The GEL-KAYANO 26 is the scientifically premium model in the ASICS running stability range. It is characterised as a shoe that withstands repetitive load, guiding both plodding or novice gait styles through to a safe propulsive transition.
The GEL-KAYANO 26 has a notable change in the forefoot setup this season and this is felt instantly at the pre-strike phase of gait, prior to weight bearing.
When the ankle is in full dorsiflexion prior to hitting the ground, so too is the 1st MPJ.
There is noticeably no resistance in performing the latter. The midsole gives no resistance to the toe trying to dorsiflex and the roof of the upper isn’t pushing down on the toe or its nail. The toe box shape is deeper and allows freedom of sagittal toe movement. It’s highly comfortable, making the shoe immediately easy to run in from brand new.
The midsole is highly insulated under the forefoot, with notable a cushioning feel on unrelenting concrete. The upper midfoot is snug however and there is no feeling of instability that is often interrelated with increased cushioning.
The GEL-KAYANO 26 outsole feels similar to 25 in terms of grip.
Whether uneven, steep gravel with a light, short stride, or when running in the rain on steep, downward autumnal leaf covered concrete, the outsole grip keeps the runner feeling safe and secure. You can also feel cushioning in the forefoot outsole, a sense of rebound at lift-off. This a combination of the outsole material with a regular cut out design at key flex areas as well as a midsole upper of FlyteFoam Propel, which is responsible for this push forward, upward sensation at propulsion.
Heel comfort is a focus of GEL-KAYANO and the 26 refines this further. Exoskeletal polymer lining is visible and it is shaped to encompass the lateral and medial heel. This skeletal structural support is then lined with a shear proof, sheen fabric that doesn’t rub, wear or dig into the sensitive inferior heel – a site for Haglaund development, calcaneal bursa inflammation or Achilles insertional injury. The upper in this area is carefully tapered around the anterior cuff to support the ankle on eyelit tightening. The result is a firm, custom fit that is highly comfortable around the entire ankle – a key sagittal plane joint of the foot.
When running in the GEL-KAYANO, traditionally we aren’t looking for bold differences in feel between models. However in the GEL-KAYANO 26, you immediately feel a difference in the forefoot to the previous model, especially relieving in the toe region. You can almost move, dorsiflex the great toe freely whilst still feeling very secure from the rear – midfoot.
The shoe now also feels a lot softer under the forefoot making this stable shoe more “plush” underfoot.