New Balance 860 V2 first impressions:
New Balance debuts its revised 860 stability trainer with a new upper, redesigned medial posting and a new outsole. The shoe is aimed at runners whose feet roll in too far resulting in over pronation. In the past I have had good luck with New Balance shoes. Their stability designs have worked well for me but I always felt that New Balance shoes lacked the visual flair of many of their contemporaries. Even though my test pair arrived in a pedestrian silver and blue color combo, I still had high hopes that the 860 V2 would win me over on the road.
New Balance 860 V2 upper:
New Balance has been working hard on their running line and it shows immediately in the upper of the 860 V2. In my previous experience with New Balance shoes I was always left with the notion that the upper materials felt second tier when compared to my other shoes. It’s not that they were poor materials but they were simply stiffer and less form fitting than what I was used to in competitor shoes. However, the overlays and mesh found in the 860 V2 is a definite improvement.
New Balance is using a relatively thin and quite breathable mesh and seemingly more pliable overlays in the upper that result in an excellent fit for my foot. The mid foot fit is secure thanks to a larger and more simplified saddle that ties into the heel counter overlays. The toe box fit is rather shallow on my foot but this did not cause me any issues and I felt that it gave the shoe a more performance oriented feel.
Thankfully, the 860 V2 continues on with standard laces in place of the “sausage link” laces found on some previous New Balance shoes. The fit of the upper is rounded out with an ABZORB foam sock liner.
New Balance 860 V2 sole unit:
The midsole of the 860 V2 sees a design upgrade focused on increasing medial stability while retaining flexibility. The medial posting has been extended a bit farther forward through the arch than in the previous model. Still intact is the New Balance Stability Web, which shores up the mid foot of the shoe to resist the torsional forces generated by an over pronating foot.
Also, there in now a bit more outsole rubber linked across the Stability Web to bring more of the shoe into contact with the ground thereby increasing stability. Cushioning is provided by New Balance’s ACTEVA LITE midsole foam which New Balance claims is 24% lighter than conventional foam.
The 860 V2 also employs New Balance’s N-ERGY compound in the lateral heel section to help the shoe disperse ground forces and aid in a smooth transition to toe off. The N-ERGY columns are segmented so that each lays down individually and without jarring the runner.
New Balance 860 V2 opinion:
The 860 V2 reminds me of a family sedan. It reliably does everything you need it to do but without much style. I took the 860 V2 on cement, asphalt and treadmill runs and it never let me down. The shoe runs exceptionally quiet, transitions well despite its 12 ounce weight and it provided me with good, but not great, stability. I liked the arch placement in the 860 V2 which is close to the heel and the toe box shape lent something of a performance feel to my runs.
Having said that, most of my running friends know that I am fortunate enough to review shoes for runningshoesguru.com and I usually field questions about whatever pair of shoes I’m currently testing. However, no one ever asked me about the 860 V2. It’s as though the shoe was invisible. That’s what I think is the main problem with the 860 V2. For all of its positive attributes it doesn’t stand out enough in the crowded stability market and could easily get lost in the retail environment.
*Author’s note* New Balance does have a limited edition taxi cab yellow 860 V2 which was produced for the 2011 NYC marathon. Now that’s more like it!
We thank the nice people at New Balance for sending us a pair of 860v2 to test. This did not influence our review of the shoes, written after logging more than 50 miles in them!