New Balance Minimus Zero General Info
The Minimus Zero takes the minimalist design of the award-winning Minimus shoe and goes even lighter—creating a shoe that mimics the design of a racing flat but with more comfort and durability, allowing runners to take the lightweight experience on the road or trail as a daily trainer.
The Minimus Zero is a shoe which does its best to not be a “true shoe” – the barely-there sole, zero drop design, and mesh upper yields a shoe which feels more like a slipper, allowing the runner to have an unparalleled tactile experience.
Weighing in at a scant 7.8 ounces, the Minimus Zero is among burgeoning minimalist models which provide an “ultra-minimalist” experience by shedding weight, cushioning, and creating a close-to-barefoot experience while still protecting the foot.
New Balance Minimus Zero Impressions
When I felt how light the shoes were while still in the box, I knew I was in for an interesting test drive. The Minimus Zero is the thinnest, lightest shoe I’ve ever worn.
The design is incredibly intuitive, as every element of the shoe is engineered for lightweight performance. The barely-there sole features a rugged, simple, and flat design while the midsole provides but a scant amount of cushioning. Most impressive of all is the shoe’s upper, which is made entirely of an almost see-through mesh fabric.
Topped off with a pair of flat, study laces, the shoe felt like the running equivalent of a high-end sports car: light enough to maintain speed, designed for performance, and unforgiving of poor form and technique.
When I went out for my first run, I knew my form would need to be perfect in order to get the best experience possible. Since the Minimus Zero is cushioned only where it is needed, I suspected the shoes would not be forgiving of heel striking or less-than-efficient foot movement.
As I became better acquainted with the shoes, however, I was shocked to see that there was some leniency for improper form. Longer runs on tired legs did not impact the comfort and efficiency of the workout, as the shoes stayed comfortable despite their lack of cushioning.
All things considered, I truly enjoyed the Minimus Zero. My experience with minimalist shoes tends to include models with more cushioning, but I found these shoes to bring my foray into minimalist running to an entirely new level. Having a shoe which is half racing flat and half minimalist trainer will be an incredible asset for my training, and could yield tremendous results for runners seeking a lightweight, slipper-like shoe.
New Balance Minimus Zero Sole Unit
The Minimus Zero sole unit is small but powerful. The road model’s outsole features a layer of rugged Vibram rubber, including patches of high-strength rubber in impact areas along the heel and midfoot. By including a thin layer of high-grade rubber, New Balance is able to improve the shoe’s lifespan without relying on a greater amount of lesser material. The pod design replaces a conventional tread pattern, creating concave portions along the bottom of the shoe which provide greater traction on uneven or gravel surfaces. The trail version of the Minimus Zero takes this design a step further, featuring cutouts in the outsole where unnecessary rubber was removed entirely to shed weight.
The midsole features a similarly-minded design—featuring cushioning only where it counts, and only in conservative amounts. For starters, the shoe features a zero heel drop, creating a truly flat running experience. This design element can take some getting used to: I tend to run in shoes with a small heel drop, and the zero drop design of the shoe was still noticeable. The learning curve was overcome easily, however, and I truly loved having a flat striking surface for my feet as I ran. While it forced me to work harder, I knew that the extended effort required to run efficiently in a zero-drop shoe would help strengthen my legs and improve my flexibility during long runs.
Additionally, the midsole features a svelte level of cushioning throughout—only truly noticeable in the arch. New Balance cautions runners interested in the Minimus Zero who may be used to higher levels of cushioning, and with good reason. I felt that the midsole of the shoe was truly designed for advanced runners, as a high level of proprioception is necessary in order to make the most out of this shoe.
New Balance Minimus Zero Upper Unit
When the New Balance design team pointed toward the burrito as an influence on the shoe’s upper unit, I knew we would be kindred spirits. My love for Mexican food is rivaled only by my love for the built-in tongue of the Minimus Zero, which is created only through an asymmetrical cut along a unibody design.
This design feature creates a shoe with a slipper-like feel, and provides an efficient method of adjusting the wear, fit, and comfort of the upper without removing the potential for adjustments by eschewing a tongue altogether. The rest of the upper is made from a lightweight mesh material which dries incredibly fast—often before a mid- to long-distance run is complete.
New Balance was able to shed considerable weight in this regard by opting for one of the more lightweight materials available, and in turn created a running experience which is breathable and comfortable. Outside of a minimally-designed upper, the shoe features a hard, supportive heel cap. Based on my experiences in the shoe, I found the heel cap to rise uncomfortably high when running in low-rise socks. This small critique of the upper, however, is not enough to overshadow the wholly-positive design elements throughout the rest of the shoe.
New Balance Minimus Zero Opinion
At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, the Minimus Zero tested my mettle as a minimalist runner. The shoes made my go-to trainers look like neutral-cushioned shoes by contrast, and provided an experience unlike anything I’ve had before. Despite having tried countless shoes in the minimalist market, I found that the Minimus Zero presented something incredibly unique: I came away feeling I had run in shoes which had done all they could to not “feel” like shoes.
New Balance has created a model with seeks to have no real influence on the wearer’s gait, style, or function, and has created an amazing road shoe in the process. If I had been blindfolded, it’s quite possible that I would forget I was wearing a pair of shoes entirely. The slipper-like feel and minimal design helps create a trainer with a racing flat feel. The Minimus Zero is an advanced shoe for an experienced minimalist runner, and I for one loved the challenge of running in a shoe that was barely there.
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