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 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 »
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 »
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.
Read full review »
The New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo v4 hits a precise balance between comfort and hold, avoiding shoe string issues that show up with thin tongues by utilizing traditional width laces with a touch of stretch.
The Vongo's unique combination of low drop, high cushion, and varus wedge angled midsole make it stand out as it's own niche of mild stability offering. Read full review »
Cushion for long runs
Flexible yet Secure upper - very comfortable
Heel cup liner locks in heel
Bootie construct eliminates movable tongue
Stylin' modern look for runs and casual use
Thick sole is too squishy and heavy for fast movements
The New Balance Fresh Foam More is a maximal trainer that still has a pep in its step. Cushion for the long run, but an aggressive design that will let you push the pace, it's a fun ride. Read full review »
Tons of cushion
You don't sink into the cushion
Upturned toebox rolls you forward
Upper lets in a lot of water, shoe is not great at getting the water out
Price tag -- it will set you back
Outsole shows wear quickly
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.
Read full review »
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 »
The New Balance 1500 v6 is great shoe for someone who wants something fast with subtle amounts of stability support. It is as sleek as it is fast and continues to be a favorite of this reviewer. Read full review »
The New Balance 870v5 is a straightforward lightweight stability trainer. The no frills approach may not be for everyone but ideal for those who yearn for simpler consistent lightweight stability trainer built to handle any speed or distance. Read full review »
Longer break in time
New Balance FuelCell Collection
Shoes in the FuelCell collection are lightweight, responsive and engineered for speed.
The New Balance FuelCell 5280 is a road racing shoe that Runner’s World calls “a track spike, without the metal pins.” This is because the FuelCell 5280 is designed to help you run fast on the pavement. In fact, the shoes are especially designed for runners who run a mile under five minutes and 30 seconds. The shoes provide the same level of power as a track spike. However, if you have wide feet you may find a problem with the overall fit of the shoes because of how narrow they run.The midsole is made of New Balance’s FuelCell, which is lightweight and bouncy. Carbon fiber plates are made with unidirectional fibers that twist and bend, but are rigid from the toe to the heel. This gives the shoe some flexibility but will also generate more power from a smoother landing.The sole is curved wide on the lateral side that propels you forward as you run. This also helps you keep proper form as well. The lateral edge is beveled at 17 degrees, which science says it the right angle for runners.The upper is lightweight but fits pretty tight. New Balance has engineered zonal areas on this shoe for extra support and a little bit of stretch. However, your feet won’t move around much once you have these shoes on because of how narrow they fit.
The New Balance FuelCell Propel is a versatile shoe that can handle long distance runs and speed work. It is well-cushioned, which makes it an ounce heavier than the Rebel and not as soft as New Balance’s Fresh Foam line.The shoe can handle wet weather and drains well. Initially, the shoe can be a bit stiff once you first purchase it but it breaks in well.In the midsole, you will find FuelCell that runs the entire length of the shoe. This helps to improve your performance by absorbing shock. It is also soft, responsive, and provides a smooth heel to toe transition.The upper is made with open mesh that is lightweight and breathable. A single overlay can limit some expansion in the toe box but many runners don’t notice.The outsole of the FuelCell Propel is NDurance, which is a solid rubber to protect the base of the shoe. Also, on the outsole, are flex grooves to aid you in through the gait cycle. Three lugs on the outsole are on the forefoot, heel, and outer edge for good traction.
The New Balance FuelCell Rebel is a super-fast racing flat that offers cushion despite the light weight packaging. Although it has a higher price tag, these are easily worth it if you run and race 5k or 10k races. Read full review »
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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