Our playtesters were ready to get the Gel Solution Speed 3s on their feet. Brittany had called the previous iteration her "favorite game-day shoes," so she had high expectations for the Gel Solution Speed 3s. She began, "As soon as I slipped the 3s on my feet I knew this was going to be a good playtest. I didn't have much of a break-in period. There was plush, gel-like cushioning underfoot, and I felt like I could wear them for hours. The tongue and ankle collar had standard cushioning, enough for me to not have any issues. The shoes fit my narrow feet like gloves, and I didn't need the uppers to stretch out at all. There was some small rubbing on my right ankle and pinkie toe at the beginning of the playtest, but a slightly thicker pair of socks fixed that issue. I found the arch support fit my arches better. In previous versions I found the arch support slightly higher than what I like, but I didn't even notice the support in the 3s (which is exactly how I like it!). The Gel Solution Speed 3s weren't as well ventilated as previous versions, but this wasn't really much of an issue for me."
"Asics continues to impress me with how well they do cushioning," stated Karly. "I loved the feel of the soft, gel-like midsoles under my feet. I could feel the material absorb the impact of each step. My favorite thing about the comfort of these shoes was how cushioned they felt for such minimalist shoes. Unfortunately, the biggest issue I had with these shoes came from their narrow fit. They were too tight for my wider forefeet, which was quite distracting during play. The break-in was especially tough for my wide feet, but after a few hours the shoes loosened up and didn't hug my feet as tightly. Aside from the narrow fit, I thought the comfort of the Gel Solution Speed 3s was great."
Tiffani also has wider feet. She said, "The Gel Solution Speeds have been some of my favorite shoes, so I was happy to see a new version. When I first put on the Gel Solution Speed 3s I noticed how snug they felt. I have wider feet, and I recalled having to break in the previous version for width. The uppers in the Gel Solution Speed 3s feel more substantial, and I think that made them seem narrower than the Solution Speed 2s. The tight fit never went away, but the fit was never painful. These shoes did run a bit warmer than the 2s, but ventilation was still about average and not an issue. I found the same soft, responsive cushioning underfoot, and it molded to my feet in just a couple of wears for a comfortable ride throughout the playtest."
"When I first tried on this update they felt more comfortable than the previous version, which is saying a lot because the previous shoes were already comfortable," stated Michelle. "I really liked the updated upper material. Because this line of shoes has always performed great, I held the Speed 3s to pretty high standards. I did need a break-in period, which has become pretty standard with Asics' shoes for me. I had some rubbing at the top inside of my heel (under my sock), which was uncomfortable for a few wears. I've had this happen with other Asics shoes, and we have had feedback from other players who have had that issue. After a solid week or two the rubbing subsided and was no longer an issue, but it was a bit annoying and worth mentioning. I also experienced the numbing that I've had with other Asics shoes (most recently the Gel Resolution 6s), and that also lasted for a solid week. While all of this sounds like a negative experience (or makes my feet sound a bit high maintenance), once I broke these shoes in I was very happy with the comfort and had no issues for the rest of the playtest. I enjoyed these shoes so much that I often wore them in the gym for workouts or on my warm-up runs -- they were that cushioned and comfortable."
Having playtested many styles of shoes, our team has often found that speedy, quick shoes don't always have the best support. However, Asics continues to build shoes for serious competitors, and they didn't overlook support and stability in the Gel Solution Speed 3s. Karly was confident enough to move aggressively on the court in them. She said, "They're a pair of fast, minimalistic shoes that rely on fit for support. The uppers wrapped around my feet tightly, which helped provide a secure fit. The upper materials were also sturdy enough to provide a stable ride. Overall, I didn't think the amount of support and stability they offered slowed them down at all."
Tiffani made comparisons to the older version, saying, "Like with previous versions, the Gel Solution Speed 3s are cut pretty low at the ankle. With this line of shoes I've always opted to use the optional extra eyelet to increase my sense of security on court. I actually liked the tighter fit on my feet compared to the 2s because I felt more locked in, whereas I felt like the Solution Speed 2s opened up a bit as the playtest wore on. These Gel Solution Speed 3s remained supportive and stable for me throughout the testing period. Even when I was pulled really wide on the court, I felt confident cutting back into play."
Michelle, who appreciates a blend of stability and speed in her shoes, felt well supported in these Gel Solution Speed 3s. She explained, "They definitely were stable and helped me feel confident when moving on the court. I could really push the limits when sprinting for balls. The updated uppers seemed to add a more secure, locked in feel that I appreciated."
Brittany was also really impressed with the support and stability these shoes offered. She added, "These shoes gave me confidence when I was making aggressive movements. My feet were secure inside the shoes and were not moving when I made sudden starts and stops. The ankle collars were also the perfect height to help my feet feel extra secure. I didn't even have to use the extra eyelet to get the desired locked-in feel."
Asics' High Abrasion Rubber in a modified herringbone tread pattern gave our playtesters a respectable level of durability. Tiffani said, "I was surprised to see some quick cosmetic wear on the lateral side on my outsoles. The secondary color of the outsole might be laid on pretty thinly at the pivot points because I wore most of that off in just a couple of hours, but I didn't notice excessive wear in my usual area on the medial edge. I have many hours left on these outsoles. The toe area is also quite built up, so I don't have any issues there. I've worn off the AHAR printed on the toes, but that's about it."
"I am seeing some decent wear in the soles of my Gel Solution Speed 3s, which can be expected," commented Michelle. "I have spent many hours in them -- easily more than 30 hours, and I have worn them on and off the court, so I kind of expected it. The pivot points are pretty worn down on my shoes, and I'm seeing smoothing under my big toes, which is pretty average for me. The thing I didn't love about the wear of the outsoles was the drop in the level of traction as the playtest went on. Over the past couple weeks I was slipping and sliding a bit more than I am comfortable with."
Brittany, who wore these shoes for close to 20 hours between practicing and playing both singles and doubles, said, "The first indication of wear was on the pivot points, which have completely smoothed out. The rest of the outsoles are holding up fairly well; I would say well above average for lightweight shoes. The toe bumpers also held up exceptionally well. I haven't put a dent in them, and I have a feeling the bumpers will last well beyond the life of the outsoles."
Karly didn't think the durability was great, but she wasn't expecting much from them considering their weight. She said, "It took about 10 hours of playtesting before I noticed the paint on the outsoles began to wear down. The most damage occurred at the balls of my feet, but it was only the paint that received the majority of wear. I never blew through the outsole material, and I'm not much of a toe-dragger so I wasn't worried about the toe-box coverage. It was really only the exterior layer of paint that didn't last long, otherwise I thought the durability was OK."
Our playtesters were split down the middle when it came to discussing the levels of traction in the Gel Solution Speed 3s. If there was a category where these shoes weren't completely up to par, Michelle thought it was traction. She critiqued, "It is worth noting that my traction issues started around week three of this playtest. After the outsoles wore down a bit I was sliding around and became a bit uncomfortable with my movement. Actually, Karly and I were filming a racquet video, and we were both slipping and sliding a little. When filming the video for this playtest I lost my footing and slipped. I just don't love that feeling of my shoes giving out under me, so this was a bit of a negative for me."
Aside from the narrow fit, traction was the only other area giving Karly trouble. She explained, "At the start of the test these shoes had more stick than give, which I like. However, the shoes lost their traction pretty quickly, and I began to slide more in my footwork after about five hours of play. Toward the end of the playtest there was an instance when I planted for a backhand and my front foot slid out. After that I was moving more cautiously and didn't plant my feet as hard to avoid any more slipping."
Brittany, who had a more positive experience, commented, "I think Asics improved the traction slightly. The Speed 2s were slippery and had too much give. I think this update had more grip at the start of the playtest. As the pivot points started to wear down I noticed the traction giving more. However, my tastes have also changed since we playtested the Solution Speed 2s, and I am actually enjoying a bit more give in my shoes. For me, I was still happy with the traction at the end of the playtest."
"Historically, traction has been the biggest drawback for me with Gel Solution Speeds," stated Tiffani. "I had much better grip on the courts with the Gel Solution Speed 3s. There's still a little give, but I feel these shoes are gripping better and more predictably than past versions. I didn't have any instances of unwanted slippage on the court."
Coming in at almost the identical weight as the previous version, the Gel Solution Speed 3s are in the lightweight category when it comes to high performance tennis shoes. All of our playtesters took advantage of how quick they felt in these shoes. Weight was a top feature for Brittany. She said, "These shoes did not weigh me down at all. To me, they are the perfect match day shoes. Asics was able to get the right combination of lightweight feel, cushioning and stability. While they might not be the lightest shoes I have playtested, because of that excellent combination I gave them a high score in the weight category."
Karly thought these shoes rightfully earned the name "Speed." She said, "Just like the previous version, the lightweight feel was one of my favorite things about these shoes. They weigh very little and felt supportive enough to allow me to move quickly on the tennis court. The only thing stopping me from giving a perfect score in weight was the loss of traction. I started to slow my movements down a little bit to keep from sliding."
"These Gel Solution Speed 3s sit higher off the ground than I would expect for speed shoes, but they still felt plenty light," added Tiffani. "There are so many more light shoes on the market since the original Gel Solution Speeds came out. To me, they're no longer the lightest feeling shoes available, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. My footwork was never hampered by any bulkiness or extra weight, and I felt well supported. There's decent durability, too."
"The weight was great," commented Michelle. "They were lightweight and quick. It doesn't seem like these shoes are significantly lighter than previous versions, which is fine. Why would Asics change something that works?! I don't think they need to lose any of their mass. Plus, I still want shoes with enough weight to be stable and supportive, so I am glad these shoes aren't becoming super minimalist."
Karly - "The ultra fast design and cosmetics. I loved how light they felt and how well they take colors."
Tiffani - "I liked the cushioning, stability and improved traction over previous models."
Michelle - "The Gel Solution Speed line of shoes has always been about quick, comfortable speed in a great cosmetic, and those remain my favorite aspects of this update."
Brittany - "I loved the cushioning. Also the lightweight feel combined with excellent stability and support. And, the bold, fun cosmetics!"
Karly - "The narrow fit was too tight on the sides of my wider forefeet. I also didn't like the loss of traction toward end of the playtest."
Tiffani - "There's not much I dislike. The Gel Solution Speed 3s felt tighter than the previous model to me, but on the flip side of that, I think they were also more supportive because of that snug fit."
Michelle - "The traction levels dropped after a good 20+ hours of wear. Plus, I had a couple break-in issues that were a bit frustrating."
Brittany - "Absolutely nothing!"
Karly - "Compared to the previous version, I thought the Gel Solution Speed 3s needed more time to loosen up, especially in the forefoot. I didn't think the Speed 2s needed any break-in and didn't feel as constricting. However, I did think the Gel Solution Speed 3s' uppers felt a little sturdier, providing more support and stability."
Tiffani - "Asics keeps making minor tweaks to an already great shoe model. Compared to the 2s, the Gel Solution Speed 3s felt a bit tighter on my wider feet, but the traction and support were improved. These shoes don't feel as low to the ground or as light as the adidas adizero Ubersonics, but there's more cushioning and better durability. The Diadora Speed Pro EVO also comes to mind, but they're even narrower than the Asics shoes."
Michelle - "I like the updated upper on the Gel Solution Speed 3s compared to the 2s. For me, they felt more comfortable and offered a great fit. I would put these shoes in the same category as the adidas adizero Ubersonics, but the Speed 3s have more cushioning while the Ubersonics are lower to the ground. Both shoes are great speed options."
Brittany - "Fans of the previous versions will be delighted with the Gel Solution Speed 3s because there are many similarities, including the lightweight feel, the plush gel-like cushioning, the support and the stability. The traction has improved in the Gel Solution Speed 3s, with more grip during the beginning of the playtest. Due to the new upper, the Speed 3s run a little warmer than the previous version."
(Scores are determined by averaging individual play test scores)
|Overall Comfort||3.9||Overall Sole Durability||3.8|
|Overall Comfort||4||Overall Sole Durability||4|
|Overall Comfort||4||Overall Sole Durability||3.5|
|Overall Comfort||4.5||Overall Sole Durability||4|