Saturday, November 19, 2016

Review New Balance Fresh Foam Zante v3: 3Peat?

New Balance Fresh Foam Zante v3
New Balance Zante V3
The New Balance Fresh Foam Zante v3 is a 8.7 oz/  247g ( men's US 9), 6mm drop neutral running shoe. Available February 1st, 2017. $100. The v3 is not a major overhaul from the v2, but has some tweaks that are worth noting.

Upper and Fit:
New Balance Fresh Foam Zante v3
 LEFT New Balance Fresh Foam Zante v3, RIGHT v2 
The upper on the Zante V3 is where the most notable changes have occurred. The engineered mesh upper has varying densities of weave—more dense in the midfoot and more open over the toe. Overall I find the Z3 to be a more breathable and better looking shoe than the V2.
Zante v3  has more breathable mesh over the toes
There are some paisley looking designs on the sides of the shoe which look nice and the various design elements coalesce to provide a nice, fast looking shoe.
New Balance Fresh Foam Zante v3

They’ve taken the little rubber piece off of the tongue--which I  believe was there to protect the top of the foot from lace pressure--I don’t really miss it. The tongue is sewn in on either side, so there’s no slippage. The ankle collar is nicely padded without going overboard. One of very few complaints I had with the V2 was that the upper felt a little claustrophobic (felt a tiny bit narrow and the mesh was really dense over the toes). New Balance have taken the best things about the upper of the 1400 and brought them over to the Zante. The fit took me a couple of runs to dial in—which is unusual for me. It’s fine, perhaps just feels a bit roomier in the toe-box due to the looser weave in that area.

Midsole and Outsole:
New Balance Fresh Foam Zante v3

We’re still working with Fresh Foam here, so it’s not a wildly different ride. They’ve changed the layout of the hexagonal pattern on the outsole. This is actually more effective than I would have guessed. The shoe transitions just a tiny bit quicker, and I would guess it’s because it flexes a little better due to this new layout.  Editor's Note: New Balance also told us a Outdoor Retailer here that larger hexagons under the first metatarsal head were informed by runner data captured by sensors in test shoes and are there to provide a bit more stable push off.
LEFT  Fresh Foam Zante v2  RIGHT Fresh Foam Zante v3

Editor's Note: The computer runner data generated side wall hexagon patterns of convex and concave shapes tune the firmness of the sidewalls and thus the shoe feel under load. Convex deflect less increasing firmness, concave deflect more increasing cushion feel. Not a gimmick at all.  
New Balance Fresh Foam Zante v3

The midsole hexagons(which were formerly a mix of concave and convex are all convex in v3. Previously the v2 had a mix of convex and concave hexagons on the lateral side.
New Balance Fresh Foam Zante v2

The shape of the hexagons has also changed from heel to toe.
TOP Zante v2   BOTTOM Zante v3

These two changes, the outsole pattern and changes to the sidewall hexagons, make for a very subtle change of ride from the v2. We’re still in a Zante, but it’s just a little more dialed in.

Ride:
Ahh, the Zante. The original Zante was such a revelation for me. I finally knew what all those people who loved the original Kinvara felt like. I ran around with a smile on my face because the Zante was just a delight to run in. They were light, comfortable, cushioned enough for long runs and snappy when you needed them to be. V2 built on this a bit, but didn’t have the same WOW! Factor for me.

With the Z3, the WOW is back, but with a little bit of a caveat.  Generally, they are a joy to run in, but they're more fun as the pace gets faster. The ride is on the firm side, and has some give, but at slower speeds they feel a little too firm for me--almost stiff. They are super comfortable out of the box and have broken in really nicely over about 60 miles so far. They’ve gained a little weight over the years, but are still a light and lively shoe. What I like best about the Zante v3 is that I can go do an easy 15 in them one day and they remind me of the Nike Pegasus 33, and the next day I can do a tough interval workout and they remind me of a New Balance 1400 (though with more spring). When I pick up the pace in these they return a really good amount of energy from the road. They’re a great swiss army knife of a shoe.  

Conclusions and comparisons:
It’s hard to beat the Zante in my book. They’re fairly light, affordable and really terrific to run in at all speeds. They are a little firm overall, so if you're looking for cush they may not be the shoe for you. That said, they're efficient and I don't feel beat up over longer runs. There are two shoes I’d consider at this point if I could only keep one pair of shoes, and the Zante V3 is one of them.  
New Balance Zante v3
Comparisons:
Zante V2
The Z3 gains .1 oz, feels light and snappy and has a much improved upper. I’d go for the V3 over the V2 all day long.  
New Balance Vazee Pace
I prefer the Zante V3 over the Pace. Pace is a little too firm for me.
New Balance RC 1400
The Zante is a heavier, more protective shoe than the 1400. The uppers are now much more similar. I want to love the 1400 more than I do. I’ve run marathons in both and I’ve felt much better in the late miles wearing the Zante.  
Nike Pegasus 33
These are, by far, my two favorite trainers right now. They’re both versatile, comfortable and affordable. The Pegasus is a bit heavier, and is a bit more of a recovery day shoe for me. The Zante is terrific. Can’t go wrong either way.

Score 9 out 10
-0.5 for firm ride and a stiff feeling mid-foot.
-0.5 for work to dial the fit in.
The Fresh Foam Zante is available February 2017. $100
The Zante v3 was provided at no charge to RTR. The opinions herein are entirely the author's.
Photo Credit: Peter Stuart

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.

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The current New Balance Zante v2 is now available at great prices !

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review, Peter.
V2 was firmer than the original, especially at the forefoot. So, V3 is even firmer?

Nick.

Anonymous said...

Great Review!
I'm a high school middle-distance athlete looking for a shoe for all of my easy runs, tempo runs, and track workouts. The New Balance Zante v3 look pretty nice. However, it isn't coming out until March 2017. So far, I have liked my Kinvara 7s, and disliked my Lunaracer +3(They seemed very unstable and too cushioned). What shoes would you recommend?

sam winebaum said...

Hi Anonymous,
The Zante v3 is not hugely different and v2 is on sale
You might try the New Balance 2090. It's on sale at Running Warehouse here http://www.runningwarehouse.com/New_Balance_Vazee_2090_Mens_Shoes_Yellow/descpage-NBV20M.html?from=rtr
Review: http://www.roadtrailrun.com/2016/07/initial-review-new-balance-vazee-2090.html
Or the less expensive Vazee Rush 2 http://www.roadtrailrun.com/2016/08/review-new-balance-vazee-rush-v2-great.html
The Salming Distance might also be another option.
Thanks for reading

Anonymous said...

Thanks for responding. For a mid-distance runner, I do quite a bit of mileage. Out of the before mentions, which would you recommend for the easier runs?

sam winebaum said...

The 2090 has a nice blend of a really good midfoot hold for speed work and decent shock proof cushion. Rush is similar but not as smooth feeling all around. The Nike Pegasus 33 is always a good bet. I am also really digging the Boston Boost 6 and upcoming Brooks Launch 4 both have softer cushion than the NB but still decently fast shoes Reviews of all here http://www.roadtrailrun.com/p/blog-page.html?m=1

Anonymous said...

I decided on getting a vazee pace. However, I'm afraid if it wouldn't be enough shoe for my easier days. What other shoe would you recommend for me to add to my rotation?

sam winebaum said...

To stay with NB the Vazee Rush v2. For a bit more cushion Saucony Ride 9 or Zealot v2 or Nike Pegasus

Jason said...

Hi Peter, great review...I've ran in the Zante v1s and v2s and am looking forward to the new upper on the v3. One question that I was hoping you could answer is about the insoles. I noticed that the insoles in the v2 weren't as nice as the v1s: they were a little thinner and the v1s also had some ventilation dimples...I actually ended up taking the insoles out of the v1s and putting them in my v2s, though they're starting to wear down. How does the insole of the v3 compare?

Peter Stuart said...

Anonymous, sorry, late to the party on this reply, but for easy days i am loving the Nike Pegasus 33.

Peter Stuart said...

Jason,

I pulled the insoles out of V2 and V3 today. Looks like they're exactly the same.

Peter