When a running shoe costs over £200, it needs to be absolutely amazing. The Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4% is, which is why runners will shell out silly money on it – £209.95 to be exact. After spending a couple of weeks running in the Asics MetaRide, however, I found little reason to justify its £225 price.
Asics spent a couple of years developing the MetaRide and has crammed a whole load of proprietary tech into it in an attempt to make it feel like something different, with the star feature being the curved and very stiff Guidesole. This creates a rocking motion with each stride that shifts you onto your forefoot, something that’s also aided by it being a zero-drop shoe – the stack of cushioning is the same height at the heel as at the forefoot.
This rocker (plus the increased stability around the ankle) is designed to reduce energy loss when you land, which is supposed to help the MetaRide’s achieve its aim – to make long runs feel easier. This is not a shoe designed to compete with the Vaporfly as a racer, despite the similarly high price. Instead, the MetaRide will help you complete long runs and races with less effort.
I used the MetaRide for several runs at a variety of paces, but predominantly easy and steady running, which should have been its bread and butter. However, I simply didn’t enjoy running in it at this pace. It has a firm, almost uncomfortable ride, and the rocker is noticeable but didn’t feel smooth or like it was making my running more effortless. Quite the opposite, in fact – it felt clunky and unnatural.
The shoe was actually more impressive when I upped the pace with a tempo run or an interval session. In those runs I did enjoy a pretty smooth heel-to-toe transition, though I never really felt the explosive pop off the toes that I thought might come from using a curved sole. Hoka One One has been making shoes with rockers in the soles for a while, and though these are less pronounced than the rocker on the MetaRide, I’ve found the ride of a shoe like the Hoka Mach far more responsive than the MetaRide.
Hoka shoes are also generally lighter. The MetaRide is 305g (men’s size 8.5) but feels heftier. This is fine for a shoe designed for long and easy running, but I’ve tried shoes in that category that feel more cushioned, springy and generally enjoyable to use for long runs, such as the Saucony Triumph ISO 5, Hoka One One Clifton 5 or the Adidas UltraBoost 19, all of which cost substantially less than £200.
It could be because I’m a heel striker who mostly uses 10mm-drop shoes and the zero-drop style of the shoe changed up my running form in an uncomfortable way – my calves were pretty tight after running in the MetaRide – so perhaps midfoot or forefoot runners might enjoy using the shoe more.
Where the MetaRide did impress was in the grip of its outsole, which afforded good purchase even on a couple of very wet and windy runs. It’s definitely a road shoe, however, if only because the long and deep gouge that runs through the middle of the forefoot on the outsole is prone to picking up pebbles. I’ve no idea why this gouge exists, but I’m sure there’s a sound scientific reason that you’ll want to hear about once you’ve finished picking stones out of the sole of the shoe.
The MetaRide isn’t a bad running shoe, but it’s far from revolutionary. It’s not even more enjoyable to run long distances in than other premium cushioned options that cost far less. Asics is set to bring this tech in the shoe into cheaper models in the future and it will be interesting to see how the rocker develops, but I was left underwhelmed by the MetaRide.
Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.
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