Asics Gel Lyte 33 3 Review

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My initial happiness with the Lyte 33 turned to disappointment as its flawed forefoot started to cause problems. As noted under 'structure' below, the Lyte 33 is likely to cause blisters or undue stress under the forefoot, which is a real shame. Other than this problem, the Lyte 33 is a really likeable shoe. Its shape is closer to fitting the human foot than many shoes, it's flexible, has a nice upper and the cushioning is soft (where it's not digging in). If Asics could address this problem without creating new issues, the next version could be a great shoe. For now, I'd suggest avoiding version 3 and it's rated as "Not recommended." (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-Lyte33 top
Asics Gel-Lyte33 bottom
Asics Gel-Lyte33 inside
Asics Gel-Lyte33 outside

1 Characteristics

A slice through the Lyte 33 showing the problem in the forefoot.
  • Why you’d buy it. The forefoot problems of the Lyte 33 limit how far you're likely to be able to run in them without issues, so it's hard to recommend them.
  • Cushioning . The Lyte 33 good, soft cushioning for its weight, and while it's not as well cushioned or as light as the Asics Gel Hyper Speed, it's initially quite comfortable. However, as noted below under 'structure', the cushioning is also this shoe's weak point.
  • Drop. The 7mm of drop I measured unloaded was only 4mm when worn, and I found the Lyte 33 worked well in practice.
  • Structure. It's common for (bad) running shoes to use multiple densities of foam to attempt to limit rear foot movement (Pronation). While the Lyte 33 doesn't do that in any meaningful way in the heel, it does have two densities of foam under the forefoot. You can see the two colors of foam in the pictures, with the blue foam being stiffer than the white foam. I could not feel any difference in the way my foot moved, but the junction between the two types of foam created a line of pressure down the forefoot. I found I could not run far in the Lyte 33 without this pressure line threatening to cause a blister, and I've heard other reports of runners having forefoot discomfort with this shoe.
  • Flexibility. The Lyte 33 is agreeably flexible, with flex groves that Asics think will allow the shoe to bend more naturally. I don't think the angle of the flex groves worked any better than any other shoe, but they didn't cause any problems wither. .
  • Outsole. The Gel Lyte 33 has firmer outsole over most contact patches, though there is a strangely placed gap under the small toes. This is another situation where a shoe designer did something for appearance rather than function. There is a small risk of the shoe picking up stones, but I didn't have an issue.
  • Shape. The Lyte 33 has a far better shape than most shoes, and while it's not as good as the Altra range, it is a step in the right direction. I still had to cut open the toe box, but it wouldn't take the designers to change the shoe much for that to be unnecessary. (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. The upper is a little thicker than many lightweight shoes, but it's mostly seamless. There is a small amount of padding around the rear of the foot, plus good padding around the ankle opening. Given the better shape than most shoes, the upper is nice and comfortable.
  • Tongue. The Lyte 33 has a traditional tongue that is has a tab to attach it to the laces. The tongue is much better padded for a lightweight shoe than I expected.
  • Lacing. The Lyte 33 has round laces, but I didn't find they came lose as easily as similar round laces. They're not ideal, but not awful either.
  • Heel Counter. The Lyte 33 has no real heal counter, which is great!
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2 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.

3 Visualizing the Attributes of the Asics Gel Lyte 33

How Asics Gel Lyte 33 compares showing rearfoot cushioning against the performance penalty of its weight. Upper right is better.
How Asics Gel Lyte 33 compares showing forefoot cushioning against the performance penalty of its weight. Upper right is better.
How Asics Gel Lyte 33 compares showing the price against the benefit (cushioning/performance penalty). Upper left is better.
How Asics Gel Lyte 33 compares showing the loaded drop against the benefit (cushioning/performance penalty). Upper left is better.

4 Comparisons

Here are some direct comparisons with its potential competition.

4.1 Asics Gel Lyte 33 and Asics Gel Hyper Speed

The Lyte 33 is a nice shoe, and if it weren't for the flawed forefoot cushioning, it would be worth considering instead of the Asics Gel Hyper Speed. The Lyte 33 is nearly 25% heavier, but not quite as well cushioned as the Hyper Speed. However, its better shape and nice upper could have redeemed it. You can only really consider the Lyte 33 if you're not running far enough for the forefoot problems to annoy you.

Asics Gel-Lyte33 top
Asics Gel-Lyte33 bottom
Asics Gel-Lyte33 inside
Asics Gel-Lyte33 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

4.2 Asics Gel Lyte 33 and New Balance RC5000

Compared with many shoes, the Lyte 33 is lightweight, but it's more than twice as heavy as the New Balance RC5000. The Lyte 33 has more cushioning, but given the forefoot problems, I'd rather do a marathon in the RC5000 than the Lyte 33.

Asics Gel-Lyte33 top
Asics Gel-Lyte33 bottom
Asics Gel-Lyte33 inside
Asics Gel-Lyte33 outside
New Balance MRC 5000 top
New Balance MRC 5000 bottom
New Balance MRC 5000 inside
New Balance MRC 5000 outside

4.3 Asics Gel Lyte 33 and Asics GT 2000

I tend to compare shoes against my benchmark "normal running shoe", the Asics GT 2000. Even in this comparison, the Lyte 33 is still let down by its forefoot hotspot. I'd have a hard time choosing between the two shoes; the GT 2000 feels like a clog compared with the Lyte 33, but the Lyte 33 would give me forefoot problems over any distance.

Asics Gel-Lyte33 top
Asics Gel-Lyte33 bottom
Asics Gel-Lyte33 inside
Asics Gel-Lyte33 outside
Asics GT2000 top
Asics GT2000 bottom
Asics GT2000 inside
Asics GT2000 outside

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 5
Saucony Type A6 Review A6 Highly Recommended $100 8.2 6.1 9.5 17 21 4 5.0 7
Adidas Adios Boost 2 Review Adios Worth considering $140 4.7 8.6 13.4 17 27 11 4.0 6
Merrell Bare Access Bare Access Review Pending $95 5.0 7.2 17.8 15 12 -2 3.6 7
Hoka Bondi 5 Review Bondi Recommended $150 6.1 11.6 18.1 38 42 5 7.1 2
Hoka Clayton Review Clayton Best of the Best $150 8.8 8.3 12.9 26 30 3 7.3 4
Hoka Clifton 3 Review Clifton3 Best of the Best $130 9.1 9.8 15.3 34 38 3 8.9 5
On Cloudracer Review Cloudracer Worth considering $130 5.7 8.2 12.8 19 27 5 4.7 7
Hoka Conquest Review Conquest Worth considering $170 5.0 11.9 18.5 28 34 5 6.0 2
Saucony Cortana 4 Review Cortana Worth considering $150 4.4 9.9 18.7 22 28 5 4.3 4
Mizuno Wave Cruise Review Cruise Worth considering $120 6.6 5.9 12.5 17 20 7 3.9 6
Newton Distance IV Review Distance Worth considering $155 7.5 9.1 14.2 26 31 3 6.8 5
Asics Gel DS Racer 10 Review DS Racer Worth considering $110 8.2 7.0 10.9 21 26 6 5.8 5
Mizuno Wave Ekiden 8 Review Ekiden Worth considering $115 5.7 5.7 14.6 13 18 6 3.2 8
Saucony Endorphin 2 Review Endorphin 2 Review Pending $115 7.4 5.5 10.2 15 13 -1 4.1 8
Adidas Energy Boost Review Energy Worth considering $160 7.2 10.0 15.6 20 30 7 7.2 5
Altra Escalante Review Escalante Best of the Best $130 9.1 8.7 13.5 28 25 -1 7.9 6
Puma Faas 100 R Review Faas 100 Highly Recommended $90 8.4 6.1 9.4 15 20 1 5.1 8
Saucony Fastwitch Review Fastwitch Highly Recommended $90 9.5 7.1 11.1 20 22 4 6.8 7
Topo Fli-Lyte Review Fli-Lyte Highly Recommended $100 6.0 9.4 14.6 23 24 4 5.6 5
Nike Free 4.0 Review Free Recommended $120 5.3 8.2 13.6 24 30 6 4.4 5
Saucony Freedom Review Freedom Recommended $160 5.4 10.7 16.6 25 29 3 5.8 6
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 4
Skechers GOrun Ultra Road Review GRU-R Worth considering $105 6.5 11.3 17.6 30 40 6 7.4 6
Asics GT 2000 Review GT 2000 Not recommended $120 4.8 11.2 17.4 28 35 5 5.4 2
New Balance Hanzo S Hanzo Review Pending $110 7.6 6.9 10.7 21 19 2 5.2 5
Hoka Hupana Review Hupana Recommended $115 6.1 8.9 13.9 31 36 7 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 6
Altra Instinct 3.5 3.5 Review Instinct 3.5 Recommended $115 4.9 9.3 15.2 24 23 0 4.5 5
Altra Instinct 4.0 Review Instinct 4.0 Worth considering $120 6.0 9.8 15.3 29 25 -1 5.9 5
Asics Tarther Kainos 3 Review Kainos Worth considering $130 10.0 6.9 10.7 17 27 9 6.8 6
Saucony Kinvara 8 Review Kinvara 8 Review Pending $110 9.3 8.6 13.4 26 31 3 8.0 5
Nike LunaRacer 4 Review LunaRacer Recommended $90 9.9 7.0 10.9 22 30 7 6.9 5
Nike LunarSpider R5 Review LunarSpider Recommended $125 6.9 6.7 10.4 17 21 3 4.6 6
Hoka Mafate Speed Review Mafate Best of the Best $170 7.6 11.9 18.5 39 40 4 9.0 1
Pearl Izumi EM Road N0 v2 Review N0 Highly Recommended $100 7.9 6.5 10.1 14 20 4 5.2 8
Saucony Nomad Review Nomad Review Pending $110 4.3 10.5 17.2 25 27 2 4.5 4
Hoka Odyssey Review Odyssey Highly Recommended $130 8.5 9.4 14.6 37 45 5 8.0 3
Altra Olympus Review Olympus Highly Recommended $130 5.4 11.8 18.4 27 27 3 6.4 3
Altra One 2.5 Review One Highly Recommended $100 8.5 7.1 11.1 22 25 2 6.0 7
Altra Paradigm Review Paradigm Highly Recommended $130 6.4 9.9 15.4 25 25 1 6.4 2
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 6
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 7
Skechers GoRun Ride 3 Review Ride Worth considering $85 5.9 8.5 13.2 18 28 6 5.0 8
Inov-8 RoadXTreme 220 Review RXT-220 Worth considering $120 5.2 8.0 18.2 14 17 3 4.2 8
Topo ST-2 Review ST-2 Highly Recommended $90 8.2 7.3 11.4 20 18 0 6.0 7
Hoka Stinson Lite Review Stinson Highly Recommended $160 7.3 11.6 18.1 35 40 6 8.5 0
Nike Zoom Streak LT 3 Review Streak LT Best of the Best $80 8.8 5.4 8.4 16 21 4 4.8 5
Adidas Takumi Sen 3 Review Takumi Sen 3 Highly Recommended $160 7.7 6.6 10.2 17 21 4 5.1 5
Altra Torin 2.0 Review Torin Worth considering $125 5.8 9.6 14.9 28 25 -1 5.5 4
Hoka Tracer Review Tracer Recommended $130 7.2 7.4 11.5 21 24 2 5.3 5
Merrell Trail Glove 3 Review Trail Glove Best of the Best $100 2.9 6.9 24.7 11 11 0 2.0 8
Topo Tribute Review Tribute Recommended $100 5.9 7.3 11.4 20 18 -1 4.3 6
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 5
Asics TartherZeal 3 Review Zeal Worth considering $140 10.9 6.3 9.8 17 27 9 6.8 6

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, Skechers GO Bionic 2 Review, New Balance 980 Review, Brooks Transcend 2 Review.
Reviews of shoes that are not worth including on the table: Hoka Huaka Review, Patagonia EVERlong Review.