Asics Gel DS Racer 10 Review

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I had low expectations of the DS Racer, but it still managed to disappoint me. The cushioning is better than I expected, but the upper is rather uncomfortable and the drop is too great. If you're looking seriously at the DS Racer, I'd suggest trying the Asics Gel Hyper Speed or the Saucony Kinvara first. You should only consider this if you really want some anti-pronation in a lightweight shoe. (I use The Science of Running Shoes as the basis of how I test running shoes and what you should look for in a running shoe.)

Asics Gel DS Racer 10 top
Asics Gel DS Racer 10 bottom
Asics Gel DS Racer 10 inside
Asics Gel DS Racer 10 outside

1 Characteristics

  • Why you’d buy it. The DS Racer is not a shoe I like, so it's hard to recommend. If you think that the dual density foam is worthwhile, in spite of the evidence to the contrary, then this is one of the few lightweight shoes you have to choose from.
  • Cushioning . The cushioning is quite springy and smooth. With less drop, the midsole would have been quite pleasant.
  • Drop. The 6mm drop is enough to start to cause me issues, and I suspect that it's actually a little more than 6mm in practice. The DS Racer has enough drop for me to feel like I'm running in high heels and for it to mess with my stride slightly.
  • Structure. The DS Racer includes multiple densities of foam, called DuoMax, which make the inside of the heel firmer and attempts to interfere with the natural movement of the foot. The research indicates that these techniques don't actually change the foot movement much, even with the more extreme "motion control" shoes. However, I would not have noticed the dual density if I hadn't been looking out for it as it is very mild.
  • Flexibility. The DS Racer is less flexible than you'd expect for a lightweight shoe. This is partly due to the extensive outsole, and partly the hard plastic shank that Asics call their "Trusstic System". There are some gaps in the outsole that improve flexibility at those points, but that causes the shoe to crease at specific points, which are not necessarily the points your foot bends. I found the lack of flexibility reduced the comfort of the shoe, even when compared with shoes like the Hoka. This is possibly because the massively cushioned Hoka shoes don't bend, but they do compress in a way that allows the foot to bend within the shoe.
  • Outsole. There's a good layer of harder rubber outsole over the forefoot contact areas, and most of the heel.
  • Shape. The DS Racer is not designed to fit the human foot, and I had to cut open the toe box for my feet to move naturally. (I recommend cutting open the toe box of virtually all running shoes, with the exception of a few shoes like some Altra shoes. When you have some worn out shoes, you should try cutting open the toe box. I've found that it's a big improvement, allowing my toes to move naturally and engage for toe off, as well as reducing the possibility of blisters.)
  • Upper. In today's market, nearly every shoe has a comfortable upper. Unfortunately the DS Racer bucks this trend and I found it rather uncomfortable. The upper seems quite thick and inflexible, with reinforcement strips that make things even worse. When combined with the outsole that causes the shoe to crease at specific points, I found the upper dug into the top of my foot. I also found the ankle opening caused pressure, even though it was well padded.
  • Tongue. The DS Racer has a traditional tongue that is has a tab to attach it to the laces. The tongue has some padding, but it also a seam half way up that's less than ideal.
  • Lacing. The DS Racer has thin flat laces that stayed tied.
  • Heel Counter. The DS Racer has a moderately strong heel counter, but it didn't cause any problems.
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2 Comparisons

Here are some direct comparisons with its potential competition.

2.1 Asics Gel DS Racer and Asics Gel Hyper Speed

The Asics Gel Hyper Speed is far better than the DS Racer in every way. It's lighter, better cushioned, less drop, and a more comfortable upper.

Asics Gel DS Racer 10 top
Asics Gel DS Racer 10 bottom
Asics Gel DS Racer 10 inside
Asics Gel DS Racer 10 outside
Asics Gel Hyper Speed 6 top
Asics Gel Hyper Speed 6 bottom
Asics Gel Hyper Speed 6 inside
Asics Gel Hyper Speed 6 outside
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This review was made possible by readers like you buying products via these links.

2.2 Asics Gel DS Racer and New Balance RC5000

The DS Racer lighter than many shoes, but the New Balance RC5000 is extreme. The RC5000 is about half the weight of the DS Racer, and while not as well cushioned, it does the job. If you want to run faster, and you're okay with the cushioning of the RC5000, then it's by far the better shoe.

Asics Gel DS Racer 10 top
Asics Gel DS Racer 10 bottom
Asics Gel DS Racer 10 inside
Asics Gel DS Racer 10 outside
New Balance MRC 5000 top
New Balance MRC 5000 bottom
New Balance MRC 5000 inside
New Balance MRC 5000 outside
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This review was made possible by readers like you buying products via these links.

2.3 Asics Gel DS Racer and Hoka Clifton

It's hard to believe that the DS Racer and the Hoka Clifton are so close in weight; the Clifton is just over an ounce (30g) heavier, but the Clifton is vastly better cushioned. The Clifton is nearly as flexible as the DS Racer, another surprise. The Clifton is also more comfortable, which is icing on the cake.

Asics Gel DS Racer 10 top
Asics Gel DS Racer 10 bottom
Asics Gel DS Racer 10 inside
Asics Gel DS Racer 10 outside
Hoka Clifton 2 top
Hoka Clifton 2 bottom
Hoka Clifton 2 inside
Hoka Clifton 2 outside
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This review was made possible by readers like you buying products via these links.

2.4 Asics Gel DS Racer and Saucony Kinvara

The Saucony Kinvara and the DS Racer are close in weight and cushioning, but they appear to be trying to do different things. The Kinvara is a transition between a traditional shoe like the Asics GT 2000 and either a cushioned Maximalist shoe or a light weight optimal shoe, where the DS Racer has aspirations of being that light weight optimal shoe. The Kinvara succeeds in its goals, and is a comfortable shoe, where the DS Racer falls short. The comparison highlights for me the problems in the DS Racer; it's not light enough to be an optimal shoe, nor is it comfortable enough to be a transitional shoe.

Asics Gel DS Racer 10 top
Asics Gel DS Racer 10 bottom
Asics Gel DS Racer 10 inside
Asics Gel DS Racer 10 outside
Saucony Kinvara 6 top
Saucony Kinvara 6 outside
Saucony Kinvara 6 bottom
Saucony Kinvara 6 inside
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This review was made possible by readers like you buying products via these links.

2.5 Asics Gel DS Racer and Asics GT 2000

I tend to compare shoes against my benchmark "normal running shoe", the Asics GT 2000. The GT 2000 weights more than half as much again, but at least the upper is comfortable. Where the DS Racer makes a vague attempt to interfere with your biomechanics, the GT 2000 is more determined, though probably no more effective. However, when you run in the two shoes, the GT 2000 feels more like a concrete clog in comparison with the DS Racer. At least in the company of the GT 2000 it can appear light weight, if not comfortable.

Asics Gel DS Racer 10 top
Asics Gel DS Racer 10 bottom
Asics Gel DS Racer 10 inside
Asics Gel DS Racer 10 outside
Asics GT2000 top
Asics GT2000 bottom
Asics GT2000 inside
Asics GT2000 outside

3 Cushioning and Shoes

It's intuitively obvious that the cushioning in a shoe will reduce the impact on your body when running. However, The Science of Running Shoes indicates that the reality is rather more complex. While slight cushioning may reduce the effort needed to run by improving your Running Economy, most scientific research indicates that more cushioning does further improve Running Economy. In addition, cushioning does not generally reduce impact and may actually increase it. This is counterintuitive, but is likely to be due to the way a runners mind and body adapts to softer cushioning. Unfortunately, the scientific evidence is far from complete and it's hard to give clear recommendations. I believe that some runners will prefer more cushioning, while others prefer less, and typically those running further have a fondness for greater cushioning. I also believe that a shoe should be as light as possible, and a shoe should justify its weight with the cushioning it provides. My advice is to decide what level of cushioning you're looking for, and then find the lightest shoes that also fit well and are comfortable.

4 Visualizing the Attributes of the Asics Gel DS Racer

How Asics Gel DS Racer compares showing rearfoot cushioning against the performance penalty of its weight. Upper right is better.
How Asics Gel DS Racer compares showing forefoot cushioning against the performance penalty of its weight. Upper right is better.
How Asics Gel DS Racer compares showing the price against the benefit (cushioning/performance penalty). Upper left is better.
How Asics Gel DS Racer compares showing the loaded drop against the benefit (cushioning/performance penalty). Upper left is better.

5 A Comparison with other Recommended Shoes

For a more detailed comparison of these shoes see the Recommendations for Best Running Shoes. This table lists the key attributes of What to Look for in Running Shoes. For more detailed information, on the shoes see detailed shoe comparison.

Full Review Name Rating Recommended
price
Benefit Weight
(oz)
Penalty
(sec/mile)
Forefoot
Thickness
Heel
Thickness
Loaded Drop
mm
Cushioning Flexibility
Asics 33-DFA Review 33-DFA Worth considering $90 5.7 10.6 16.5 27 27 0 6.1 6
Saucony Type A6 Review A6 Highly Recommended $100 8.2 6.1 9.5 17 21 4 5.0 8
Adidas Adios Boost 2 Review Adios Worth considering $140 4.7 8.6 13.4 17 27 11 4.0 7
Skechers GO Bionic 2 Review Bionic Highly Recommended $95 6.4 7.0 10.9 15 18 2 4.5 9
Hoka Bondi Review Bondi Highly Recommended $150 8.0 10.9 17.0 41 45 5 8.8 0
Hoka Clayton Review Clayton Best of the Best $150 8.8 8.3 12.9 26 30 3 7.3 5
Hoka Clifton 3 Review Clifton3 Best of the Best $130 9.1 9.8 15.3 34 38 3 8.9 6
On Cloudracer Review Cloudracer Worth considering $130 5.7 8.2 12.8 19 27 5 4.7 8
Hoka Conquest Review Conquest Worth considering $170 5.0 11.9 18.5 28 34 5 6.0 3
Saucony Cortana 4 Review Cortana Worth considering $150 4.4 9.9 18.7 22 28 5 4.3 5
Mizuno Wave Cruise Review Cruise Worth considering $120 6.6 5.9 12.5 17 20 7 3.9 7
Newton Distance IV Review Distance Worth considering $155 7.5 9.1 14.2 26 31 3 6.8 6
Asics Gel DS Racer 10 Review DS Racer Worth considering $110 8.2 7.0 10.9 21 26 6 5.8 6
Mizuno Wave Ekiden 8 Review Ekiden Worth considering $115 5.7 5.7 14.6 13 18 6 3.2 8
Saucony Endorphin Review Endorphin Highly Recommended $125 11.1 4.1 6.4 14 13 -1 4.5 9
Adidas Energy Boost Review Energy Worth considering $160 7.2 10.0 15.6 20 30 7 7.2 6
Puma Faas 100 R Review Faas 100 Highly Recommended $90 8.4 6.1 9.4 15 20 1 5.1 9
Saucony Fastwitch Review Fastwitch Highly Recommended $90 9.5 7.1 11.1 20 22 4 6.8 8
Topo Fli-Lyte Review Fli-Lyte Highly Recommended $100 6.0 9.4 14.6 23 24 4 5.6 6
Nike Free 4.0 Review Free Recommended $120 5.3 8.2 13.6 24 30 6 4.4 6
Saucony Freedom Review Freedom Recommended $160 5.4 10.7 16.6 11 11 3 5.8 7
Asics Gel Lyte 33 3 Review Gel Lyte Not recommended $90 8.0 7.3 11.4 17 24 4 5.8 9
Skechers GOmeb Speed 3 Review GOmeb 3 Worth considering $120 6.9 8.1 12.6 20 24 4 5.5 8
Skechers GORun 4 Review GORun Not recommended $100 6.1 7.5 11.7 15 23 3 4.5 7
Skechers GOrun Ultra 2 Review GRU Worth considering $90 7.5 10.0 15.6 28 34 8 7.5 5
Skechers GOrun Ultra Road Review GRU-R Worth considering $105 6.5 11.3 17.6 30 40 6 7.4 7
Asics GT 2000 Review GT 2000 Not recommended $120 4.8 11.2 17.4 28 35 5 5.4 4
Asics Gel Hyper Speed 7 Review Hyper Speed Highly Recommended $75 10.9 6.3 9.8 22 26 5 6.8 7
Altra Instinct 3.5 Review Instinct 3.5 Recommended $115 4.9 9.3 15.2 24 23 0 4.5 6
Asics Tarther Kainos 3 Review Kainos Worth considering $130 10.0 6.9 10.7 17 27 9 6.8 7
Saucony Kinvara 7 Review Kinvara Best of the Best $110 7.4 8.2 12.8 23 27 3 6.1 6
Nike LunaRacer 4 Review LunaRacer Recommended $90 9.9 7.0 10.9 22 30 7 6.9 6
Nike LunarSpider R5 Review LunarSpider Recommended $125 6.9 6.7 10.4 17 21 3 4.6 7
Hoka Mafate Speed Review Mafate Best of the Best $170 7.6 11.9 18.5 39 40 4 9.0 3
Pearl Izumi EM Road N0 v2 Review N0 Highly Recommended $100 7.9 6.5 10.1 14 20 4 5.2 8
New Balance 980 Review NB 980 Worth considering $110 4.6 10.1 15.7 21 30 5 4.6 5
Hoka Odyssey Review Odyssey Highly Recommended $130 8.5 9.4 14.6 37 45 5 8.0 4
Altra Olympus Review Olympus Highly Recommended $130 5.4 11.8 18.4 27 27 3 6.4 4
Altra One 2.5 Review One Highly Recommended $100 8.5 7.1 11.1 22 25 2 6.0 8
Altra Paradigm Review Paradigm Highly Recommended $130 6.4 9.9 15.4 25 25 1 6.4 4
Asics Piranha SP 5 Review Piranha Recommended $100 10.1 4.2 6.5 11 15 3 4.2 9
Brooks PureFlow 5 Review PureFlow Worth considering $110 6.0 9.7 15.1 26 29 5 5.8 8
Salming Race Review Race Worth considering $130 6.9 6.5 10.1 16 19 4 4.5 7
New Balance RC1600 v2 Review RC1600 Highly Recommended $110 8.8 5.6 8.7 15 21 5 4.9 8
New Balance RC5000 Review RC5000 Best of the Best $125 12.2 3.4 5.3 13 17 3 4.2 8
New Balance RC5000v2 Review RC5000v2 Best of the Best $125 14.2 4.0 6.2 13 21 6 5.7 8
Skechers GoRun Ride 3 Review Ride Worth considering $85 5.9 8.5 13.2 18 28 6 5.0 9
Inov-8 RoadXTreme 220 Review RXT-220 Worth considering $120 5.2 8.0 18.2 14 17 3 4.2 9
Hoka Stinson Lite Review Stinson Highly Recommended $160 7.3 11.6 18.1 35 40 6 8.5 2
Nike Zoom Streak LT 3 Review Streak LT Best of the Best $80 8.8 5.4 8.4 16 21 4 4.8 6
Adidas Takumi Sen 3 Review Takumi Sen 3 Highly Recommended $160 7.7 6.6 10.2 17 21 4 5.1 6
Altra Torin 2.0 Review Torin Worth considering $125 5.8 9.6 14.9 28 25 -1 5.5 5
Hoka Tracer Review Tracer Recommended $130 7.2 7.4 11.5 21 24 2 5.3 6
Merrell Trail Glove 3 Review Trail Glove Best of the Best $100 2.9 6.9 24.7 11 11 0 2.0 9
Brooks Transcend 2 Review Transcend Recommended $170 5.1 12.6 19.6 30 36 6 6.5 4
Topo Tribute Review Tribute Recommended $100 5.9 7.3 11.4 20 18 -1 4.3 7
Mizuno Wave Universe 5 Review Universe Highly Recommended $125 10.7 3.1 10.6 9 12 1 3.3 9
Merrell Vapor Glove 2 Review Vapor Glove Highly Recommended $85 2.1 6.1 27.6 6 5 0 1.3 10
New Balance Vazee Pace Review Vazee Pace Worth considering $110 6.0 8.6 13.4 18 24 6 5.2 6
Asics TartherZeal 3 Review Zeal Worth considering $140 10.9 6.3 9.8 17 27 9 6.8 7

It's not a running shoe, but I love the Hoka Tor Ultra hiking boot and I've tested the Altra Lone Peak Boot.
Older shoe reviews: Saucony Hattori Review, Mizuno Cursoris Review, Skechers GO Bionic 2 Review, Hoka Clifton Review, Saucony Virrata 2 Review, Brooks PureCadence 3 Review, Brooks PureConnect 3 Review, Brooks PureFlow 3 Review.
Reviews of shoes that are not worth including on the table: Hoka Huaka Review, Patagonia EVERlong Review.