The ASICS Gel Pulse 11 is a great all-around shoe for the budget-conscious runner. With little changed from previous models, this running shoe is great if you just need a daily trainer that you can rely on. There are a few issues if you’re running in colder climates, but everything else is very solid in this neutral runner.
- Fits true to size
- Good cushioning
- Great heel-strike cushioning
- One-piece upper
- Excellent grip
- No break-in period
- Could have better lacing
- No support for pronation
ASICS Gel Pulse 11 review and lab test
The ASICS Gel Pulse 11 is a pretty humble running shoe. With little to write home about, the budget-friendly shoe does what it says on the tin and does it well. It’s reliable, comfortable and will keep you going.
Who the shoe is for
The ASICS Gel Pulse 11 is a neutral running shoe that provides a nice amount of padding and average drop for a comfortable ride on the tarmac. It’s a great option for those who just want a running shoe without all the bells and whistles.
Who the ASICS Gel Pulse 11 is not for
It’s probably best to avoid the ASICS Gel Pulse 11 if:
- You overpronate, the shoe is a neutral running shoe so offers no stability control for overpronators, the ASICS GT 1000 10 is a great alternative, still at a decent price.
- You supinate, try the ASICS Gel Nimbus 23
- You’re after something high-tech and speedy, try the flagship ASICS MetaRacer
A tried and tested design
It’s definitely not a bad thing that ASICS have kept the Gel Pulse 11 simple and clean. With a shape that screams “just a running shoe” the Pulse is not setting any design records, but why would you want to? For most runners, we just want a shoe that fits and works, and this does both things.
That’s right, the ASICS Gel Pulse 11 fits true to size, it’s not too narrow or too wide, it’s pretty comfy too.
The ASICS Gel Pulse 11 has a slightly improved upper
The major difference between the ASICS Gel Pulse 10 and this model is the construction of the upper. While previous versions featured multiple meshes, stitched and fused together, the Pulse 11 is a single material.
This does wonder for the minimal appearance of the shoe and its durability, as no seams mean nowhere for the upper to fall apart.
The ASICS Gel Pulse 11 could improve the lacing
As the Pulse series is a solid shoe at a budget level (RRP $90), it doesn’t come as a surprise that the laces aren’t great. While the construction and closure of the shoe are good and provide a nice lockdown, the laces themselves slip very easily.
Taking only 7.1N for the laces to slip the knot in our lab testing, they score waaaay below the average of 24N. This isn’t the end of the world as you can replace the laces with something better very cheaply and end up with great results.
The Amplifoam midsole does the job
ASICS promised a new phase of midsole cushioning at a great price with their newer Amplifoam technology. While the full-length foam midsole does a good job of cushioning impact throughout runs and provides good energy return, it’s really nothing special.
Again, this might read like a criticism, but I think this is more than we get from a lot of shoes. The Gel Pulse 11 is a workhorse that doesn’t try to be anything spectacular.
The amount of midsole does make this a bit of a heavy shoe at 11.7oz (332g) for a US size 10. As a daily runner, this isn’t a tremendous problem for me, I’d rather have the padding and a few extra ounces.
The ASICS Gel Pulse 11 has a helpful heel cushion for some
For a long time now, the ASICS Gel unit has been the brand’s flagship technology. Adding extra cushioning in the exterior side of the heel really helps take the load off and I felt it aid my heel-to-toe transition.
While not detrimental, this isn’t super relevant for forefoot strikers, who would rarely put much contact into the heel of the shoe.
Flexible and but not consistent
One of the nicest parts of the midsole is its flexibility. Needing only 21.9N to bend the shoe to 45° the ASICS Gel Pulse 11 is more flexible than most others (the average is 37.1N). This helps with keeping contact with the ground and with the shoe breaking in.
The issue comes into play when the shoe gets cold. After 20 minutes in the lab freezer, the test score shot up to 39.4N, which is a change of 79.9%. For context, the average change is 34.1%
The crux of the issue is that if you run in cold conditions, this shoe might feel drastically different than on a warmer day. This s quite common in shoes that have a full-length, single-density midsole and very little change in shape to aid flexibility throughout.
The ASICS Gel Pulse 11 no break-in period
Thanks to the one-piece upper, the Pulse 11 was comfortable to run in straight out of the box. There’s a nice amount of room in the toe box and the good amount of cushioning helps keep things comfy throughout.
The Pulse 11 gives excellent grip
I’ve always loved ASICS’ AHAR outsoles. The 5.1mm of rubber on the outsole from heel to toe gives a great, grippy surface area that I felt was strong on wet and dry tarmac. Clearly, the shoe isn’t meant for trail running and I wouldn’t bother trying any of that, but again, the shoe does exactly what it’s supposed to.
The ASICS Gel Pulse 11 is an excellent budget-friendly shoe. While it has no stand-out features, it’s not really meant to. If you want a shoe that you can trust to work when you need it to, the Pulse 11 is there for you.
Complete lab-specs overview
|Gel Pulse 11||Average|
|Flexibility of the shoe (N)||
|Flexibility of the shoe (Freezer 20 min) (N)||39.4||48|
|Flexibility of the shoe (% of change)||79.9||34.1|
|Lace slip test with the knot (N)||7.1||24|
|Longitudinal flexibility (1-5 scale, 5 being the stiffest)||2.0||3.2|
|Torsional flexibility (1-5 scale, 5 being the stiffest)||2.0||3.4|
|Thickness - Tongue (mm)||12.42||6.2|
|Width Upper - Forefoot (mm)||98.4||98.7|
|Width Upper - Heel (mm)||82.5||82.5|
|Lace Stretch (1-5 scale, 5 being the most stretchy)||3.0||2.7|
|Flexibility of the heel counter (1-5 scale, 5 being the stiffest)||3.0||3.0|
|Tongue: gusset type||None||-|
|Heel: pull tab||None||-|
|Width Midsole - Forefoot (mm)||109.2||112.2|
|Width Midsole - Heel (mm)||87||89.0|
|Stack - Forefoot with insole (mm)||22.5||24.2|
|Stack - Heel with insole (mm)||34||32.6|
|Durometer Midsole Heel (Room temperature) (HA)||33.2||26.0|
|Outsole thickness (Heel) (mm)||5.1||3.7|
|Lugs Depth (mm)||N/A||3.3|
|Durometer Outsole Heel (Room temperature) (HC)||86||81.1|
|Insole Heel Thickness (mm)||5||4.3|