Asics DS Trainer 21


The easiest way to learn to run faster is to run on a solid surface and this means you need to train on the road. When I first started running I ran in the Asics GT2000 series shoes, then as my running evolved I found that DS trainers were better suited to me. As a lightweight runner, I was suited to a lightweight shoe and managed to get just as much durability out of them as the old GT series of shoes I was running in. Since then I haven’t looked back and these are now my third pair of DS Trainers.

The DS trainer is a lightweight training shoe, built for speed. They are comfortable for pounding the pavement and best of all feel fast when you start running in them. The lightweight construction does mean that they do not last quite as long as a regular running shoe, however the construction is still solid and I have had a good amount of use out of them. In particular the heal cup is always very sturdy in Asics shoes. An area of improvement in the version 21 is the flex point in the toe box, which I found always used to “hole” at this point in my previous Asics shoes. The DS trainer is a specialist training shoe and as a result you will have to go to a specialist running shop to pick them up. And… as with any specialist piece of equipment you will end up paying up at the top end of the price range at around $250-$300 NZD but it is good value for money if you want to train hard and fast.

Brand: Asics
Where to get in NZ: Shoe Clinic, Front Runner, various other specialist running shops
Typical Retail price: $250-4300

Function: 5/5

The DS trainer 21 is the ideal shoe for running training on the roads. It is lightweight fast and responsive, and most importantly it makes you feel fast too!  Designed as a road shoe specifically for training, they have a bit more cushioning than its cousin the DS racer, and are a lot more hard wearing. I have mostly used these shoes on the roads, and flat grassy areas for intervals training. They have a good amount of grip for these surfaces and even can handle a little bit of off road. Unfortunately, and they are not designed for this, they are a little bit lacking in grip for mud and the durability of the tread suffers a little bit on gravel surfaces.

They are mainly a training shoe but I have used them for racing too, particularly in instances where I haven’t spent enough time on hard surfaces beforehand to pull out the racers. I have seen some runners using these as ‘racing’ shoes to, just to give them a little more support. I have found them to be the ultimate training shoe for me, and since these ones are coming close to the end of their life, the next edition is currently being broken in my running shoe garage!

Comfort: 4/5

I will admit that my feet have grown into Asics shoes, and I am aware that not everybody has the same shaped feet, but when I put these shoes on, they fit like a glove every-time. They are a very comfortable shoe for training in on the roads. On gravel, the sole is soft enough that you can feel the stones under your foot, but again they are not designed for this type of terrain. They also seem to have a habit of making quite a bit of ‘slapping’ noise when I run down the road!

One drawback from the fit of these shoes is the tongue. Every-time I put my foot into them, the edge of the tongue rolls over and folds on top of my foot creating extra pressure, and a sore spot. I do have the shoe laces quite tight, and I have tried setting the tongue up properly before putting my foot in but still this does not help! The design of the tongue definitely could be improved, at the moment it is too wide, and where it attaches, the stitch point is quite narrow. The wide tongue with the narrow stitch allows for considerable movement of the tongue within the shoe.

Durability: 3/5

I am up to around 400km on this pair of DS trainers and they are pretty much at the end of their life now. This is about on par with most of my other shoes. Previous Asics I have owned the upper has worn – particularly at the bend point at the edge of the toe box – but this pair of shoes are showing no such signs of wear in this place. The inside of the heal cup has suffered the most amount of damage and the upper material has worn through on both shoes. Following the trend of previous versions of the shoes the heal cup is made of a bit more solid plastic and has held its shape well, and thats possibly why the heal in the inner side has worn so significantly. The tread pattern features the lightweight raised bumps that have proven to be not so robust on other Asics shoes I had had. These bumps have worn out rather than rubbed off on this pair so Asics have put in some work t make the tread stronger. The mid sole has suffered a little bit from a hard life and now the shoes are starting to ‘banana’ a bit!

Appearance: 5/5

When these shoes came out at the end of 2015 begining of 2016, the bright almost fluro yellow was all the rage. Because they are high end training shoes its important that they look good, and look fast and certainly this is the case. The bright orange works well with the bight yellow and is complemented with the black laces. As I have said before, they look and feel fast when you put them on and that is probably the most important feature for a top end racing/training shoe!

Cost: 4/5

As these are a specific high end training shoe they are a little bit harder to get your hands on them. You will have to go to a specific sport shoe store to pick them up and often you have to ask for them too. Because of the extra service from the shoe store you are probably going to end up paying a bit more as a result. But you will get the best shoe for you! For a new pair and the latest model you can expect to pay between $250 to $300 for these shoes. As this DS trainer 21 is now obsoleted by 22 you can probably pick up the ‘last years’ model for quite a bit cheaper. Not much has changed, mostly just the colour scheme and hopefully the tongue!

Overall Rating:

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