Stylish looking black/gold upper combined with the red rocker is a bit too much bling-bling!
Once you have attuned yourself to the rolling rocker motion and tight and plush hugging fit of the Metaride, you'll have yourself a solid workhorse running shoe that will last you many miles and be gentle on your body regardless of distance.
The Metaride is a relatively new running shoe from Asics (spring 2019). It is touted as an innovative running-shoe jam-packed with bleeding-edge features and technology straight out of the Asics development labs.
What is key to me when it comes to running shoes is, however, not how many new cool features the manufacturer claims to have crammed into it. What's important is how the shoe and more importantly, my body feels like when I go for a run!
Hence instead of painstakingly going through each individual new feature, this review of the Metaride tries to take a step back and look at how the Metaride does overall as a running shoe.
The first thing you notice about the Metaride is the huge, brightly red, curved mid/outsole. In fact, it is pretty much the only thing you notice along with the holes that run through the middle - both left and right, back to front (well it actually ends up underneath).
The red rocker of the Metaride screams, "Look at me."
That Asics wants to bring the rocker forward in the design is only natural. It is after all one of the key innovative features of the Metaride.
Hoka One One has been doing it for years, but that is another story. Anyway, I find that this feature focus-design detracts from the overall composition of the shoe.
If you for a second try to ignore the red "attention grabber," the upper of the Metaride actually looks quite stylish. A dark/solid black with gold trimmings and futuristic exoskeleton details. Not to mention the classical Asics "A" logos on the sides.
It makes me wonder what the Metaride would have looked like had Asics kept the mid/outsole in those same stylish dark/gold nuances as the upper.
I think it would have been a more rounded and consistent design. Perhaps a bit nondescript black in black, but still a lot better than the current 80's-ish, leg-warmer, bling-bling look.
The Metaride is quite comfortable at first. The heel cup is very firm - thanks to the plastic exoskeleton. The solid yet ample foam in and around the rather high ankle collar makes for a snug, close, comfortable and tight fit.
Rigid plastic exoskeleton provides a firm yet comfortable heel cup.
The tongue has a good length and shape, only attached at the bottom and is nicely cushioned - if anything perhaps a bit too soft. The laces have a nice length, they are easy to grip and tie, and "sticky" so they stay put when tied.
The upper is dominated by two different kinds of knit fabric, one a bit more stretchy than the other. The firmer one provides structure and protection along the sides. The softer one along the top provides ventilation and superb stretch.
Two different kinds of knit fabric: The firmer one around the front and sides (yellow arrow) and more stretchable on the top (green arrow).
The combination of fabrics allows the Metaride to accommodate a reasonably wide range of foot shapes - except for the very narrow and very wide. I'm unfortunately among the latter, and the initial comfortable feel did not last for me.
This is because the Metaride copies the pointy shape of so many running shoes. The result is that my pinky toes get buggered (hot spot) and my big toes are pushed inwards (bunions). Please note that this is no fault on the part of the fabrics, which I very much would like to see applied in a more foot-shaped shoe.
My biggest gripe with the Metaride is that the snug fit and otherwise welcoming and cushy insole gradually turns from "a nice soft hug" into a "suffocating grip." In other words, on longer outings, my feet start to feel numb.
I normally put this down as "new shoe numbness." In the case of the Metaride, however, the feeling has persisted at least beyond the first 100 km.
I have tried a wide range of different socks. I have tried to run with the laces lose, tight and somewhere in between. I have tried the lace-lockdown technique, taking out the insoles (btw ankle collar gets too high) and getting the shoes completely soaked while running. So far, without luck!
After running more than 100 kilometers, the Metarides are still deceptively comfortable at first. But the longer I run, the more uncomfortable they get. Once past the one hour mark, I have to stop every 5-10 minutes to readjust something: laces, tongue, foot position, something to get circulation back in my feet.
In conclusion: Length-wise, I'd say they are pretty much true to size, but width-wise they are rather narrow and quite pointy. If you have wide feet and do decide on a pair of Metaride, I strongly recommend you try them on and/or perhaps go up half a size.
One of the key features of the Metaride is the very stiff curving rocker sole. The combination of a rocker sole with a zero heel-to-toe offset is a bit novel.
In theory, the zero drop should encourage mid/forefoot striking, but the rocker and ample cushioning favour heel-striking. What kind of shoe is the Metaride?
There is no doubt in my mind that the Metaride requires you to heel-strike. Especially if you want to benefit from the ample cushioning and rolling motion of the rocker. Once you've accepted this notion, the Metaride provides a substantial yet soft energy return and an easy, unobtrusive running experience.
The rocker automatically propels you forward, and it just feels natural to roll along. That is as long as it is straight ahead on flat roads. As soon as you get on to more changeable routes, the experience is a bit more mixed.
To me, the rocker-motion requires a certain flow. Running on variable surfaces with twist and turns and going uphill, I have trouble finding the right speed.
As soon as I am "out of the zone," the Metaride feels clunky and heavy with most of the weight underneath the foot. The rocker-shape also becomes annoying and interfering with my running rather than helpful.
In conclusion: Technically/theoretically speaking, the Metaride may be a zero drop shoe. However, that is not what it feels like when running. It runs like a shoe with a substantial drop.
It makes me wonder how they actually measure the drop. Looking at the shoe from the side, it does not look anything like zero to me. At least if you measure the actual physical shoe and do not include the air underneath the ball of the foot (see photo below).
How do you measure a zero heel-to-toe offset in the Metaride?
Another item worth mentioning with regards to the rocker is that walking feels odd in the Metaride. Because of the rocker, you sort of "fall forward" all the time.
That is okay for a wee while and the occasional walk to the car (to go somewhere for a run). However, in my mind, they are not suitable for casual everyday wear.
The outsole is excellent on roads, beaches and easy straight hard trails (i.e. flat routes). The outsole material is sticky and provides an okay grip on flat surfaces, both dry and wet.
Sidenote: Like most other reviewers, I also found that the stickiness of the material makes the outsole squeak hideously when walking on any kind of smooth indoor floors.
Metaride footprint: No lugs and a groove down the middle.
When it comes to more rugged, technical trails, rocks, and other non-road surfaces, the Metaride is not overly good. There are no lugs, and hence the grip is poor even in the mildest of slippery conditions.
The deep groove down the middle of the Metaride
The groove down the middle of the outsole easily lodges objects, such as pebbles, gravel, and cherry stones. The quite substantial hole inside the shoe easily and welcomingly stores mud, wet sand and any other substance with the right viscosity.
Asics if you read this here is an idea. Perhaps the Metaride should come with a complimentary bottle brush in case one steps in some dog pooh (I'll spare you the glorious details!)
The holes through the middle of the Metaride: Back-to-front, left-to-right
According to the official specifications, the Metaride weighs 331 grams for a size US 10.5, which is quite substantial. I was therefore pleasantly surprised when I put my pair on the scales and found they were "only" 282 grams each for a size US 7.5.
That is not exactly lightweight, but not overly heavy either. I recently reviewed a shoe touted by its manufacturer as light-weight, which is slightly heavier than the Metaride.
Regardless of the actual weight, the Metaride still feels clunky and heavy when I put them on. I put this down to the weight being located mainly underneath the heel and the back of the foot. Mind you, after a wee while of running, I tend to forget about it, especially when I "hit the flow" gait-wise and just gently roll along.
The stack is very high, and you feel clearly elevated from the ground when running. On roads, this is okay as long as it is reasonably flat. However, even if you stick to urban running, there will be the occasional curb or tile edge.
I'm likely over-sensitive in this area (having twisted my ankles too many times), but the Metaride is too high and unstable for my liking. It just underlines the fact that the Metaride is not for trails.
When it comes to speed, I have found the Metaride to be faster than average on roads, especially when you "are on a roll". Not a racing flat in any way, but faster than you would judge by its weight and initial clunky feel. Somehow the shoe likes you to speed - it sort of "feels right" to run fast in the Metaride.
Running uphill and on windy routes is another matter. It is like the angle of the rocker, and the required speed does not suit me well. I end up mid/forefoot striking, which is non-optimal with the Metaride.
Consequently, I slow down quite markedly. That may, however, likely be a "learning-how-to"-issue rather than an actual "something-is-wrong-with-the-shoe" -issue.
As mentioned earlier, the upper is made from two types of knitted fabric. This should, in theory, provide ample ventilation, and there is indeed some. Despite this, I still find them rather warm.
Perhaps it is the overall tight fit and solid heel-cup that renders them warm. Regardless, if given a free choice of running shoe, the Metaride would not be my first pick on a hot summer day.
Moisture/water gets in very easily, also thanks to the open-weave upper. The Metaride sheds water quickly too, which would be an ideal combination in an OCR or trail shoe, but I don't think it is that useful in a road shoe.
Shoes with knitted upper (like the Metaride) are in my experience simply not made for rainy days. Because of this, the Metaride is not a great winter-time shoe. At least not around where I live (Denmark), where the winters are wet.
Going back through this review, you'll notice that I have had quite a few issues with the Metaride. I find the design to be too much bling-bling. They are useless for pretty much anything but running.
They fit me badly. They are too hot for summertime runs and too permeable for rainy days. They are no good on trails. They feel like a shoe with a considerable drop despite having a theoretical zero heel-to-toe offset.
On the positive side, they are nice when running on roads and going over easy terrain. They are indeed gentle on the body, and I have had no injuries (not in the brewing either) while running in the Metaride.
I even took them out for a three-hour run, and apart from squashed toes and the numbness in my feet, the Metaride performed really well. The gentle roll and energy-efficiency are indeed quite soothing when going for long runs.
Under the right set of circumstance, I can see some justification for the Metaride. Urban heel-strikers with narrow to normal feet should likely get some enjoyment from a pair. Because of the way the shoe runs, there is very little wear and tear. Combine that with a solid build quality, and you've got a shoe that will last you long.
To sum all those pros and cons up, I think the Metaride clearly is not for everyone. Some people will find the Metaride a solid, well-built, enjoyable and refreshing take on a supportive, highly cushioned running shoe for long-distance-running urban heel-strikers. Other people, like me, will find it clunky, heavy, uncomfortable, tight and/or in conflict with their running form.
Value for money
I have so far intentionally made no mention of the price. At a recommended retail price of USD/EUR 250, they are among the most expensive running shoes out there. In my mind, this is simply ridiculous. No running shoe is worth that much money - and certainly not the Metaride.
Asics may be trying to write off some huge development costs or perhaps make some sort of overpriced market statement. I reluctantly admit that I fell for it because I very much wanted to try the Metarides partly because of the abnormal price (i.e. at that price they need to be something special).
After three weeks of closer inspection and running a bit more than 100 kilometers, I must say I am sorely disappointed!
To put it very simple, I own several pairs of running shoes that runs way better and cost me less than a third of the recommended retail price of the Metaride.
Tip: see the best running shoes.