Gel Fuji Racer blends racing genes with trail genes to produce a hybrid monster that gobbles up terrain at a terrifying rate.
The Asics Gel Fuji Racer is a lightweight, nimble trail shoe with adequate rock protection that grips well on loose terrain and has a dynamite ride on the road. The Fuji Racer's 6mm offset helps the shoe come in under 9 ounces and places the foot in a more level position, allowing for inherent stability.
Drawing inspiration from Asics' line of road racing shoes, the Fuji Racer is quite snug through the midfoot for a secure fit, which is useful on technical trails. Other trail-specific features of the upper are a breathable mesh that sheds water quickly and a lace pocket on the top of the tongue. On the trail, some of our testers noticed a hot-spot on the lateral side where the Asics logo meets the midsole. If you have a wider foot you will need to look elsewhere.
The midsole/outsole delivers a ride that's somewhat on the softer side, but certainly not mushy. The shoe still transmitted a good feel for the ground on loose terrain and harder surfaces. However, when on soft ground we wished the shoe was firmer. On the flip side, we loved that the shoe was forgiving enough for regular road use.
The lugged outsole pattern is reminiscent of the original Magic Sole outsole from the Magic Racer and the modern day Hyper Speed. Unlike the soles of these road flats, the lugged depth provides good traction on loose terrain. The criss-cross pattern of the sole helps keep weight down. Asics used a TPU filler in the voided areas to create rock protection without sacrificing flexibility. We found the rock protection was adequate for dirt trails with a smattering of rocks and did not interfere with the shoe's flexibility. We did encounter problems with the shoe slipping on wet rocks and wet planks of wood.
What we really liked about this shoe was its nimbleness, low weight, snug fit, good grip on loose terrain and the super smooth ride that is at home on the road as much as it is on the trail. What we didn't like was how the shoe slipped on hard wet surfaces and that the midfoot required a little breaking in.
Take a hard look at the Fuji Racer if you need a versatile shoe for regular trail running, races on trail or road, and even a bit of interval training.
I like the Hyper Speed feel with increased trail durability. I'm not convinced that the wet-weather traction is entirely dialed in, but that's a minor issue for a majorly impressive shoe.
Surprisingly bouncy for how low and lean it is. They really nailed the upper – it feels close but not claustrophobic.
A lot of runners are looking for a shoe that's comfortable on the trail and the road. The Fuji Racer fits the bill.