New Balance is another one of those companies that’s been around forever and is known for making solid, sturdy shoes. I have a pair of transitional shoes from them, and have found them to be fairly reliable kicks, with good comfort and a nice, even cushion to them.
NB was at the “Big Shoe Off” with several pairs to try out, but the one that caught my eye was their new “Fresh Foam”. I’d heard some talk about how this might be NB’s answer to the mega-padding shoes.
Turns out, I was right and also very wrong. The stack height on the Fresh Foam 980 is fairly large, almost 30mm in back and nearly 23 in the front. That gives a middle of the road drop of 7mm or so, a comfortable middle ground. This isn’t HOKA level stack height, mind you, but the weight is also around 9oz, which means a nice fast turnover.
The turnover was fast, alright. But I got a surprise as I ran in the FF: that padding was very firm. In fact, I would venture to say it was pretty much like a standard, middle drop running shoe. Not bad, but certainly not game-changing. The sole was also a little bit stiff (which makes sense, considering the tightness of the foam) which made the shoe actually feel a bit like a flat.
Bottom line, this is a fairly light, middle drop shoe that will work as a trainer or somewhat fast middle distance shoe. It was comfortable, but didn’t blow my mind. Which, actually, is what I’ve come to expect from New Balance. Solid, basic shoes that do their job without muss or fuss.
Score: 7/10 RAWRS (Solidly reliable trainer, light & comfortable)
High: Good as a transition shoe and/or trainer, fairly lightweight, comfortable
Low: Sole stiffer than expected, not a mega cushion shoe (appearances notwithstanding), a little boring
Check out reviews of the other shoes I tried out over at my event post of The Big Shoe Off!