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New Balance Minimus Road: First Run and More Pictures

New Balance Minimus Road New shoes are bad for me – I simply can’t resist running in them. This contributed to my trouble last weekend at the Manchester City Marathon as I ran the race in the Saucony Grid Type A4 flats – it was only my third run in them, and they were too little shoe for my level of fatigue and the difficulty of the race. As a result, I seem to have strained something in my left foot (I’m guessing the tendon of the peroneus longus), and I took the past 5 days off of in the hope that it would heal up.

Well, as I reported yesterday, a surprise package containing a pair of the New Balance Minimus Road shoe arrived on my doorstep, and I felt pain-free enough today to take them for a test drive. I simply couldn’t wait to try these shoes out, so I headed out with a plan to run five miles. I made it about 2.5 miles when the left foot pain flared up again, and I nearly bagged the run and walked home. I hopped onto the grass/dirt next to the road and the softer surface seemed to help, and the pain subsided enough for me to finish off the run. So, turns out it probably would have been wise to take a bit more time off, but like most runners I have my moments of stupidity and bull-headedness, and new shoes are often a big contributing factor (I’m like a kid in a candy store when new shoes arrive!).

New Balance Minimus Road

New Balance Minimus Road

What I want to do here is to give my initial gut reaction to running in the Minimus, and I relate the above story so that you know the conditions in which I ran in them. I was not 100%, and for about a half-mile in the middle of the run I was lucky if I was 10%. Nonetheless, I got a decent feel for what the shoe has to offer, so here goes.

The two words I would use to describe the Minimus Road are firm and wide. The feel underfoot is very firm – the closest comparisons I would make are to the GoLite Amp and the Newton Distance Racer without the insole (the Newton Distance is another relatively new shoe in my rotation – a review will come at some point). In fact, running in the Minimus Road feels very much like running in the Newton Distance without the insole. The main difference is that the Minimus lacks the forefoot lugs and thus has a flatter feel (which can either be a good or bad thing depending on how you feel about Newtons).

New Balance Minimus Road It was very easy to run midfoot in the Minimus Road, despite the fact that it does have a slight heel lift (about 4-5mm). I’m beginning to think that there are more factors than just heel-toe drop that make a shoe better at encouraging a midfoot strike, and one that I am really curious about is the shape of the heel. The Minimus has an undercut heel (see picture at left), meaning that when you look at it from the side, the heel actually angles a bit forward below the upper rather than coming straight down or flaring out backward. This better matches the actual shape of the human heel, and I suspect by removing any heel flare it makes it harder to catch the heel as the foot contacts the ground. The only other shoe I have that has a heel shape like this is the zero-drop GoLite Amp, though it is a bit less pronounced in the Amp. You can feel the difference that results from having an undercut heel, and my early sense is that it does make it a bit harder to heel strike while running in these shoes (heel shape is an area of shoe design that will receive some attention in a future post – it’s a new fascination for me).

The inside of the Minimus is very comfortable, and arch support is minimal (see picture below). There was an initial sensation of a raised area across the shoe just in front of the heel, but this seemed to go away during the run and was probably a result of a thin layer of padding in the heel of the shoe. There is no insole, just a layer of fabric, so the padding cannot be removed.

New Balance Minimus Road

It will be interesting to see how the outsole of the Minimus holds up. There is a patch of black rubber on the heel (see below), but the rest is a uniform layer of what feels like some kind of sticky rubber with little hexagon-like shapes on it. There are some areas with little pits that extend under the outsole, and I did catch one pebble in one of these.

New Balance Minimus Road

That’s most of what comes to mind after just a single run – hoping my foot heals up so I can log a few more and keep you updated on my thoughts! In the meantime, below are a few more pictures:

New Balance Minimus Road

Note the lack of any medial or lateral heel flare in the Minimus Road.

New Balance Minimus Road

In the above picture you can clearly see how wide the forefoot is.

New Balance Minimus Road

Closeup of the outsole under the heel.

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Recent Posts By Category: Running Shoe Reviews | Running Gear Reviews | Running Science

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. Race2thebigtree says:

    Has anyone had issues with durabilty of this shoe? after only ~45 mi the black portion of heel on one shoe seems to be de-laminating.

    • Pete Larson says:

      I’d try returning to the store where you bought them, or call NB customer service. Most companies will do a replacement for delam issues.

  2. CSzumigala says:

    Thanks for the sneak peek. That undercut heel does indeed spark my interest as to what sort of effect it might have towards contributing to better form. Have you had the opportunity to further ascertain whether the design makes it harder to catch the heel as the foot contacts the ground? Thanks again for another insightful and informative review Pete!

    • Pete Larson says:

      Yeah. I think the heel does help. My feelings about the Road have gotten
      better as it has broken in. Not sure how many miles I have on them though -
      need to check my log.

  3. Therunningclinic says:

    I did too feel the raised area across the shoe in front of the heel as you mentionned. I kinda liked it as it was helping a good form stride but unfortunately the sole softened up and the feeling went away. I found the shoe exciting at the begining but at last it felt quickly like an aged shoe.
    Lee from The Running Clinic

  4. Anyone know of a good site where these can be bought, size 13? Having a tough time finding them anywhere on-line.

  5. These look awesome! I think I may have to try these, at least maybe the trail version. I’ve been trying to find a trail shoe with a minimal heel-toe drop and haven’t found anything i’m comfortable with yet. i’ve been thinking about the NB MT101 but can’t find them in any of the local specialty running stores and I’d really like to try them out (at least on a treadmill) before making the purchase. I’ve always wanted to try the VFF’s, especially the Bikila’s, but have been hesitant b/c I have slightly webbed toes (shh… don’t tell anyone). These may in fact be perfect for me to transition to barefoot-style or “natural” running (I’ve been running in Newton’s for a year now, so calf strength/issues won’t be a problem). BTW, you and I have to talk. I’d really like to geo to the next level with my blog, including getting companies to send me stuf to try out/review… LOL!

    • Pete Larson says:

      Doug,

      Given that you are in Newton’s now, these would be an interesting step. They
      share a lot of similarities in terms of feel to the Newtons, just lack the
      forefoot lugs – I’m looking forward to trying the Trail version if I can.
      About blogging – write, write, write is the best advice I can give!

      Pete

  6. Katarina Makmuri says:

    Any updates on how you’re liking them now that you’ve had a chance to run more in them? 

    • Pete Larson says:

      The fit is great, but I don’t like running in them very much. To firm and inflexible for my taste. They have been relegated to a walking around shoe.

  7. Msamuels says:

    I just tried these on about an hour ago in a shoe store. My review is simple: These shoes are bullshit. I don’t know what NB was thinking, but they need to seriously rethink it. If you run in VFFs or any minimalist shoe that allows you to run naturally, then you will HATE these shoes. They are stiff as hell.

  8. Did they give you any indication of when these are hitting stores?

  9. Fran Peruzzi says:

    Looks like a nice shoe. I can’t figure out why the shoe companies continue to put the durable rubber on the heel though. You’d think that with these shoes that encourage a midfoot strike, there would be some carbon rubber on the forefoot and midfoot areas. Confuses me every time I check the wear on my Free Runs.

    • Pete Larson says:

      I think rubber on the heel makes sense in any shoe since we do have to
      walk in them from time to time, but yes, the forefoot is often
      overlooked.
      Pete

      On Sunday, November 14, 2010, Disqus

    • Doesn’t surprise me — how often would you like your customers to buy your product?

  10. I also started using more minimal shoes over the past couple months and have developed a “thing” in my left foot. Mine is something like turf toe. Bummer. I wish you a speedy recovery. Love your blog. Thanks!

  11. Yeah, the heel on my Bikilas are even wearing down faster than my Sprints. I’m 190lbs and wear them around quite a bit, but recently I’ve been opting for other footwear to help them last a bit longer.

  12. I wear and run on NB minimus most of the time. The road version have giving me a horrible injury to my right peroneus tendon. I have try everyhting to get rid off the pain with no results. My next step is to try a diff shoe. Any suggestions

    • Pete Larson says:

      The road version is too firm in my opinion. You might try the Saucony Kinvara/Mirage or Brooks Pure Flow/Cadence.

      • I know it’s horses for courses, but if you had to chose one?

      • bharrisontx says:

        I replace Newton Sir Isaacs with Brooks Pure Cadence.  I run them twice a week in my rotation.  I had a reoccuring injury when running Newton Sir Isaacs, so returned them.  

      • Pete, 
        I am a recent convert to VFFs and I love them, I have set a goal for me to run a marathon (my fisrt) this year. But I am fairly sure I wont be able to adapt in 9 months to th VFF entirely to run a marathon. I am looking for different options out there (minimalist preferably, since running with my normal shoes the other day hip, knee and ankle pain came back).  
        But there is to much information out there I am kinda confused…

        By now I am considering 4mm drop shoes, that offer more padding for a full marathon as said: I think I cant make it on my VFF. My options are the NB Minimus Road (4mm) , I was thinking about Merrel Road Gloves, and after reading about the Kinvara, I am also taking it into consideration.

        Which of these 3 would you recommend for a full marathon? I intend to train with VFF solowly, while using shoes for longer distances, and the marathon itself. So far by looks (I know is not the most important) the NB Minimus are winning.

        • Pete Larson says:

          Merrell Road Glove is similar to VFFS in terms of adaptation required, and I personally am not a fan of the original Minimus Road. The Kinvara is my preferred marathon shoe, though New Balance has a new shoe called the 730 which looks promising. The Brooks Flow is another decent choice. How long have you been in VFFs?

          • I´ve been in them about 3 weeks, running no more than 6K – 3 times a week.  And the marathon I am planning to run is in Ocotber so I guess I have enough time to get in shape for it. But definitely wont do it in the VFFs .

          • Pete Larson says:

            Yes, with only 3 weeks I’d definitely take it slow.

    • Has the injury occured just behind the fibula, pain about an inch down from the fibula head? I have been having this problem and now think it’s down to the shoe. The problem being is i like the Minimus but if they are what is causing the problem behind the fibula, now mightbe the time for me to consider a change.

  13. Sanchez6713 says:

    Pete,

    Is New Balance continuing its support of the American worker by making this shoe in the USA, or is it produced somewhere in Asia?

  14. Is it as flexible as the Kinvara? What do you mean by the firmness?

    • and is it ligher than the kinvara im thinking of transitioning to these

      • Pete Larson says:

        By firmer I mean that the sole doesn’t feel as soft underfoot – not as much
        give. In other words it feels a bit harder. Flexibility and weight are
        comparable for the most part, but the Minimus is considerably wider in the
        forefoot.

  15. I’d recommend seeing a PT about the tendon strain. A good PT will be able to show muscular imbalances and be able to tell you how to strengthen weakened areas.

    I had peroneal tendonitis for 3 months before seeing a PT and figuring out how to take it down (2 months no run, 1 month run, 1 month light running). I think the best thing I did for it was massaging the tendon to loosen the scar tissue in there and the various strengthening and stretching exercises, all of which my PT recommended. Other things a little more holistical are serrapeptase (supposed to help clear out scar tissue) and castor oil patch (helps break up scar tissue). I tried the serrapeptase and it may have helped, but I can’t say for certain.

    • Pete Larson says:

      Patrick,

      Thanks for the info. I did strain the same spot last year and it healed up
      after a week or so of RICE, so I’m hoping this will resolve again on its
      own. Keeping my fingers crossed…

      Pete

  16. Jason Fitzgerald says:

    so THAT’S an undercut heel! I think I love it. It makes total intuitive sense, and makes me think of some older shoes that had the opposite type of heel. If it’s sticking out, you’re more likely to land on it.

    Are you planning on doing any fast running in them? Do you think that they’d be responsive with the firm sole?

  17. I appreciate your early review of the NB Minimus road. It looks GREAT! Keep us informed when you do more runs in them. Curious how they will feel on long runs…and trail runs (even though they are not designed for trails). Thanks!

  18. It must be nice to be a running legend and able to get your shoes for free! Us mere mortals must wait until 2011 for chance to wear them. Seriously though hope you recover quickly and you are able to get ready for your 50K. Have you had a chance to try or have heard of these Run amoc shoes? link to softstarshoes.com

    thanks
    Scott

    • Pete Larson says:

      Ha! Hardly a running legend – who would have thought that writing a lot
      would help me with my shoe problem! Anyway, I have heard of the Soft Star
      shoes, but I’m more of a traditionalist in terms of styling, so I have not
      tried them out.

      Pete

  19. I like this final(?) color scheme much better than the teaser pics from a few weeks ago.

  20. One quick question on the Minimus Road — how does the forefoot stiffness compare to the Kinvara?

    • Pete Larson says:

      I’d say they are fairly similar. My Kinvaras are far more broken in so they
      have a bit more flex. Kinvaras definitely have a softer EVA misole though.

      Pete

  21. Ghgreyhound10 says:

    Pete thanks for a great review. I understand running before you completedly heal. Yeah sometimes we runners are boneheads

  22. I’m loving this, but I’m so angry they didn’t zero drop it. It would literally be perfect had they done so.

  23. Great first review. Thank you! I think you answered every question I didn’t know to ask. And especially thank you for the comments comparing to the GoLite Amp. Keep up the great work!

  24. Pete-I’ve been running using the NB MT101′s on trails and even roads. As much as I love them on the dirt, I’m thinking I should not spend too much time in them on pavement. Would you consider the Minimus Road to be a comparable feeling shoe? How does the heel to toe offset compare?

    • Pete Larson says:

      The Minimus Road has about half the offset of the MT101, and is a
      stiffer, firmer shoe. The fit is not dissimilar though. I’d recommend
      you try it on as it does have a different feel underfoot.

  25. I’ve had these for about a month now and I think they’re great. Kinvaras are too spongy for me but I have little interest in true minimal/ vff like shoes. These are just right for me, reasonable weight, fairly hard cushioning, some flexibility, and a smooth midsole sole.

    I have seem some negativity around these shoes, mostly centered around the Minimus branding. The whole “what is minimal?” argument I think is creating a big distraction around these shoes, and I suppose NB marketing is partly to blame. I think these are comparable to Kinvaras, Nike Free, and Brooks Green Silence, rather than VFFs or other truly minimal shoes. Seems like a new label is needed to define this category of forefoot strike friendly, anatomical shaped shoes; the term minimal is too much of a distraction.

    • Pete Larson says:

      I’ve taken to using minimal as a catchall term for anything that deviates
      from the traditional 12mm lifted shoe with lots of so-called “technology.”
      Within minimalist I see transitional/gateway and barefoot-style shoes. I’d
      call the Minimus a transitional shoe. Could be an end point, or could be a
      gateway to something less if you so desire.

      Pete

      • I think your categorization works, and I think your “transitional shoe” definition does encapsulate this category we are talking about, but I’m not crazy about the using word “transitional.” As you mention this might be an end point or a gateway. My guess is that this category will be an endpoint for the majority of mid-foot runners rather than a transition point.

        I suppose I agree that the term “minimal” is a good catchall but it does seem to enrage diehard barefooters, like the one in this thread that calls these shoes BS because they are not vibrams.

        Thanks for the response and all of your hard work!

  26. That’s such a thorough review! I love the pictures :)

    Hoping your leg feels better soon!

  27. How does this shoe compare to the Brooks Green Silince? I like the Silence because it has a wide fore and mid foot as well as a firm feel. It seems that the minimus has a wide mid and forefoot which makes me very happy! Do you have any idea when the release date will be?

  28. AshwynGray says:

    That’s a bummer about not being able to run 100% in these for the first time. That may have been for the best, though, since it probably kept you from overdoing it in a new pair of minimal shoes. And, nevertheless, you’ve provided us with a very tantalizing first impression here! (I am so jealous) Thanks for that!

    I hope the tendon heals quickly, Pete!

  29. Pete, Any update on impressions of these after getting more miles in them?

    • Pete Larson says:

      Unfortunately not much yet – winter snow has pretty much killed my ability
      to run in road shoes. I’ve been running mostly in stuff with lugs of late. I
      do like them, and they have grown on me with each run.

      Pete

      • Cool, thanks. Spring will come. I just got a pair of NB 101 and really like them, and if the Minimus Road is largely a road version of that I’m gonna be pretty excited about it. Wonderful blog- thanks for your work here.

        • Pete Larson says:

          Thanks Craig! I’m loving the MT101 as well. That and the Merrell Trail Glove
          have been my winter shoes of choice.

          Pete

          • Pete,

            Can you feel the difference between the minimal heel-toe drop in the MT101 and what I understand is a zero drop in the Merrell Trail Glove?

          • Pete Larson says:

            Yes, the difference is noticeable, but I find the two shoes complement each
            other well. MT101 gives the calves a rest when needed.

            Pete

          • Craig Kinney says:

            We had a NB Rep at our group run last night here in Bloomington, IN. He brought samples of the Minimus line and also the new RC 1400 flat and the Rev-lite trainers. Talk about a kid in a candy store! I did some short in-store strides in all of them, and the Minimus Road does indeed look and feel really great. More substantial than I expected, light and very comfortable. Could well be my new go to shoe, which currently is the Free Run.The Minimus trail version was also very promising, but might be a little shallow in the toe box for me, though I can’t tell because he only had 9.5 and I wear a 10.

            So- overall impression: whoohoo! Add Inov-8, Altra and Merrell’s new line of minimal road/trail shoes and this Spring looks to be very interesting.

          • Pete Larson says:

            Yes, lots of great shoes on the way!
            Pete

            On Friday, February 11, 2011, Disqus

  30. Hi all,
    Pete, congratulations for your great blog.
    What’s the midsole profile for these NB?

    I am about to buy new shoes.
    Nowadays, I am using these two (Heel/Forefoot):
    1- My favorite Zoot TT 2.0 (probably 21mm/11mm)
    2- Mizuno Universe 3 (you posted 15mm/6mm). I don’t think they are 15mm in the heel though. It looks less difference H/F and much thinner than my Zoots.

    I tried the Free 5.0 and I didn’t like them cos they have too much heel.
    I am looking for a shoe with H/F difference lower than the Zoots that I have but with similar (or maybe a bit higher) cushioning.
    The Free 3.0 (23mm/19mm) or Kinvara (18mm/14mm) could be a good alternative.

    Do you, guys, have other suggestions?

    Thanks,

    Francesc

    P.S.: Zoot has the Ultra Speed (based on their web: 17mm/7mm) and when I compare them to the Mizuno Universe 3, the Zoot seem to have a thicker heel.

    • Pete Larson says:

      Thanks for the comment! The Mizuno Universe numbers are off – I have
      measured them at only about a 5 mm drop from heel to toe. I’d say that both
      of the shoes you mentioned (Free 3.0 and Kinvara) are good choices. The
      Kinvara is probably a bit softer than the Free 3.0 and is a nice distance
      shoe.

      Pete

  31. ShawnT says:

    Hi Pete,

    Just wondering how you would compare the Minimus to the Nike Free 3.0?

    • Pete Larson says:

      Minimus is firmer underfoot and far less flexible, but wider in the
      forefoot.Very different shoes.

  32. I am soo jealous of you right now! I want to run in these soo badly!

    • Pete how does the Minimus compare to the Kinvara. I liked the small heel to toe drop, but it was too soft and had arch support.

      • Pete Larson says:

        I would say the Minimus is much firmer and has less arch support than the
        Kinvara. It’s also a bit wider in the forefoot, though I have not had any
        problem with the Kinvara in this respect. If those are the reasons you
        didn’t like the Kinvara, I suspect you will like the Minimus.

        Pete

        • How does the minimus compare to something like the Mach XI or XII?

          • Pete Larson says:

            It’s definitely more shoe than the Mach’s, but also a much roomier fit. I’d
            probably stick with the Mach’s for speedwork and short races.

            Pete

          • Hey Pete,

            I was wondering how much the NB Minimus way? Less than the Kinvara?

            Kyle

          • I meant how much does the NB Minimus Road weigh? Sorry…..I can’t spell.

            Kyle

          • Pete Larson says:

            8.7 oz in size 10. A bit heavier than the Kinvara.

            Sent from my iPad

          • Question to runblogger: I want a minimal shoe that can take some heavy miles to train for the marathon.

            Ran in Newton’s last summer but my ortho said the lugs concentrate the weight in metatarsal area, causing stress fractures. Said he’s seen it in his patients. I would have ignored him but for two reasons: 1) I really respect him and he’s usually right as he is a terrific running doctor; 2) I started to feel a problem in the area where he was saying (perhaps the beginning of a stress fractture).

            So what do I run in now? Many of the minimal shoes are trainers or racing flats with little rubber on the bottom so they don’t last. Is there any minimal shoes with a decent amount of rubber on the buttom?

          • Pete Larson says:

            I’d suggest checking out the Saucony Kinvara, Mirage, or Fastwitch 5.

            Pete

            On Monday, February 28, 2011, Disqus

          • Hi Pete,
            Any idea when these will be hitting stores in the UK?
            Cheers.

          • Pete Larson says:

            Sorry, can’t help there. You might check with the guys at Ransacker.

            Pete

  33. Concerning the heel shape, it is also the case for the free 3.0, and I agree with you. I speak of this part of your text :
    “I’m beginning to think that there are more factors than just heel-toe
    drop that make a shoe better at encouraging a midfoot strike, and one
    that I am really curious about is the shape of the heel. The Minimus has
    an undercut heel (see picture at left), meaning that when you look at
    it from the side, the heel actually angles a bit forward below the upper
    rather than coming straight down or flaring out backward. This better
    matches the actual shape of the human heel, and I suspect by removing
    any heel flare it makes it harder to catch the heel as the foot contacts
    the ground.”

  34. Do you think they are similar to my beloved NB 790. I have not found a shoe that my feet and body like – like they like the 790!

  35. Therunningclinic says:

    I did too feel the raised area across the shoe in front of the heel as you mentionned. I kinda liked it as it was helping a good form stride but unfortunately the sole softened up and the feeling went away. I found the shoe exciting at the begining but at last it felt quickly like an aged shoe.
    Lee from The Running Clinic

  36. Thanks for your review of the Minimus. I cant wait to try a pair myself. I had run most of the summer in the Kinvara’s, but they sadly dont give enough room in the forefoot. The narrow toe box combined with my underpronation results in my little toes aching after 10 mi or longer runs. I had tried the Mizuno Ronin as a replacement until the 2011 spring shoes are out, and I cant help but heel strike in those where in the Kinvaras I dont. If i could make my perfect shoe it would be the uppers of Mizuno Ronin with the sole of the Kinvara. Maybe the Minimus will be shoe I have been searching for for the last year. Are the white ones the womens?

    • Pete Larson says:

      I’d say the Ronin is a bit more roomy than the Minimus, but it’s pretty
      close. The Minimus is definitely flatter, but feels firmer underfoot. Not
      sure if the white one is the women’s version.

      Pete

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