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We have seen this trend now: since a couple of years, most brands started shying away from the usual neutral > support > motion control way of classifying their running shoes. We have seen this with Nike and Brooks.

New Balance is also moving in that direction, splitting their collection in 3 big buckets:

  1. Fresh Foam Collection: Focus on a soft and smooth ride
  2. FuelCell Collection: Focus on lightweight and responsiveness, for speed
  3. NBx Collection: Focus on high mileage

Let’s now look at the shoes in each bucket, what technologies they adopt and let’s try and make sense on who should be wearing what.

New Balance Fresh Foam Collection

The Fresh Foam collection takes its name from NB's new foam material. These shoes have been engineered with the analysis of data from thousands of athletes.

Fresh Foam midsoles are laser engraved to reduce weight and provide different kinds of cushion and support on different part of the shoe, based on the athelete's need. The results are extremely versatile shoes that can take you from easy runs to races and anything in between.

New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon - Pair
The New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon is a lightweight daily trainer that is softer than other Fresh Foam shoe options. It can be a versatile shoe and is one of the best New Balance releases in years. Read full review »

Pros

  • Very light with a ton of cushioning
  • Soft cushioning that has a touch of responsiveness
  • All-knit comfortable upper

Cons

  • Exposed foam will limit durability, but not by much
New Balance 1080v9 - Lateral Side
The New Balance 1080v9 is a high cushioned trainer that offers a lot technologies. You'll pay for them, but this cushioned shoe will also let you up the pace and get going in your training and racing. Read full review »

Pros

  • Lots of cushion
  • Very responsive
  • Upturned toebox helps stride transition
  • Upper is supremely comfortable
  • Breathable upper without openings for dirt

Cons

  • Heel a little loose
  • Foam firms up in cold weather
New Balance Zante Pursuit - Pair
The New Balance Fresh Foam Zante Pursuit is the successor of the very popular Zante v4. Like its predecessor, it is a low weight trainer with a 6mm drop and Fresh Foam midsole. Its versatility is what sets it apart from many other shoes of similar specs. Read full review »

Pros

  • Outstanding Upper
  • Fresh Foam Cushioning
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • None
The Zante Solas is the lightest, most flexible and bounciest of the whole Fresh Foam Collection. Immediately recognizable by its sock-like knitted upper, it is meant for tempo workouts and possibly short distance racing.
New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo v3 - Lateral Side
The New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo v3 has broken out of its sophomore slump with a shoe that is equal parts comfortable and stable. While it feels bulky at times, a non traditional varus wedge complements the low offset nicely. Read full review »

Pros

  • Incredibly comfortable.
  • Unique ride for shoe of this size.
  • Sleek design.

Cons

  • Sole is too chunky. Hard to make sharp turns.
  • Longer than average breakin period.

New Balance NBx Collection

NBx includes all the "traditional" running shoes from New Balance that didn't really fit into one or the other category, but that are true and tested milestones from New Balance that have hundreds of thousands of loyal fans.

The focus of the shoes in this category is to be trustworthy workhorses that are reliable for high mileage training or for racing.

New Balance 880v8 - Pair
The New Balance 880v8 is a traditional workhorse neutral running shoe meant for daily training and long mileage. The sole unit is made of NBs TruFuse foam which is a combination of two different foam materials in order to provide soft cushioning and responsiveness at the same time. Read full review »

Pros

  • Soft Comfortable Upper
  • Durable
  • Cushioned Feeling

Cons

  • Bulky
  • Loose Mid-foot
New Balance 890v6 - Pair
The 890 returns with a list of improvements from its predecessors. The shoe has a lot of the same attributes that made it a solid daily performance shoe but is definitely more attractive than ever. Read full review »

Pros

  • Engineered mesh upper that has excellent, comfort, breathability, and durability.
  • New last improves the fit from previous versions.
  • RevLite foam midsole material

Cons

  • Heavier than previous version.
New Balance 1260v7 - Pair
The New Balance 1260v7 is the trainer that is there for the long haul. High amount of support paired with a lower drop make this the go to premium stability shoe. Read full review »

Pros

  • High amount of cushioning. Delivers stability that sits above the rest.
  • Lower 8mm drop allows shoe to perform fast but not sacrifice comfort.
  • Impressive amount of reflective details.

Cons

  • Shoe is a little bulky.
  • Price.
New Balance 860v9 - Medial Side
The New Balance 860v9 is a workhorse stability shoe meant for high mileage and daily training. The sole of the 860v9 is made of New Balance TruFuse foam, which is a mix of two different foams in order to provide both cushioning and some degree of responsiveness. Read full review »

Pros

  • Stable
  • New visual design (colorway and materials)
  • Durable

Cons

  • Narrow in places
  • Lack of energy return
  • Too breathable for winter months
New Balance 1400v6 - Pair
The 1400 v6 continues to deliver the same peppy solid execution runners expect from a go-to racing flat. The 1400 v6 is a solid choice for the road runner serious about performance. Read full review »

Pros

  • Lightweight and nimble.
  • Revlite midsole foam provides a responsive smooth ride.
  • Newly constructed upper is highly breathable and comfortable.
  • Simple and effective traction
  • Great price point.

Cons

  • Not available in wider widths.
New Balance Rubix v1 - Lateral
The New Balance Rubix v1 combines exceptional support with a light step, utilizing key design features to get the best of both traditionally opposed fields. Read full review »

Pros

  • Lightweight design
  • Solid base
  • Forefoot cushion
  • Secure upper
  • Comfortable cushion with strategic support throughout sole unit

Cons

  • Forefoot upper may not hold up for toe-lifters

New Balance FuelCell Collection

Shoes in the FuelCell collection are lightweight, responsive and engineered for speed.

New Balance FuelCore Sonic - Lateral Side
The New Balance FuelCore Sonic has all the makings of a solid trainer for logging big miles, a firm responsive midsole, beefy outsole, and durable upper with a great fit.

The Boa lacing might seem a bit gimmicky, but it does a great job of distributing pressure and is wickedly fast to put on and take off, which helps get those sluggish early morning runs going. Read full review »

Pros

  • Responsive Sole
  • Snug Upper
  • Speedy Lacing

Cons

  • Average breathability
  • Mediocre Traction
New Balance FuelCell Impulse - Pair
The New Balance FuelCell Impulse is designed for speed. Ideal for forefoot strikers it is a great option for race day, road tempo runs, and track workouts. Read full review »

Pros

  • Fast feeling; responsive
  • Lightweight
  • Locked down upper

Cons

  • Only suitable for forefoot strikers
New Balance FuelCore Coast v4 - Pair
The fourth version of the New Balance Fuelcore Coast features a low-profile, lightweight design that makes it an ideal entry-level trainer for daily use.

This budget-friendly, stylish shoe easily transitions from a workout to casual streetwear. Read full review »

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Soft
  • Responsive
  • Affordable
  • Adequate toe box

Cons

  • Runs one size large
  • Difficult to tighten lacing for a snug fit
  • Smooth outsole is slippery on wet surfaces

New Balance model numbers: what do they mean

Most of you will be familiar with NB’s most popular models of a few years back: MR1080 v4, MR890 v3, WR1260v5… there is a surefire way to exactly understand the kind of shoe by looking at this number – the image below will help you understand.

numberexplanationNB

Basically each model name/code was composed by 4 sections:

  • “MR”: The first two letters identify the gender and the sport activity. “M” is for MEN, “W” for WOMEN. “R” is for Running. “WW” will be Women’s Walking, “MX” will be Men’s Cross-Training and so on.
  • “10”: The “hundreds” number (890, 1260 etc) represents the level of “premium” of the shoe. It used to be symbolic of the pricepoint of the shoe, where 890 would be a shoe around $80, 1080 a shoe around $100 and 1260 a shoe around $120.
    While this is not strictly the case anymore, the concept stays: you can expect the cost (and features) of the shoe to go up when moving from a “8” model to a “10” or a “12”.
  • “80”: The last two digits of the number used to indicate the level of cushioning: a “60” being a stability shoe while a “80” a neutral shoe. This is the actual list:
    • 60 = stability
    • 70 = light stability
    • 80 = neutral/cushioning
    • 90 = speed
  • “v6”: the “V” is the version of this shoe.

These numbers were not exactly customer friendly – but I have to admit that once you know the logic, it actually makes a lot of sense.


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