The ASICS GEL-DS Racer VII, the seventh edition in the popular ASICS GEL-DS racing series is certainly not for the faint hearted. A low profile racing flat with a very mild medial support and weights only at 195 grams, it's certainly a fast shoe if you ask me.
I bought this shoe specifically for use at the Macau Marathon 2009 and with it, I achieved a new personal best. With only 2 weeks to "run in" the shoe before the race, I was really glad that it doesn't require much time to do so. With only 20KM ran in the shoe, I was already used to it. It doesn't require much running in as it's build very basic and doesn't implement any mumbo jumbo technology in it.
Lateral view of the shoe...
One highlight of the shoe is that it allows me to land on my midfoot or forefoot easily without having to adjust much of my running gait. Even with the I.G.S. (Impact Guidance System) that guides through our natural gait, landing on the midfoot or forefoot is made possibly easy by the very low profile design and that the heel counter doesn't have much weight in it thus allowing balance weight on the entire shoe. And for those who lands on forefoot, you will be delighted with the TPU material used there as it offers superior traction. And being low profile, I can almost feel the earth. Great for those who are trying barefoot running but yet need some protection from the harsh roads.
TPU material for extra traction for those forefoot strikers...
The first impression of the shoe is certainly the weight. It now stands as the second lightest shoe I have after the Nike LunaRacer+ but yet it balances itself between weight and comfort. Everything around the shoe is reasonably well padded, from the tongue to the collar. Well enough to give the needed protection but yet shedding weight off. The fit of the shoe is great, hugging around the feet where it matters most. However, I do wish the toe box to be a little wider.
The ventilation of the shoe is good and is made possible with the use of the standard air mesh on the overlays. Nothing too fancy here coupled with the traditional ASICS logo design that runs over the shoe.
The midsole is built on ASICS Solyte cushioning system. However, the use of the GEL word made me wonder if there is really GEL built in the shoe as normally, the GEL unit will be seen exposed at the heel counter. Hmmm... And finally, the medial support is built on their popular DuoMax material running the entire length of the foot arch which helps control the pronation rate. As for the outsole, it is made durable with AHAR (ASICS High Abbrasion Resistant) carbon rubber with the above mentioned TPU materials at the forefoot which adds traction to every forefoot strikes.
And at the time of writing, I have ran about 100KM with it including the marathon. The carbon rubber especially on the right side where most of my pressure is, seems to have shown a little wear and tear syndrome, but not much. I will foresee that this shoe should be able to last me about 300KM or so.
The lacing system is the conventional type and not Asymmetrical Lacing Design. Though the laces are of light weight anti slip material, I do find the length to be too short.
A weird thing about this shoe will be the sizing. Wearing a size US8.5 on my other 2 ASICS shoes, I was suprised that only a size US7.5 will fit me on this. I do not know how ASICS determine their sizes, but I was suprised that ASICS choose not to standardised it among their shoes. I was glad that I gave it a try first before purchasing, else it will be major headache.
At the time of writing, the ASICS GEL-DS Racer VIII is already available though it has yet to arrive at our shores. What I have notice besides the colour, is the change of the lacing system to the Asymmetrical Lacing Design while reducing weight by improving the materials used. Therefore with not much changes to it, the ASICS GEL-DS Racer VII remains a popular racing flat and retails at a recommended selling price of RM429.