New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon v2 Intro
The New Balance Beacon 2 marks the second iteration of last years all new Beacon model. The Beacon is known to deliver soft cushioning in a lightweight package.
This years version uses the same cushioning from last year and includes an upper made of engineered knit material designed to be softer and more comfortable.
New Balance also advertises a sleek new heel design to minimize achilles irritation. The shoe weighs in at 7.3 oz and includes a thick layer of lightweight Ground Contact Fresh Foam midsole cushioning.
New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon v2 First Impressions
The design of the shoe is somewhat unique right out of the box. The new sleek heel design is what catches my eye immediately. I would describe my first impression of this feature as “pointy”.
Putting them on for the first time, the first thing I notice is how lightweight they are.
There are lightweight shoes with thin layers of cushioning that you put on and think “wow this is nice” and then there are lightweight shoes like the Beacon v2 with an overly thick layer of cushioning that you put on and think “how is that possible?”
This is the impression I was left with after putting them on for the first time and I haven’t had that feeling since the original Clifton. This left me eager to test them out.
New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon v2 Sole Unit
The midsole of the beacon 2 features fresh foam ground contact midsole material. The foam is designed to provide a soft underfoot feel. In addition to providing soft cushioning it is also a very light weight material.
The majority of the outsole consists of exposed ground contact EVA foam with a small amount of strategically placed blown rubber in high impact areas.
This is a common theme in the lightweight cushioning category in an effort to save weight.
I found the foam in the beacon 2 to provide adequate cushioning but felt that it leaned more toward the firm than soft side. Based on researching the previous version, I expected the foam to feel more plush than it does.
The foam does have some major shock absorption properties due to its thickness but that absorption doesn’t really provide a soft feeling underfoot in my opinion.
I would describe the ride as smooth and responsive as the midsole does provide an ample amount of spring back. The thick layer of foam eliminates ground feel but don’t expect a “plush” feeling ride.
New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon v2 Upper Unit
The new engineered knit mesh material is lightweight and breathable. The updated heel is made of a thin but strong mesh material that tapers away from the heel/Achilles region and tapers to a slight point.
The design also includes small oblong hexagon shaped impressions in the mesh material that wrap around and make up the heel portion of the upper.
Although I’m not sure it’s necessary, the geometric pattern and heel design give the upper of the Beacon v2 a unique look.
The upper provides a locked down and secure fit. The inside utilizes a more grippy mesh material which grabs your foot and keeps it in place.
I did not see this specifically mentioned by New Balance but there is a slightly raised mesh rail along inside the upper along the medial and lateral sides of the heel. This contributes to the overall locked down feel as well.
You can feel these features at work with a noticeably consistent foot position inside the upper.
Part of that consistent foot position is also coming from a thick padded tongue and a stiffer saddle material.
This combination works really well here because it gives you the ability to tie the shoe on as tight as you want (within reason) and avoid irritation to the top or sides of your foot.
Overall I found this to be a great upper. The mesh provides adequate breathability and comfort and is above average in terms of heel lockdown and secure fit.
It fits true to size and provides the perfect amount of room for a foot of average width. This will definitely be an upgrade for runners who ran in the original Beacon model.
New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon v2 Conclusion
Overall I think the Beacon v2 is a solid shoe in the lightweight cushioning category. Last year’s version of this shoe received major praise mostly in regards to the midsole material.
The good news is that if you were a fan of last years version, you’re going to be an even bigger fan this year with the upgraded upper and same cushioning.
I’ve been slightly conflicted with my feelings about the cushioning in this shoe. I was expecting a much softer ride.
I absolutely appreciate the lightweight frame and comfortable upper but I just can’t describe this midsole material as soft. That being said, the shoe does have a really nice ride and I plan on continuing to put miles on it.
The shoe that I couldn’t help but compare to the Beacon v2 is also made by New Balance- The Zante Pursuit. Both are lightweight cushioning but in different form factors.
Having tested both, I can confidently say that I think the Zante Pursuit actually has a slight edge in both responsiveness and softness compared to the Beacon v2.
The tradeoff here is that the Pursuit has more ground feel. With the Beacon 2 you eliminate the ground feel but trade it for a slightly firmer cushioning compared to the Zante Pursuit.
We purchased a pair of New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon v2 from runningwarehouse using our own money. This did not influence the outcome of this review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.