New Balance Quick Takes

I had the opportunity to try some of the current New Balance 2015 shoe line-up. Most of these were runs from my local Running Room, on demo shoes provided by New Balance. Last one is a pair I purchased at retail. These are my quick impressions.

1400v3

I’ve reviewed the 1400v1 here and own a pair of the v2’s. I like these no-nonsense shoes for their straightforwardness. Th

ey are quite light, offer minimal support and cushioning and have a smooth trNB1400v3.JPG
ansition. Nothing extra and nothing you don’t want. Just a light, fast show. I only have a few complaints about the v2. They are 8mm offset and I can definitely feel the drop. The
front sides of the tongue are hot-
cut leaving some rough plasticky edges, which really irritated my foot, even with socks on.

The v3 fixed this issue and has slightly more cushioned tongue with smoother edges. Otherwise, I can’t tell that much has changed. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Good for:

  • Runners wanting a flexible, lightweight shoe with minimal stability features and cushioning.
  • Those who want the above and also want a higher offset than the 0-4mm that is more typical these days for this category of shoe.
  • 5k-10k runs and races for heavier runners
  • 21-42k runs and races for lighter runners

Move on for:

  • Runners who need any stability features. The shoe doesn’t have much of a stiff heel counter or wide platform, let alone a medial post or torsional rigidity.
  • Those who want more than a minimal level of cushioning.

Competitors
Mizuno Sayonara 2
Brooks PureConnect 4

Vazee Pace

The Vazee Pace was introduced by New Balance to be the replacement for the 890 series. I have logged considerable long-run miles in the 890v4 and was interested to see what NB replaced it with. The defining features I that liked in the 890 were an ample amount of cushioning with a very smooth ride, in a sub-9 oz. package.

The Vazee Pace, as it turns out, is a very different shoe. The NBVazeePaceupper has much more compliant mesh and a super-wide toebox. Wide enough, that my E-width feet had a bit of slosh room. The heel collar has been improved, with a closer fit and less foam overstuffing. The drop is 4mm, down from the 8mm in the 890. It feels like a 4mm shoe and I welcome that.

The ride is markedly different. It’s substantially stiffer than the 890. Stiff enough that I would think twice about using this for 30+ km runs. To me, this simply puts it in a different category than the 890. Despite being stiff, the midsole didn’t have the same responsive energy return that the NB Zante has.

Good for:

  • Runners that have a higher volume forefoot and want a wide toebox with lots of space
  • Runners wanting a firm ride and more road feel, with less squish.
  • Runners looking for a shoe for both short and mid distance.

Move on for:

  • Runners looking for that springy, compliant ride for the long haul
  • Runners with narrow or regular width feet

Competitors

  • Saucony Zealot

880v5

This is NB’s mid-tier conventional neutral trainer. Lots of sole. Lots of overlays. Lots of stuffing. Lots of squish. Lots of stiff sole.

NB880.JPG

This is a very mainstream neutral trainer that will appeal to a wide range of runners. It has plenty of cushioning and very soft ride. The midsole isn’t very flexible and the transition isn’t as smooth as in other more flexible shoes. The upper has plenty of overlays to lock down the foot. It is on the more stable end of the neutral category, with a wide, stiff sole and stiff heel counter.

Good for:

  • Runners seeking a conventional neutral trainer for mid to long distance runs.
  • Runners that prioritize comfort above all else.

Move on for:

  • Runners wanting more road feel or flexibility.

Competitors

  • Asics Cumulus
  • Brooks Ghost
  • Saucony Ride

Zante

I own this shoe have run about 200k over the past few months. Long story short – this is my current go-to shoe for 5-10k runs and races up to 21k. The responsiveness, energy return and upper fit works better me than any other shoe in this class. And I own a lot of shoes in the “Kinvara” category – low drop, moderately cushioned, super flexible, with minimal stability features.

This is the second iteration for New Balance with their Fresh Foam midsole and they got it right this time. The first version (980) was stiff, not responsive and had a pointy toebox. For 2015, NB split the line into the Borocay (the direct 980 replacement) and Zante (a lighter version). The Zante’s midsole is very responsive, with a very noticeable elastic energy return. Despite not having any flex grooves, the sole is very flexible through the gait cycle. One issue that some runneNBZanters have is the pronounced under-arch “bump” that can be felt when wearing the shoe. This is supposed to encourage a forefoot strike, although I find the bump feeling disappears during the run. There is a moderate level of cushioning – more than the 1400, but less than a Kinvara.

The upper is a lycra sock-like construction with very few welded overlays. Despite being a bit narrow, it’s very complaint and accommodates my E-width foot nicely. There is a slight reinforcement in the saddle area.

This is a great shoe with a super-responsive ride and great upper.

Good for:

  • Runners looking for a minimal, quick and responsive shoe.

Move on for:

  • Those who feel the mid-foot bump is a deal-breaker.
  • Runners with super-wide feet.

Competitors

  • Saucony Kinvara
  • Brooks Pureflow
  • Nike Free 4.0
  • Adidas Adios
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