This is Part 3 of a 4-part series – you can also view previews of Altra, Newton, and Hoka summer 2014 releases. Since these shoes have yet to be released, I have not run in any of them. If you have, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
I’ve had mixed luck with New Balance shoes lately. I loved the 1400v2, but was underwhelmed by the 890 v4. I bought the MT00v2 and wound up returning them because they felt a bit to snug/pointy at the front of the toebox, and the Fresh Foam 980 has a lot of potential but is also problematic for me due to being too pointy up front (full review coming soon). Thus I’m a bit wary of both of the shoes below due to potential fit issues.
New Balance Fresh Foam 980 Trail
The Fresh Foam 980 road shoe is an interesting one as it combines a softish heel with a firm, responsive forefoot in a 4mm drop platform. It’s not nearly as soft or cushy as the marketing for the shoe would have you think, and the stack height is more in line with a shoe like the Saucony Kinvara than a maximal shoe like a Hoka. But the fit is a problem for me – the last is too pointy and mashes my big toe inward to the point where I get blisters (I even sized up to try to avoid this, but no luck).
I’d be interested in trying the Fresh Foam 980 Trail, but it’s definitely one that I will have to try on before purchasing. I won’t buy another shoe on the Fresh Foam platform if the fit is similar to the road shoe. The toebox in the 980 trail does look a bit more rounded in the photo above, so I may give them a try if my LRS decides to stock them. In the meantime, my buddy Sam Winebaum wrote up some thoughts on the 980 Trail after a few runs in a pre-release sample.
MSRP for the New Balance 980 Trail is $110, and release is July, 2014.
New Balance MT110 v2
The original New Balance MT110 was a favorite among Runblogger readers (it ranked 2nd in my 2013 reader trail shoe survey). The roomy toebox and low-profile but protective platform seemed to be big pluses, though on the minus side the upper seemed prone to tearing. Rather than simply address the upper issue, it was a bit of a surprise when New Balance decided to instead overhaul the shoe into something quite different.
In the MT110v2 New Balance has ditched the roomy Minimus last for a snugger fit, and they have moved the shoe onto a more aggressively lugged platform. I haven’t seen the shoe myself, but Nate has a pair and has run in them a few times. His informal review to me is that the new sole is awesome, but the new last is a big problem for him and may be a deal breaker. He should have a review up on Biker Nate soon. The only detailed review I have seen so far of the MT110v2 was posted by Jeremy over at Purposeless Play.
MSRP for the New Balance MT110v2 is $90, and release is July, 2014.