NEW YORK—Automakers are well known for their “concept cars,” models that showcase the most innovative technologies in a company’s arsenal but will never see a showroom floor.
ASICS debuted its own version of a “concept shoe” at a media event in Manhattan on Tuesday, and while the MetaRun will make it onto the feet of the running public (albeit in limited quantities and distribution), like a concept car, many of the technological features figure to trickle down to the company’s stable of shoes in future iterations.
The MetaRun will be available in running specialty stores on Nov. 28 and the limited quantity is expected to be gone by the end of the year. With a list price of $250, there probably isn’t the demand to crank out hundreds of thousands of pairs, but the shoe is an impressive example of what ASICS can do when its developers are unleashed with no constraints.
Three years in the making, the MetaRun combines five technologies that will likely influence many of ASICS’ other models in years to come. FlyteFoam is a newly patented midsole material, about 55 percent lighter than industry standard foam used in other shoes. But beyond being lighter in weight, it is also more resilient to increase cushioning. Built-in organic fibers embedded in the foam instantly return the midsole to its original shape after each stride to provide the same cushioning from start to finish and increase the midsole’s durability.
AdaptTruss is also newly patented and is a carbon reinforced two-piece adaptive stability system beneath the arch. Like a self-tuning automobile suspension that adjusts stiffness in response to terrain, AdaptTruss will flex safely under normal footplant but become rigid if the arch of the foot rolls too much. It not only adapts to the support needs of individual runners, but also provides progressive adaptive support and smoother transition, reducing local pressure as the runner’s arch drops during a long distance run due to fatigue and change in biomechanics.
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Sloped DUOMAX is a dual density midsole that is precisely shaped and positioned to adjust to dynamic motion, and in conjunction with AdaptTruss provides adaptive stability and pressure reduction for smoother transition through the stride.
X-GEL is a hybrid high-tech gel, a refinement of the cushioning system that has been ASICS’ signature for almost two decades. Strategic design and placement of the X-GEL pads allows their size to be significantly reduced, resulting in a commensurate savings in weight.
An optimized upper design and construction also reduces weight and improves fit. Made of a single-layer engineered jacquard mesh to minimize rubbing between the foot and the upper, it results in a sock-like fit. A combination of closed and open weave patterns also optimizes flexibility and breathability. Combined with a newly designed exoskeleton external heel counter, known as MetaClutch, it wraps the lateral and medial side of the ankle bone, and in conjunction with built-in memory foam lining provides a personalized and secure heel fit.
Compared to ASICS’ flagship shoe, the GEL-Kayano 21, the MetaRun is 20 grams lighter, at 310g total shoe weight (10.9 ounces), exhibits 30 percent lower foam density in the FlyteFoam midsole, has increased stability (28 percent more in the rearfoot, 15 percent midfoot), has improved static (44 precent lateral and 26 percent medial) and dynamic fit (12 and 15 percent respectively), and an 18 percent increase in rearfoot cushioning.
Taking a cue from Henry Ford and his Model T, ASICS is offering the MetaRun in any color you want, as long as it’s black. The subdued gold trim gives it a look of understated elegance, like a running shoe version of a Range Rover or Toureag. The limited distribution means you may not see the MetaRun on the feet of many runners at your local race or workout spot, but if it’s true to its concept car inspiration, expect to find some of these groundbreaking technologies in other ASICS models in the not-too-distant future.