Thursday, December 17, 2015

Review- New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v6: A Softer, Smoother Premium Ride Comes to Fresh Foam

Review by Sam Winebaum

New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v6


The New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v6  sits at the top of New Balance's premium performance run line. It is a direct and very close "running" competitor to the Saucony Everun Triumph ISO 2 we recently reviewed here, so close we have difficulty telling them apart but there are differences. Read on.
I am calling the 1080 New Balance's refined and carefully considered response to the maximal trend set by Hoka.
I have have run all the prior Fresh Foam shoes: 980, 980 Trail, Boracay, and Zante (reviews for all here at my summary page). For the first time I found  a Fresh Foam shoe that has:
  • a truly smooth and highly cushioned plush ride
  • a fine upper, maybe a bit too comfortable and unstructured in the forefoot, but wider troublesome feet will be happy 
  • more flexibility for sure than predecessors as there are flex grooves and cutouts in the sole
  • a less harsh feel on the road than any of its Fresh Foam predecessors. 
"Always in Beta" is New Balance's slogan these days and the 1080 is a perfect example of this iterative approach in action. An incredibly well done shoe.

Highly Cushioned, Reasonably Light
The 1080 is highly cushioned with a 30mm heel/22mm forefoot 8mm drop according to Running Warehouse blog, so very close in stack to the Hoka Clifton 2's with its 29/24mm and almost identical to the Triumph ISO 2's  10.2oz weight and 31/22mm stack.
At a very reasonable 10.4oz/293g with an 8mm drop it is in the sweet spot of what I and many runners favor for an every day durable trainer. For those wanting a highly cushioned, more flexible, more conventional shoe with decent forefoot flexibility, likely long term durability and support it is a great option. Comments later in this review as to how a future version could potentially be lighter and even better.

New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v6

Midsole and Outsole
The midsole uses New Balance's Fresh Foam technology of a single slab of foam with convex hexagons on the medial inner sidewalls for a bit more support and firmness on contact and concave hexagons on the lateral side for a bit more deflection and cushion feel. When combined with the new outsole configuration the cushioning is plush but not mushy with no harsh stiff or awkward transitions in feel during the gait cycle beyond a bit of ponderous feel at slower speeds under the arch area.
Upper
,The 1080 fit me true to size. The upper is a very soft, beautiful engineered mesh upfront over the toes connecting to a tongue with a bootie of stretchy mesh running to the top lace tie hole. A thick, maybe too thick and thus heavy saddle of thick material wraps the midfoot. Does its thickness add unnecessary weight?   A very similar mid foot construction to the Triumph ISO 2 with its ISO Fit upper but in ISO the saddle is thinner material. Nonetheless, the foot is well held at mid foot but a bit hampered by thin stretchy laces. I had to do the lace lock to hold my heel as I like. The forefoot mesh while beautifully soft and stretchy doesn't hold my forefoot quite as securely as I would like or as well as the Triumph ISO 2 with its slightly more substantial less stretchy and maybe a bit narrower forefoot does. I think part of the reason for such as soft unstructured forefoot upper may be to improve flexility, the Boracay and 980 had stiff upper materials which I believe contributed to the overall stiffness of the shoe. This said runners with wider or trickier feet should be very happy with the fit of the 1080.

Outsole
Fresh Foam Boracay (left) New Balance 1080v6 (right)
The outsole uses a hexagon pattern as on the Fresh Foam Boracay (see above) and 980 but... the hexagons are spaced wider throughout on the 1080 and yes there are not only 2 flex grooves but cutouts to the midsole in the contact area between the 2 flex grooves.  The thick hard black plug at the rear puts longer lasting rubber in all the right places for good long term durability.  The flex is far better than the older models but still fairly stiff. There is not much flex back of the last flex groove. I found Boracay to be particularly stiff in the cold when the rubber hardens and the wider spacing of the lugs on the 1080 should help a lot. Big improvement in road feel but I wish the flex extended further back and those 2 flex grooves were even wider or deeper yet.

New Balance 1080v6 outsole

Ride and Comparisons
This is one plush and smooth ride. Similar cushioning to a Hoka Clifton at the heel and maybe a touch less at the forefoot but more flexible. The upper of the 1080 will fit a wider variety of feet than the Clifton's will. The flexibility is decent for such a thick shoe. Not exactly a fast shoe, it moves along at a stately smooth pace without any mushy or harsh feelings.

As stated at the very beginning of the review the ride is very similar to the Triumph ISO 2, so similar I had to take them out for multiple runs to attempt to describe the differences. I will try...

  • Heel: the 1080 has a touch firmer and more stable heel. The Triumph ISO 2 heel with its TPU Everun gives at bit more bounce but is slightly less stable at slow speeds back on the heels. The upper heel hold in the Triumph with its low plush collar is slightly more secure. Still would give heel advantage to the 1080 over all
  • Mid Foot: Very close to the same as the ISO Triumph but with more thickness of saddle material and maybe weight.
  • Forefoot: Advantage Triumph ISO 2 for me. The somewhat more substantial upper material holds my narrower foot better, wider feet likely will prefer the 1080. The chevron outsole of the Triumph flexes better and further back than the 1080. A touch more ground feel with the Triumph.
Conclusions
New Balance is "Always in Beta" and they prove it with the 1080, They have improved their Fresh Foam concept significantly from what I can see adding some cushioning stack and improving the outsole geometry to make the shoe smoother running and more flexible than predecessor Fresh Foam shoes such as the Boracay and 980.  The 1080 is one of the best every day trainers I have run in this year. Well cushioned, reasonably light, decently flexible for its stack it is a good choice for long miles days, heavier neutral runners, and those needing a soft somewhat wide toe box. Not exactly a speedster or a tempo shoe but decently light it would be a good choice for hillier marathons. Highly recommended.

Score: 4.70 out of 5
-0.1 for somewhat loose heel hold and thin laces
-0.15 for lack of structure of forefoot upper and fairly stiff flex
-0.05 for price of $150. Yes many shoes are up there these days but a somewhat lower price would make the shoe more accessible.

Available now from New Balance. Other retailers soon. $150.

The Fresh Foam 1080 was provided free of charge to Road Trail Run. The opinions herein are entirely our own
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Running Warehouse has the New Balance 1080v6
Men's here
Women's here

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5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very helpful review. Tough to find a comprehensive review out there. Thanks.

sam winebaum said...

Anonymous, Thanks so much for reading! If you end up with the 1080 please comment here. You can also like Road Trail Run on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SamsRunning/ and Follow on Twitter: @roadtrailrun.

Daniel Culbertson said...

Good article -

I'm currently running with the NB 1080v5 and am curious how the v6 compares. Most reviews took the v5 to task for its seeming lack of plushness, but I find the slight amount of responsiveness in the forefoot refreshing - probably just a running anomaly on how I push off. The v6 sounds like it addresses much of the previous versions shortcomings about plush ride and a quality upper.

All that said, I briefly had a pair of NB Fresh Foam Zante but blew out the heel (foam collapsed and folded over) before getting the 1080v5 and have become leery of the fresh foam midsoles since then. The local NB store chided me for heel running in a midfoot striking shoe (their claim for the Zante but I've seen plenty of evidence to the contrary and prefer the trend to lower drop shoes) and propmptly pointed me to the 1080 I currently have.

Since this seems to be NB's way forward in terms of midsole I'm assuming this shoe is appropriate for all manner of running styles, but I've never seen it explicitly stated. What do you think - good for a slowish light heel striker running 10-15 miles / week and the occasional weekend 5/10k when I can squeeze it in?

sam winebaum said...

Daniel, I did not run in 1080v5. For your mileage they should be a fine shoe. In my year end Favorites article I slightly favored the Saucony Everun Triumph ISO2. Very similar shoes. I found the forefoot in the 1080 a touch less supportive and a bit soft for me. http://www.roadtrailrun.com/2015/12/sams-2015-running-favorites.html. This said I am curious as to the heel in the Zante Did it collapse inwards or outwards? I rarely see that in any shoe. The Fresh Foam itself is fairly conventional EVA with the geometric patterns providing either a touch more support i.e. firmness or compression depending on location. I too land on the heels, especially at slower paces and tend to look for a well cushioned but firm stable and wide heel which either of these 2 should give you unless you pronate somewhat collapsing shoes to the inside in which case something like the Skechers Forza, Brooks Transcend 3, and Hoka Infinite might be good choices. Light stability reviewed here http://www.roadtrailrun.com/2016/02/reviews-comparisons-next-generation.html
You can also follow Road Trail Run on Facebook. Search on "roadtrailrun.com" Thanks for reading! Sam

Daniel Culbertson said...

Thanks for the reply Sam. I'll take a look at the links you provided, but to answer your question about the Zante - it collapsed inward on my right shoe. It looked like normal compression of the foam initially but after a bit more mileage it became obvious that it was a defect of some sort due to the level of compression where the shoe was probably a 1/4 to 1/2" shorter. New Balance (to their credit) traded out it without much prompting.

My left foot is straight neutral - wear pattern is even all the way across. The right foot supinates a bit, wearing on the outside of the heel and then generally goes to neutral as I push off. Several shoe specialists have mentioned this when I have had a run gait analysis, but all have concluded that a stability shoe would probably overcompensate, especially given my other foot.

Thanks for the great blog - a wealth of information! I've enjoyed several of your articles and will be sure to follow you on FB.