Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Review New Balance Fresh Foam Zante V2-Zante Killer—Killer Zante

Review by Peter Stuart

New Balance Zante V2

New Balance Fresh Foam Zante V2. Photo Credit: Peter Stuart

The New Balance Fresh Foam Zante V2 is a 8.5 oz/241 gram  (men’s 9), 6mm drop neutral running shoe utilizing New Balance's“Fresh Foam” technology. It’s a nice update from the original Zante which, full disclosure, was one of my favorite shoes of last year. So, how did they do on the update? Did they take the magic out of the shoe? Did they ruin a good thing? Or did they improve upon an already great shoe and make it better?

First impressions
The Fresh Foam Zante V2—or the Z2 as I like to call it—is a nice, simple looking shoe. My pair are bright orange with a blue liner. First run in the shoes left me with the impression that the fine folks at NB had left all of the things I liked about the original intact while adding some tweaks that make it an even better—if slightly heavier—shoe.

Upper and Fit 
New Balance Fresh Foam Zante V2. Photo Credit: Peter Stuart
The upper features various densities of mesh with some welded overlays. The overlays are pretty minor, but hold the foot exceptionally well.
New Balance Fresh Foam Zante V2. Photo Credit: Peter Stuart
New Balance Fresh Foam Zante V2. Photo Credit: Peter Stuart
There is more material around the heel counter than there was in the original-and it seems to hold the heel in very nicely without being too stiff. There is a generous (but not too generous) amount of padding around the heel and achilles. 

Fresh Foam Zante v1 Heel Medial Side

Overall the step-in experience of the Z2 is nice and plush. The tongue is attached on the sides from about halfway down and stays nicely in place, despite the lack of a loop for laces to pass through.
New Balance Fresh Foam Zante V2. Photo Credit: Peter Stuart
The top of the tongue has a section of slightly padded material that both holds the laces in place and keeps away any pressure from the top of the foot—a problem I used to have with the 890.  Laces are flat and stay tied. Overall, the upper is of quality, plush materials and feels great. 

Good news on the fit: The bump under the arch (that seemed to go away with some miles, but was off-putting at first) from the original Zante is gone. So, too, is the slightly too snug mid-foot wrap. The Z2 feels a little wider at the mid-foot. Still a great fit, but it doesn’t have that same claustrophobic mid-foot. It’s a great fitting shoe. The tweaks on the materials and the fit are fairly minor, but make for a better fitting running shoe.
New Balance Fresh Foam Zante V2 Left, V1 Right
Photo Credit: Peter Stuart


Outsole and Midsole 


Changes in geometry are most evident on the bottom of the shoe. The shoes outsole is a full length piece of lightweight solid rubber that clearly has a different pattern of hexagons than the original Zante.
New Balance Fresh Foam Zante V1 Left Zante V2 Right 
It seems the outsole provides a little more forefoot protection than the original. Notice that I said protection and not cushion. The outsole of the Z2 feels just a little bit firmer than the original—which has two noticeable results for me: the transition from ball of foot to toe off feels just a little snappier in the update, and I get a little less forefoot fatigue on long-runs.

Fresh Foam Zante v2
The midsole of the Zante V2 is Fresh Foam. From what I understand, they have changed up the geometry of the hexagons on the midsole, which may affect the overall ride of the shoe.

Editor's Note and Update: New Balance confirms the outsole,while in a different pattern, is the exact same rubber and thickness as V1. The main change in midsole hexagon geometry is a change from concave to convex hexagons in the front of the shoe on the medial (inside). The convex hexagons on the V2would tend to firm up the ride slightly but as the front convex hexagons are also widely separated may also be providing the more snap Peter is feeling. Concave hexagons in V1 would tend to compress more providing more of a cushion feel but also potentially contributing to the foot fatigue Peter felt in V1 as they might be a touch less supportive and protective on toe off.
Fresh Foam Zante v1
Ride
The Zante V2 runs like a dream. It’s a Goldilocks shoe for me, everything is just right. Transition is buttery smooth and long miles feel great, but if I want to put a few strides or intervals in they respond really well. They are, as previously mentioned, slightly firmer feeling than the original Zante. I don’t mind it at all—as it allows them to transition through the gait cycle just a little more efficiently. I’ve taken them out on short runs, tempo runs and a 20-miler with some tempo thrown in and they’ve felt great on all runs. They’re sort of a Massachusetts Army Knife—they can do whatever job I require. If I had to have only 1 pair of shoes to handle all of my different workouts, it would probably be the Fresh Foam Zante V2. That said, they wouldn’t be my first choice to race in.

They are a little heavier than the Original, and due to that and the firmness they move a little closer to everyday trainer territory for me.

Conclusions
Like the Original Zante, the Zante V2, is a terrific Jack of all trades. It’s a really nice upper sitting on a very smooth-riding mid and outsole. I have no qualms about taking the Z2 out for a quick jog, a tempo run or for long miles. The upper disappears on the foot and the ride is as smooth as can be. What the Z2 gains in weight seems to be worth it for the added durability, quicker turnover and better fit. The Zante 2 manages to retain almost all of the magic of the original while also making some nice, subtle tweaks. Overall a very fun and reliable shoe to run in.

Comparisons
Zante V2 vs. New Balance Zante
The Original Zante is a little bit softer. For me, the only downsides to the original were the tight mid-foot wrap, the arch bump (which disappeared pretty quickly) and the tendency for my forefoot to get sore. The slightly firmer, slightly more padded forefoot is a nice improvement. I’ve felt quick on quick runs and well-protected on long runs. The added weight puts this closer to the 890 or other daily trainers and puts some space between the Zante and the Vazee Pace in the NB lineup. (RoadTrail Run's review of the Zante V1 here)

Zante V2 vs. New Balance Vazee Pace
The Zante now feels like more of a daily trainer than it used to. It’s still fun to go fast in, but doesn’t feel like as much of a specialist as the Pace is. The Pace is a bit firmer, and feels great at speed. If I wanted a shoe that feels good at any speed, I’d go Zante V2, if I wanted a shoe that felt meh to ok at slow speeds but great when I go fast, I’d go with the Vazee Pace. (Peter's Vazee Pace review here)

Zante V2 vs. Skechers Go Run 4. 
The Zante is a heavier, more protective shoe than the Skechers. Skechers feels light and barely there—and feels faster than the Go Run 4. That said, I feel some forefoot fatigue on runs longer than 15 miles in the Skechers that I haven’t felt in the Zante. Ultimately they’re pretty different shoes.

Zante V2 vs. Skechers GoRide 5.
Similar shoes in lots of respects, but the Zante feels more comfortable, transitions quicker and doesn’t feel as clunky as the GoRide 5. The Zante, for me, is just much more fun to run in. (Peter's GoRide Run review here)

Score
Zante v2 Score: 4.9 out of 5
-0.1 for the added weight from last version, leaving these feeling just a tiny, tiny bit less gravity defying.

New Balance Fresh Foam Zante V2 is available February 2016. $100.

The Fresh Foam Zante was provided at no charge to Road Trail Run. The opinions herein are entirely the author's

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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.


Running Warehouse has the New Balance Zante v2
Use Coupon Code RTR10 for 10% off
New Balance Zante v2  Men's,  Women's in 5 great colors
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Zante v2 is also available from the Road Trail Run partners below

7 comments:

Dietmar said...

Interesting take! I loved the original Zante and therefore i really really tried to like v2, but unfortunately after each run it always ended with ranting about v2. I´ll just pass v2 and hope v3 gets better according to my feel. I can agree with a lot of things of your review, but IMO New Balance definitely changed the vibe when it comes to faster running compared to v1. Like you have mentioned, v2 moved more into daily trainer territory. I guess for me just too much, although i considered v1 never as a racer or pure workout shoe, but responsiveness/snap/pop/cadence-friendliness was quite decent, and all that in silky smooth soft cushioned lightweight package. The latter part is mainly still there but the "nimble get up on your feet and go" trait has significantly decreased for me. My average daily tempo paces range from 7:10 - 6:10 minutes per mile. That said, i never had any complaints with v1, it felt good and performed without any major issues. When it comes to v2, i can´t help it, in that pace range the responsiveness just feels pretty mediocre (at best) - not sluggish, but meh and definitely kind of flat (resulting in a feeling that i have to put in more effort than necessary or squeezing pace/cadence out of the shoe...not nice). My bottom line: easy cruising with v2 - check, but for picking up the pace ... v1 was definitely better (imo)! I wonder if i am the only one who has that impression...sorry for ranting about v2, best regards!

Anonymous said...

Still haven't understand where this whole ounce comes from...

Anonymous said...

How is the sizing compared to the original Zante and Vazee Pace? I find the forefoot roomier in the Vazee Pace than the original Zante, so I use a US10 with the Pace and US10,5 with the original Zante.

Peter Stuart said...

DIetmar,

I agree that some of the faster, snappier zest of the v1 has been lost, but I still enjoy getting out and running in V2. For long runs, I really appreciate the changes to the forefoot geometry.

Anonymous,
Sizing for me is about the same as the OG Zante. I am the same size in the Pace, though, so it's hard to say. Same last for all, so I would guess same size would work.

P

Jerrick said...

Ditto for me. I have the same feelings about the V2s as you do in comparison to the V1s. Still a good shoe but kinda lost that loving feeling. The V2s feel like they've lost a bit of flex, the ride feels flat, and just not as fun as V1.

Jerrick said...

Ditto for me. I have the same feelings about the V2s as you do in comparison to the V1s. Still a good shoe but kinda lost that loving feeling. The V2s feel like they've lost a bit of flex, the ride feels flat, and just not as fun as V1.

William Yim said...

I am thinking of the durability on the Zante v2. By comparing the Zante v2 with Zante and Vazee Pace, which one would be more durable? Also, I am thinking of preparing for at least two half marathon at this moment. Do you think if both Zante v2 and Vazee Pace are suitable for both training and racing for the races?