Asics Magic Speed review and lab test

Fast, plated, and only $150! 

The Asics Magic Speed is a partially carbon-plated shoe in the daily-trainer price range. It’s firm and responsive, without the extreme spring of a fully-plated shoe or the steep price tag. With a price point less than the Nimbus or Kayano, this may be the ideal Asics to consider! 

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Who should buy the Magic Speed 

This shoe focuses on customers exploring plated options for the first time, racers that want a speed-day shoe to pair with their MetaSpeed Skys, or runners that just want one shoe they can train and race in without the fuss of maintaining a shoe lineup. 

Asics-Magic-Speed-Shoes.jpg

Buy the Magic Speed if you like a firmer ride underfoot, not a lot of padding in the upper, and a little extra pop off your toes. 

Who should not buy it

Don’t buy this shoe if you are looking for:

If you are searching for a more plush shoe from Asics, check out the Novablast 2 instead, or the Saucony Triumph if you're interested in Saucony's plush shoes.  

The Magic Speed can do a lot, but this is not the right shoe for someone looking to trod along at a gentle pace. It’s designed for tempo workouts and to go fast. 

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Magic Speed runs a bit narrow 

The Magic speed fits true to size but feels narrow out of the box. It took a few runs to break in, but eventually, it stretched nicely to accommodate my wide foot.  

Super wide feet beware though, this does feel snug for sure. 

Not built for comfort

Comfort is not the goal with the Magic Speed. This is a fast shoe designed to be light and quick. 

 

The upper is extremely thin and breathable with virtually zero padding, except for a very small amount of foam in the rear of the ankle collar over the Achilles. 

 

The tongue for example is just .7mm thick, compared to 5.2mm on the average tongue. 

Asics-Magic-Speed-Tongue.jpg

And the FFBlast EVA midsole is firm underfoot, it’s just not designed to be plush.

However, I enjoyed the ride and didn’t have any hot spots in the shoe.

 

Ultimately my only complaint is it’s a bit narrow and snug over the midfoot and through the toebox. 

Magic Speed’s ride doesn’t disappoint 

When I first pulled this shoe out of the box I was excited, I was coming off the high of crushing PRs in my Asics MetaSpeed Skys and I was ready to try the next plated Asics runner. Then I put it on my foot, and it just didn’t excite me as the Skys had. 

It felt dense underfoot instead of bouncy and heavy in hand compared to its racing sibling. Where the Sky fit wide, this fit narrow. I sighed… 

Then I went and ran in it and all that disappointment faded away. The rockered design felt quick underfoot and transitions from midfoot to toe were smooth and effortless. The partial carbon plate provided pep in toe-off without being overly “sprung” underfoot. 

Asics-Magic-Speed-Rocker.jpg

It felt nimble and quick while remaining balanced and tempered. What I like about this shoe is it’s bucking the trend of super tall stack heights (just 24.2mm under the forefoot) which gives it a grounded feel. 

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I think if you like a firmer feel underfoot, the Magic Speed is a great option, I really enjoyed my time in this shoe. 

Wide feet may need a break-in period

If you have a wider foot you are going to have to break this shoe in, it runs a touch narrow. Otherwise, it’s ready to go right out of the box. 

Impressive at around 8oz

I kept comparing this shoe to the MetaSpeed Sky (6.7 ounces), with one in each hand, these felt heavy. But at 8.2 ounces (233g) I’m actually pretty impressed considering it has a more traditional, and durable EVA midsole. 

Asics-Magic-Speed-Weight.jpg

On your feet, they feel light and fast. 

Durable for a carbon-plated shoe

The Magic Speed is a fast shoe but has great features that should keep it running for a long time. Its outsole is thin at just 2.5mm (compared to 3.8mm average) but it’s full-coverage and durable. 

Asics-Magic-Speed-Outsole-Thickness.jpg

The firm midsole shouldn’t pack out prematurely either. At 80.5HC on the durometer, it’s a bit harder than average outsoles at 78.6HC. 

Most carbon-plated shoes are not built for extended use, but the Magic Speed shouldn’t have that problem. 

Grippy textured outsole

The grip is great on these. The outsole has mini-lugs covering its whole surface which I really appreciate. 

Asics-Magic-Speed-Outsole.jpg

The Magic Speed is very similar to the Asics Hyper Speed in this regard. They look a lot alike and have the same outsole, which was one of the features I liked on the Hyper Speed. The Hyper Speed is a bit more budget-minded without a carbon plate and some added padding in the upper. 

Asics Magic Speed can go on race day

This shoe fills a lot of roles in my opinion. I think it’s a perfect companion to the MetaSpeed Sky as a tempo trainer in an all Asics rotation, but it can also stand alone.

If you just want one shoe that can be ready for race day on the weekends, and fill in on fast training days all week, this shoe has the chops. 

Ultimately, it wants to go fast, so keep that in mind if what you really want is a soft-riding shoe for long slow days. 

Extremely breathable upper

The thin upper is extremely breathable. I love shoes with less padding, and I like that the Magic Speed is not overbuilt with unneeded cushioning. Well done Asics on this upper!

Asics-Magic-Speed-Upper-Toebox.jpg

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It scored 5 out of 5 on the breathability tests, thanks to its thin construction but also there are small venting perforations throughout the whole upper. I love this!

Magic lockdown in the Magic Speed

Lockdown in the Magic speed was great. The mesh upper material is devoid of stretch, and the lace stretch was rated at a 2 (from 1-5, 5 being the stretchiest), meaning my foot didn’t move at all. 

I really liked the ankle collar, there’s basically zero padding except over the Achilles. This works really well for my foot, I didn’t have any heel slip

Asics-Magic-Speed-Ankle-Collar.jpg

The shoe does run a bit narrow, so it was snug on my foot which helps with lockdown, but I wish the tongue was gusseted. Even though I didn’t need the gussets to assist in lockdown, the thin tongue did slide around a bit on me, so I would have preferred it to be locked in place. 

Not a night runner

This is a tiny detail, but there are no reflective elements on the Magic Speed, so do your magic running during the day, not at night. 

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Compare this to the Hoka Mach 4 and you’ll see the difference if you’re out after dark. 

hoka-Mach-4-Reflective.jpg

Conclusion 

The Asics Magic Speed is a pretty impressive shoe that can be race-day ready and your fast-day trainer. 

Its firm ride is quick and most people are not in search of that overly energetic pop you get from a fully-plated shoe. Many may find the partial plate, and its more tempered ride, ideal. And at $150 you are getting 75% of the performance of a fully-plated shoe without the extra $100 price tag. 

Ok, Asics you have our attention in 2021!

Complete lab-specs overview 

  Asics Magic Speed Average
Whole shoe
Weight (g) 233 268
Drop (mm) 8.3 9.4
Flexibility of the shoe (N) 48.0 37.2
Flexibility of the shoe (Freezer 20 min) (N) 51.8 53.6
Flexibility of the shoe (% of change) 7.9% 52.8%
Lace slip test with the knot (N) 18.8 24.9
Longitudinal flexibility (1-5 scale, 5 being the stiffest) 4.0 2.9
Torsional flexibility (1-5 scale, 5 being the stiffest) 4.0 3.1
Upper
Thickness - Tongue (mm) 0.7 5.2
Width Upper - Forefoot (mm) 96.3 98.6
Width Upper - Heel (mm) 72.4 75.9
Lace Stretch (1-5 scale, 5 being the most stretchy) 2.0 2.2
Flexibility of the heel counter (1-5 scale, 5 being the stiffest) 2.0 2.2
Tongue: gusset type none -
Heel: pull tab none -
Midsole
Width Midsole - Forefoot (mm) 106.7 112.5
Width Midsole - Heel (mm) 85.4 88.9
Stack - Forefoot with insole (mm) 24.2 24.9
Stack - Heel with insole (mm) 35.2 32.8
Durometer Midsole Heel (Room temperature) (HA) 20.5 23.9
Outsole
Outsole thickness (Heel) (mm) 2.5 3.8
Lugs Depth (mm) N/A 3.1
Durometer Outsole Heel (Room temperature) (HC) 80.5 78.6
Insole
Insole Heel Thickness (mm) 2.5 4.4
Insole: removable no  

Tip: see the best running shoes.

Rankings

How Asics Magic Speed ranks compared to all other shoes
Top 25% road running shoes
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Top 18% Asics running shoes
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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.