ASICS GEL-Kayano 21 vs. New Balance 1260v4 review

ASICS GEL-Kayano 21 is a cushy daily trainer for moderate overpronators. New Balance 1260v4 provides a lot of stability and a good amount of cushioning without the heaviness.

NEW! ASICS GEL-Kayano 22 vs. New Balance 1260v5 and ASICS GEL-Kayano 23 vs. New Balance 1260v6

The ASICS GEL-Kayano 21 and the New Balance 1260v4 are both top-of-line stability running shoes from their respective running shoe manufacturers, so they should stack up well against each other.

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The uppers of the ASICS GEL-Kayano 21 and the New Balance 1260v4 differ considerably in that the New Balance 1260v4 consists mainly of no-sew overlays around the midfoot.

The ASICS GEL-Kayano 21 consists of traditional stitched-on overlays around the midfoot with thinner no-sew overlays wrapping especially the front part of the shoe.

The stitched-on overlays on the ASICS GEL-Kayano 21 provide a good lock down around the midfoot, but so do no-sew overlays on the New Balance 1260v4.

The reason why is that the overlays on the New Balance 1260v4 wrap almost the entire midfoot; you can see it as a two big layers that really hug the midfoot. In addition to that, it has supportive underlays that connect the midsole to the saddle.

So either running shoe should offer a good lockdown around the midfoot. This also goes for the back of the shoes where the ASICS GEL-Kayano 21 has a sturdy heel counter and the New Balance 1260v4 has an asymmetrical heel counter that is a bit higher on the inside than it is on the outside to really keep your foot in place as it overpronates.

Because of the latter, the upper of the New Balance 1260v4 might be a little bit more supportive than that of the ASICS GEL-Kayano 21. But because of the FluidFit in the upper of the ASICS GEL-Kayano 21, it might provide a better fit and a more comfortable feel than the New Balance 1260v4.

The cushioning in the two running shoes differ tremendously. The New Balance 1260v4 has a mixed midsole that consists of 3 types of cushioning: N2 in the heel, Absorb through the midfoot, and ActevaLite in the forefoot. Nonetheless, it still provides heel-to-toe cushioning just like the ASICS GEL-Kayano 21.

N2 cushioning tends to be a bit firm and Absorb cushioning soft. The New Balance 1260v4 has an Absorb crash pad that runs on the lateral side under the heel till the midfoot.

The ASICS GEL-Kayano 21 has a FluidRide midsole that consists of two layers of foam with the one closest to the foot being the softest. And then between the two layers, there is GEL cushioning in both the heel and the forefoot.

The GEL cushioning in the heel serves the same purpose as the crash pad in the New Balance 1260v4, which is to absorb shock at heel strike and start slowing down the inward movement of the foot.

Because of the type of cushioning used, the ASICS GEL-Kayano 21 turns out to be much more cushy than the New Balance 1260v4 for both men and women. The softness also has to do with the fact that the ASICS GEL-Kayano 21 sits higher off the ground – so has a thicker midsole – than the New Balance 1260v4.

The New Balance 1260v4 and the ASICS GEL-Kayano 21 are similar in that they offer pronation control through firmer foam on the medial side of the midsole.

This firmer piece of foam is quite long and runs higher than that in the ASICS GEL-Kayano 21, so you can expect to get a stronger degree of pronation control from the New Balance 1260v4 than from the ASICS GEL-Kayano 21.

In addition, while the ASICS GEL-Kayano 21 has a midfoot shank to provide structural integrity under the midfoot, the New Balance 1260v4 also has such a shank (T-Beam), but its midsole extends almost completely to the ground at the midfoot, thereby giving you more ground contact than the ASICS GEL-Kayano 21.

So the New Balance 1260v4 can be seen as the more stable running shoe of the two, and perhaps also the one that is expected to give you a smoother transition from heel-strike to toe-off due to its outsole construction that provides almost full ground contact from heel to toe.

Staying with the outsoles, both running shoes have a good amount of deep flex grooves in the forefoot for flexibility. But due to the amount of cushioning provided by the ASICS GEL-Kayano 21, it turns out to be a relatively stiff running shoe.

However, running shoe lab tests have shown that the New Balance 1260v4 is much stiffer than the ASICS GEL-Kayano 21, so the New Balance 1260v4 might be better suited for runners who are somewhat heavier or who appreciate a firm running shoe.

The women's version of the New Balance 1260v4 weighs approximately 9.3 oz (264 grams) and the ASICS GEL-Kayano 21 for women weighs 9.5 oz (269 grams). The men's versions of the shoes weigh 11.2 oz (318 grams) and 11.3 oz (320 grams), respectively, with the New Balance 1260v4 being the lighter one.

If you are looking for a very cushy ride from a running shoe that delivers a good amount of stability and that has a glove-like fit, then the ASICS GEL-Kayano 21 might be worth considering.

And if you are looking for a running shoe that provides boat loads of stability without being heavy and clunky like a real motion control running shoe and that provides a somewhat firm base to stand on, then the New Balance 1260v4 might be the one for you.

Note: The weight of a running shoe depends on the size of the running shoe, so any weights mentioned in this review may differ from the weight of the running shoe you choose to wear. Running shoes of the same size were compared for this review.

The two links above will take you to Amazon.com where you can read more about the running shoes.


This review falls under: ASICS | New Balance

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