This shoe would be a decent option for almost any neutral runner, no matter the distance running or size of the runner.
If you need a lot of stability correction, this shoe is not for you.
The New Balance 1080 is a flagship neutral trainer, and one that you’ll see on the feet of many runners out pounding the pavement or running races.
It has been developed for years to make sure it can handle the long runs of marathon runners, and the dialed in for the necessary tempo runs throughout a training plan.
With the new v12, New Balance has completely redesigned the shoe from the v11, and come out with a completely new version of their most popular trainer.
Coming in at $160, this high-cushioned trainer will compete against the likes of the Brooks Glycerin, Hoka One One Clifton, Saucony Triumph & Endorphin, and more. So how does it stack up to the competitors?
With the current iteration of the shoe, the cushion to me has fallen behind the likes of Brooks or Saucony.
The toe off is not nearly as snappy as the Saucony or Hoka. However, the upper is superior to almost any other shoe I’ve run in during the past two years.
When these shoes showed up, I was very excited to get them out and on my feet. I was very pleased with the colorway of navy blue and orange with the white Fresh Foam X midsole visible. Visually, they were a huge upgrade from the v11s.
When I put them on my feet they were nice, and felt great walking around. However, I wasn’t blown away with the feel on the feet, and they felt heavier than my v11s.
On the first run, they were OK, not great. It left me wondering if there was a break-in period. Nothing was particularly bad, but nothing was particularly outstanding about the run in them.
The upper of this shoe is where it really shines. The upper is made of a soft engineered mesh that very comfortably cradles the foot.
True to size in every way, as the size 13 I was sent was the correct length, and felt very good on the foot.
The heel of the shoe is structured and locks the heel in, then opens a little in the midfoot, and opens a little more to a decently-sized toebox. It is not the biggest toebox I’ve ever ran in, but there was plenty of space for my foot (which is not a wide, but is in-between a normal narrow and a wide.
On the upper, they used a no-stitch overlay in the midfoot to add structure to the upper and works well with the lacing system to lock your foot in. This lacing system goes over a well-cushioned tongue that is comfortable even 8-10 or more miles into the run.
As it moves forward, there is a roomy, but not extravagant, toebox with a decently rigid, but soft, toe liner to keep your toes on the sole unit. This was one of my biggest complaints on the v11, my toes would slide off the sole base, and any corner turn became painful. That is not the case with this improved upper.
At the rear of the upper, there is a structured heel cup with support. The structure of the heel locks you in, and has a rigid piece that keeps you firmly in the shoe. As it works its way up to the collar, the upper gets plush and is comfortable no matter how short your sock of choice (or no sock).
Then one of the things I love in a shoe at this point is the flared heel pull. This feature takes the upper away from the Achilles Heel and relieves pressure from that area. Since I’ve suffered from Achilles injuries in the past, this is an issue for me, and the fact that this shoe relieves that pressure is a huge plus for me.
The redesigned sole unit for the 1080s starts with the great Fresh Foam X material, which is supposed to be softer and give more bounce. Although, I did not notice that claim to be true compared to the v11s.
In fact, I felt they were markedly firmer than the previous offering. There is 36mm of cushion under the heel, is foam material was used as the full length midsole, and it looks like there is more of it used in the shoe compared to the v11.
This year they used a full rubber outsole to add grip. This was something that I found to be true on most surfaces, but it struggled a bit when transitioning from dry to wet cement and back to dry. However it was an overall upgrade from the outsole of the v11s.
When it came to the ride of this shoe, it was an average ride compared to some of the other offerings I’ve done in the past. It was cushioned, and fairly soft, but not nearly as soft or bouncy as the previous model, or as easy to run in as something like the Saucony Axon 2.
Overall, this shoe performed well. It is a good shoe in almost all areas. The upper is phenomenal, and the cushion is adequate. However, the ride and the feeling of it just didn’t wow me.
On my runs, I felt that the shoe lacked the bounce I got from the v11, and the toe roll didn’t work to push me forward like the Saucony Axon 2 did (which I tested at the same time). The cushion was OK, but not nearly as soft as I expected it to be, and that was disappointing to me.
The upper was a highlight, and frankly, I’m in love with it. But I wish they would have put that upper on the base from the last model. I think I would have enjoyed that ride much more.
Perhaps some of this stems from running in this shoe at the same time as testing out another, but honestly I looked forward to my scheduled runs in the Axon 2, and was disappointed when my plan said “1080” instead of “Axon”. Maybe this shoe is better than I’m giving it credit for, but it didn’t stack up to the $100 Saucony offering.
At $160, I would expect this shoe to just be, more. In fact, I had earlier this year, run in the NB More v3, and it is such a superior shoe I was surprised the flagship was not even close to as fun a ride. I cannot fault anyone for enjoying this shoe, and I think it is a solid offering. But for the money, I think there are better options out there.
The New Balance 1080 v12 is better than Just OK, but not quite “Great”. It’s a solid 7/10.