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Summer 2014 Running Shoe Previews Part 3: New Balance Fresh Foam 980 Trail, New Balance MT110v2

Fresh Foam SideThis 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

New Balance Fresh Foam 980 Trail
New Balance Fresh Foam 980 Trail sole

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

New Balance MT110v2

New Balance MT110v2 topNew Balance MT110v2 sole

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.

Next Post: Part 4 – Hoka Summer 2014 Releases (or jump to Altra or Newton previews)

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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. Somewhat disappointed in the direction New Balance is going in recent years with the Minimus shoes and the changes they’ve made to the last, but hey, maybe it’s working out commercially for them.

    As an aside (and apropos of nothing), I was wondering if you’ve ever considered doing reviews of budget, big box store running shoes. The local discount shoe outlet has a bunch of cheap running shoes made by Champion (less than $20 a pair!) and it’s a shame that it’s so hard to find reviews of these offerings from a runner’s perspective (most reviews I find are from non-running parents on a budget buying shoes for their kids who are in track or alternatively, fashion-centric reviews). I think more than a few readers would appreciate even some basic info about fit and heel-to-toe offset. If nothing else, it’s more information for us to base our buying decisions on, and that’s never a bad thing.

    I’m as guilty of the “must-have-newest-shoe-tech” syndrome as the next running sneakerhead, but more and more, it seems like I’m less inclined to pay for “new shoe technology” and wondering if we runners are, figuratively speaking, running on a consumerist treadmill in paying top dollar for heavily marketed, branded products when perhaps budget options can serve just as well in certain training contexts.

    • I actually have considered doing this. Actually just got a question on the forum about some New Balance shoe that looks like it was based off the original 1400. Might need to head to the mall for some “research.”

      • Happy researching!

        What actually got me interested in these budget big box store shoes is something you wrote several weeks back about how Champion’s C9 brand running apparel don’t feel any differently than its more expensive specialty athletics counterparts. I feel the same way: I can’t tell the difference, performance-wise, between the super-cheap C9 Duo Dry fabric used for the C9 shorts and shirts and Nike’s Dri-Fit or Adidas’ ClimaCool. So it got me wondering if the same can be said for the C9 running shoes.

        • I’m at Target often enough, will have to check out the C9 shoes!

        • Great comment..I agree I sometimes cringe when I see people say you have to spend $$$ to get a good shoe,every injury I have had came from high tech expensive shoes..its like they make my foot do things it does not want to do..I prefer the shoe adapt to my foot instead of the other way around. I loved the Adidas Adizero Sonic (#1 to 3 not 4) from Dicks but alas its gone and now I am hunting for my new go to shoe…One thing I do notice in the cheaper shoes is they do not last as long but hey nothing jabbing or prodding my feet or toes..I will take that trade! interesting this time around not much in the middle..seems to be lots of minimal and racers or super cushy and or mushy and support shoes..close as I have come is the Muzno Hitogami but I run mostly trails…

  2. Pete,

    The MT110 v2 has been “shoefitr’ed” already – and it looks like it mirrors the Brooks PureFlow to a T…hoping I can wear the v2 even though I also lament the change of the last (why a shoe like that needs a last suitable for insoles is beyond me).


    • If it matches the PureFlow 3 that won’t work for me, the PF 3 seems much tighter than earlier models. Have heard enough negative from people who have tried the MT110v2 that I really have no interest at this point. Especially given my experience with the MT00v2 and Fresh Foam 980 lasts. Nate should have his MT110v2 review up next week I think.

      • Isn’t it just the same last as the 1400 that everyone raves about?

        • Not sure, but fit is a combo of last and the structure of the upper material so a given last may feel different from shoe to shoe if the upper has more or less stretch.

      • Should’ve clarified: was talking about the original PureFlow.

        In any case…I’m glad I still have a two brand new MT110s v1 – just wish they had a tad more protection (about 25 miles is all I want to do in them).

        Kinda wonder if the upcoming 101 is really going to be on a different last than the MT110 v2…time will tell.

  3. Definitely would like to see some info on the Champion shoes! The ones i looked over recently could possibly fit the description of “a poor man’s Nike Free”. Actually, they might be worth $22 to give them a try.

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