The New Balance Fresh Foam Zante 2 is a lightweight neutral shoe with a low stack height (23mm heel/ 17mm forefoot). It weighs 8.7 oz and has a 6mm heel to toe drop.
The shoe is advertised as a soft riding cushioned shoe built for speed. The first version of the shoe was well liked by most.
It was universally stated that the shoe found a nice balance between cushion and responsiveness. The only complaint was some tightness around the arch in the upper.
Earlier in the year I had the opportunity to run in the Fresh Foam 1080 v6 which is New Balances most cushioned Fresh Foam model.
I was generally not impressed with that shoe but I was anxious to try this one out to see how New Balance does lightweight cushion.
The first thing I noticed about this shoe is how light it is. It also looks really nice. It feels low to the ground and the upper is comfortable.
New Balance Zante v2 Sole Unit
The zante v2 uses a less dense version of Fresh Foam that is designed to be both absorbant and springy. The layer of fresh foam in the midsole is thin but it is comfortable to run in and does have a bouncy feel to it.
The shoe curves up at the toe in an attempt to give the shoe a fast transition and feel. I can feel this at play when running in the shoe.
It makes the ride very smooth.The outsole is made of blown rubber creating a hexagonal pattern of various sizes. Overall the ride of this shoe is smooth and comfortable.
It provides just enough cushioned feel and maintains a quick and snappy ride. I would have to agree with the past opinions that the Zante really does strike a great balance between cushion and responsiveness.
So far I’ve found Fresh Foam to be on the stiffer side when it comes to flexbility. The Zante looks like a shoe that would have a lot of flex to it but it does not.
On the other hand this may be what gives the shoe some bounce aiding in forward motion. The lack of flexibility causes a loss in ground feel. I didn’t have an issue with this.
I just mention it to warn those who may have been expecting a lot of ground feel from this shoe. Generally you wouldn’t expect that with a shoe in this category but this shoes looks are deceiving.
It almost has the look of a low profile semi minimalist type shoe like the Nike Free.
New Balance Zante v2 Upper Info
The upper of the zante v2 is constructed with breathable air mesh that is very thin and flexible. New Balance utilizes no-sew material application making this a seamless upper.
One thing I noticed about the upper is that there are almost no overlays used. The upper is basically all mesh except for a few key areas where a little more structure is required.
These areas include around the heel, along the laces and two small strips in the forefoot. Aside from that it’s all mesh. This gives the shoe a very “loose” look.
In other words, the upper of the shoe kind of folds when it doesn’t have a foot in it. I believe this is all due to the shoe utilizing bootie construction. It’s meant to provide a sock like fit.
I point this out to highlight the fact that the mesh used in this upper is incredibly thin, lightweight and breathable which are all good things.
The trend of no sew construction over the past few years has allowed for many companies to create outstanding uppers that provide a sock like fit.
It’s almost to the point where in reviewing so many shoes I feel like I’m being repetitive in talking about how comfortable the upper is. This one is no exception.
It is outstanding. It feels like a sock and it is so light that it doesn’t even feel like it’s there. New Balance has addressed the arch issue from the first version as far as I can tell.
The inside of the upper is so smooth that I don’t think it would be possible to find an area of irritation for your foot. It hugs the foot gently in the mid foot and opens up in the toe.
It’s not a super wide toe box but the flexibility of the mesh makes it so that if you did require more room in the toe area you would have it. It fits true to size and breathes very well.
New Balance Zante v2 Conclusions
This shoe strikes a nice middle ground. It’s not a full blown minimalist shoe and it’s not an overly cushioned maximalist shoe. It sits in my favorite category which is lightweight cushion.
You really have to weigh your options on what you want in a shoe when making your selection. If you want a shoe that has a nice comfortable, not overly soft ride with an incredibly comfortable upper, this is the shoe for you.
It really does have all of that. This shoe can be used for both racing and training. I generally prefer a softer cushioning than what the Zante provides but that’s because I’m running slow, long distance runs 90% of the time.
My go to shoe is the Hoka One One Clifton. It is in the same category as the Zante and they weigh about the same. They are vastly different shoes. The Zante brings the responsiveness with a little less cushioned feel.
The Clifton is buttery soft and a bit less responsive than the Zante. Both are great just different. For that reason I think the Zante is the perfect shoe for:
- A) someone running in a minimalist shoe looking for a bit more cushion.
- B) someone running in a different lightweight cushioned shoe or max cushion shoe looking for something that can maintain enough cushioning but turn up the responsiveness.
This is a great shoe with and MSRP of $100.00. Ive even seen this shoe for $60.00 online depending on the size. It would be hard to find a better shoe for that price.
We thank the nice people at New Balance for sending us a pair of Zante v2 to test. This did not influence the outcome of the review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.