Today, I’m going to take a deeper dive into the world of the Asics Novablast range. Now that I have enough miles in the Novablast 2, it’s time for the Asics Novablast 1 vs 2 side-by-side comparison.
But why compare these two iterations?
Asics did some important improvements on the upper and midsole that I think have made the Novablast 2 even better in terms of lockdown and performance.
At the end of the comparison, I’m going to tell you which one I think maybe you should go for.
Excited enough? Let’s roll with it…
Related: The Novablast is one of these top road running shoes. Make sure you check out that article when you’re done with this comparison.
Asics Novablast 1 vs 2
The original Novablast wasn’t a shoe for everybody. In fact, this was kind of a polarizing shoe. Either you loved it or you hated it.
Some runners found that FlyteFoam midsole material to be just a little bit too squishy. So, Asics did address some of those concerns and issues that runners had with the Novablast 1.
In a hurry, these are the main differences and similarities between the Asics Novablast 1 and 2…
Related: Asics Novablast 2 vs Hoka Mach 4
- Both Novablasts are neutral shoes.
- Novablast 1 is a 10mm drop and Novablast 2 is only 8mm.
- Both are everyday running shoes.
- Novablast 1 has wider perforations in the toe box and the breathability is better.
- Novablast 2 has better lockdown.
- Novablast 1 is a little harder to get locked in and secure across the midfoot.
- Novablast 1 doesn’t have a gusseted tongue.
- Novablast 2 has a gusseted tongue which provides that feeling of being locked in and secure across the midfoot.
- Novablast 2 is more comfortable in the heel and around the ankle.
- Both shoes have no issues with heel slippage.
- Novablast 1 is softer and more squishy.
- Novablast 2 is a little firmer, more stable, and versatile.
- Both shoes are true to size.
- Durability is the same.
- Novablast 2 did pick up a little bit of weight.
- Novablast 2 is more stable and comfortable to walk in.
Weight, Stack, Drop, Fit
|Novablast 1||Novablast 2|
|Everyday training||Everyday training|
|Men (size 9)|
→ 9.5 oz (269 g)
|Men (size 9)|
→ 9.7 oz (274 g)
|Women (size 8)|
→ 8.3 oz (235 g)
|Women (size 8)|
→ 8.3 oz (235 g)
|10mm drop||8mm drop|
|True to size||True to size|
|Arch: Medium to high||Arch: Medium|
|Midfoot: Medium||Midfoot: Medium|
|Toebox: Medium to narrow||Toebox: Medium to narrow|
|Heel: Medium to narrow||Heel: Medium|
So, Asics reduced the drop from 10mm in the Novablast 1 to 8mm in the Novablast 2. The reduced heel cushion seems to make the forefoot on the Novablast 2 feel more cushioned than the Novablast 1 although both shoes are 22mm in the forefoot.
In terms of weight, the difference is minimal and I’m not really that worried about it, but you can see how all of the extra details (below) are adding up to a little bit of extra weight.
What this 8-millimeter drop does is provide a bit more cushioned feeling in the forefoot and you slightly feel less like you’re instantly stepping off a curb.
Research and podiatrists found that shoes with raised heels (like these 10mm drop shoes or these 12mm drop shoes) do reduce load on the Achilles tendon, which is good for runners who are having Achilles Tendonitis problems.
Asics recommends the Novablast 1 for neutral runners as well as those who might underpronate or supinate due to their high arch. So, the Novablast 1 does not have a lot of stability in terms of overpronation.
The Novablast 2 is a solid neutral running shoe. However, since the midsole is not that squishy and since the heel counter is more secure, the Novablast 2 can be worn by runners who lightly overpronate.
Both shoes have the same jacquard mesh upper with a slightly different perforation pattern. In my opinion, the upper was fine and so they didn’t need to tweak it much. However, there are two improvements that need to be discussed…
In terms of the toe box, I love the toe box of the Novablast 1 more. The Novablast 1 has wide perforations up in the toe box and midfoot. I measured some of the longer perforations and they measured over an inch in length, which makes the Novablast 1 really comfortable in terms of breathability.
Compared to the Novablast 1, the Novablast 2 still has lots of perforations up in the toe box, but they’re just not as big. Also, the material on the Novablast 2 is softer to the touch and it’s more cloth-like compared to the more plasticky material on the Novablast 1.
The padding in the tongue on each of these has remained pretty much the same. So, the tongue is not paper-thin but not super plush either. It just sits perfectly in the middle, but it’s not the standard plush tongue that runners are used to from Asics.
But the tongue is more than adequate to help keep it comfortable when you’re out running and you won’t feel the laces across the top of your foot with either shoe.
The biggest change in terms of the tongue is the Novablast 1 is not gusseted while the Novablast 2 is. This means the tongue is attached to the medial and lateral sides with some elastic material.
However, the togue on the Novablast 1 has wide wings and a lace loop on top and so it does lay flat across my midfoot comfortably and not migrate around. But, it’s always a good thing to have a more secure gusseted tongue when you’re running.
The benefit of the gusseted tongue on the Novablast 2 is it just feels a little bit more snugged in or wrapped across the midfoot section. I do feel like I am a bit more locked in or secure across the midfoot section of the shoe on the Asics Novablast 2 than I do in the Novablast 1.
In terms of the tongue, the Novablast 2 wins.
The laces on the Novablast 1 are very thin and quite stretchy and a lot of runners struggle to get a good lockdown in it. On the Novablast 2, the laces are much less stretchy and much better.
Taking a look at the eyelet chain, it’s basically the same setup in both shoes. But what I noticed is when I would run with the runner’s knot in the Novablast 1, I felt the first eyelet from the top kind of digging into the side of my foot just a little bit. The good thing is I didn’t have that issue with the Novablast 2, which is a welcome change for me.
So, in terms of the laces and the eyelet chain, I do prefer the second version of the laces over the first.
Heel Counter (Blisters)
It’s a classic heel counter-style design and so there’s no Achilles heel flare like Hokas and there’s no pull tab to help get your shoes on. However, I saw that some colorways do seem to have a pull tab.
Straight away, the Novablast 2 has a much more rigid heel counter and there’s a few tweaks around this area that have been put in place to provide a more stable ride. The Novablast 1 has quite a relaxed heel counter. There’s a little bit of structure at the base of it, but you can fold a lot of it right over.
On the Novablast 2, we have some plastic overlay structure inside the heel counter which is a little bit harder just to provide a little bit more of a secure lockdown and also provide a bit of stability around the heel.
Also, the heel has been rounded off and we can see that the shoe has plenty of padding on the inside of the heel counter for your Achilles to rest in.
This is a big improvement over the previous iteration because the Novablast 1 was kind of pointed and gave me really bad blisters in the back of the Achilles tendon.
It did not happen for everybody, but I saw some pictures of some runners having blisters because of the heel in the Novablast 1.
In terms of the heel, the Novablast 2 wins.
The Novablast 2 has some added padding around the heel collar and tab, which makes it feel much more plusher than the Novablast 1 in the ankle area. Now the ankle collar screams more classic Asics shoes.
In terms of the collar, the Novablast 2 wins.
To combat some of the lockdown issues in the Novablast 1, the Novablast 2 now provides a bit more structure in the heel, a little bit more cushioning in and around the ankle collar to feel a little bit more comfortable when you slip in, and then that gusseted tongue over the top so you get a nice wrap across the midfoot.
Certainly, these improvements did eliminate a lot of the sliding around in the heel area and provide a nice solid lockdown over the top. Again, the more structured heel counter, the plushness of the ankle collar, and the gusseted tongue all combine into one sort of massive change, to be honest with you.
So, in terms of the overall upper, I do prefer the Novablast 2 for the better heel and lockdown.
Both shoes still feature Asics FlyteFoam Blast (FF Blast) midsole which is highly cushioned, super soft, still responsive, and fun to run in. But there’s been a couple of major changes. The first is the offset and the second is the cut and the geometry of the midsole.
Starting with the Novablast 1, the shoe has 32 millimeters of stack height in the heel and 22 millimeters in the forefoot for that 10-millimeter offset from heel to toe.
The geometric shapes and designs that they cut into that midsole foam are quite deep, which gives that foam a real squishy feeling to it. This is the feature that a lot of runners say made the shoe too squishy and unstable for their liking.
I really enjoy the Novablast 1 feeling and I found it to have somewhat of a wow factor or fun factor for me.
The Novablast 2 has 30 millimeters of stack height in the heel and 22 millimeters in the forefoot for that 8mm drop.
The shoe has even more geometric shapes and designs that they cut into the midsole, but they’re not nearly as deep and so you don’t get that squish factor. The cutouts are enough to kind of give good compression, but they’re not too much where you completely sink and then wobble around.
Now, the Novablast 2 has more bounce and a little more energy return as you move through your gait cycle.
So, in terms of the midsole, I love the Novablast 1 for the overall fun factor and I like the Novablast 2 for the better energy return, which means it’s a tie for me.
Novablast 2 Not Bouncy?
According to some runners, the Novablast 2 is less bouncy than the Novablast 1. Or is it?
I wouldn’t say it’s more or less bouncy. I think it has to do with that 8 to 10-millimeter drop change.
I think with the 10-millimeter Novablast 1, you really feel like you’re stepping off a curb and feel like you’re naturally getting that propulsion straight away.
With the 8mm Novablast 2, I kind of feel like that’s been taken away slightly. So, I don’t think the Novablast 2 is less bouncy. I feel what they’ve done is you don’t quite feel like you’re stepping off a curb so much and so it feels a little bit more of a controlled ride, but the cushion and bounce are still there.
I just feel like I’m not getting that extra help that I was getting with the Novablast 1 if that makes sense. I’d love to know if you think the same. It’s just my hunch and I’m not certified to say that. That’s just kind of what I feel the main difference is between these two shoes in terms of the ride.
With the Novablast 1, the midsole is really squishy and soft. It feels like it compresses really fast and you kind of bottom out or hit that ground a little bit quicker so you don’t get quite as much road protection as you strike the ground from your mid to forefoot.
Compare that with the updated version of the shoe, this FlyteFoam Blast midsole feels a bit more dense. So, while it’s not as soft, it does feel a little bit more cushioned because I don’t feel that road contact quite as much as I do in the original version as I strike the ground and move through my gait cycle.
Let’s see how the outsole is protecting all that FlyteFoam Blast midsole…
There are no dramatic changes in the outsole of both shoes.
Both shoes are using the absolutely incredible AHAR+ rubber. AHAR simply stands for Asics High Abrasion Rubber and the + means that’s it’s 50% more durable than the rubber that they use on other outsoles of their running shoes.
Both Novablasts have most of that FlyteFoam Blast material covered with that AHAR+ rubber. However, the outsole is still more than enough to be adequate to make sure that you’re going to get lots of good miles out of these shoes.
In terms of the outsole, it’s a tie for me.
They added one more flex groove in the Novablast 2. It is present in the original, but it is enhanced in the 2, which creates a little more flex through your footstrike as you’re toeing off right through that forefoot.
Both shoes have that decoupled groove which creates the bounce and pop effect a lot of people know and love in the Novablast. In other words, that groove gives the shoe a bit of a trampoline effect so as you land, you kind of compress that material, and then it kind of pops you forward.
I do feel like the groove on the Novablast 2 is just a little bit deeper. However, I don’t think the depth of the groove really impacted the shoe’s overall performance or at least not nearly as much as the changes that they made and the geometric shapes and designs that they sculpted into that midsole foam.
Overall, would you get the Novablast 1 or the Novablast 2?
Asics Novablast 1 vs 2 – Which One?
Neither of them are bad versions. They’re both absolutely fantastic.
If you can get the Novablast 1 at a discount, I’d certainly do that. And then when you’re ready, get the Novablast 2. They’re both absolutely fantastic. I love both of them a lot and I think they’ve made some really positive changes with version two.
It’s not like revolutionary changes in the Novablast 2 and it’s not you’re not going to quite have that wow factor because you already had that from version one.
If you pick up the Novablast 1, just make sure it doesn’t give you blisters or feel unstable. If it does not give you blisters and if you feel your gait is in sync with the 1, I’d say you could save some bucks and you’re going to get a great ride out of this shoe.
But if I could buy only one shoe again, of course, it would be the Novablast 2.
The Novablast 2 is more secure in the upper thanks to the gusseted tongue and the more solid heel counter. It’s a lot more stable underfoot thanks to the improved midsole geometry and the use of less deeper cutouts.
Hopefully, I’ve been successful in highlighting all of the changes between the two shoes. And hopefully, a lot of you guys can see that these changes have been for the positive.
With the changes that Asics made, the Novablast 2 became a much more stable shoe and so someone who tends to overpronate just ever so slightly has more pronation control in the Novablast 2 than they did in the Novablast 1.
So, there you have it for this Asics Novablast 1 vs 2. I’d love to know what you think in the comments below.
Where to buy the Asics Novablast 1 and 2
Asics Novablast 1
Asics Novablast 2