Shoe Review: New Balance Fresh Foam Zante
New Balance has always been a big player in the running game. You know, one of those companies that people stay loyal to forever even if the shoes didn’t always look the best. That being said, they have definitely turned a corner this past year on the styling front to convert those non-believers and our die-hard testers were curious to find out if just like the Boracay we tested, the Zante stayed true to its roots. Turns out it does and then some…
A LITTLE ON THE AESTHETICS UPDATES
New Balance has definitely been going through a redesign process with all their shoes and in addition to modifying the style of the shoes themselves, the product lines are being unified visually. Looking at the Zante for instance, you will find very similar style metaphors from the Boracay, put side by side they almost look like brothers. The Zante uses foam just like the Boracay, but definitely has less cushioning and a lower stance. It visually screams “go faster” whereas the Boracay screams “go farther” and while this visual carries directly into the run itself, it’s a really interesting change and we totally love it.
The shoe comes in 4 separate colorways and New Balance also has released a new Team colorway as well as a Boston specific version. We had a chance to test the Grey with Lime Yellow and our male tester immediately commented that it felt unisex and most females agreed. The colorways are very strong and the 4 options really match up well against taste profiles from neutral to very bright.
HOW THEY FEEL ON THE FOOT
The first term that came to mind when someone asked me how these felt was “second skin”. The reason for this is really the lack of seams throughout. Structure is gained from exterior modifications that you don’t feel internally. The bootie internals hold you well, like a sock really and the shoe more or less just feels like an extension of your leg instead of something that is covering your foot. Also, its super light which just reinforces this feeling… it’s barely there.
This goes both ways and we can get into more on the performance piece, but because they are so light and are so minimally structured you get a lot more feel and some people don’t like this. I don’t necessarily mean road feel although there is a good bit of that, but for heavier folks or heel strikers your legs are definitely going to feel it a bit more in these. For those that have really solid leg speed and proper foot position on landing, then you will probably feel like you are dancing down the road like an urban cheetah.
PERFORMANCE WHEN OUT FOR A RUN
If we cut right to it, then the bottom line is these things are wicked fast. Super light with an intentionally designed toe spring means your legs are moving and once they get moving, they don’t want to stop. The 6mm heel to toe offset also pushes you even more forward so you are already in motion once they are on. This translates into a really odd experience for a lot of runners, but it’s also a little exciting.
I took the Zante on my regular runs of varying lengths and found that my leg muscles struggled at distance (10 miles and above). The shoes were basically too fast for my pace and this meant they wore out quickly. I am a forefoot striker, but a larger guy (~180lbs) and so I felt like my legs were taking a pretty good beating. I did notice though that my pace was a lot faster so I wondered if they might have a special place in my training regime. So onto the track they went and with the extra cushioning from the track things definitely felt better for me and the pace stayed much higher.
The bottom line is the Zante is a super-light and ultra-fast shoe and its designed this way. If you are an elite runner, then definitely give them a shot because they will shave seconds. If you are an average/fitness style runner, then I would probably recommend the Boracay which provides some extra cushion. There is a reason the Zante has been picked by most of the major trades as one of the best running shoes of 2015, these things are like jet engines if your legs can keep up.
TECHNICAL STATS, PRICING & AVAILABILITY
- Weight: 7.6oz (size 9)
- MSRP: $99.99
- Available: Buy Now