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Newton Motion III Review: Five Lugs Are Better Than Four

2014-01-22 15.42.12One of the most frequent complaints that I’ve heard over the years about Newton shoes is that the forefoot lugs compromise mediolateral stability, particularly when turning. This issue arises due to the fact that until recently, Newton shoes had only 4 lugs under the forefoot, and these lugs did not extend to the edges of the sole. With the lug row being narrower than the sole base, there was a tendency to rock back and forth over the lugs, leading to a sensation of instability.

I’d asked Newton about this in the past, and apparently there were some manufacturing associated with building a 5 lug shoe. I’m not sure what the difficulty was, but Newton seem to have solved the problem and their shoes are now all migrating to a 5-lug design. This is a positive step, and the 5-lug Newton Energy was one of my favorite shoes from last year (the Energy was an entirely new shoe for the brand and was designed from the ground up on a 5-lug platform).

In the past few months Newton sent me pairs of the Motion III and Distance III to try out (Disclosure: both shoes were media samples provided free of charge for review purposes). I’ve now run about 40 miles in the Motion III, which Newton describes as a “supportive” trainer. Have not yet run in the Distance III. I should also note that I have not run in previous versions of the Motion, so I cannot compare to those – this is a new shoe to me.

2014-01-22 15.38.49

Overall I’ve really enjoyed running in the Motions. I’ve done several easy runs, a hill workout, and yesterday I did a 10 miler in them. They have done the job on all occasions, and I’d put them in that hallowed class of shoes that disappear on my feet.

2014-01-22 15.39.53In typical Newton fashion, the Motions fit me really well. Snug through heel and midfoot, with a nice, roomy, high-volume forefoot – they fit true to size on me. No points of abrasion, no blisters, just comfort. The upper is well made and seems to be of high quality. The mesh is of a type that doesn’t seem like it will tear easily. The forefoot is breathable, the midfoot less so due to extensive overlays, but my feet have not felt excessively warm while running in the shoes. Enough about the upper though, the sole is really the part we need to focus on.

In my opinion, Newton was wise to move to the 5-lug design. These shoes feel plenty stable, and I have not experienced any of the cornering issues I occasionally felt in my old pair of Distance Racers. The heel is moderately soft, and the forefoot lugs compress nicely. I can’t say that I feel any extra pop from them, but they provide good cushion under the front of the foot. At a reported 3mm drop (25mm heel, 22mm forefoot) they are in my sweet spot, and they just work really well with my stride. And at 9.4oz in my size 10 they are also reasonably light for a shoe with a lot of rubber underfoot.

Speaking of rubber, my wear pattern on the outsole of the Motions is typical of what I have seen in other Newton shoes. I tend to contact and scuff on the heel but load mainly through the midfoot and forefoot, and I see abrasion on the outer/lateral heel, and the front of the second and third lugs under the forefoot are a bit worn – nothing more than what I would expect after 40 miles (compare upper and lower images below):

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2014-04-21 14.40.26

My overall impression is that the Motion III is a shoe that I’d be perfectly content to use for eating up miles. It’s not a shoe I’d choose for speed, but it’s a shoe I’d be more than happy to use for running long. It just works.

Now the big question – is this shoe worth the MSRP of $175? Here’s where things get tricky. Personally, I would say no. There are plenty of shoes that sell for under $100 that I would be just as content to use for eating up miles. The Newton Energy at $115 costs $60 less and works just as well, if not better. Newton would argue that their shoes cost more to make, and that they are more durable than most other shoes. I still find the durability argument debatable – sure some people can get 1000 miles out of a pair, but others may wear the lugs or heel outsole down in far less. And there are people that can get 1000 miles out of a much cheaper shoe. So for me, this is not a shoe I would buy for myself (and I will be donating my pair as is my practice with most media samples after a review is complete). But if you are a fan of previous versions of the Motion and are intrigued by the 5 lug design, I can highly recommend it. Great shoe.

See also Thomas Neuberger’s review of the Newton Motion III.

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About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a biology teacher, track/soccer coach, and dad (x3) with a passion for running, soccer, and science. If you'd like to learn a little bit more about who I am and what I do, click here, or visit


  1. Thanks for the review Pete. Where does the distance fit into the lineup compared to the motion? Is it a heavier shoe?

    • The Distance is lighter. It’s kind of the distance racing shoe in the Newton lineup I guess.

      • Hi, sorry this is off topic, I tried posting on the forum, but could not figure it out. I have been told that I over pronate, which is why i switched out of kinvaras after a stress fracture. I now have run in the pure cadence 1( which give me arch pain) and the asics gt2000(which just don’t work for me fit wise). I am thinking about the brooks launch, but am worried that it will increase my pronation because of one article recently stating that some neutral shoes increase pronation because they are meant to combat supination? I am asking you for help because all of your articles have made so much sense and are reasoned out. I will be running at the collegiate level next year and need a good shoe to consistently train. I am 5’11″ 140 lbs with a midfoot strike. Thank you so much for your help!

  2. I think you’re going to love the Distance III. It’s lighter, poppier, and the upper has less going on.

    As for durability, my Energy lugs are worn down to the point where I’m losing traction after only 80 miles. My Distance III lugs look about like yours after 60. I think it’s worth paying the $155 for the Distance over $119 for the Energy in the long run (plus, the Distance is a better fit for me – wider in the forefoot).

  3. Hi Pete, great review as per usual! Surprised you ran in a support shoe, is it really?? Any insights on how it rides compared to the Distance iii?
    Cheers! Dave

    • I’ve honestly never paid attention to whether a shoe is support or neutral. I find the terms to be pretty meaningless as there is no standardization of what constitutes one category vs. the other.

    • Jordan McGowen says:

      Hey Dave,

      Disclaimer- I am a rep for Newton in the South Central US. Hope I am not stepping on any toes here but I figured I’d chime in and see if I could offer some insight.

      With the introduction of the 5lug platform, we’ve gone back to the drawing boards on how to structure our supportive shoes. We traditionally used a mild post in shoes like the Motion, Distance S, and Isaac S. With the new Motion and Distance S, there is no posting involved but it is still a great support shoe for people who need a little extra. The features that separate these two shoes from their neutral siblings are a slightly wider platform throughout the midfoot, slightly shallower flex grooves (still great flexibility, just not as much as the Gravity/Distance), additional rubber on the medial heel, and additional strapping throughout the upper. It’s awesome because neutral runners have no reason why they couldn’t run in our support shoes but people that need a little assistance can also benefit. The motion is, in my opinion, one of our most versatile shoes we have ever made.

      The Distance III is going to be quite a bit more flexible and also lighter. New for 2014- the membrane technology is tuned for the Distance so it is firmer than the Gravity/Motion which will provide a more “peppy” and responsive ride for people that like a faster or firmer shoe. I have found that people who loved our previous shoes are really enjoying the Distance(or Distance S) and people that didn’t quite like the feeling of the lugs have been pleasantly blown away by the Gravity/Motion.

      Anyway, I hope that helps and enjoy the run!

  4. Seems nice might try it after the energy
    As a side note, do you plan on reviewing the go bionic 2 from skechers

  5. I’m about to get some of these given to me to try out, so I’m curious to try them out.

  6. Interesting! I tested the Distance U last year and had a similar reaction to the “cornering” issue. I liked a lot about the Newtons, but at 70 to 80 miles a week, the price tag is pretty high. I’ll be interested to see how you like the Distance III.

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