We purchase all the shoes we review at retail with our own money, then we run in them for at least 50 miles. We don't receive free samples from companies and provide only expert, unbiased opinions.
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:
Fresh Foam Collection: Focus on a soft and smooth ride
FuelCell Collection: Focus on lightweight and responsiveness, for speed
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.
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 »
Very light with a ton of cushioning
Soft cushioning that has a touch of responsiveness
All-knit comfortable upper
Exposed foam will limit durability, but not by much
Once again the 1080 appears to be a very promising premium cushioned daily trainer, but misses the mark. Changes to the geometry of the midsole which promised to soften the shoe unfortunately haven’t leaving the shoe with the same firm uninspiring ride. Read full review »
Comfortable tailored fitting upper.
Wider footprint provides a stable and supportive ride
Hexagonal outsole grips nicely
Updates to the midsole have not improved the shoes unresponsive or dull ride
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.
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.
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 »
Unique ride for shoe of this size.
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.
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.
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 »
Engineered mesh upper that has excellent, comfort, breathability, and durability.
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.
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 »
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 »
Adequate toe box
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.
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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