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It's crazy to think that when the very first version of the Kayano was launched in 1993, Robin Williams was cross dressing as Mrs Doubtfire and Meatloaf was making us wonder what he wouldn't do for love.
The GEL-Kayano was named after its designer, Toshikazo Kayano. Originally designed to be a cross trainer, the Kayano’s design was inspired by a stag beetle.
Since then, the GEL-Kayano has become one of the most popular running shoes in the world. The reason that the GEL-Kayano is so massively popular stems from a few main reasons:
Here in Singapore, where the tropical heat makes fast-paced running difficult, the Kayano is the perfect shoe: it's suited to easy runs at relaxed paces.
From casual runners to serious marathon runners, you see tones of Kayano-wearing runners on the spotless Singapore pathways daily.
The Kayano is part of a dying breed of running shoes that feature a firmer medial midsole post which is designed to prevent over pronation.
As neutral running shoes have become more and more stable, runners needing support have opted to stick with neutral shoes instead of motion control shoes.
Even support shoes like the Nike Structure and the Brooks GTS Adrenaline have done away with their medial posts to become neutral and have instead introduced other elements to create a stable ride.
The Kayano has kept its medial posting and we don’t see it going away anytime soon. The Kayano is still one of the most popular stability trainers in the world. Why change a winning formula?
This is the limited edition Sunrise Red colourway which celebrates the city of Tokyo and the country of Japan. It has a reflective pattern on the laces and a reflective outline on the Asics logos.
If you're a fan of the Kayano and the Nimbus, you'll know that Asics’ strategy when it comes to their stalwarts is to only make small, incremental changes from update to update so that they can keep them consistent.
They have a loyal fanbase who buy the new Kayano every year and who look forward to its familiar fit and ride.
So what's new on the 27th version of the GEL-Kayano? As you'd have guessed, it has received minor tweaks.
It has a new engineered mesh for better breathability, deeper flex grooves in the forefoot for more flexibility and it has a softer midsole for better cushioning.
Have the changes that they’ve made improved the Kayano and is the Kayano 27 still a great daily trainer?
|Drop||10mm (men), 13mm (women)|
|Weight||323g (men), 275 (women)|
The Kayano 27’s upper is everything that you’d expect from a plush daily trainer. It’s made from engineered mesh which is soft to the touch and has average breathability.
The external heel clutch is made of thick plastic and does a good job at locking your heel in place. No heel slippage occurs in the Kayano 27 but there are double last row eyelets included to do heel lock lacing for a more secure lockdown
The tongue of the Kayano 27 is generously padded but it isn’t gusseted so there is a small amount of tongue slide during runs. Hopefully Asics attaches the tongue to an inner sleeve on the Kayano 28, like they did with the Nimbus 23.
The heel and tongue areas are lined with a super smooth, silky material which gives the Kayano 27 its premium feel. The premium build of the Kayano is a cut above the rest and it certainly feels like a $259 shoe.
The one downside of having so much plush foam in the upper is that the Kayano is not the coolest shoe around and breathability is not great. It also absorbs sweat and picks up weight during long runs.
The fit of the Kayano 27 is true to size but it has a narrow fit. Most runners will be able to get away with the standard D width though.
Overall, the Kayano 27’s upper has plenty of long-distance comfort and doesn't cause any hotspots.
There is a dual foam setup when it comes to the midsole of the Kayano 27. Flytefoam Propel, which is an EVA-TPU blend is situated in the forefoot and the upper layer of the midfoot and rearfoot.
Flytefoam, which is made of EVA, is situated in the bottom layer of the midfoot and rearfoot. Flytefoam Propel has a softer feel with more bounce while Flytefoam is more durable and lighter.
The Kayano 27 has a pleasant squishy-feeling layer directly underfoot, similar to the Nimbus 23 but not as squishy. The spongy layer gives the Kayano 27 excellent step-in comfort and makes it more comfortable for long-distance runs.
There is a large silicone GEL unit in the heel on the lateral side as well as a small, coin-sized GEL unit in the forefoot which is hidden. These GEL units are designed to absorb shock upon footstrikes.
Flytefoam and Flytefoam Propel are not responsive or bouncy compared to other foams like Flytefoam Blast. Instead, what you get is a padded and plush sensation from the midsole of the Kayano.
The firmer Dynamic Duomax wedge is situated on the medial side of the midsole, under the arch area. This results in a supportive medial side and a softer lateral side but the Kayano 27 still delivers a very balanced ride.
The great thing about the Kayano 27 is that you don’t get the uncomfortable poking arch sensation that’s usually associated with traditional stability trainers with a firmer medial posting. The Kayano feels very much like a neutral shoe that’s very stable so it’s suitable for neutral runners.
The Kayano 27 also has gender specific heel-to-toe offsets. It is 10mm in the men’s version and 13mm in the women’s version.
Heel strikers and beginner runners will benefit from the high drop of the Kayano because there is plenty of foam in the heel to soften heel strikes. It also won't cause any calf stiffness that lower drop shoes can do.
There are two types of rubber used on the outsole of the Kayano 27: AHAR+ on the heel which is extremely durable as well as softer AHAR on the forefoot for better ground feel.
The outsole rubber on the Kayano 27 is not as abrasion resistant as Adidas’ Continental rubber or Nike's rubber and after 100km, there is some noticeable wear on the lateral heel posterior. The Kayano 27 should still make it to at least 600km with ease.
The Trusstic system is the plastic shank on the midfoot of the outsole. This shank gives the Kayano structure so that the midfoot doesn't twist too much.
It also adds midfoot stability so that the shoe flexes in the correct position, in the forefoot.
There is a shallow cavity under the heel which allows the foam to compress downwards to increase heel cushioning.
There are 3, deep, wide flex grooves in the forefoot which allow the Kayano 27 to flex very easily and naturally. The high flexibility of the Kayano is an integral part that prevents it from feeling clunky.
The Kayano 27 is best suited to slow, easy runs mainly because of its weight. At 323g, the Kayano is one of the heaviest shoes on the road but it’s a small price to pay for such a luxurious, supportive ride.
The Kayano 27 has a guided and supportive ride which makes it easy to do high mileage even if your form is sloppy.
It's a daily trainer which doesn't have much ground feel because of the thick midsole stack height but it does very well at absorbing impact and saving your muscles and joints from the wear and tear of road pounding.
The high level of flexibility of the Kayano makes transitions feel smooth but takes away the snappiness needed for faster, tempo runs.
You won't break any PR’s in the dependable ASICS GEL-Kayano 27 but that's not what it was designed for.
It was designed to be a plush daily training workhorse for the bulk of your training: your easy and recovery days- and it delivers on that promise.
It doesn't have much responsiveness or bounce but what it does have is foot protection and stable landings without the discomfort that usually comes with stability trainers.
The Kayano 27 isn't the most versatile shoe on the market and it feels most at home on relaxed runs above 5.30 per kilometre.
With the Kayano 27, you get a comfortable, padded upper and a midsole with a squishy underfoot feel. It's a shoe that feels sinfully luxurious, mile after mile.
Loyal fans of the Kayano will be very happy with this iteration of the Kayano. It feels like a Kayano but with even more midsole softness for long runs.
The Kayano 27 is still a consistent, dependable daily trainer that feels as premium as its price.
Never change Kayano, never change.