Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Shoe Review: New Balance Fresh Foam 980

image from
I'll admit that I (at times) ride the waves of marketing trends in running shoe technology.  I tend to think that any informed shoe choice takes into account the extremes; and the pendulum's well-documented swing from minimalism to maximalism has caught my attention.  That isn't to say I went out and bought a pair of Hokas (I'll leave that to Joel), but I did get swayed by the concept of a lower drop, maximally cushioned shoe.  Also, I've been meaning to give New Balance a try again; its been a while since I've tried their shoes and they have a very loyal group of followers.

I don't tend to write shoe reviews until I'm very sure of my opinion.  I've already logged 200 (or so) miles on the Fresh Foam 980 at the writing of this review.  Sadly, while I've learned a lot about the shoe over that period of time, one glaring fact stands in the way of me fully endorsing them:  the fit.  Fit is highly variable...  makes sense, FEET are highly variable.  For whatever reason, the designers at NB just didn't make a shoe with the 980 that fits my feet.  I discovered this the first time I took them Fresh Foam on a long run, and ended up with blisters.  I reaffirmed this the second time I did so with the same result (I very, very rarely get blisters otherwise).

While that pretty much assures I won't buy another pair, I do want to point out some of the positive things I like about this shoe; a shoe I still use for short runs on occasion:

1. It's got a 4mm drop with tons of underfoot protection.  Massive.
2. I've heard folks mention the cushioning is very stiff.  From my standpoint, this is a good thing.  My feet feel very protected, the shoes are plenty plush and they are responsive enough to handle any paced running.  Tough to have all of those things at once, in my mind.
3. The upper is light, but doesn't seem fragile.  In fact, the shoes look quite new even after 200 miles.

On the flip side:

1. The tongue is absurdly puffy and bothers the tops of my feet, moves around during the run.
2. The "fit issue" for me is related to the narrow toe-box.  Widen it up, NB!!

All-in-all, its a well-cushioned, light, low-drop shoe that, provided it fits, will get you through the miles at any pace you choose.

1 comment: