. What Asics have done is their logo almost works as an overlay.

It provides a bit of cosmetic support around that arch system, but nothing that's going to be restrictive or provide any rubbing or irritations as you go through to midstance. But compare it to the 25 and you can see underneath this grey mesh almost an orange setup. It's hard to see but you should hopefully get a bit of a glimpse of it.

That underlay construction provides a bit of arch support in regard to the upper. It provides a bit more grab on the medial side of the foot. 

In regard to the 26, they haven’t used that underlay system. They use more the cosmetic paint panelling as such on that medial side to provide a very similar construction to the 25.

Coming through to the forefoot. This is where the magic happens for me. The reason being is if we talk all things forefoot in Kayano since the 23, 24, 25 and now the 26, guess what? From the 23 we went a little bit deeper than the 24, and then the 24 to the 25 we went a little deeper, and we did the same thing in the 26 here.

Usually on that scale you'd probably expect a really boxy feel in the toe box, however it’s only been an incremental increase in every single Kayano over the last 4 years and that’s been the same thing here in the 26. A subtle increase in depth in regard to the 25 to the 26, to the point where you wouldn’t notice it with the naked eye.

But putting it on your foot and having a little more wriggle space for that toe is really nice. I like it because remember this shoe is designed for someone who is spending plenty of time out on the road, out on the pavement and pushing out some serious Ks.

When you’re pushing long miles, you want a shoe that’s going to cater for a little bit of swelling in that forefoot. A little bit of extra space for swelling provides a nice, comfortable feel right through your miles to the end of your longer runs.

They've used an engineered jacquard mesh which they have done previously in the 25 as well, but with a couple of subtle changes to it. It’s a nice, supportive overlay system through that forefoot. 

You won’t have any issues with your toe busting through the end. Actually, we haven’t had that for a number of years with Kayano.

The shoe itself is nice, strong but a very light and breathable feeling upper. You still get plenty of ventilation through the shoe which is vitally important. Whether you’re running in summer, spring, autumn or winter you still want plenty of ventilation through your foot and that’s what the upper does for you the runner.

A little subtle change I will touch on is the laces. I do have here a pre-release of the Kayano 26. The laces are a little bit thinner in comparison to the 25. Now, not that this is going to make or break any of you at home, but I like the new lace setup. It sounds crazy, it’s probably the cheapest part of the shoe.

I do like the fact that it is a fraction thinner because I can get a slightly more customised feel in regards to the lacing construction in the foot. If I need to loosen it and provide a little more depth in the midsection I can, and obviously providing a nice customised fit around the back of my heel. When I go for my runs, I do like to get that heel lock lace setup.

It’s only a subtle change but I thought I’d make you aware at home because if you’ve been using Kayanos for years, you probably want to know everything that has changed and yes, the laces have slightly changed.  


There you have it guys, that’s my take on the new and improved Gel Kayano 26. If you’ve got any comments on this video, please contact our Sportitude shoe experts and if you haven’t subscribed already to the Sportitude YouTube channel please do.

We love to give as much information to runners all over the world to help with your shoe selections to make you a better and more improved runner.

Until next time, happy running. We’ll see you soon.