A favourite racing shoe for the current American top half marathoner Ryan Hall. the ASICS GEL-Hyper Speed 5 (HS5) as the name suggest is built for speed. With a stack height of 14mm and with a heel to toe differential of 7mm, this is one shoe that is probably considered close to minimalist since barely any of ASICS proprietary technologies are built into it.
I received the HS5 courtesy of ASICS Malaysia for my participation in the Craze Ultra 2012. It'a a perfect race to put the shoe to test on how well it will stack against the many odds.
The shoe's upper is made of complete traditional overlays that looks like any other traditional shoes. The material looks cheap but it does its job holding up pretty well. I will rather to have a synthetic material like those found on the ASICS Gel-DS Racer 9 (DSR9) as it saves weight, allows better ventilation and also minimize the seams within the shoe's interior. Although seams were very noticeable, it did not cause me any irritation at all. Fit wise, I found the size to be slight a little bigger than the DSR9. Though being a racing shoe, the toebox is of reasonable space and I've no problems with it despite after running 82KM at Craze Ultra 2012.
The tongue is well padded but it does seem to move around which was very irritating. And as for the laces, ASICS chose to use the flat laces to save weight. I'm no fan of flat laces as it tends to loosen easily. I had to double or even triple tie it to prevent it and that may cause some problems undoing it to take off the shoes especially during an ultra race when I just had to relieve my poor feet. The collar was reasonable padded to give a secure hug for the Achilles region.
Earlier, I mentioned that although with a 7mm heel to toe differential, this shoe is only close to minimalist as there is still a midfoot arch shank to assist in pronation control. I rather it not be there and just leave the overall to be flat like the K-Swiss Blade-Foot Run or Blade-Light Run.
The shoe's midsole is made of SpEVA instead of the lighter yet softer Solyte with a rear foot GEL cushioning system. I've grown to actually like the harder and more responsive SpEVA rubber as I don't feel being "drown" by a softer material. However, being at 14mm stack height, and for some reasons, I still found myself being "drown" with every step and a little bit more effort is needed to propel my next step. And to protect the midsole from wear and tear, the ever trustworthy ASICS High Abrasion Rubber is placed at strategic areas. The forefoot area is design like a web to provide traction especially on wet surfaces and the design is pretty similar to the ASICS Skysensor Neo. The outsol alsoe consist of a few ventilation and drainage ports which come in handy when the weather either gets too hot or wet.
The durability of the shoe was put to the maximum test at the harsh conditions of the Craze Ultra 2012. Though most parts of the shoes held up well, the same can't be said with the outsole. After running 82KM, the forefoot area melted away literary leaving only a piece of smoothen rubber under the intense heat of say about 40 degree Celsius. The heel area was fine though and this has proven what a 7mm or lower heel to toe differential can do to our running gait.
Overall and personally speaking, the HS5 is an over-rated shoe. It's still a good shoe but I would not call it great. The ASICS Skysensor Neo and also the GEL-DS Racer 9 deserves a much more better attention. And I do think that the colour-way can be improved. The one strength of this shoe is probably the affordable price.
The ASICS GEL-Hyper Speed 5 retails at a recommended selling price of RM349.00 and is now available at major ASICS authorised dealers.