Asics Asics Gel-Pulse 14 Introduction
Pulse is $100 list price and is fitted with a gel pad in the heel midsole and a significant landing pad in the heel outsole to better hold up under walking and heel-strike running.
The overall build of the shoe does not offer support against overpronation which sometimes accompanies a heel strike, so consider Pulse if you just need the heel cushioning.
Pulse weighs 8.6 oz. women’s size 8 and 10.6 oz. men’s size 9, which is about a half-ounce more than the more-stable GT-2000.
Straight up it’s not a bad shoe; it’s just that ASICS offers better neutral running shoes for both cushion and speed for lower price.
For cushion I am going to compare Gel-Pulse with Gel-Excite, a $15 less expensive model from ASICS. When it comes to speed, I am going to compare Pulse with the brand’s Gel-DS Trainer. The DS Trainer has been discontinued, but DS Trainer 26 is still available online for a discount.
First, Pulse has the older Amplifoam midsole while Gel-Excite is fitted with Amplifoam Plus, a version designed to be both softer and more durable. Excite also has a thicker midsole. If you want a budget cushioned shoe, it makes more sense to go $15 cheaper with Excite and get more cushion.
Choose Pulse if you need the heel landing pad.
Pulse has a touch more grip and durability than Excite and so holds up better for the outsole.
Pulse has a thinner midsole than Excite, which makes me want it to be a speed shoe like the Gel-DS Trainer. I wore it for a number of interval sessions and found it mediocre.
The DS Trainer is more fun to run in and “feels faster.” DS Trainer 26, the last model before being discontinued, is $40 more list price at $130 but is now two years old; you can find it for half off, which is $20-$30 less than Pulse, and will get a peppier shoe.
Pulse is not a bad shoe; I’d just go elsewhere for either cushion or speed unless you like the look or it feels good on foot.
Choose Pulse if you have a medium foot with medium-flat arches; it has a little more cushion than the DS Trainer and more of a ground feel than you’ll find in Excite. This is also a good shoe to replace the insole with orthotics.
Go with Excite for more cushion and if you have an average arch. It feels like there’s more arch under Excite, but the insoles are the same. The difference is the shape. Pulse looks to have a straight last, a straighter and wider outline to the base of the shoe. Excite is curved or semi-curved with a more narrow base. Excite’s upper hugs-in to the narrow midfoot, which holds strong under snugged laces to support the arch. It feels more supportive under the medial (inside) arch, for me.
Adidas Duramo is a more durable budget shoe.
Similar shoes include ASICS Gel-Excite and Gel-Contend, Adidas Duramo, Ultrabounce and Runfalcon, Brooks Trace, Nike Renew Ride and Winflo, and the Brooks Launch.
Asics Asics Gel-Pulse 14 First Impressions
Opening the box, Pulse has an attractive look. Trying on, the fit and feel were average: not exciting but no discomfort issues.
For the first run I had high hopes but did not find it to be very responsive or springy. After wearing over 50 miles I can faintly feel the last flex groove underfoot; it feels somewhat flimsy.
I could usually tighten the laces without undo discomfort, but I can see the thinner tongue and thin laces together causing hot spots for runners who like to snug the fit.
Asics Asics Gel-Pulse 14 Upper
An engineered jacquard mesh upper offers moderate breathability and a fit that accommodates many foot shapes. It is not restrictive.
Low-moderate padding around the heel provides comfort. A thin heel counter offers a touch of support.
Likewise a thin toe cap protects the tip of the toes (better than nothing). After 50 miles my toe cap has a dip in it above my big toe from the pressure bending it in toe-off. This does not hint toward durability.
Fit is true-to-size.
Pulse’s thinly-cushioned tongue is perforated for breathability. Overall the shoe offers average breathability.
The thin laces have a tendency to dig into the foot if pulled in for a secure fit. In contrast, Gel-Excite had medium-width, softer laces.
The only reflectivity comes by way of glitter sparkling in the heel gel pad.
Asics Asics Gel-Pulse 14 Sole Unit
Pulse has an AmpliFoam™ Midsole for durability with a soft feel. It is a better foam than older EVA and is a bit softer than basic ASICS Flytefoam (not FF Blast, FF Blast+ or Turbo). For a budget foam, Amplifoam does a decent job with a soft feel that is not too soft, moderate durability, and general comfort.
The ride is not very responsive or springy.
GEL® Technology in the heel helps absorb shock, and a barely-detectable Guidance Line® runs down the outsole of the forefoot to offer a touch of break in force transfer from the lateral to medial side as your foot rolls forward.
A few flex grooves make this shoe more flexible than stiff, and a decent amount of cut-outs in the outsole offer average grip—more than in Gel-Excite.
Generic rubber covers the midsole in a protective loop around the lateral heel, over the outside midfoot, and in three pads separated by flex grooves in the forefoot. Rubber covers most of the high-wear areas but could potentially wear through in the forefoot since there is not much height away from the exposed midsole.
Pulse has a 10 mm. drop.
Asics Asics Gel-Pulse 14 Conclusions
The biggest benefit that I find in Pulse is the heel gel-pad and outsole rubber to handle impact forces on the heel better than most budget running shoes. Since Pulse does not have an overall “stable” feel, I recommend it more for walking than for running, or for a beginning runner starting to put in some easy miles.
It is a good-looking shoe that can cover casual wear with some on-foot activity, but it is not my favorite in the budget category. There are better options for more cushion, durability, or for a speed focus.