The Asics EX89 is an updated version of a 1989 Asics classic that nobody (even Google) seems to remember. Its style, though, is without question.
Release Date: 2023
Asics has not been in the basketball sneaker scene for a long while. With the Asics EX89, the brand reminds us that they were once in it and had a stylish repertoire. Only a few people remember this shoe’s original form called the Gel Extreme, so if you know anything, please don’t hesitate to comment on the YouTube video or below in the comments section.
I’ve been able to wear the Asics EX89 in the Pistons-esque colorway for over a week now so here are some quick thoughts on how it performs as a casual lifestyle sneaker.
First, as Chris mentioned in the video, the style is great. Looking down at the EX89 while it’s on my feet provides a tremendous top-down view that’s both nostalgic and a fun change up from more prevalent 80s sneakers that are currently flooding the market.
The upper materials are a weak point. The leather has a heavy coating that makes it stiff and a little plasticky to the touch. The tongue is comfy right out of the box, but it takes some time to break in the toe area. It will mold to your foot, just not as well as shoes with softer leather toe boxes.
I do need to mention one benefit of the heavily coated leather. It’s perfect for both rainy and winter wear. It shrugs off the water like it’s Gore-Tex. Ok, not quite that well. But you can wipe mud and dirt off without issue despite the white base. The leather does collect some moisture, but that moisture can’t make it all the way inside to soak your sock. This will likely not be the case forever, but it does mean winter is the perfect time to break these bad boys in so they’re ready for plentiful summer wear.
The traction is spectacular. I’ve worn the Asics EX89 in wet and mildewy conditions and didn’t get any slippage. The very 80s pattern that’s a mix of radial, waffle, and randomness works really well. Again, another reason to venture out in the EX89 during the dead of winter.
The cushion is a mixed bag but overall a good experience for a cup-soled shoe. When I initially read the tech specs, I saw Asics had upgraded whatever foam used to be inside the EX89 by implementing FF Blast. I love FF Blast in Asics running shoes. Especially the bouncy and plush Asics Novablast 3. But experience testing shoes has taught me that the rubber cupsole wouldn’t allow the FF Blast to expand so some of the benefit would be muted.
And that hunch proved correct. I can feel a difference between a typical rubber cupsole shoe with either no cushion or a layer of EVA, but that difference is slight. It’s a touch of extra softness that comes in handy when wearing the shoe all day but isn’t anything to rave about. I do appreciate Asics adding one of their best foams into the mix. I love when brands update retros with new cushioning technologies as it’s an easy way to make the shoe feel fresh without altering the classic 80s look.
Finally, let’s talk price. $110 is right in line with the Nike Dunk Low, but it’s a more comfortable and, in my opinion, all-around better shoe. Dunks feel like cement blocks under my feet and I don’t enjoy wearing them. I do, however, have to admit the Dunk does have a certain classic style.
That said, I think you get a more unique (so many Dunks on feet right now) 80s look and a much more comfortable shoe with the Asics EX89. And it’s the same price. That’s a no-brainer.
A better comparison to the EX89 is the New Balance 550. The 550 is also priced at $110, and the materials are similar. Which shoe you prefer will likely come down to personal style preferences. In my mind, that’s a fair fight, and reasonable minds could disagree about which is “better.” In both cases, you’re getting a fair amount of 80s retro style and comfort for the price.
What’s in the video?
In the video, Chris provides detailed information from all the usual categories, providing the in-depth information you need. He supplies expert-level opinions on the materials, cushioning, traction, support, and fit. Here’s some of what he discusses:
- Reissue of Asics Gel Extreme from 1989
- Designed by Kayano
- Paying homage to the top 80’s NBA teams
- FF Blast technology cushion
- Full rubber cup sole
- Ortholite insoles
- Similar but thicker feel than Nike Dunks
- Basic-feeling leather upper
- Pre-aged midsole
- Sizing recommendations
- Thick, well-designed rubber outsole
How to Buy the Asics EX89
The Asics EX89 is available for $110 at Asics.
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