NB 890V4 General Info:
The NB 890V4 is a neutral shoe designed for faster paced running in mind.
NB 890V4 First Impressions:
When I first saw the design for the 890V4 I was skeptical. The midsole looked more pronounced, the upper looked busy and flashy. I thought “Why would New Balance ruin a near perfect shoe?”. But, after my first run I found that New Balance made some fantastic tweaks to this neutral shoe making it nearly one ounce lighter than its predecessor, and improved the forefoot fit.
NB 890V4 Upper:
The biggest changes in the 890V4 is in the upper. New Balance created a totally seamless upper by combining synthetic leather overlays in the mid foot and toe rand with a shiny rubber-like compound which is placed in high wear areas to offer additional durability and support. Really the only seam on the interior of the shoe is where the very large tongue is sewn into the upper at the bottom of the toe box, and this seam is really the only barrier to enjoying the 890V4 barefoot if you were so inclined.
Speaking of the tongue, New Balance took a very sleek neutral road trainer and added a very padded and wide tongue which I initially thought to be overkill. However, it was an afterthought after my runs started. The 890V4 fits fairly moderately throughout the shoe and should work for a variety of foot types. Typical for New Balance, this shoe will likely be released in widths as all 890s have in the past.
The toe box was widened with this fourth addition and is still to be considered medium in width, but a lot better feeling than its predecessor. The overall feel of this upper is light and flexible, with a foot-hugging fit that makes the 890V4 a great shoe for tempos or speed work.
NB 890V4 Midsole/Outsole:
How do you save an ounce in a shoe? Well, you design lighter weight EVAs and use lightweight blown rubber for extra cushioning. It also helps if you make cutouts in all the right areas to give the runner nothing more than they need. New Balance did just that and the Revlite cushioning is present heavily throughout this shoe.
I’ve raved about Revlite since New Balance created it several years ago, not only for its soft but not too soft feel and its incredible resiliency over the life of the shoe. I think I got close to 600 miles on both my 890V2 and V3 with this cushioning, and the 890V4 feels, dare I say, improved.
One way that NB was able to get a more responsive feel was to create blown rubber pods on the outsole and covered them with a durable, tacky carbon rubber. Cutouts saved weight through the Revlite midsole in the rear of the shoe, but didn’t cause any problems with picking up rocks or debris.
Flex grooves were placed at even intervals on the outsole and this is one of the best transitioning neutral trainers I’ve ever worn. This shoe rides like a very well cushioned racing flat but I was able to go out for up to twenty miles on pavement and not return with aching feet. The heel drop stays the same at 9mm which should accommodate a lot of different runners.
I really try to reserve scores of five stars for the best shoes out there. I thought that NB had this shoe dialed in when I claimed that the 890V3 was the best shoe of 2013 in the neutral training category. Well, the 890V4 might take the prize for 2014. Why?
There isn’t another shoe on the market with this kind of cushioning, protection, and durability that weighs 8.1 oz., which makes this shoe a great all in one shoe for any kind of training, a more than adequate marathon racer, or a great daily high mileage trainer for the fleet footed.
Also, I took the 890V4 on quite a few trail runs over the last three weeks and I was pleasantly surprised just how low to the ground and agile it felt on uneven terrain.
New balance kept the price stable at $110. I expect to see a lot of 890V4s around at road races this spring/ summer and this shoe is now available at your local running store.
We thank the nice people at New balance for sending us a pair of 890V4 to test. This did not influence the outcome of the review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.