There are certain brands that stick out in your mind for various reasons, but when it comes to New Balance I always think back to college. I went to school in the suburbs of Boston and when you talk about running shoes with almost anyone in the northeast inevitably New Balance was one of the first brands they would mention it. It’s a lot like Nike in Portland or Brooks in Seattle where a company become so entrenched in its city that it becomes synonymous with the sport. New Balance is also known for its diverse lineup with a special focus on making shoes with a variety of width. In this installment, we got a chance to look at the Fresh Foam 1080.
Construction: The Upper
The entire upper is composed of engineered mesh that is strategically patterned to encourage maximum flexibility and also some level of structure. It has some synthetic as well to add support in various areas particular in the heel where you see a virtual heel cup that locks you in place better. Inside you will find an Ortholite liner that gives you that bootie like feel.
The entire mid is their custom Fresh Foam and in fact this version is their plushest yet. Fresh Foam is really a custom modeled EVA foam much like other shoes, but it has been custom designed to give you the best mix of comfort and energy return.
The sole itself is blown rubber and is all one piece. Its “data designed” and looks like a ton of different cells of varying sizes. The point of this design is to provide you the maximum amount of flexibility needed across the entire bottom of your foot, not just in one area.
Style and Aesthetics
Aesthetically I did find the color combination to be attractive and while it’s slightly muted, it is pretty solid looking and the black upper with red and yellow accents is a good middle ground for most people. They do offer a few other color options including blue and silver versions.
My first few runs in these were shorter than normal given I wanted to really focus on various aspects of it and in particular the feel. Sometimes I get a pair and just go long and get an overall impression and then taper back, but for this I wanted to start off and really focus on certain elements and also pay closer attention to see if it affected my stride. The first things I noticed during the run was a bit wider toebox than normal, something I’m really happy to see. While it’s not as large as some others on the market, the upper is flexible enough that your toes can easily expand on impact and achieve a good level of toe splay. One other piece I felt was very welcome was the lacing system and I’m not sure how they dialed that in, but they hold their tightness really well. In this, I mean throughout the run you don’t start to feel the shoes loosening up like you do on many others. It’s a small thing, but I found it quite compelling. The shoes themselves did not affect my stride at all and I stayed pretty true to form throughout. I also didn’t notice any drastic changes in pace either good or bad, so I was able to maintain without thinking too much about it. The offset is fairly neutral so it’s not like it’s throwing you forward and overall it’s just a comfortable ride. It’s not meant to be an aggressive shoe that you might use for racing, but it is light on your foot and I did enjoy the flexibility of the upper paired with the Fresh Foam mid.
Overall, the Fresh Foam 1080 was a really solid shoe. In fact, it’s probably one of the more enjoyable shoes I’ve tried from New Balance in quite a while. The non-aggressive stance allowed me to maintain pace with a good amount of comfort. The combination of flexibility and cushioning leads to more relaxed feel during runs. The shoe is definitely built for neutral runners as there are no stability aspects and no additional outsole protection. It’s a straight road shoe, good at most distances, and lends itself well to a pretty normal stride. If I had to pick a target market, then I would aim it at the recreational runner with normal feet and those targeting a 8 to 12 minute pace range. They are also pretty good-looking as well.
Technical Stats, Pricing & Availability
– Weight: 10.4oz (size 9)
– Drop: 8mm heel/toe
– Surface: Road
– Category: Neutral
– MSRP: $149.99
– Available: Now