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New Balance 850 Running Shoes Review

 May 12, 2009 3

New Balance 850

New Balance 850

Full Name: New Balance 850 (MR or WR – Mens or Womens)
Category: Stability
Weight: 11.9 oz (340 gr.)
Suggested Price: 115$
Recommended For: Modest to Severe Over Pronator
  • New Balance 850 General Info:

The New Balance 850 is the update of the New Balance 859 (NB always had a curious numbering system). The new 850 is a complete makeover of the 859, with the aim to accommodate moderate to severe over-pronators.

  • New Balance 850 Sole Unit:

The biggest, visible change in the NB 850 is New Balance’s new Stabil Core “posting” element. When looking to improve the stability and motion control of a shoe, the industry standard practice is to “post” a harder foam compound in the midsole of the shoe in the area below the medial (internal) side of the foot’s arch – it is easily recognizable as the darker insert on the internal side of the midsole. New Balance decided to introduce its Stabil Core system (picture below) instead, replacing the harder foam compound post with a plastic element that gives the shoe the rigidity it needs in order to support the collapsing arch of an overpronator while sensibly cutting down on the weight, usually an issue with Stability shoes.

New Balance 850 Stabil Core

New Balance 850 Stabil Core

The cushioning is taken care by New Balance’s Absorb DTS and SBS systems in the heel and forefoot – while the use of ACTEVA EVA foam as the main midsole component provides a stable but cushioned ride. Test showed that the cushioning is aimed at medium weight runners, while heavier runner might be in the need of a softer shoe.

A reasonably good plastic shank (Extended Web in NB terminology) wraps the under-arch of the midsole in order to provide torsional stability while also reducing some weight.

The outsole has a very similar pattern to the one in the NB 859, but the forefoot flex grooves (the horizontal carves) have been extended in order to provide a better forefoot flexibility and a more reactive toe-lift-off.

  • New Balance 850 Upper:

The upper hasn’t been revolutionized as much as the sole unit, just upgraded. You will find the same mesh as in the previous version, but the overlays have been re-designed in a clever way. We like the way the new heel counter wraps around the midsole.

For the rest, all the newest NB features are included on the upper of this shoe: from the N-Lock system that connects the lacing with the midsole in order to wrap and securely lock the ankle in the shoe, to the Phantom Liner lining that is built seamlessly in order to reduce chaffing and abrasion. The lacing is engineered with the Sure Lace system that helps prevent the un-tieing of the laces.

The collar is double-density so that a softer compound cushions your foot while a harder one keeps it stable during the ride.

Finally, the NB 850 is built on the SL-1 new performance last, that received good feedback and that NB is placing in most their renewed models.

  • New Balance 850 Opinion:

The New Balance 850 is a good improvement over last year installment (859). The shoe is among the most stable (aiding controlling pronation) shoes on the market but still feels soft and flexible, especially in the forefoot. The amount of cushioning is decent but might be insufficient for heavier runners.

The introduction of the Stabil Core TPU insert is a welcome news, as the 850 delivers exceptional stability and reduced its weight.

The fit, as with most New Balance running shoes, accommodates wide feet – as is the case with many runners with flat feet who definitely should give the 850 a try.

  • New Balance 850 Price Comparison:

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Let us know what you think of this shoe in the comments!



  • I’ve been wearing the NB 859 (size 12 4E) for about a year now, and its predecessor for a couple years before that, and now need a new pair of shoes. I’m a severe overpronator, collapsed metatarsal arch in left foot, right foot flat, I weigh 250 pounds, and I don’t run. I have full-foot custom orthotics made to the specs of my orthopedist, so I always chuck the removable liners (as it’s hard enough to fit the orthotics in as it is). The 859s are my all-the-time shoe, as they’re the the only shoes I can wear that alleviate my foot pain — even then, I can only stand or walk on concrete floors or sidewalks for about 20 minutes before the pain becomes quite discomforting. As I said, I don’t run, but I walk. You state in your review: “Test showed that the cushioning is aimed at medium weight runners, while heavier runner might be in the need of a softer shoe.” The 859s have been the best shoes I’ve tried so far, but should I be looking at something other than the 850?


    Bart Brown

  • I have been wearing the 858/859 for years, and they have been the best shoe for me, I need a moderate stability shoe and have flat feet.

    I went to get new shoes and the 850 is not the same shoe as the 858 or 859. They are a very supportive shoe, too much support (forcing my feet to pronate the other way) and not flexible enough to be comfortable. I ended up in the 760, which have good support and are closer to the 858/859 than the 850.

  • The 850 is a terrible, terrible successor to the 858/859 series. The shoe has less cushioning and in my opinion less support than either the 858 or 859’s, which I absolutely loved. Not long after purchasing a pair of the 850’s and after just a couple of hundred miles, my leg(s) started to hurt and it felt like I was running barefoot.

    I had to resort to a New Balance outlet to get 2 pairs of 859’s.

    If you like the series and especially the 858/859’s, do not buy this shoe.

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