Light, Airy, Comfortable, Responsive, Flexible, Springy.
All could be used to describe New Balance’s latest release to the Fresh Foam line, the Fresh Foam Beacon.
Fresh Foam is a type of cushioning made my New Balance that is touted for being light, comfortable, and responsive. The Fresh Foam line of shoes are typically made out of a single block of the Fresh Foam and create shoes that can go long and short in their runner’s use.
The most popular options within the Fresh Foam line is the Zante, a do it all workhorse trainer clocking in at 8.6 oz for the men’s version, and the 1080, a long run option built up for training at 11.0 oz.
Enter the Beacon; a truly large shoe with minimal bells and whistles, built up Fresh Foam GC (GC will be covered later), with a insanely light weight of 7.5 oz.
New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon General Info
Unboxing the Beacon for the first time I was immediately reminded of seeing a Hoka One One shoe with the massively built up foam in the sole. The shoe felt incredibly light for its size and had a comfortable snug fitting upper when trying them on.
I found it interesting that on the outsole of the shoe there are only 5 small areas of reinforced rubber protecting the foam leaving the Fresh Foam GC otherwise exposed.
There is a recent trend of exposed foam in the outsole can be seen in other shoes such as the Nike Flyknit Epic React and Odyssey React, however the Beacon has very minimal areas of the targeted durability, existing on only the medial (closer to the body) toe-off area and lateral (outer) heel area.
This was something I wanted to keep an eye on closely while testing.
New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon Sole Unit
The New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon does not use the same Fresh Foam found in other shoes such as the Zante. There is a new foam called Fresh Foam GC, or Ground Contact.
It is much softer then the cushioning previously referred to as Fresh Foam. This truly differentiates the Beacon into a much more cushioned and softer ride than other Fresh Foam options.
The sole unit is made up of a huge block of Fresh Foam GC, with the standard New Balance 6mm drop, and convex and concave hexagons to promote targeted cushion and stability in the compression of the foam.
While the pattern and design are similar in style to the Zante, there is a much softer feel during the sole’s compression with the Beacon.
A wide platform for maximum ground contact and exposed Fresh Foam GC are the main features of the outsole. There are 5 strategically placed reinforced rubber pods for targeted durability.
Though it seemed that this was very minimal; the exposed foam held up well over testing. There was no significant breakdown or concerning wear in the foam. After about 60 miles the foam appears to be intact and still just as ready to go.
Having a wide platform allowed for better traction in poor weather. I do believe that 200 – 300 miles will be the sweet spot with this exposed foam from a durability standpoint.
While some runners can stretch shoes out to 500+ miles; the outsole for the Beacon will eventually wear down to the point of lost traction before the foam gets a deadened feeling.
New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon Upper Info
An all knit yet breathable and stretchable upper makes the Beacon feel very secure and comfortable on the foot. It is a soft feeling and the knit aspect of the upper feels durable.
While the upper will lock down the runner’s foot, it will stretch easily which is beneficial on longer training runs.
Much like the Zante the design of the upper is meant to look simple with a large New Balance ‘N’ logo. This logo is a large reflective element but does not hinder the feeling on the foot when wearing the Beacon.
New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon Conclusions
The New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon came out of nowhere to be arguably one of the best releases of 2018. It is supportive and cushioned. Comfortable and light. Perfect for longer runs and recoveries but can handle a little pop and aggression too.
Runners of all experience levels could find a use for this trainer. Beginners could use this shoe as their every day and every run trainer.
More experienced runners who rotate shoes and have different uses for them can use the Beacon for recovery miles and long runs that get down to their marathon and even half marathon pace.
The Beacon can be an excellent choice for those runners looking for a comfortable shoe to take on a half or full marathon, and also a great long run choice for those who prefer to race in a faster shoe.
More experienced runners who are shooting for time should not use the Beacon for a race that is shorter than a half marathon. The Beacon can feel good at a faster pace but it truly thrives in a slower more comfortable pace.
The New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon takes a new type of foam and highlights it in the best way possible. The amount of cushioning in this shoe for its weight is ridiculous.
Consider that it is actually lighter than the Zante. Paired with the comfort of the upper; New Balance may have the best Fresh Foam release in years in the Beacon.
We purchased a pair of New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon from runningwarehouse using our own money. This did not influence the outcome of this review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.