Friday, July 03, 2015

Review: New Balance Vazee Pace Sprints into the Field of Go-Fast, Light Trainers with the Right Stuff

Guest Review by Peter Stuart 

Is the New Balance Vazee Pace a Fresh Foam Zante killer? How does the latest in low weight go-fast running shoes stack up? There are so many really good lightweight cushioned shoes right nowit feels like between the minimal craze (whatever happened to) and the new lean to maximal we are in a golden age of light, moderately cushioned shoes that are just plain FUN to run in.

New Balance Vazee Pace
The New Balance Vazee Pace has a light, snappy, comfortable and responsive ridefirm but not too punishing. The Vazee pace is built on the same last as the New Balance Fresh Foam Zante, has a 6mm drop  (22mm heel/16mm forefoot) and weighs 8.0 oz . This shoe joins a pretty crowded field of lightweight cushioned trainers in general (Nike Lunar Tempo, Saucony Kinvara and Fastwitch, Newton Aha and Fate) and from New Balance specificallythe 1400, 1500, Zante and 890 (which I believe it is replacing). So how does it fit in?
  • Minimal, light breathable upper fits great. While its on the same last as the Zante, the Vazee fits a little bit more loosely around the arch and midfoot. I have found the Zante to be a bit constricting in the arch and the Vazee has none of that. Its a nice, light mesh upper and has great laces with a little bit of elastic in them. Just a great fit for me. True to size.
  • Firm! Hoka Cliftons these are not! That said, I didnt find them to be punishing, just responsive and firm. They are less jarring by far than the NB 1500s and the Saucony Fastwitch. The toe spring and the firm Revlite cushioning make for a quick turnover. Its firm like the Saucony Fastwitch is firm—-firm heel, firm forefoot. The Zante with its Fresh Foam cushioning and hexagons side wall geometries is much less firm in the forefoot, but feels somewhat similar in the heel. The Lunar Tempo is definitely softer all around.


Upper and Fit

New Balance Vazee Pace
The upper on the Vazee Pace is in Goldilocks territory for me. Its just right. Tightly woven mesh with some minimal no-sew overlays. The upper holds my foot really well without being too snug or too loose anywhere in the shoe. Gone is the super padded tongue of the 890 series. As I mentioned above, the shoe feels a little looser around the arch than the Zante, and overall it feels less constrictive around my foot. Putting the Zante on right after having the Vazee Pace on made the Zante feel a little claustrophobic by comparison.

Heel Detail Vazee Pace Left, Fresh Foam Zante Right
The literature says deconstructed heel counter.  have no idea what that means, but the shoe holds my heel really well. No slippage, easy to get the lacing right and, for me, this shoe just fits right.  The closest comparison for me on the fit is the Nike Lunar Tempo (though I had to size up in that shoe). The Vazee has a similar barely there feeling on the upper. There is definitely structure in the heelnot dissimilar to the Zante or the Newton Aha.



Midsole and Outsole
New Balance Vazee Pace Outsole
New Balance Vazee Pace

Midsole is Revlite as found in the 890, 1500 and 1400. Its crazy that its the same material in all of these shoes as they all feel so different. As mentioned, this is not a soft ride, its firm. That said, they feel pretty flexible. Theres definitely more cush in the 890s but I tend to get fatigued after running in those too long. I can see why this shoe is meant as an 890 replacement as the ride is more similar to that shoe than to the Zante or the 1400. I have always found the 1400 just a little too soft. Ive run a couple of marathons in them and have felt that they just sapped some energy towards the end of the race. The Zante is a bit firmer than the 1400, but running back-to back between the Vazee and the Zante makes the Zante feel mushy. I think this has to do with the full sole rubber coverage of the Zante, which help contribute to the smooth transition, but also makes the forefoot feel just a bit mushy.
 
Left to Right, New Balance 890 v4, Vazee Pace, Zante, 1400 v2, 1500, v1
  • The rubber pods on the 890 make the ride feel a bit disjointed—the heel is really, really stiff.
  • The Vazee has just enough heel material to make it feel fluid and just enough pod and flex to feel smooth.
  • The Zante is smooth and transitions great, nothing in the way—but that forefoot wears down a little quickly.
  • The 1400 is soft and doesn’t have a ton of harder rubber.
  • 1500 is punishingly stiff, but that rubber grips like a mofo 
The outsole of the Vazee is podular rubber. There are some pods, but not the huge bulbous pods of the 890. and they are well placed with grooves in-between (allowing some flex), giving a much firmer landing and actually kind of remind me of the Newton Aha. They should hold up for heavy mileage as there’s lots of rubber covering the midsole and no exposed midsole sections.



Ride
Im about 50 miles into these and am enjoying them more and more. Theyre comfortable, if a bit firm when putting in easy miles, but when Ive picked up the pace theyve responded great. I ran a track workout in them today and they were just terrificfelt really light on my feet, fast turnover and the fit is super dialed in for my foot. Just the right amount of shoe with just the right amount of cushioning for faster work and enough for day to day use.

The ride is responsive and firm. With the combination of light shoe, toe spring and very slightly wider forefoot, these are a fun and stable ride. I wouldnt hesitate to race a half marathon in them.

Comparisons
Vazee Pace to Fresh Foam Zante
I love the Zante. I put 450 miles on my first pair and am about halfway to that point on my current pair. Theyve been a great go-to shoe for me for easy days, fartleks and I even decided to race Boston in them this year as I wanted to be comfortable. That said, I mayand Im not sure about this yetbut I may prefer the Vazee pace for shorter faster work and for daily miles. The Vazee Pace has a simple, elegant snap to it that I like running in. On some runs I would start to think that they are a little too harsh, but I never felt beat up later in the day and Ive felt like putting them on every day. Running 4 miles today in the Vazee and then switching for 4 more in the Zante I definitely preferred the Vazee. My foot felt constricted in the Zante (relatively) and I felt just a tad more sluggish with the slightlier cushier ride of the Zante. The toe spring is identical, but the stiffness of the Vazee makes it feel just a bit quicker off the road.

Vazee Pace to Nike Lunar Tempo
I think the Lunar Tempo may be the shoe Im most surprised by this year. Its so cushy for slow days, but speeds up like a charm. Its got a really ideal mix of cushion and speed. That said, I would probably race up to a half marathon in the Vazee over the Lunar Tempo. The upper on the Vazee feels just a bit more dialed in for meI had to size up in the Tempo to avoid getting my toenails sheared offand I feel the Vazee is a little better as a race shoe than the Tempo. Honestly if the Vazee Pace had just a little bit more of the flexibility of the Lunar Tempo, and a tiny tiny tiny bit of  cushion it would be the perfect shoe.

Vazee Pace vs. NB 1400
Vazee feels like the 1400s race cousin. I much prefer the ride and the fit of the Vazee.
Vazee Pace vs. NB 1500
Running back to back in these theres no contest. The 1500s feel stiff and jarring, where the Vazee conforms better to my foot and feels more natural through the gait cycle
Vazee Pace vs. Saucony Fastwitch 7
See above. Even though the Fastwitch is lighter, the Vazee feels better on my feet and is less jarring through the run
Vazee Pace vs. Newton Aha and Fate
Strangely enough these might be the most similar rides. I found the Vazee to ride pretty similarly to the Newton Aha. I think the Vazee is a little bit more flexible, but havent done anything to test that.

Conclusion
The Vazee pace definitely has its place in my shoe rotation. Its a great go-fast shoe. I was concerned that it was too similar to the Zante to make any sense ofbut its a very, very different ride. I prefer the fit of the Vazee to the Zante, and depending on what kind of workout Im doing I think Id reach for the Vazee first these days. If youre looking for a nice simple, light shoe that can handle speed work and races, I think the Vazee is a great call. On easier days I would probably still reach for the Newtwon Fate or the Nike Lunar Tempo, but the Vazee is terrific. 50 miles in and theres barely any wear at all.

The Vazee Pace were provided at no cost for review purposes. The opinions herein are entirely the author's.

Editor's Note: 

RoadTrailRun reviews of Fresh Foam Zante here, Nike Lunar Tempo here, Hoka Clifton 2 here

Other NB introductions and explanation of the difference between Fresh Foam and Vazee lines from our reporting at Outdoor Retailer this winter here

________________________________________________________________________
Peter Stuart's Running Bio


My running career got off to a slow start…in high school I was told I ran like a race walker and was thus relegated to race walking on the track team. I got back into running about 15 years ago and then into triathlon. Triathlon really rekindled my love for running, so about two years ago I hired a coach and really focused on the half and full marathons.  I broke a bad habit of putting in tons of moderately hard miles (and no easy or hard ones) and after plateauing at 3:25 (with some disastrous marathons in there), this past year I brought my marathon under 3:00 and my half under 1:25. Along the way I’ve developed a bit of a shoe problem.



If you would like to try the Vazee Pace or other shoes in this review please head over to Running Warehouse. Men's Vazee Pace here. Women's Vazee Pace here

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25 comments:

Anonymous said...

This was a fantastic review - very helpful. Thank you!

Jeff said...

Great review! Do these have the same "hump" across the arch that the Zantes do? My arches are on the low side, and I find the Zantes stress the arch area on the outside of my feet on longer runs. I love them otherwise, so I'm curious to try these out.

Peter Stuart said...

Thanks Jeff,

No, I didn't find them to have the same "hump" in the arch as the Zante. I found that Arch in the Zante disappeared after a run or two, but the Zante is still tighter around the midfoot than the Vazee. Hope that helps.

Peter

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the excellent review. You mention running halfs, but what about the choice between the Vazee and Zante for a full marathon? Might the Vazees be a bit too firm for longer distance?

Peter Stuart said...

Anonymous,
Would need more info to make a good recommendation. That said, I ran Boston in the Zante and would definitely consider running a marathon in the Vazee next time instead. Would depend a bit on how fast you intend to run and how little shoe you can tolerate.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Peter. I'd hope to run at a reasonable pace. Have you tried the Adidas Tempo 7s? I wonder how they compare to the Vazee or Zante.

Mike

sam winebaum said...

Chiming in. What is your reasonable pace for a marathon Anonymous? Closer match to these in adidas than Tempo might be Adios Boost. Compared to Zante as I have not run in Vazee you would find the Adios Boost to have a slightly softer yet very stable heel and a somewhat firmer but snappier forefoot. Reading Peter's review I would guess Vazee would have a firmer heel than Adios and a similar snappy toe spring and cushion up front.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reply. My pace is 2hrs 50. Although surely the pace is just one factor among many? I ran this pace last in heavier shoes. I have been experimenting a bit recently and this is why I am interested in the Zante and Vazee. I find the Tempo Boost 7s to be very responsive shoes/snappy shoes and I enjoy running in them, perhaps more than the Adios Boost. I think I prefer the Tempos for longer distance.

Mike

Peter Stuart said...

Mike,

I would go Vazee over Zante for a marathon personally. If you can try both back to back, you'll immediately notice that the Zante is softer. I haven't run the Adidas Tempo 7's, sorry I can't help on that one.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your help Peter.

Anonymous said...

Great review, especially the comparisons. I just bought a pair and agree the fit is really dialed in. Very nice toe box and I'm picky about that. Can't wait to run in them!

Brad and Elizabeth said...

Great review, thanks! Curious how the "firmness" of the Vazee Pace compares to the Pearl Izumi road N1. Those were the first shoes that showed me how wonderful a firmer ride could feel if you have a smoothish gait. I had really wondered when I first saw the specs on this shoe how it would differ from the Zante. I have had a few runs where the Zante felt just a little too mushy, so I may have to give the Vazee Pace a try.

Derek Oxley said...

Loving the Pace Peter I wasn't much of a NB Fan tried to like the Zante but, it just didn't work for. Now the Pace and 1400 are a different story... I've got a soft spot for the Fastwitch7 and Aha though great comparisons 👍🏻💯

Dietmar said...

Hi there, great review! I loved the Zante and was curious to try out the Vazee Pace. Now i ended up with the Zante, Vazee Pace and Vazee Rush as my every day go-to-everything shoes, really like them all. I have a specific question regarding the 1400, which i am interested in. The Plus of the Zante is for me its smoothness, whereas the Pace has this nicely snappy ride (a trainer that makes you easily feel going on and an at treshold pace), the Rush lies right in between both (imo, slightly softer than Pace with a tad more support, but still a bit firmer than the Zante). I find the Pace feels kind of flat at slower paces and starts to shine when you put some speed into your legs. How does the 1400 perform in that regard? I´d like to have a fast shoe which is lighter than the Pace, but doesn´t feel flat at easy paces (i think the Zante runs nicely at slower/easy paces, but handles tempo as well). The 1400 sounds like that...? Thanks for some thoughts!

Peter Stuart said...

Dietmar,

I'm with you on the Zante feeling good at slow paces, just ran in it today. Agree too on the Pace being great at speed but a little blah when slower. That said, for me the 1400 doesn't quite fill in the blanks. On paper it should be a great shoe for me--but on my foot it feels just a tiny bit too soft in the forefoot. I've tended to get sore in them and just not have that AHHHHHHH feeling that I would have expected. I know others love that shoe. The shoe that best fits the "lighter than the zante, handles tempo and feels good slower" best for me is the Asics Hyperspeed. It's a great shoe. That and the Skechers GoRun4. Loving both of those shoes. Hope that helps.

Dietmar said...

Thanks Peter! Yeah, the Asics Hyperspeed is very legit. Would try the Skechers GoRun 4 as well. How about the fit of the GoRun compared to the Zante/Pace (here in Germany there are barely any shops that have Skechers shoes in stock on-site, so have to order them online)? I have size 9 in the Zante and it fits perfectly true to size. My feet are normal narrow, mostly i get along very good with snug fits, but struggle a bit with shoes that are wider/loose in the midfoot. Are there maybe any reasons to half-size up or down with the GoRun? Oh, in your review within the comparison with the Nike Lunartempo you mentioned the idea of just a bit more flex and cushion for the Pace. Maybe the Vazee Rush is worth a look? I think the Rush fits right in there. Slightly softer foam than the Pace, which results in increased flexibility and a tad softer feel underfoot, still enough snap (imo). Everyday training in the Rush and Tempo/HM-Marathon racing in the Pace is a good option if someone like the Vazee Series.

Peter Stuart said...

Dietmar,

Interesting thoughts on the Vazee Rush. I haven't even thought to try it. The Skechers fit me same as Zante. I found the gorun 3 to be a little sloppy in the fit, but the 4 is totally dialed in--really disappear on the foot.

NB NE Runner 1011 said...

This is a superb blog and so helpful. I am wondering how the Vazee compares to the original Fresh Foam 980 road... I have a new pair of FF 980's that I have not yet run in, and a pair of FF Zante's that I have run in a lot and like, but I can see that they are pretty soft and perhaps not best for racing my fastest (aiming for a sub 1:30 half). I am racing some 13.1's and a 20 miler in the coming weeks and am trying to pick a shoe.

I have noted that the original FF 980 has a harder outsole than the FF Zante. Is the 980's similar to that of the Vazee Pace? Would the FF 980 and Vazee be similar?

I also have race shoes like the 1400 and 5000, but as a 170 pounder, I need a bit of cushioning as well. I just don't want to lose too much energy over the course of a longer race. Thanks so much for any insight you can provide -- your superb site has already been very helpful in understanding the nuances between these shoes.

Peter Stuart said...

NB NE runner,

I found the 980 road too stiff. I'm a bit lighter, but I found it to be stiff and unforgiving. Not a shoe I'd race in. The Vazee Pace is firmer than the Zante, but not stiff like the FF 980--also it feels like less shoe than the 980. I would certainly consider the Vazee Pace as a half marathon race shoe. It's not a ton of cushioning, but is pretty protective--if that makes sense.

P

NB NE Runner 1011 said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to reply and for your very helpful post. It is great to see that there are other running shoe geeks out there who appreciate all these nuances! I can't wait to try the Vazees!

sam winebaum said...

NB NE Runner, Thanks so much for reading and kind comments about Peter's post and the site. Please tell your running friends about Road Trail Run! Thanks! Sam, Editor.

Anonymous said...

I was a long time NB890 fan, and am a 57 y.o. runner, mostly distance. I might add I weight 175#. I recently purchase both the Vazee pace and rush. I have taken both out twice now. It appears the difference between the two is arch support in the Pace model for mild pronators....raises hand.

The vazees are great for everyday runs of short to mid distance, and when run on fresher legs. You get a great forward roll/toe off that can improve speed at same effort levels. That being said, there is less cushioning in these, so one does feel the pavement more. It is a harder ride, and one that may take getting used too. I also believe that if over 160# or so these shoes may not be the best fit, and I can see the support giving in, and injuries occurring.

Personally, I think I preferred my 890's, which held out for casual runs through marathons extremely well. With the lower heel and less cushioning this shoe is not a true replacement for the 890, and I think many fans of that model may be disappointed.

Anonymous said...

Thank for the review. I own the Zante and never like the arch bump. I just bought the Vazee pace 70Off :)

Anonymous said...

It is hard to give up on the nb 890 v4........just cant fault them. Has anyone made the comparison to the vazee.

Sean Greenlaw said...

Great reviews! I am currently training for a half marathon, but mainly run 5-10k races. Would the Pace be acceptable for all these races? Thanks.