Friday, January 23, 2015

Outdoor Retailer W15 Run Introductions: New Balance Vazee and Fresh Foam Lines Explained, Fresh Foam Hierro Trail, 910v2 Trail Runner, 1400v3

New Balance is always gracious and complete in presenting their lines to me. After the "false start" of the initial Fresh Foam 980 (review here) they have come back strong in the last year with Fresh Foam Trail (review here) and the Fresh Foam Zante, a lightweight trainer racer (review here).

Late last year New Balance announced the Vazee line. Side story on the name, it is "Vas-y" or Go or Go for It! in French. When my family spent a few years living in France, when I was young, everyone called out Vazee Jazy, as France's Michel Jazy was a fantastic middle distance in the 50's and 60's with an Olympic Silver and 9 world records.

So, what is Vazee?
  • Vazee are shoes that NB characterizes as their "zippiest", with clean design lines, the most responsive. Call them the sleek fast movers. On sale 7/1/2015. 
New Balance Vazee Pace
  • Fresh Foam are shoes that are versatile, most cushioned, smoothest running with classy looks, even for everyday wear I was told. Call them the sophisticated line. The line for Fall 15 includes the Fresh Foam Zante, Boracay(updated 980), and Hierro(updated 980 Trail)
  • NBx-are shoes for the core consumer, the old favorites in the line.
Vazee Line
3 initial models, right to left below Vazee Pace, Rush, and Coast.

  • Vazee Pace, 7.5oz, 6mm drop, the performance model, $110
  • Vazee Rush, 8.1 oz, 6mm drop, same as Pace but not quite as light and refined upper, more stitching vs. Pace, $90
  • Vazee Coast, the budget model built on a different last and with a different outsole, $75
Note: NB does not provide heel and forefoot stack heights, ever, so those stats will have to wait for someone with the right instruments to measure.

Update: Our review of the Vazee Pace with comparisons to Zante, 1400, 1500, 890, and Nike Lunar Tempo here

I will focus on the Vazee Pace below, the other models being really derivatives for different channels and price points.

The Pace and the Rush are built on the same last as the Fresh Foam Zante (review here). This last is essentially the same as the NB 1400 from heel to mid foot, a snug heel with well held mid foot but with somewhat roomier forefoot than 1400. Same kind of bootie construction as the Fresh Foam Zante.  i love the fit of my Fresh Foam Zante.
New Balance Vazee Pace

New Balance Vazee Pace
So, how one might the Vazee Pace feel and run compared to the same weight Fresh Foam Zante?  I think considerably firmer, maybe similar to a Saucony Zealot, but testing will tell.
I think it will have a responsive snappier race flat tempo shoe feel, after all that is the marketing message, for those who like a firm landing and takeoff. This due to the fact the same Rev Lite midsole does not have the hexagon patterning to distribute impact and especially since the heel outsole, lateral black below, is a very firm 70  durometer material, not quite as thick as the Zealot though.
New Balance Vazee Pace Outsoles
By way of comparison the very back of the heel of the Fresh Foam Zante is by my not super accurate measurement 60 or so,  a firmness most shoes have in this high wear area. The medial and front outsole is softer than the heel on the Vazee despite similar colors to the heel.

New Balance Vazee: (l. to r.) Coast, Rush, Pace

Fresh Foam Hierro
The Fresh Foam Hierro is essentially an upper update of the Fresh Foam Trail, one of my trail favorites of 2014,  a great trail with some road hybrid and my runner up trail shoe of the year (2014 favorites here) . 11.4 oz, 4 mm drop.  They have gained an ounce and a bit since the 2014 model which is a bit worriesome. I like the look of the 2015 model. Fits the sophisticated message of the Fresh Foam line. 
New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro
The focus was on making the forefoot side walls more durable, yet still keeping the shoe upper flexible. Some had ripping of the upper upfront I heard online. The mesh, Brendan the product manager is pointing to is quite profiled and thick but did not appear rigid. The horizontal overlays may flex better than the previous vertical ones on this fairly stiff height shoe.

To compare below see the original 980 Trail upper.

New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro

In the Trail section of New Balance's Q3 2015 catalog the new 910v2 was prominently featured as the key trail shoe for the season. The 910v2 is a 10.8 oz  8mm drop shoe.  I was told the last is similar to the 890 and has less forefoot volume than the 1210 Leadville but seemed to have a roomy wide toe box. I found the 1210 toe box to be way to high for me. The 910v2 is a shoe I told NB I wanted to try and review in 2015, a bit heavy but solid for rougher trails. Decent lugs.

New Balance 910v2

New Balance 910v2

New Balance 910v2

New Balance 910v2
The update is to the upper only. From New Balance via email: "The updated upper materials as well as the design accommodate a softer internal fit, and less areas of vulnerability at flex in the forefoot areas.  The mesh is softer plus we used more no-sew suede rather than films."

The v5 changes to the 880 are designed to give the 880 more stability at toe off and a more durable "uber-cushioned ride" according to New Balance 
New Balance 880v5  Photo: New Balance

The changes are described as follows:
"As the go- to neutral cushioning offer, this update delivers more inherent stability specifically at toe-off and an enhanced, soft upper. The New Balance 880v5 will debut in July 2015 at specialty retailers with the suggested retail price of $119.95.The 880v5 continues to give its fans the same comfortable fit and feel but with a more durable, uber-cushioned ride with just the right amount of protection. A two part cushioning system of ABZORB and ACTEVA in the midsole allow for a dialed in relationship of these two foams to help with shock absorption and responsiveness. "

The 880 weight is increased in v5 according to New Balance, likely due to change in midsole materials with maybe more stack. The New Balance 880 is revised with a different midsole combination of ABZORB and ACTEVA. The 880v4 had ABZORB and ACTEVA Lite:
Weights per New Balance, men’s sample size 9
880v3: 9.4oz
880v4: 9.4oz
880v5: 11.0oz

 If there are other New Balance shoes you are curious about fro Fall 2015 please comment. I have the catalog and while I may not have the update details, if any I can describe and add pictures.

See my other Outdoor Retailer Winter Market Running Introductions and Previews here

Thanks for reading!


Joel said...

Great info, Sam. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Any news on 1400v3?

sam winebaum said...

From what I can see in the catalog the 1400v3 is about the same weight and appears to have a different upper material. I will ask NB for clarifications.

sam winebaum said...

Post updated with information from New Balance about the 1400v3 update, new upper.

Firdaus said...

How does the 890v5 fit into NB's scheme of things?

sam winebaum said...

Funny you should ask about 890. Took a look in the fall catalog and don't see it. Will ask NB. May be that it carries forward unchanged.See they are on deep discount at Running Warehouse...There is a 880V5. Not sure but the Fresh Foam Boracay and Zantes are the replacements. Sure like my Boracay.

Anonymous said...

Any 1400v3 pictures? Men's/Women's Colorways? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Have heard the 880v5 is due out this fall and is more in line with the v3 than the v4. Hear or see anything regarding that?

sam winebaum said...

On the 880v5 is due this fall. Still a 12mm drop but 11oz according to the catalog. The V4 was about 9.5 oz and the V3 10.5 so not sure why/where the increase in weight. The midsole construction looks somewhat different. I will find out from NB and post some pictures.

sam winebaum said...

I have heard back from New Balance regarding the 880v5 and edited the post. See update at end of post.