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Carbon plated racers are fun to run in: they're light, propulsive and energy-saving.
However, the one downside is that they aren't very durable. Because they are built to be light, they don't have much reinforcements in the form of thick rubber outsoles and tough uppers.
Expensive carbon plated racers are designed for race days and key training workouts, not for daily training.
This is why brands release a daily training companion with their carbon plated racers which are more durable and less expensive so that you can use it for your daily training, high mileage needs.
Nike already has the Zoom Fly 3 which is the training companion to the Vaporfly Next%, Saucony has the Endorphin Speed which is the companion to the Endorphin Pro and New Balance has the FuelCell TC which is the companion to the FuelCell RC Elite.
Now, ASICS has the Magic Speed which is the training companion to the Metaspeed Sky and Metaspeed Edge.
The Magic Speed is different to its racing counterparts in that it utilises a more durable, heavier midsole foam in Flytefoam Blast. This is the same material used in the popular ASICS Novablast. It also has a more flexible, forefoot-only carbon plate and a lot more rubber on its outsole.
The Magic Speed costs $130 less than the Metaspeed Sky and the Metaspeed Edge but is it a good training companion to those speedy racers and how does it compare to the other training companions?
The upper of the Magic Speed is light and minimal but it still feels strong enough to handle daily wear and tear.
The fit is true to size but it's a narrow fit so wide-footed runners might find it uncomfortable. At present, there is no wide version of the Magic Speed.
The upper is a lot more fitted and dialed in than the accommodating upper of the Metaspeed Sky so it feels more like a racing upper than the Metaspeed.
The monofilament mesh is porous, breathable and is very effective at letting the air in to cool down your feet. It has these unique, raised ridges on the entire upper of the Magic Speed
Inside the heel cup, there's foam padding which stretches around the back of the shoe. This padding sits just underneath your achilles and holds your heel in place so lockdown feels very secure.
The top of the collar is very thin and flimsy but it doesn't get in the way or irritate the foot.
Last row lace eyelets are also included for if you need to do heel lock lacing for a more secure fit.
Let's start with the most exciting part of the midsole, the carbon plate. It starts at the midfoot and stretches all the way to the tip of the shoe. It’s asymmetrical in shape and it’s longer on the medial side of the plate.
It's quite flexible for a carbon plate but it adds the right amount of stiffness to the forefoot of the Magic Speed to make it feel snappy without making it feel too harsh.
Sometimes, stiff carbon plates can cause leg aches and pains because it interferes with the body's natural gait cycle but the flexible plate in the Magic Speed prevents that from happening. You can put a lot of mileage on the Magic Speed without having to worry about getting injured.
The Flytefoam Blast foam in the midsole of the Magic Speed feels quite dense and it is similar in feel to Nike's React foam, medium-firm in softness. There isn’t a lot of energy return that comes from the Flytefoam Blast but the shoe still feels fast because of the plate and the rocker geometry of the midsole.
ASICS calls the rocker-shaped midsole, GUIDESOLE. The stiff forefoot combined with the high toe spring of the Magic Speed helps to ease you through transitions by rolling you forward during each toe-off.
The thin insole of the Magic Speed is glued down to the strobel lining so you won’t get any slippage. It doesn’t add much extra cushioning to the shoe so most of the cushioning is contained in the midsole and there isn’t a lot of sink-in cushioning.
On both the lateral and medial sides of the rearfoot, the midsole sides flare upwards. This increases stability by keeping your foot centred. The midsole design is similar in shape to the ASICS EvoRide 2.
There’s plenty of thick, durable rubber on the outsole of the Magic Speed. The shoe uses ASICS GRIP rubber compared to AHAR+ like on the Nimbus, Cumulus and EvoRide. ASICS GRIP is softer and more flexible than AHAR+ but durability normally isn’t as good.
However, the sheer amount of rubber and the thickness of it suggests that the outsole durability of the Magic Speed will be above average so you should be able to get at least 800 kilometres out of the Magic Speed.
There are lots protruding lugs on the outsole that bite into the ground and they provide excellent traction. Holes are punched into the forefoot rubber to save weight and increase flexibility.
Under the rearfoot of the Magic Speed, there is a shallow, scalloped cavity which is not covered with rubber. This area allows the heel to compress downwards slightly and increases cushioning under the heel.
Just as its name suggests, the Magic Speed is built to go fast and it feels most at home when you're going at a steady pace of 5 minutes 30 seconds per kilometre or faster.
When you're leaning forward and engaging the rocker at fast paces, you can feel the carbon plate in the forefoot snap quickly back into its original position which helps with efficiency, especially over longer distances.
Ride transitions are very smooth in the Magic Speed because of how much rubber is in contact with the ground during foot strikes. Foot strikes feel very planted.
Stability when running in the Magic Speed is also good because its midsole is not overly soft so there isn't a lot of lean bias. The midsole is also relatively low so your foot doesn't sit high off the ground. You don't have to slow down when going around tight corners.
ASICS designed the Magic Speed to be a training companion to the Metaspeed Sky and Edge and it is a good companion but many runners, especially those who aren't used to stiff carbon plates, will prefer racing in the Magic Speed.
The forefoot-only carbon plate in the Magic Speed is not at all intrusive and doesn't interfere with the body's natural gait cycle unlike its more expensive, racing counterparts.
Compared to other training companions, the Magic Speed is a lot more stable, forgiving and flexible than the Nike Zoom Fly 3. Foot lockdown is also better.
It's also more stable than the New Balance FuelCell TC but doesn't feel as soft or as cushioned. The ride feels a lot more natural than the FuelCell TC because the carbon plate is only in half of the shoe compared to full-length in the FuelCell TC.
The Endorphin Speed is the closest in feel to the Magic Speed. The Endorphin Speed's Pebax based midsole makes it feel more cushioned than the Magic Speed and better for longer distances. The firmer, more snappy Magic Speed is better suited to shorter, faster runs.
At just $219, the Magic Speed represents good value for a carbon-plated trainer that can also double up as a racer. It has a durable outsole, a comfortable upper with excellent lockdown and midsole that makes it suitable for a variety of runs.
In a running shoe rotation, it would do well paired with a Nimbus 23 or Cumulus 23 for easy paces with the Magic Speed handling the steady, tempo and threshold runs.
Reviewed by Brandon Law