So you’re in the market for shoes. You decide to check out the new Quantum stuff you saw on the Asics website. You see there’s the 180 and the 360. You browse a couple stores to try them on and you find that you can only get the 180 at places like Dick’s Sporting Goods, Sports Authority, and other ”big box” stores, whereas the 360 is only in the local running stores.
Normally the shoes designed to be sold in big boxes are of a lesser quality, and that’s across all companies, I don’t mean to pick on Asics. What sets the Quantum 180 apart is that it’s in the premium-tier of that category, which is not really something you often see. This sets it a unique, but not-quite-fantastic position.
The Quantum 180’s upper is actually really nice! It feels like the Nike knit uppers on the Pegasus, Vomero, Structure, and Odyssey. That is to say that it’s sleek, secure, and flexible. The 180’s upper even seems more breathable than Nike’s.
The tongue is middle-of-the-road in terms of plushness, but doesn’t have a lot of slide to it, which is nice. The same can be said of the heel. However, the heel is quite wide, which is a trend among recent Asics releases, for some reason. I’ve got small ankles, so I get a lot of slippage, but this won’t be a problem for everyone. It does suck that it doesn’t have an extra set of eyelets at the top to do a heel lock with the laces. Aside from that, though, the upper fits quite nicely.
The heel counter is nowhere near as rigid as other Asics, like the highly-popular Nimbus. This isn’t a bad thing, though, and the reinforced heel actually has a pretty big coverage area, so there’s not a worry about your foot sliding all over.
This is where the 180 sort of falls short, but in a weird sort of way. The ride is very flexible and surprisingly responsive, as well as pretty cushioned. It reminds me a lot of a boot, but in the best way possible. It feels like it can take a pounding, basically, and that it can be used as a “jack of all trades” shoe. However, even though it gives that impression, I don’t think I’ll be using it for leg day.
The real problem is the weight. At 11.6 ounces/329g for the men’s, it’s a bulky shoe for the amount of cushion it’s got. That’s the strength and weakness of the Gel: great at absorbing impact, beefy on the weight side. Quite frankly, the cushion/weight ratio just doesn’t feel that awesome on this model, and even though it’s responsive, the weight prevents it from being a great speed trainer.
I’m much more sensitive to weight in my shoes than the average person (I don’t say that as a “superiority” thing, because it actually kind of sucks, since it limits the range of shoes that I feel good wearing). If you aren’t, the Quantum-180 isn’t a bad choice. In addition, the responsiveness might work well for interval work, but the cushion might work well for recovery runs. It really is an odd shoe.
This oddness is what lead me to investigate a little more. Asics’ site touts the shoe as being able to “smoothly power through any workout”. On the other hand, Dick’s says the shoe “is built for all-day wear” and Sports Authority uses phrases like “strategically placed support” and “powerhouse performance.” This, combined with my experiences of firm cushioning and the weight of the shoe, leads me to believe it was designed for heavier runners. Greater bodyweight usually benefits from dense cushioning, the wider ankle would best fit someone with a larger calf, and the upper has a bit of volume with a lack of seams to reduce irritation on wider/thicker feet. It reminds me of the Hoka Conquest in many ways, but at a Clifton price point.
Score: Pretty Average (if you like the Hoka Conquest, definitely give it a try-on)
ASICS Men’s Gel-Quantum 180 2 running Shoe, Mid Grey/Black/Silver, 12 M US
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