Asics Gel Solution Speed 2 Men's Shoe Review
- Weight-durability ratio
- A little slippery
Asics burst onto the lightweight performance shoe scene with the introduction of the Solution Speed a couple of years ago. The shoe was ultra fast and comfortable, with plenty of support and stability to boot. The Solution Speed 2 offers a slightly wider toe box and a lower arch, resulting in a fit that works with a wider variety of foot types. The wider toe box also helps contribute to increased stability, and our whole team was able to move at top speed, with full confidence in their footwear. Along with the improved fit and stability, we found a surprising level of durability from the outsole, which lasted longer than its speed-oriented competitors. In fact, the outsoles lasted the duration of our rigorous playtest without showing significant wear. Although there is still a lingering issue with the traction in the Solution Speed line, this shoe is certainly one of the best in its weight class!
Comfort - Score: 4.6
The soft and comfortable feel of the Solution Speed 2 was the first thing that playtesters noticed when they slipped these lightweight shoe on their feet. "With this update, a very comfortable shoe gets even more comfortable," Jason exclaimed. "Even though it's a lightweight shoe, the cushioning was nice and plush. The soft uppers flexed without causing any sort of pinching. The reason I like this version a little more than the Solution Speed is because of the wider last; it fits my foot much better. This was a shoe I could play tennis in, then wear for my workout and throughout the day."
Mark gave the Speed 2 high marks for comfort, saying, "Right out of the box, and up to now, these shoes have been extremely comfortable. I have about 20 hours of tennis on them now, and they're still firm and comfortable. Top notch comfort!"
Andy found them extremely comfortable and supportive as well, even after a long day on the court. He explained, "Not only were these shoes super comfortable right out of the box, but they are also one of the most comfortable high-end performance tennis shoes out there. The soft uppers offer plush cushioning all around the foot, and there's just enough pressure in the arch to support my feet comfortably. I could spend long hours on court in these without worrying about foot pain."
Chris liked the cushioning, but he did have one issue. He offered, "These shoes required practically no break-in for me. I was playing in them comfortably right after taking them out of the box. During the playtest the shoes softened up nicely, becoming more comfortable while still being supportive. The uppers flexed well with my feet, and I never had any uncomfortable pinching or rubbing. The fit on this update felt wider than the original Solution Speed. It felt like I had more wiggle room for my toes, and I also wore two pairs of socks consistently to help my narrow feet fill out the width. I liked the level of cushioning and found them to fit true to size. My only discomfort was from the footbed putting a lot of pressure on the joints of my big toes. This happens every now and then in a shoe, and this was one of those times. I didn't have this issue with the previous version."
Ventilation - Score: 4.2
For the most part, our playtesters found breathability to be another strong feature of the Solution Speed 2. Even after wearing the shoes for extended lengths of time, Chris never felt his feet were yearning for some fresh air. He explained, "My feet never got too hot in these shoes. The upper ventilation worked very well. I felt like heat was able to escape from the shoes easily, and I could feel cool air coming in on some of the colder days. After playing I never felt in a rush to get the shoes off, which is rare for me. From on-court wear to rocking them casually, my feet never got over-heated in the Solution Speed 2."
Jason enjoyed the cool winter air permeating through the shoe as he sped around the courts. He offered, "Breathability was excellent, just like its predecessor. With these on my feet the cold air is quite noticeable during warm-up, which tells me the ventilation is great."
Mark also raved, "Even with a thicker sock, the level of breathability is great."
Though he didnÕt have any huge complaints, Andy wasnÕt quite as sold on the ventilation. He critiqued, "Though the uppers are lightweight and have a decent amount of mesh, I didn't find these shoes particularly well ventilated. They were fine, and the breathability didn't cause any problems, but my feet got a bit hot at times. For as lightweight as they are, I'm surprised that they didn't offer better ventilation."
Arch Support - Score: 4.3
According to our playtesters, the arch height felt a little lower in the Solution Speed 2 than in the Solution Speed, but still provided plenty of support. The height of the arch fit Jason's flatter feet well. He said, "I was definitely enjoying the arch height on the Solution Speed 2. I think the arch is lower than medium, which, if you have flat feet like me, is great! On top of that, the plush cushioning molded to my feet nicely."
Andy was not surprised at all when he slipped on the shoe and found the arch support to be just right for him. He raved, "This is an area where Asics always excels for me, as the aggressive arch support fit my feet almost perfectly. I never have to worry about foot or knee pain in these, even after wearing them all day. The arch is slightly lower than the previous version, offering a more universal fit."
It took a little while for the shoe to break in and have enough support for Chris' high arches, but after a short time they worked great. He said, "The support of the shoe fit low for me, but the torsional support was spot on. I never felt any undue stress to my arches in these shoes. The flex point felt perfect, and I felt confident sprinting around the court in them. As soon as the shoes broke in the insoles molded to the shape of my feet and I could finally feel the arch."
With his standard aftermarket insoles, Mark had no problems with the fit. He said, "In stock form the arch height was a little too low for my feet. However, I always use custom inserts, and they fit perfectly."
Foot Support/Stability - Score: 4.5
The uppers of the Solution Speed 2 are soft and comfortable, yet they still provided loads of stability for our playtesters. Andy pushed these shoes to the limit, and they held up great for him. He offered, "Just like the previous version, the upper holds the foot securely and combines with the low-to-the-ground profile to offer a very stable ride. I was able to move at top speed and slide around the hard courts without having to worry about hurting myself. These are light and fast, and the impressive level of stability allows you to move at your fastest speeds possible."
Chris also felt no inhibitions at top speed, as he was confident the shoe would support his every move. He said, "While not the stiffest or most stable shoe on the market, I found a good level of support and stability in this shoe. I was able to move confidently, and even when I stumbled or slipped during aggressive play, I never came close to rolling an ankle. The chassis of the shoe has a nice blend of flex and stability. It was solid when needed for a stable ride, yet offered enough flex to make the shoe feel fast. I thought this shoe transitioned exceptionally well from heel to toe, and I felt very fast on court."
The Solution Speed 2 had more than enough support and stability for Mark. He offered, "I had no fear of potential foot/ankle roll with this shoe. I can't apply the brakes quite the way Andy can, but the stability of this shoe was everything I could want."
Jason had some minor struggles with the lacing system, but he found this latest update to have better stability than its predecessor. He explained, "The stability is noticeably improved from the first model. I can still feel some give from the soft uppers, but the shoe held steadfast even when I was making aggressive start/stop movements. There is some heel slippage that I noticed after I wore the shoe for a while, and the way I dealt with it was to use all the eyelets for the laces. The shoe also seemed to loosen up when I played in them, so I would need to tighten the laces once or twice an hour."
Overall Sole Durability - Score: 3.9
For such a lightweight and low profiled shoe, the outsole of the Solution Speed 2 offered an impressive level of resilience throughout the test. While it won't quite stack up against the outsoles of heavier shoes that put more of an emphasis on durability, it certainly showed that it can hang with the competitors in its weight class. "With 20 hours on a speed-oriented shoe, I expected more evidence of wear," Mark shared. "For a lighter shoe without a sole warranty, the Solution Speed 2 is very durable on hard courts, where most shoes are put to the test."
Chris has been destroying his playtest shoes recently, but he may have finally met his match. He said, "I was very surprised at the level of durability I found in these shoes. I've been blowing through my playtest shoes at an alarming rate, but these survived the entire test with plenty of life left in them. I am seeing some wear in the high wear areas, but nothing to complain about. I should be able to get many more hours out of these shoes before I wear through to the midsole."
Jason thought the durability was above average compared to some of his recent playtests. He explained, "The durability is above par compared to other lightweight/speed shoes, which is very impressive. I put quite a few hours on this shoe (20-25 hours) because I loved the the comfort and overall playability. The tread loss was about as much as it would be for a shoe I wore for about 15 hours."
Andy also liked how well the shoe held up. He said, "Durability isn't a strength of this shoe, but you know what you're going to get when slipping these on. I've put a hard 20-30 hours into this playtest and the outsoles are starting to show some signs of wear. I imagine I'm going to lose a good amount of the tread under my big toe after 5-10 more hours. The durability isn't bad, though, and it stacks up fine against some of the other speed-oriented shoes on the market (namely the Vapor 9.5)."
Toe Durability - Score: 3.8
The toe area held up well for our crew. However, our most aggressive toe dragger, Chris, definitely took these to the limit. He explained, "Toe durability proved to be decent with these shoes. The upper of my left shoe is getting close to wearing through, and I will likely blow through the left toe before I wear out the outsoles. The tip of the toe is very well protected, but I drag higher up on the shoe. I'm seeing the most wear on the lateral edge of the toe, and the Flexion Fit upper is thinner in that area."
Traction - Score: 3.5
This was our biggest issue with the first version of the shoe, and while it's evident that Asics addressed the problem, it wasn't completely resolved in the Solution Speed 2. "Once again, this is the downfall of the Solution Speed line," Jason offered. "Granted, the traction is improved, but I think it still has a ways to go. I got used to the shoe slipping and sliding when I tried to stop, but I didn't like slipping when I was starting to move."
For Andy, who likes to slide on hard courts, the traction wasn't as big an issue. He said, "The traction was a challenge in the first Solution Speed, and it continues to be a challenge in this version. The traction is improved this time around, but there were still numerous occasions when I was slipping and sliding on the court. I liked the give the outsole offered when I was making an aggressive slide, but there were too many instances when I wanted the shoe to grip the court and it didn't. This shoe is going to work better for players who like to slide on hard courts than for those who don't."
Chris also found the outsole to be fairly slick. He explained, "Traction was decent, but not great. I was actually sliding around the court quite a lot. However, that doesn't bother me on lateral moves because it allows me to slide out of a tough lateral cut and not stress my ankles and knees. Most importantly, when I needed to sprint forward quickly the shoes gripped the court well for the most part."
Mark had no issues here. He said, "All of my testing was on indoor and outdoor hard courts, but I experienced nothing but confident starts and stops in any direction with this shoe."
Weight - Score: 4.8
The Solution Speed 2 lives up to its name. Its lightweight design makes it quick and agile. It was near perfection for Andy, who raved, "This shoe gets back on track with its fast, lightweight feel. The speed-oriented design is almost flawless, in my opinion. It's light, fast and low to the ground, and it offers the stability needed to maximize those characteristics. These are some of the fastest shoes available for the serious tennis player."
At times, Jason thought he was Gael Monfils sprinting around the court. He said, "Once I had these on my feet the weight was an afterthought. They feel very light, and the speedy feel was enhanced by the low-to-the-ground ride. I felt very fast in these. Whether I actually was or not is another story."
Also giving high marks in this category was Chris, who offered, "These shoes felt very light and fast on my feet. The fit seemed to hide the weight of the shoe well. Nothing about this shoe felt bulky or excessive. I thought they were very durable for their weight, and they offered a good level of support without being heavy."
Echoing everyone's sentiments was Mark, who said, "The Solution Speed 2 feels like a lightweight shoe with the support and stability of a heavier one."
Overall - Score: 4.4
Chris - "I liked the light and fast feel. The cosmetics were sharp and the ventilation was top notch."
Jason - "I liked the improved fit and stability over the previous model. They're lightweight, well ventilated and very comfortable."
Mark - "Everything!"
Andy - "I loved the light, fast, low-to-the-ground feel and the excellent support and stability. They are super comfortable right out of the box and offer some nice arch support."
Chris - "The joints in my big toes ached a little when I played in these shoes. However, I might be able to tune some of that out with an aftermarket insole."
Jason - "The traction needs continued improvement."
Mark - "There was some extra room in the toe box, and although my feet did not slip at all during play I did feel the extra wiggle room. This did not affect me negatively, but I wouldn't want any more room in the front of the shoe."
Andy - "Traction, though improved over the first version, is still an issue."
Comparing this shoe to other shoes they've worn our testers said:
Chris - "The fast feel of these shoes is right up there with the likes of the Nike Vapor 9.5 Tour, adidas adizero Feather III and Lotto Raptor IV Ultra. They lasted me almost as well as the Ultra IVs for outsole durability, but they aren't as durable at the toe. The fit is a tad wider compared to the previous version and felt similar to the adizero Feather III."
Jason - "A wider fitting, more stable version of the Solution Speed."
Mark - "The Solution Speed 2s are similar to the Nike Vapor 9 Tour. I like the Vapor, but the upper did get soft after some use. So far the Solution Speed 2s have not exhibited any mushiness in the upper of the shoe. This is the best overall shoe I have worn or tested to date."
Andy - "These feel most similar to the adidas Feather III and the Nike Vapor 9.5 Tour.They are all light and fast, yet supportive and stable shoes for the serious player. This one may be my favorite out of the three simply because of the level of support that it offers. This was a great playtest, and I highly recommend them."
Playtester Foot Types:
Chris - Narrow width / Medium arch
Jason - Wide width / Low arch
Mark - Medium width / Medium arch
Andy - Medium width / Low arch
Review date: April 2014. If you found this review interesting or have further questions or comments please contact us.
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