Asics Gel Excite

The Asics Gel Excite is the first in a series of neutral road running shoes known for their comfortable cushioning, breathable mesh upper, reflective lightweight designs, and removable sock liners. The gel cushioning in the heel absorbs the shock of impact during strides to allow for smooth transitions. The breathable upper prevents overheating. The reflective design makes runners visible during low-light conditions such as early mornings, evenings, and foggy weather. The light weight makes the shoe easy to carry for speed and endurance. The removable sockliner allows runners to replace it with a medical orthotic to help with problems such as knee pain, arthritis, arch issues, and more. The shock absorption gel is in the heel, so this is probably not the best shoe for forefoot or midfoot strikers, but heel strikers will love the comfort, stability, and support of this shoe.

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Where to Buy
Where to Buy
Pros & Cons
  • Affordable price
  • Comfortable cushioning
  • Lightweight design
  • Great shock absorption
  • Good breathability
  • Reflective materials
  • Removable sockliner
  • Cons
    • Sizes run small - we recommend ordering a half or a full size up
    • Older model with limited size and color availability
    • Some testers reported hot spots due to stitching in upper
    • Not enough stability for overpronators
    • Key Features
      The outsole of the Gel Excite is made of a durable rubber. The design has treads for gripping the road and grooves for flexibility so that the foot can move quickly and easily during takeoffs and landings. The traction makes it an ideal road running or light trail shoe. The outsole also gives some support by lifting the foot off the ground and provides a layer of protection against rough surfaces.
      The midsole uses a full-length piece of EVA foam that covers the entire midsole, as well as GEL cushioning in the heel. The durable EVA foam provides a layer of cushioning, as well as responsiveness, making the foot bounce back each time the shoe hits the pavement. It also provides a neutral level of arch support for neutral runners and slight underpronators. Asics' signature GEL cushioning absorbs the shock for more comfortable landings, improving both protection and responsiveness of the shoe.
      The upper is made of cool mesh and breathable synthetic overlays stitched onto the main upper material. The design allows air to flow in and out, keeping the foot cool and dry, although some runners reported hot spots and irritation in the areas directly under the stitching. The tongue, heel, and collar are padded for additional comfort and protection, and the laces give a comfortably snug fit to prevent sliding. The reflective material on the outside gives visibility in low-light conditions, and the inside has a removable sockliner to accommodate a gel insole or medical orthotic.
      At just 10.4 oz for men and 8.1 oz for women, the Gel Excite is considered a lightweight shoe. Many runners complimented how light the shoe was, allowing for faster movements during racing and runners being able to maintain their energy during long walks and jogs. The rubber in the outsole and the EVA foam in the midsole were optimized to make the overall weight as light as possible without compromising stability or comfort. The newer models are even lighter, but this shoe was light for the technology of its time.
      The breathability comes from the mesh in the upper, which allows air to flow around the foot in order to keep it cool and dry. Although the stitching caused hot spots or irritation for some runners, overall the shoe is very breathable. The wide toe box allows air to flow around the toes. The synthetic overlays don't take away from the overall breathability, and most runners can go for long distances or run on hot days without any trouble.
      The midsole and upper make the Gel Excite a comfortable shoe. The midsole has EVA foam for padding and responsiveness, as well as GEL cushioning for shock absorption and addittional responsiveness. The thin sockliner can either add an additional layer of cushioning or be replaced with a cushioned and/or supportive insole. The upper has a padded tongue, collar, and heel, breathable mesh to prevent blisters, and laces to give the shoe a snug fit. The shoe requires an average amount of break-in time.
      The Gel Excite is an older model that is currently only available in one color choice. For men, it's Lightning/Red/Black and for women it's White/Berry/Lightning. Previously available colors include Black/White/Lime for men and Black/Peri Blue/Lightning for women. The shoes also have reflective materials on the overlays for visibility in low-light conditions. Although the choices are limited due to the shoe being discontinued, reviewers liked the classic look of the shoe. Runners who cannot find the shoe in their size or color might want to consider purchasing the Gel Excite 3 or Gel Excite 4.
      The three levels provide a decent amount of durability to this shoe. The rubber on the outsole lasts for many runs on roads or light trails, although it is not quite as durable as the later editions due to updates in technology. The EVA foam and GEL cushioning in the midsole last for many runs without wearing down. The upper is also fairly durable due to the protection offered by the overlays, and the mesh and the padding in the tongue, collar, and heel also last a long time before wearing down. The shoe will last around 300 miles before signs of wearing down, which is great for runners who want to go on roads or light trails or use the Gel Excite as an everyday shoe.
      Protection is provided by all three levels of the shoe. The outsole rubber is thick enough to protect the foot from feeling the cracks or unevenness in the ground. The GEL cushioning in the heel absorbs shock to protect joints for runners with a heel strike running pattern, and also provides a neutral amount of arch support to protect against rolling for neutral runners and slight underpronators. The removable sockliner can be replaced with a gel insole or medical orthotic to add additional protection against rolling and/or shock absorption if needed. The mesh and overlays in the upper protect against the wind and the cold, their breathability protects against the heat, and the reflective materials in the overlays give the runner visibility in low-light conditions such as early mornings, evenings, or fog.
      The Gel Excite is very responsive. The outsole is stable yet flexible, which allows the foot to move easily and energy to flow between the heel and forefoot during strides. The EVA foam and GEL cushioning in the midsole act as a spring, pushing the foot forward during takeoffs and absorbing the shock and cushioning landings. The drop also promotes forward momentum. The light weight makes movement easy, making the shoe ideal for speed training or races, and also as an everyday shoe because the shoe will not make the user tired after wearing it for long periods of time.
      Support is also provided at all three levels of the Gel Excite. The outsole lifts the foot off the ground and helps keep the bottom of the foot stable. The midsole offers a neutral level of arch support, ideal for neutral runners or slight underpronators, and has a removable sockliner so that users who need additional support can replace it with a gel insole or medical orthotic. The upper has padding in the heel and collar to prevent rolling and laces for a snug fit to keep the foot from sliding. While most reviewers liked the level of support in this shoe, some felt that the outsole was too thin to be supportive.
      The Gel Excite is advertised as a road running shoe, but it can also be used on light trails. The treads on the outsole make it ideal for gripping roads and the grooves allow the shoe to bend with the foot during runs. It has some support and stability, which allows it to be used on light trails or as an everyday shoe, but not enough stability or grip for running on heavy trails. It does not have spikes for gripping snow or ice. The shoe is ideal for dirt or paved roads, such as concrete, asphalt or stone, or light trails that mostly resemble dirt trails in that they aren't too technical.
      One of the most attractive features of the Gel Excite series is its price. It is cheaper than many similar running shoes, which make it ideal for users who are new to running and aren't ready to invest in a more expensive shoe, or as an everyday shoe. Although the Gel Excite is the oldest of four models, it is full price due to lack of availability because it was discontinued. Potential buyers can purchase a newer model with updated technology for the same price range.
      The Gel Excite's treads on the outsole provide good traction for running on dirt or paved roads. It can also grip light trails that are not too technical but does not have lugs to give traction on loose gravel or rough trails, or spikes for traction on snow and ice. The grooves promote smooth transitions from heel to toe, and the midsole's gel cushions landings while the treads grip the road going downhill. The treads can grip wet pavement as long as it's not slippery.
      The outsole, midsole, and upper are all flexible to allow runners to take off quickly and land smoothly. The outsole has grooves that allow the shoe to move while the foot pushes off and lands. The midsole's EVA foam and gel cushioning also bend with the foot, push the foot forward during takeoffs, and absorb shock during landings. The mesh and padding in the upper allow the foot to move during forward or side to side movements, and the laces can be tied to where they're tight enough to keep the foot in place yet loose enough to allow fast movement.
      The Gel Excite's stability rating indicates that it is for neutral runners or light underpronators, and does not provide the required level of stability for overpronators. The outsole provides some stability to the bottom of the foot. The midsole offers some arch support, although the removable sock lining allows users to replace it with a more supportive gel or a medical orthotic. The upper provides some stability to keep neutral runners from rolling, but not enough for over-pronators.
      The drop of this shoe is 10 mm, which is a standard drop. The entire foot has a layer of EVA foam to cushion landings and give runners a bounce of responsiveness. The heel also has the gel cushioning to absorb shock during landings. The heel being higher than the forefoot promotes forward momentum. Some runners with a forefoot or midfoot strike pattern prefer a lower drop for a more natural feel, more evenly distributed cushioning, and believe a lower drop prevents knee or back injury. Many runners with a heel strike pattern enjoy the forward momentum given by a standard drop.
      Key Features
      • Breathable synthetic and mesh upper

      • Rubber sole with 1” heel

      • Rearfoot GEL cushioning enhances comfort and attenuates shock

      • Lightweight running style

      • Laces provide a snug fit

      • Sockliner can be removed and replaced with a medical orthotic

      • Reflective design for visibility under low-light conditions
      Bottom Line
      Overall, the Asics Gel Excite is a good choice for an entry-level neutral running shoe. The outsole provides traction and support for running on roads and light trails. The midsole absorbs shock, cushions landings, and bounces back for takeoffs. It also provides some arch support and contains a removable sockliner that can be replaced with gel cushioning or a medical orthotic, ideal for runners with joint pain or who need additional support. The upper's mesh makes the shoe breathable, the laces make it fit snugly, and the reflective overlays make the shoe visible in low-light conditions. The price is attractive to new runners or people looking for an everyday shoe. The light weight allows users to move quickly and easily for daily runs, races, and training. Possible areas for improvement include increased stability for overpronators, improved support on the outsole, wide sizes to accommodate runners with wider than average feet, and shock absorption throughout the foot instead of just the heel to accommodate runners with a forefoot or midfoot stride patterns. In short, the Gel Excite is a comfortable, budget-friendly shoe perfect for runners, joggers, and walkers.
      Where to Buy
      By Stephanie Potter
      Last updated:
      Where to buy
      Best offer on: Jul. 28. 2021

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