Asics Gel Cumulus 23 review and lab test

Ah the 23rd Gel Cumulus…

 

The Gel Cumulus 23 is a shoe that doesn’t make you think about which shoe to wear for what run. This shoe is designed on a budget for the runner that just wants something they can comfortably jog in day-in and day-out no matter what type of workout they are aiming for.

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Besides its obvious use as a running shoe, this jack of all trades can go to the gym, go on walks, run errands, and still work as your race shoe for your first 5K or marathon. 

The shoe may not wow you with its performance, or be the envy of onlooking eyes, but it’s consistent in its ride and doesn’t try to be something it’s not. This is a daily trainer without bells and whistles, that works just fine. 

Who should buy the Gel Cumulus 23

Buy this shoe if you want a simple shoe that works for a variety of needs and won’t break the bank. At $120 the Cumulus 23 is affordable and there’s nothing this shoe can’t do. 

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It’s a neutral daily trainer with enough form in the heel to add stability for runners that care more about just getting out for a jog than those focused on their stride and speed. 

This shoe is ideal for heel strikers, entry-level runners, and runners that don’t want to adjust to newer styles of running shoes. If you’ve been running in Asics for decades, you’ll be happy with the Cumulus 23.

 

Who should not buy it 

Although the Asics Gel Cumulus can do many things, it doesn’t stand out among shoes with newer tech and materials. 

Don’t buy this shoe if:

  • You want a budget, lightweight shoe. If weight is your focus, the Asics Hyper Speed is still budget-minded but almost 2 ounces lighter. 
  • You want a soft plush ride. Although the Cumulus is padded, its sibling the Gel Nimbus is a better option for those that want a plush feeling underfoot. 
  • You truly need stability control. Although this is a stable shoe, it’s not specifically designed to help pronators. Check out the Gel Kayano for that. 
  • You’re looking for a true performance/speed shoe. Check out the Asics Magic Speed instead if you want the next level of tech. 

Gel Cumulus fits true to size

The Gel Cumulus fits true to size. It’s not too narrow or too wide. This shoe should accommodate a wide variety of foot shapes easily. 

Dang, I want to hate the Gel Cumulus, but it’s comfortable

This shoe is comfortable. I’ll admit, I like how it feels on my foot. Maybe it’s not super performance-oriented but it feels good. 

 

There’s a lot of padding in the ankle collar, and at 8.2mm thick, the tongue is like a pillow over the top of your foot (average tongues are only 5.4mm thick).

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All this padding means the shoe hugs your feet well, but it comes with downsides like weight, and the shoe feels a touch warm in the hot temps of mid-June.  

 

Smooth ride, but could be more efficient 

The ride on the Gel Cumulus is really nothing to write home about. I mean it’s fine, but it doesn’t make you want to go fast. 

 

This is not a rockered design like a lot of newer shoes are moving to. Instead, Asics uses flex grooves in the outsole to allow the shoe to flex and roll through your stride. This makes for a smooth ride underfoot but it’s not as efficient as a rockered shoe. 

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Also, the FlyteFoam EVA midsole is not overly soft, or overly firm. Asics is playing it safe here with a  tempered ride that won’t surprise runners moving to this platform for the first time. If you are a long-time Cumulus runner, then you know what to expect, nothing has changed. 

 

Lastly, this shoe is ideal for heel strikers. There’s a second layer of dense foam under the heel which helps runners compress into a specific area without losing stability. It’s a simple way to ensure a shoe is balanced and again designed with the beginner runner in mind. 

 

And of course, there’s the famous Asics Gel in the heel which dissipates a lot of the impact heel strikers tend to exert throughout a run.  

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Day one the Asics Gel Cumulus is ready for work

There’s really no break-in or adaptation period needed with this shoe. 

 

This shoe is perfect for those runners who want a shoe they can lace up for any jog without having to contemplate what type of run they’ll be doing and which shoes match that intention.  

Decent weight for a daily trainer

Asics kept the Gel Cumulus under 10 ounces (9.8 ounces/277g) which is great. It’s not overly heavy and as a daily trainer, it’s actually decent in the weight category. 

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It is a bit lighter than the more plush Gel Nimbus 23, but tips the scales over the lighter and more modern Gel Nimbus Lite 2. Personally, if I was looking at this line of shoes for my next purchase, the Nimbus Lite 2 would have my attention hands down. 

Should be plenty durable

This is a budget shoe, so I don’t think you should expect 700 miles out of it, but it does have a dense EVA midsole that should hold up and a decently thick (4mm in the heel/average is 3.7mm) full rubber outsole. 

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I think you can expect this shoe to last 4-500 miles of mild abuse as a daily trainer. If you only jog 1-2 times a week, you’ll have no problem getting years out of the Cumulus 23. 

Cumulus 23 has fine grip

The outsole is grippy. It’s nice that there is rubber throughout the full bottom of the shoe. 

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This shoe is really designed to do a bit of everything, so whether that’s out on dry or wet roads, or in the gym on the treadmill, I think there should be no issues with grip. 

Gel Cumulus runs a bit hot

The upper is dense and padded without any real venting. The idea is the weave is just loose enough to dissipate heat. However, it feels a bit warm on hot days. 

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As you can see there are no real venting holes for heat to escape, but it does vent from the body of the upper once there's enough pressure. 

 

I wish Asics would have made this shoe more breathable. 

No gusseted tongue 

The lockdown on this shoe was adequate. There’s nothing fancy here, the tongue is not gusseted, the lacing pattern is just standard. But it works. 

I had a little heel slip, but there’s a second lace hole at the top of the patter and the laces are long enough to do a modified lacing technique that solved any issues.

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Also, at 24.3N on our lace slip test, the lace outperformed other recently tested shoes like the Saucony Endorphin Speed 2 which measured in at only 13.8. 

Traditional midsole performs poorly in the cold

The FlyteFoam midsole, which is more of a traditional EVA, does have issues in the cold. 

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All traditional EVA shoes tend to stiffen up in cooler temps, and this was no exception. After 20 minutes in our freezer test the flex on this shoe stiffened up 52.4%, the average shoe stiffened just 21%. 

Reflective elements on the heel

One nice feature of the Cumulus 23, is it has a reflective stripe down the heel for runs in low or no light. 

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Complete lab-specs overview 

  Cumulus 23 Average
Whole shoe
Weight (g) 277 267
Drop (mm) 9.8 9.4
Flexibility of the shoe (N) 25.4 36.9
Flexibility of the shoe (Freezer 20 min) (N) 38.7 52.8
Flexibility of the shoe (% of change) 52.4% 21.0%
Lace slip test with the knot (N) 24.3 24.5
Longitudinal flexibility (1-5 scale, 5 being the stiffest) 3.0 2.9
Torsional flexibility (1-5 scale, 5 being the stiffest) 3.0 3.1
Upper
Thickness - Tongue (mm) 8.2 5.4
Width Upper - Forefoot (mm) 98.3 98.6
Width Upper - Heel (mm) 67.7 75.6
Lace Stretch (1-5 scale, 5 being the most stretchy) 3.0 2.6
Flexibility of the heel counter (1-5 scale, 5 being the stiffest) 4.0 2.6
Tongue: gusset type none -
Heel: pull tab none -
Midsole
Width Midsole - Forefoot (mm) 114.5 112.4
Width Midsole - Heel (mm) 88.9 88.8
Stack - Forefoot with insole (mm) 25.1 24.9
Stack - Heel with insole (mm) 35.9 33.0
Durometer Midsole Heel (Room temperature) (HA) 24.0 23.9
Outsole
Outsole thickness (Heel) (mm) 4.0 3.7
Lugs Depth (mm) N/A 3.1
Durometer Outsole Heel (Room temperature) (HC) 85.0 78.9
Insole
Insole Heel Thickness (mm) 5.6 4.4
Insole: removable yes  

Tip: see the best running shoes.

Rankings

How Asics Gel Cumulus 23 ranks compared to all other shoes
Top 23% road running shoes
All road running shoes
Top 16% Asics running shoes
All Asics running shoes
Top 21% neutral running shoes
All neutral running shoes

Popularity

The current trend of Asics Gel Cumulus 23.
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Author
Paul Ronto
Paul Ronto

Over the past 20 years, Paul has climbed, hiked, and ran all over the world. He has summited peaks throughout the Americas, trekked through Africa, and tested his endurance in 24-hour trail races as well as 6 marathons. On average, he runs 30-50 miles a week in the foothills of Northern Colorado. His research is regularly cited in The New York Times, Washington Post, National Geographic, etc. On top of this, Paul is leading the running shoe lab where he cuts shoes apart and analyses every detail of the shoes that you might buy.