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New Balance 890 v3: Guest Review by Ron Abramson

New Balance 890 v3

In the realm of romantic relationships, monogamy is a virtue. When I sought to apply that virtue to running shoes, though, I quickly found myself feeling oppressed, limited and pining for the sexy contours and promising performance features of shoes made by my “main squeeze’s” competitors. After deciding to see other people [okay, this metaphor is getting torturous], I’ve enjoyed the freedom to try all kinds of different footwear. While some of those pairings come perilously close to evoking one-night stands, others find me returning again and again to their warm, tightly-laced embrace. The New Balance 890 (now in its third generation) is one of those shoes to which I return over and over.

Disclosure: The actual pair of shoes reviewed here was provided by the manufacturer, but the reviewer had run in prior versions of the shoe, all acquired at his own expense.

New Balance accurately bills the 890 as a “lightweight neutral trainer”, but it also provides a bit of added support. The great evolutionary leap in the 890 line came when New Balance reduced the heel drop between 890 versions 1 and 2, from the old standard of 12mm to 8mm. The change was quite welcome, and has undoubtedly made what was billed a performance shoe actually feel like a performance shoe. The 890 V3 represents refinement rather than reinvention, something more shoe manufacturers may wish to consider when they make a product that works as well as the 890 does.

New Balance 890 v3 sideNew Balance 890 v3 medial

The 890 is true to both parts of its manufacturer’s name. The appealing design, availability in multiple colors and sleek lines emphasize the “new”. In this runner’s opinion, the lighter the shoe, the better it should look. The 890 manages to looks sharp without seeming gimmicky, incorporating performance features in a visually appealing way.

Good looks aside, the 890 manages to honor “balance” in a way few shoes do. The 890 hits the sweet-spot between minimalism and structure, flexibility and stiffness, cushioning and firmness. It’s one of those rare shoes which – depending on the unique profile of its wearer – can handle anything from fast track repeats to marathons (and beyond). Personally, I favor it for medium-long to long runs (12-20+ miles). It feels comfortable as-is, but also accommodates custom orthotics.

New Balance 890 v3 top

The 890’s upper breathes well, but paired with a heavyweight sock, also handles cold temperatures ably. The sole has a reported stack height of 28m heel, 21mm forefoot (numbers via Running Warehouse), and provides good traction, even on slightly slick surfaces, and easily handles non-technical trails. A slight change from prior versions in terms of the spacing of the outsole lugs results in fewer small rocks getting lodged in the sole. For someone who includes regular hybrid road/trail runs, the 890 is a versatile partner.

Since a shoe review can’t be all unicorns and rainbows, I’ll share one minor gripe about the 890. On what is otherwise an all-around excellent shoes, the laces are underwhelming. The laces themselves feel somewhat cheap, as if they would fray with heavy use. Also, it takes some effort to get the shoes to fit “right”, which in my case means snugly through the fore- and mid-foot, but not too tightly in the tongue/collar area around the shoe’s opening.

New Balance 890 v3 sole

Although I’ve only logged about 50 miles in the 890 V3, my experience with the first two generations was that the outsole and midsole are surprisingly durable. That allows the 890 to defy conventional shoe life wisdom by giving its owner more than 500 miles per pair.

Perhaps the highest praise I can bestow on the NB 890 V3 is that if I was forced to winnow down my sizable running shoe inventory to a single make and model, the 890 is the shoe I would choose.

We’d love to hear your thoughts – if you’ve run in the New Balance 890, feel free to share a comment below!

The New Balance 890 v3 is available for purchase at Running Warehouse.


Ron Abramson Ron Abramson is an immigration attorney from Bow, NH. He has PR’s of 3:08:48 in the marathon, 1:26:18 in the half-marathon, and 18:46 in the 5k. He’s also a top-notch ultramarathon pacer and long distance charity runner. Ron writes a personal running blog called Got Lactate?, where you can read more about his running life.

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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. I have tried this shoe on and my only complaint would be that I feel the upper, especially the ankle collar is over-built. In other words, the upper is too bulky and makes the fit and feel a bit odd.

  2. Two Little Runners says:

    Great review of v3, thanks! 890v1 was my first running shoe, and it was great for me. It is the only shoe I’ve bought more than one pair of. Think I’ve had about 4 pairs of v1. The shoe is so durable that I never had the chance to try v2 because I was in my v1 for so long. Agree that it is a great hybrid shoe for pavement and trail runs. My other favorite shoe is Saucony Mirage. I think it is a similar shoe – but a slightly lower drop–4 mm. Mirage is not good for trails though.

  3. StephenB says:

    I would imagine that there must be some value of heel drop at which efficiency suffers. Eight mm seems like a lot to me, but then it’s been years since I’ve tried running in a shoe like that. Is the exercise literature any help here?

  4. David Burns says:

    Tried these for the first time last night. I ran 6.6 miles in them. I really did not feel the difference in the drop from my MR00 to these. A little tight in the toe box.

  5. Zoe Murdock says:

    Peter,
    How did you work out the problem with the laces. I have the same problem with them being too loose in the mid-foot and toe. I run mainly on trails, and the result of having that forefoot looseness means I slide into the front of the shoe and smash my toes. The Version 3s are the fastest shoes I’ve ever worn. I love the Version 2s, but they are a bit less stable on the trails. If I could solve the toe problem my Version 3s would be my first choice, but as it is, I have to stick to the Version 2s. Any suggestions?

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