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(The Gear Loop) - Up until recently, the carbon plate running shoe game has been dominated by Nike’s Vaporfly and Alphafly racers. Now, seemingly every brand has a super shoe in its ranks, making the decision of what option to pick up for race day increasingly difficult for runners.

Asics entered the game in 2020 with the release of its first carbon plate shoe, the Metaracer - a more minimalistic alternative to Nike’s offering that was better suited to shorter distance events than marathons. 

A year later, the Asics Metaspeed Sky and Metaspeed Edge appeared, boasting an experience similar to the Nike Vaporfly 2, featuring a propulsive plate, a bouncy midsole and a lightweight upper.

Tom WheatleyAsics Metaspeed Sky+ review photo 2

Now Asics is back with an update to that shoe in the shape of the Metaspeed Sky+ and the Metaspeed Edge+, promising even more bounce, a repositioned carbon plate and a lighter upper.

Our quick take

Asics knew it was onto a good thing with the release of the Metaspeed Sky, with many people who would look at nothing other than Nike’s super shoes suddenly pondering a viable alternative.

Where some shoe updates deliver big changes to the design, the Metaspeed Sky+ is more a refinement of an already impressive race shoe. Yes, there are some noticeable changes, but thankfully those updates are clever tweaks rather than risky modifications.

If you’ve tried the Metaspeed Sky before and enjoyed it, the Sky+ will leave you with a content grin on your face. If you’re new to the Asics super shoe game, it’s time to put the Nikes down and give them a go.

Asics Metaspeed Sky+ review: refining this carbon racer reaps big rewards

Asics Metaspeed Sky+

5 stars - The Gear Loop editors choice
For
  • Comfortable
  • Lightweight mesh upper
  • Increased forefoot foam for more bounce
  • Still very light
Against
  • High stack = lack of stability
  • Minimal outsole rubber causes durability issues
  • Limited colour ways

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In the Loop

Everything you need to know about the Asics Metaspeed Sky+ in brief:

  • Full-length carbon plate
  • Lightweight MOTION WRAP Upper
  • Updated midsole geometry for improved toe-off
  • Bouncy FF Turbo midsole foam
  • Rubber outsole covering for grip and protection
  • Weight: 7.2oz (204g)
  • Offset: 5mm (33mm/28mm)

Fit and features

The Asics Metaspeed Sky+ is roomier in the forefoot than most race options, which means that there’s plenty of wiggle space for the toes. 

Tom WheatleyAsics Metaspeed Sky+ review photo 5

A new "Motion Wrap" mesh upper also manages to offer a good locked-down fit around the midfoot that balances comfort with support, along with a stable heel design that cradles the foot.

That Motion Wrap Upper offers a comfortable fabric feel that’s more like a conventional daily shoe than one designed for all-out racing. The stretchy material is noticeably soft and delivers an excellent level of breathability when running at pace.

Asics has also included a notched lace design that makes it easier to knot without fear that they’ll come loose during a race, minimising the need to double knot.

Tom WheatleyAsics Metaspeed Sky+ review photo 6

Technology

With the launch of the earlier Metaspeed series, Asics made the decision to release two race shoes to tailor the experience for different types of runner. The Metaspeed Sky design is focused on runners that increase their stride length when racing, while the Metaspeed Edge is for those that increase both stride and cadence when moving at speed. 

The Metaspeed Sky+ follows that concept with the counterpart shoe, the Metaspeed Sky Edge+.

This difference in function sees the Metaspeed Sky+ feature a lower 5mm drop than the 8mm of the Edge+, along with the carbon plate sitting higher in the midsole to promote more energy return for midsole strikers.

Tom WheatleyAsics Metaspeed Sky+ review photo 3

The FF Blast midsole foam is where the real magic happens, though. It’s a nylon-based foam that has an impressive level of bounce that propels you forward with each step. It’s an experience that’s very similar to Nike’s leading ‘ZoomX’, although slightly firmer than that found in the Alphafly Next% and the Vaporfly Next%2.

Asics has upped the level of FF Blast midsole by 4 per cent when compared to the previous Metaspeed Sky to increase the level of bounce in the forefoot of the shoe.

There’s also a healthy covering of outsole rubber at the forefoot to protect the midsole. However, this doesn’t cover the full length of the shoe. As a result, heel strikers are likely to find durability issues earlier than forefoot and midfoot strikers.

Tom WheatleyAsics Metaspeed Sky+ review photo 4

Performance

Few race shoes have been released over the past year that deliver the instant feelings of efficiency and speed quite like the Metaspeed Sky+ do. From the moment you put them on and start to pick up pace, the experience of bounce and smooth turnover is palpable.

Although it may not be a big upgrade to the previous Metaspeed Sky, the changes are noticeable over longer runs. The additional FF Blast midsole foam in the forefoot improves the propulsion over any distance to the point where Nike’s carbon plate designers are likely to be panicking for the first time in years.

At its core, the Metaspeed Sky+ is about efficiency and that becomes increasingly obvious when you race half marathon distances and above. That’s not to say that the shoe doesn’t work well at shorter efforts, but it really kicks into gear when used for endurance events.

AsicsAsics Metaspeed Sky+ review photo 9

The combination of the carbon plate with the FF Blast midsole in the forefoot provides a fast and fluid response to impact, launching you forward with each step and helping to maintain a fluid turnover that promotes a consistent race pace.

For 5K and 10K events, the shoe is still one of the best in the business and for those who like a lot of cushioning, it tops the list alongside the Vaporfly Next% 2. For those that like a leaner midsole for shorter races, however, it might be a bit too chunky and it may be better to look at options like the New Balance SuperComp Pacer or the Nike ZoomX Streakfly.

Due to the high stack and lightweight midsole foam, there are stability considerations, but none are uncommon in comparable shoes at this level. 

Tom WheatleyAsics Metaspeed Sky+ review photo 8

For us, it sits between the Alphafly Next% and Vaporfly Next% 2, so, like both of those options, it’s best saved for race day instead of training sessions.

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To recap

With the launch of the Metaspeed Sky, Asics made a land grab for the carbon plate super shoe market that turned the heads of many Nike superfans. With the Metaspeed Sky+, it has shown that the shoe is one of the best race options available. Although it excels at any distance, the efficiency gains from the carbon plate and updated "FF Blast" Midsole come into their own at half marathon and marathon distances, providing an impressive turnover that propels you forward with speed and consistency.

Writing by Tom Wheatley. Editing by Leon Poultney.