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Asics Spring 2011 – The DS Trainer and a Few Close Cousins

August 4th, 2010

The Asics DS Trainer was popular long before the current minimalist movement hit.  There’s a reason it’s been around for over 15 years, the enticing combination of light weight, responsive ride and a touch of support resonated with a significant portion of the serious running crowd.  With the advent of the minimal movement and the demand for more light weight models increasing, Asics has decided the best way to address the market was to take their most popular lightweight midsole/outsole combination and offer slightly tweaked version targeted at different runners.

For Spring 2011, Asics offers three lightweight trainers all based on the tooling borrowed from various versions of the DS Trainer; the updated GEL-DS Trainer 16, the newly introduced GEL-Noosa Tri 6 and the entirely new GEL-DS SkySpeed.

Asics GEL-DS Trainer 16

The Updated Asics GEL-DS Trainer 16. Women's shown in Lime Green

Asics GEL-DS Trainer 16

The upcoming GEL-DS Trainer 16 has a few tweaks to the midsole/outsole and a fairly significant addition to the upper.  The midsole maintains the same heights as the current model. Asics added the Guidance Line to the updated DS Trainer to help promote a more efficient ride, plus they added an additional 3mm of medial forefoot flare to help prevent medial collapse as the foot approaches toe-off.   ‘DS’ actually stands for  Duo-Sole, a nice combination of Durasponge and Wet-Grip rubber that provides durability and a tacky road feel.  This DS outsole remains unchanged from the current version.

The upper of the new DS Trainer 16 receives a fairly significant update in the form of Asics Heel Clutching System. This system was first introduced on the current GEL-Landreth 6.  The system works in two parts:  First, an exoskeletal TPU heel counter replaces the conventional internal heel counter.  Second, an inner ‘Clutch Collar’, lined with memory foam, extends forward and finishes with a ghilly lace that protrudes through the top of the eyelet stay.  When the laces are tightened, the system locks around the heel and is designed to cut down on slippage.  The shoe is targeted to come in at just under 10 oz.

Asics GEL-DS SkySpeed

The New Asics GEL-DS SkySpeed. Men's shown in orange.

Asics GEL-DS SkySpeed

It seems a no-brainer really, why not take your most successful lightweight posted trainer and remove the medial post to attract the neutral crowd?  Well the wait is over, introducing the new Asics GEL-DS SkySpeed, essentially a DS Trainer sans a medial post.  The DS SkySpeed shares the midsole tooling with the GEL-DS Trainer but the goal for each shoe is different.  The GEL-DS Trainer is focused on support while the GEL-DS SkySpeed is focused on providing a more flexible platform.

When we say the DS SkySpeed is “essentially” a non-posted DS Trainer it’s because what’s happening in the midsole of the DS SkySpeed is bit tricky.  The rear-foot GEL unit, mid-foot Trusstic unit, and midsole heel cartridge (above the rear GEL unit) share molds with DS Trainer 14.  The remainder of the SkySpeed midsole are very similar to the DS Trainer including midsole heights and the use of a Guidance Line.

The lasting construction is quite a bit different between the GEL-DS Trainer and the GEL-DS SkySpeed to help facilitate the stability vs flexibility difference in the models.  The GEL-DS Trainer is designed to provide a fair degree of stability and is constructed using California lasting where the EVA lasting material is sewn around outside edge of last .  The GEL-DS SkySpeed employs traditional slip lasting construction which helps increase flexibility.

The GEL-DS SkySpeed incorporates 2 of the key upper technologies borrowed from the DS Trainer; Asymmetrical Lacing Design for an anatomically correct fit and Discrete Eye-stay construction for added midfoot comfort.  The fit on this new model should be dialed in.

For the runner seeking a flexible, neutral, high performance lightweight trainer at 9.8 oz or so, check out the new GEL-DS SkySpeed.  This is a very nice intro.

Asics GEL-Noosa Tri 6

The New Asics GEL-Noosa Tri 6. The men's is shown in the smaller window

Asics GEL-Noosa Tri 6

The GEL-Noosa Tri series was originally designed for the Australian Triathlon market and makes its US debut after being available in Europe and Australia for a few seasons.  The Noosa Tri uses the same midsole/outsole combination as the DS Trainer 14, so not much to report on there.  Where the story rides is with the upper.

Stating the obvious, the shoe is pretty loud and will definitely have people who absolutely love it or hate it.  Still, underneath that Crayola inspired upper lies some pretty nice features that should appeal to triathletes and competitive runners alike.

The upper of the GEL-Noosa Tri 6 features less interior stitching and softer lining material to facilitate wearing the shoe barefoot while the open mesh upper enhances ventilation.  In addition, the sock-liner is perfed to help keep moisture within the shoe to a minimum and features full-length Solyte 55 lasting for a plush road feel.  The shoe also comes with two types of laces:  a standard lace and an elastic lace.  Finally, the topper, the logo stripes glows in the dark so you won’t be able to miss them day or night.  The GEL-Noosa Tri should find a niche in the US particularly with the runner looking to be noticed as they fly by.

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