This 2016 Solebox x ASICS Gel Lyte Runner had been on my radar for the longest time. Deciding between the original Gel Lyte III Blue Carpenter Bee and this pair didn’t take too long. I wanted something different and it caught me by surprise when the Gel Lyte Runner got paired with a Gel Lyte III in the same pack, something that we do not often see when it comes to ASICS packs. Read on to know what makes the Blue Carpenter Bee II my choice from the Pack and why it should be yours too.
The pack was one of the last designs from Hikmet Sugoer, the Solebox legend who has given us several bangers all these years. Despite the solid credentials, I found that the Gel Lyte III from the pack was somewhat underwhelming both in terms of quality and looks. Since everyone already knew how comfortable a Gel Lyte III is, it was the “rest of the shoe” everyone seemed more interested in, myself included. This is where the Gel Lyte Runner aka H60VK 9090 saved the day over the more bland looking and cheap feeling Gel Lyte III. With goatskin and suede blessing the upper, this is probably the second time Solebox have used their signature color scheme in a very tasteful way.
The toe box comprises of plain black leather and meets the triple-stitched throat in beautiful grey suede that spans all the way up to the tongue. As the lacing snakes up, it is met by two pairs of light blue stitched-on eyelets that provide a slight lift to the thick rope laces making the centre area of the tongue interesting in particular. A light blue loop on the tongue with 3M threading runs into a small suede panel with Asics branding painted in 3M. The loop continues all the way to the top of the tongue culminating into a tongue pull tab. The inner lining in light blue leather begins on either side of the tongue on top of the last two eyelets and just merges with the rest of the inner. The collar is surrounded by perforated grey suede but this happens only on the lateral side.
Both the lateral and medial sides wear the signature Asics stripes as the black leather meets the grey suede right under the perforated collar. Go a few inches forward and the all white midsole with ASICS embossed on it forms an arch and as it dips, the grey heel cup takes over and circles the lower part of the heel. The back of the heel features the pull tab similar to the one on the tongue. Right underneath the pull tab, “Solebox” appears in 3M. The outsole wears the same blue color as that of the inner and the white midsole does a great job at breaking up the colors.
The silhouette looks sharp in hand and on-feet. In terms of comfort, you are about to get a similar feeling when milk is poured onto Muesli. It kinda jumps out and doesn’t want to get involved. The first time you slip into this shoe, it feels shallow. You wiggle around a bit and wonder, is this it? Are those the boundaries I have to operate within? It definitely takes a bit of getting used to. The toe box specifically feels a bit funny in the beginning but as you walk around, the gel cushioning hits you and it all comes together. The shoe is quite a looker and is well planted however the grip on the rubber outsole could have been better. My pair came with an extra set of black laces and you guessed it right – they had 3M threading. They also threw in a Jason Markk Quick Wipe which can help you rub off spilled beverages and other muck while you’re out and about which is always a plus.
After beating this shoe around quite a bit, I am happy with it and it continues to serve me well. It isn’t loud but it looks and feels very different from what you are used to wearing, unless Gel Lyte Runner happens to be your designation at work or your middle name. ASICS India is currently focusing on getting its act together and trying to hit 30% sourcing from within India to meet the FDI norms. After that, it would be able to sell you stuff via its mono-brand stores. Long story short, get this shoe from abroad now that some good sales are underway and add some primo stuff to your collection.