New Balance Minimus: Information, Pictures, and Videos

One of the exiting new additions to the lineup of options for minimalist and reduced shoe runners is the Minimus line from New Balance, which I have written about previously here on Runblogger.. Set to arrive in stores in March 2011, New Balance is proceeding with a slow and steady roll-out of information on the Minimus shoe line, and if the care with which they are marketing this line is any indication, they apparently expect it to make some big waves in the running shoe market. Below is my attempt to collate and post information on this shoe series as it becomes available.

Update 11/18/2010: Just put up a post with pictures and a report on my first runs in the New Balance Minimus Trail.

Update 11/14/2010: Just put up a post with pictures and a report on my first run in the New Balance Minimus Road.

Update 10/16/2010: Just put up a post with high-resolution images of the New Balance Minimus Trail, Road and Wellness (an example of the NB Minimus road is below).

New Balance Minimus Road

First, posters on a thread in the Runner’s World Barefoot Running forum have linked up a picture and article from the July 14th Running Insight newsletter that discusses the New Balance Minimus. Here’s the picture featuring the wellness (i.e., walking), road running, and trail running Minimi (is that plural for Minimus?) – I apologize for the low resolution, but it’s captured from the Running Insight PDF and is the best I could manage

New Balance Minimus Wellness, Road, and Trail
New Balance Minimus: from left to right are the Wellness, Road, and Trail Minimi

What I like about this picture is that it gives a nice, full view of the NB Minimus Trail (the black one), unlike some of the teaser photos that I’ve seen elsewhere online – looks like a really nice shoe. In the accompanying article, Running Insight reports that:

New Balance says the key to the NB Minimus collection is a new anatomically correct last designed with significantly less drop from heel to forefoot (4 mm in all styles compared to 12.5 mm in traditional athletic shoes). This gradual drop positions the foot into a more neutral stance and promotes a more natural stride by moving the wearer off their heel and encouraging a mid-foot landing. Each shoe uses stretch materials and minimal constructions that reduce weight. Each NB Minimus style in men’s size 9.5 weighs less than 8.5 oz.

Running Insight also reports that:

New Balance says research conducted through its sports research lab shows that the tendency for mid-foot or forefoot strike is correlated to midsole thickness and that less cushioning encourages a mid-foot strike. As a result, each NB Minimus shoe was engineered with lower sole unit heights. The reduced midsole and outsole thickness also allows the foot to flex up and down more easily.

This matches well with my personal experience – I run in several 4mm drop shoes, and I find that I heel strike a bit more in the Nike Free 3.0, with it’s thicker heel cushion, than I do in the Brooks Mach 11 or 12, which are less cushioned and have a lower heel despite roughly the same drop as the Free 3.0. I look forward to trying out the Minimus to see how it performs.

Update 9/22/10: New Balance has just posted an interview with ultrarunner Tony Krupicka and New Balance designer Chris Wawrousek, highlighting the input that Krupicka gave in the design process for this shoe. Here’s an interesting quote from Wawrousek regarding the design of the New Balance MT100 trail shoe, which has been criticized by some as having to much of a heel lift (it’s also the shoe that Krupicka is famous for hacking the heel off of with a knife:

Well, the 100 started out as this shoe that we wanted to make specifically for Tony and Kyle and really aim it at racing. As so often happens, in the broader market it was almost too early for us to come out with something quite so extreme. As a designer, it was disappointing, because the feedback we were getting from Tony and Kyle was very specific – things like the drop in the last. But these were things that the broader consumer base wasn’t really ready for.

The above quote speaks volumes about why the big shoe companies seem reluctant to follow in the footsteps of Vibram, Terra Plana, GoLite and a few others and produce true zero-drop running shoes – seems they are likely worried that people are not ready to run in this type of shoe. With proper guidance and education, I personally don’t see it as a problem, but then again I don’t work for a shoe company. Wawrousek goes on to say:

Then all of a sudden, you had Born to Run [Christopher McDougall's best-selling book about long-distance running], which created this whole new energy around this idea that we weren’t really meant to run on wedges. Which is what we had heard from Tony and Kyle before but weren’t ready to leverage yet. So, a lot of what we had talked about with Tony and Kyle and the origins of the 100 – the 100 itself didn’t really live up to all of those ideas, but when we were able to free ourselves up and do NB Minimus, a lot of the seeds had been planted with the 100.

Interesting perspective and insight from a designer at one of the big shoe makers – you can read the rest of the interview with Krupicka and Wawrousek here.  In addtion to the interview, there’s a cool little interactive prototype timline for the Minimus Trail shoe – below are a few of the early proptotypes, as well as a clearer picture of the final version:

New Balance Minimus Trail Prototype
New Balance Minimus Early Prototype – MT100 Upper on New Sole

New Balance Minimus Trail Prototype

New Balance Minimus Early Prototype – Slip-On Stretch Upper

New Balance Minimus Trail Shoe

New Balance Minimus Finalized Prototype

In addition to the info provided above, there’s also a video posted on YouTube about good running form that features the road version of the Minimus – note the emphasis on cadence and a midfoot strike (Update – this video has gone missing again!).

A second video featuring Anton Krupicka wearing the New Balance Minimus trail has also popped up on YouTube:

About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a recovering academic who currently works as an exercise physiologist, running coach, and writer. He's also a father of three and a fanatical runner with a bit of a shoe obsession. In addition to writing and editing this site, he is co-author of the book Tread Lightly, and writes a personal blog called The Blogologist. Follow Pete on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and via email.



Comments

  1. Naked Runner says:

    What was their “sports research lab” doing over the past decade, or two, or three. Although I’m glad to see mainstream shoe companies move towards a lower profile shoe with less cushioning, I’m just not sold on their authenticity or motivations, except financial. Fail.

    • @ Naked Runner: New Balance answered your question on their website, no need to ask the question here again. The Sports Research Lab was created only 2-3 years ago and began studying running barefoot immediately. Being a private company, financial is always the reason products get made and sold. I don’t know of a single company (maybe Rivendell Bicycles) that wants to make a product at a loss.

    • Billruns says:

      I’ve seen this inane points brought up by barefooter far too much. Trends and research changes, shoe companies change as well.

      I’ve been running long enough to see many different theories come about with regards to running and shoes. But I’ve never seen it play out as some sort of conspiracy until now. Of course their motivations are financial but they would also like to keep people running and happy. (so they buy more gear)

  2. Zero drope EXTREME!!!
    i think Having a High heel on a running shoes is pretty dam extreme to me!!! cheers Pete :]

  3. ElliottBAustin says:

    I just got an advanced pair of the MT10. I got them a month and a half from the intro date so i cant tell people what to expect and how best to approach going into them. So far I really like them. This is going to be a midfoot forefoot shoe…if you try to land in the heal to much its not going to be very comfortable. It is designed to wear without socks but I tried with socks anyway and honestly it felt better without them. The shoe just hugs your foot and seem to fit a wide range of foot types…I have a narrow foot and it felt snug where it needed to and wide in the forefoot so the foot could spread. A co worker said the same thing and he has a foot that borders on a wide. The upper allows for more expansion. Looks to be a great shoe…

  4. That is a fantastic shoes…I think if i have money I want to buy one…very athletic shoes…

  5. The Wellness looks pretty interesting as a barefoot-style running shoe… I wonder how it compares weight-wise with the others?

    • I have seen and held the Wellness and it is very minimal but has no way or tightening. It is like a loose slipper and has no lateral hold on the foot which could make it too loose for serious running. They are coming out with a cross training Minimus shoe next summer which looks like a great barefoot-style shoe.

  6. can’t watch the video as it is marked private.I have seen the Video with Tony talking about the minimus. I know NB was not happy that it showed up online already either…

    • Pete Larson says:

      Thanks for letting me know – that first video has appeared and disappeared
      twice now. Sounds like they have some leaks that need to be dealt with…
      Pete

  7. would the trail version be suitable also for concrete?

    • Pete Larson says:

      I think so – trail version will work for any surface.

      • I just bought the trail version with the same thought in mind. I liked the fact that the heel hieght in them was 9 mm versus 12.7 mm in the road version. Unfortunately, my forefoot began to hurt just a few miles after I started to run in them on ashpalt. Fortunately, there was a dirt trail next to the road, so I finshed my run on the trail. Great trail shoe, bad road shoe. I bought the road shoe and can’t say enough good things about it. I was using the Kinvara as my daily training shoe, but I’ll be using this road shoe as my new daily training shoe.

  8. Is it me or is Anton always getting hurt in his minimum shoes. His knee is always putting him out of races, he pulls calf muscles…read his blog. He might want to try some better shoes. I run in the mountains where there are roots, rocks, and too much mud. I need at least my Salomon SpeedCross 2s. My asics GEL-TRABUCO 13s are like a boot shoe and can get me through crazy terrain with tired legs and ankles. Check Dave Mackey in his Hoka One One shoes; link to youtube.com

  9. Climbhoser says:

    I like to see Boulder represented! I can’t even count the number of times I have run on that very road on Flagstaff.

    I’m sad to hear they won’t offer a wide. I have an unfortunate foot-bone structure for shoes in that I am a EEEE wide (120mm wide at size 9) and barely even fit the advertised 3E or 4E NBs as it is. Oh well, I’ll keep running bare for now, since that works for me and I have no problems with it. My only hope is that I can find something workable for trail runs, as barefoot on some of our Rocky Mountain trails is just not an option.

  10. Pete: I can’t seem to find details regarding the drop for the road shoe. For example, Kinvara is 18MM – 14MM, Type 4a is 13MM – 9MM, NB Minimus Road is XXMM – XXMM. Thanks.

  11. rob bryant says:

    NB also tends to release a lot of their shoes in widths. Crossing my fingers that trend continues with the Minimus.

    • THEtester says:

      unfortunatly for this first round Minimus will not be coming in widths. Just medium widths only. Although, I did have a guy try on the 9.5 medium sample yesterday and he wears a 9.5 wide and he said it felt comfortable. I think its because of the new last NB created for this shoe. It has a broader toe so the foot can splay out alot more. Also, the weights of the shoes are as follows…trail – 7.2oz, Road – 8.2oz, Recovery – 5.4oz

  12. Johny_alb says:

    yep minimus my ass ,they are not completely flat, 4 mm drop.The shoes should adjust to the foot not the other way around.Bla bla bla .All this technology and they don’t know how to make running shoes !!!

    • ElliottBAustin says:

      If they tried to make a shoe with a zero drop it would make it impossible from most people to go into. having a 4mm drop makes it possible for some people to start down the minimalist road. They are trying to run a business…how does making a shoe that only 0.001% of people can wear make since…honestly most people dont know what they want or need and having a small heal to forefoot ratio makes it possible for people to explore this

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  1. […] Here’s a blurry pic of all three of them (Wellness, Trail, Road) from here. […]

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