ASICS GEL-Cumulus 26 Review

The ASICS GEL-Cumulus 26.

All shoes are reviewed by the Fleet Feet tester team, which represents a wide variety of goals, foot shapes, running locations and terrains. Reviewers pound the pavement, climb the hills, tackle the trails, then come together to compare notes. Debates ensue over the feel of the cushioning, the purpose of the shoe, and how it compares to last year’s model. While each reviewer has their own individual preferences, we hope that capturing our debates will help you make an informed decision.

Do you ever wonder what Taylor Swift’s younger brother’s life is like? Living in the shadow of a superstar older sibling is something many of us can relate to, even if our sibling isn’t selling out stadiums and winning Grammy awards.

When it comes to ASICS running shoes, the GEL-Nimbus is the star of the show. With its maximally-cushioned midsole promising unparalleled comfort, it’s arguably the more popular shoe when compared with its less cushioned counterpart, the no-frills Cumulus.

“I know the Nimbus is the more famous older sibling that gets more of the attention, but you wanna know a secret?” says Nate. “I like the Cumulus better and would choose it almost every time.”

Maybe this is a result of Nate’s own second-sibling status, or maybe it’s due to the differences in ride and performance between the two shoes. Either way, you should never count out an underdog. Read on to learn more about the new Cumulus 26.

Tech Specs

ASICS GEL-Cumulus 26

Weight 7.8 oz (W), 9 oz (M)
Stack height (heel/forefoot) 37.5 mm/29.5 mm (W), 38.5 mm/30.5 mm(M)
Heel-to-toe drop 8 mm
Category Neutral
Surface Road
Price $140
Comparable to... New Balance 880 v14, Saucony Ride 17

Ride

Cushioning

Energy

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Midsole garners mixed reviews

A pair of the ASICS GEL Cumulus 26

The ASICS GEL-Cumulus is named after a cloud, and the 26 easily lives up to its namesake with a thick stack of lightweight FF BLAST PLUS midsole foam. FF BLAST PLUS foam is ASICS’ softest foam yet, and it allows the Cumulus to retain a relatively low weight even with such a high stack height.

However, reviewers noticed the Cumulus 26 felt slightly firmer than the 25, a trend we first noticed when comparing the Nimbus 26 to the Nimbus 25. Has ASICS tweaked the FF BLAST PLUS foam to feel slightly stiffer, or have our perceptions changed after testing more and more soft, squishy shoes?

While I was slightly disappointed by the firmer midsole foam (real or imagined), Kate and Nate lauded the balanced firm-to-soft ratio of the Cumulus 26.

“I personally don’t like overly soft and squishy shoes,” says Nate, who’s currently training for a 50K in April. “The Cumulus rides a little bit firmer, but still offers enough softness for a daily trainer. Plus, the beveled heel [the upward tapering of the heel] creates super smooth transitions. Simply put, this shoe runs exactly to my preferences.”

“I like a firmer feel on the run, and the Cumulus is a good option for runners like me who enjoy a standard running shoe without a smushy feel,” Kate agrees, who’s ramping up mileage for a half-marathon road race.

The midsole is rounded out with PureGEL in the heel and FluidRide outsole. In case you don’t speak ASICS, we’ll break it down for you.

PureGEL is an internal gel cushioning system that sits right below your rear foot to absorb impact during landings. If you’re a long-time ASICS fan, you might be more familiar with the slab of brightly colored GEL cushioning that used to sit in the heel. PureGEL is lighter and softer than the previous formula, and it’s hidden from view thanks to its internal construction.

FluidRide is a completely new outsole formula made of EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate) and rubber. ASICS says this makes the shoe feel faster and smoother while also maintaining its durability. While we can’t speak to the Cumulus’ durability just yet, Mandy noticed how grippy the shoe felt during various activities.

“In addition to running, I wore the Cumulus while timing my daughter’s swim meet,” says Mandy. “I was surprised at how quickly they dried and how comfortable they felt on the wet concrete and tile. I would gladly run in the rain in these shoes. I also did a HIIT class in these shoes and really enjoyed how the rubber on the bottom is extended throughout the entirety of the shoe. It felt light enough to handle burpees and cushioned enough to last the entire session.”

Standard upper locks down fit

The ASICS GEL-Cumulus 26 sits propped up.

I mentioned above that the Cumulus is a no-frills trainer, which I still stand by. However, this doesn’t mean it’s lacking in thoughtful details that add comfort to your run.

A lightweight engineered mesh upper wraps comfortably around your foot, providing excellent lockdown in the heel and midfoot. If you have narrow heels, like myself and Ashley, you’ll likely want to use the extra eyelets to tie the marathon loop in order to prevent heel slippage.

The breathable material feels soft and smooth all over. Kate, Nate and I wore the Cumulus as we explored downtown Orlando during the Marathon Trials and can attest to their breathability, even in hot, humid weather.

A thin, stretchy tongue sits nicely atop your foot–when it stays in place, that is. Kate and Mandy had some issues with the tongue moving around during activity, causing it to bunch up and become uncomfortable.

Last but not least, the heel collar. The Cumulus features a tapered out heel collar which reduces rubbing, chafing and blistering. As someone who almost always experiences blisters on the back of my heels despite slathering on Squirrel’s Nut Butter, this is a real lifesaver for me and I wish this was the standard for all running shoes.

Not only does the tapered heel cup eliminate any fear I have of blisters, it also makes these shoes easy to put on and take off,” says Ashley, for whom time is of the essence with a toddler, a full-time job and a packed training schedule.

The ASICS GEL-Cumulus heel.

ASICS GEL-Cumulus 26 vs ASICS GEL-Cumulus 25


Tech Specs

ASICS GEL-Cumulus 26

ASICS GEL-Cumulus 25

Weight

7.8 oz (W), 9 oz (M)

8 oz (W), 9.3 oz (M)

Stack height (heel/forefoot)

37.5 mm/29.5 mm (W),

38.5 mm/30.5 mm(M)

36.5 mm/28.5 mm (W),

37.5 mm/29.5 mm (M)

Heel-to-toe drop

8 mm

8 mm

Price

$140

$140

The Cumulus 26 remains true to form as ASICS’ entry-level daily trainer, with a few small upgrades to improve the ride and performance.

The latest version has managed to add cushioning while shaving weight, which could be due to the reformulated outsole. The addition of a tapered out heel collar makes the Cumulus more comfortable not only on the run but while taking the shoes on and off.

“The new updates make the Cumulus 26 feel more luxurious and easier to put on as I try to leave the house with coffee in hand,” says Mandy. “I’m also a fan of the new outsole configuration, it gives more grip and has better coverage.”

All in all, the upgrades are minimal enough for Cumulus 25 fans to enjoy this latest version, too.

How does the ASICS GEL-Cumulus 26 compare?

We took a look at some comparable shoes to see how they stack up against the Cumulus 26. Here’s what we found.

Tech Specs

ASICS GEL-Cumulus 26

New Balance 880 v14

Saucony Ride 17

Weight

7.8 oz (W), 9 oz (M)

7.4 oz (W), 9.5 oz (M)

8.4 oz (W), 9.9 oz (M)

Stack height

37.5 mm/29.5 mm (W),

38.5 mm/30.5 mm(M)

29 mm/21 mm

35 mm/27 mm

Heel-to-toe drop

8 mm

8 mm

8 mm

Price

$140

$140

$140

The ASICS GEL-Cumulus 26, New Balance 880 v14 and Saucony Ride 17 are all their respective brand’s mid-cushioned neutral daily trainers. They’re pretty similar across the board when it comes to tech specs. The main differences lie in the fit and feel of each shoe.

The Cumulus has the highest stack height of all three shoes but not the highest weight, a testament to ASICS’s innovative, lightweight materials.

The ASICS GEL CUMULUS outsole.

Who is the ASICS GEL-Cumulus 26 best for?

The ASICS GEL-Cumulus 26 is a great shoe for runners who don’t care for a lot of extra bells and whistles on their shoes, like an ultra-tall stack height or a bouncy foam. What it lacks in flashiness it makes up for in reliability. This is a shoe that will get the job done, whether you’re training for a marathon or timing your daughter’s swim meets.

“Runners often compare the Cumulus with the Nimbus,” says Kate. “The Nimbus is great if you want a super soft feel, but not everybody wants that. I recommend the Cumulus to anyone who likes a moderately cushioned trainer along with a firmer feel.”

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