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The number 28 in the name Asics Gel-Kayano 28 refers to the number of iterations the running shoe has had over the years. It is a testament to Asics’ persistence and the fact that over the years, this shoe has sold well. Competition over the last few years has become tougher, without a shadow of a doubt, as smarter technology and materials started to be used in trying to find the perfect midsole balance of bounce, feedback, stiffness, and longevity. The Asics Gel-Kayano 28, priced around Rs 14,999 isn’t any more expensive than its recent predecessors, but undoubtedly plays in the more serious pricing bracket when it comes to running shoe purchases. The wriggle room is significantly lesser at this price, particularly when rivals including Nike and Adidas put forward serious competition.
One glance at it and you’ll immediately know it is a Gel-Kayano shoe. There are improvements and iterative changes, but the very core of the design remains as you would expect it to. The mesh on the upper seems a tad smoother in texture but that’s pretty much it in terms of the feel and the materials. The feet still get a nice and assuring lock in feeling, yet this one seems to be doing that a tad better than the predecessor. It also feels a bit airier, perhaps that has to do with the mesh material tweak and more ventilation eyelets towards the outer front side of the shoe. Tongue has more cushioning, and the heel collar feels softer too.
The biggest change is beneath your foot. Replacing the FlyteFoam midsole is the new FF Blast midsole. It is lighter than the predecessor, albeit very slightly. Every gram makes a difference as you clock up the miles. It seems more responsive than before on harder running surfaces, which is great for your legs, but feels largely as comfortable as the predecessor when running on a softer surface such as grass. The Gel cushioning layer, something I am a huge fan of, makes its presence felt nicely enough to soften the thud of a hard running surface from filtering through to your calf muscles. The other change you’d notice is the heel counter is lower profile, which reduces the drop from the heel to the toe from 13mm earlier to 10mm now. This is more in line with what Nike and Adidas do, and some runners prefer this over a pronounced offset.
The smarts don’t end mid-foot. There is a three-dimensional design to the construction of the outsole, particularly around the forefoot and under the heel. As you look at the outsole, you’d notice a pretty deep groove running down the middle of the shoe—that’s the reason why the midsole is able to get more flexibility and offer cushioning against harsh impacts. Asics has also integrated a system called Dynamic DuoMax which reduces the feet tendency to roll inwards with every stride—that’s called pronation or pronounced inward roll. This will reduce strain and chances of injury.
The Last Word: Generational Improvements Give The Gel-Kayano 28 A New Direction
There is absolutely nothing that doesn’t let you enjoy the advantages of the new FF Blast midsole, which is the biggest upgrade the Asics Gel-Kayano 28 has received over the Asics Gel-Kayano 27 that it succeeds. The FF Blast upgrade also gives Asics a new tool in its arsenal to battle the Nike React midsoles as well as Adidas’ latest innovation, the 4D midsole, something I’ll be reviewing in the coming days. Maybe Asics could have done a bit to give the Gel-Kayano 28 a slightly more modern design lines, perhaps on the lines of what the Metaspeed Sky has—cleaner, brighter and unique highlights that stand out. But it is easy to understand Asics’ predicament of balancing familiarity. What you’ll get is consistently well cushioned ride, and the Asics Gel-Kayano 28 is even better on hard surfaces, such as your runs on the road.