Article by Derek Li, Dave Ames, and Sam Winebaum
New Balance 890v7 ($120)
Sam: The New Balance 890v7 is called out by New Balance as having a "sleek and lightweight design which makes it the perfect daily trainer and dedicated workout shoe". The 890v7 is priced at $120 and will be available early April 2019.
The big news here is that my size US 8.5 sample weighs 6.6 oz /187 grams for a massive 2.3 oz. drop / 65 g compared to my 890v6 sample (RTR review) at the same size.
With a catalog spec of 7.1 oz men's and women's at 5.5 oz /158 g it should come in a touch under 7 oz. / 198 g in a size 9 (New Balance I believe using size 9.5 for catalog weights). That is light!
Where do the weight savings come? Looked at side by side the stack appears the same at an estimated 27mm heel /21 mm forefoot but we see a lighter engineered knit upper, a new Ground Contact RevLite foam, and especially far less outsole rubber than its predecessor.
The result is a shoe which should come in lighter than any other racer trainers from New Balance including the 1400, stability oriented 1500, softer Beacon, and Zante Pursuit.
- dropped 2.3 oz /65 g from v6
- good vibration dampening
- very comfortable sleek upper which worked well in wet conditions.
- stable but without an overly flat feeling at mid foot as v6 had
- platform leads to more pronounced toe offs at speed
- Derek: outsole durability poor, upper fit is on the relaxed side
- Sam: stiff forefoot and firm, making it speed and workouts focused
- Dave: Poor lacing scheme for a narrow ankle runner. Last eyelet digs into my fibula. Not the strongest fan of wrap around heel counter combined with where the last eyelet is placed.
Official Weight: men’s 7.1 oz / 204 g, women’s 5.5 oz /158 g W
Sample Weight: US men’s 8.5: 6.6 oz / 187 g
Sample v6: US men’s 8.5: 8.9 oz / 252 g
$120. Available April 1st, 2019
Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 61 with a recent 3:40 Boston qualifier. These days he runs halves in the 1:35-1:41 range and trains 40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces in the 9 minute range. He is 5'10" and weighs about 165 lbs.
Derek is in his 30’s and trains 70-80 miles per week at 7 to 8 minute pace in mostly tropical conditions in Singapore. He has a 2:41 marathon PR.
Dave is 37 and keeps in sub 3 shape in Southern California while transitioning to Ultras. He is a professional running coach at Ame for It Coaching and trains a mix of at least one quality workout, one long run and aerobic miles on both roads and trails.
First Impressions and Fit
Derek: I love the aesthetics of this shoe. Very understated but classy. Definitely works as a casual athleisure type shoe as well. Step in feel is very good. Extremely comfortable knit with true to size fit. The light weight of the shoe, and the slight rockered outsole shape is immediately apparent.
Sam: This is one spectacular looking shoe. It has lots of upper detail from its engineered knit upper and zero overlays beyond the heel counter. This is a shoe that looks fast without shouting about it.
The fit is excellent, secure and with plenty of toe height and no pointy low front a la some of the Nike Flyknit knits. Compared to the Beacon's upper with its more unitary/single pattern less structured softer and slightly stretchier knit where foot hold can start to suffer at faster paces, the 890 is more dialed to the foot, especially upfront, although the Beacon does have a superior heel hold for me. Compared to the v6, there is more toe overhead room, with maybe a touch less toe box width despite being the same last. The v6 had one of the best performance uppers of 2018, so a high bar. As called out by New Balance, the front of the upper contributes to flexibility and it is needed as the 890v7 is quite stiff and long flexing, so far, with no distinct fairly far back flex point as the v6 has but the stiffer flex wasn't overly noticed on the run. The flex type is for sure something to consider based on preferences.
Dave: Aesthetically, a monster cool shoe from New Balance. They’ve really been coming with some game over the last 8 months or so with the release of Beacon, and greatly improved 1080v9 and now this 890v7. While the 890v6 had a great upper, I think I like this knit even more. A very sleek fit which largely worked well on my narrow foot. I like the placement of "890" on the heel and I like the new underfoot platform. It’s almost rockered forward a bit which makes you know you want to run fast in this shoe.
Sam: The upper is what is called an "Engineered Knit". I am not sure I have yet seen a knit upper with this level of highly varied density of knitting. It is beautiful. It is made up of a single layer with no lining so this should be a very breathable, easily draining shoe. The knit has only minimal stretch beyond, cleverly, more stretchy knit in the ankle collar.
The The tongue has a mesh bootie which is also ventilated.
The fit is excellent, secure and with plenty of toe height and no pointy low front a la some of the Nike Flyknit knits.
In another weight savings move, the v7 has a "deconstructed heel". There is a fairly firm low heel counter with above the gray counter (which I believe is all reflective) the knit collar. It is about the best combination of knit and heel counter I have seen to date but it is not quite the very secure higher profile lockdown of the v6's more conventional approach,
Derek: The knit of the upper is very luxurious yet extremely breathable at the same time. Reminds me a lot of the knit from the Nike Flyknit Racer actually. There is a little bit of stretch to the knit but not much.
is The knit section is very unstructured but fortunately, the eyelet configuration allows for pretty decent lockdown especially at the heel. The tongue is fairly thin and made of knit fabric but the flat semi-elastic stock laces work well with this tongue and I do not get any pressure issues when using higher lace tensions.
The heel counter is composed of a laminated external layer that only covers about 50% of your heel. The result is a very comfortable wrap around the heel, but don’t expect much support back there.
Dave: This “engineered knit” is down right cool. It definitely took some time to develop, but Sam called it out perfectly...it’s very complex. If you look at the detail it has many knit patterns going on at once, which gives it a little extra appeal to the eye.
I like the fit. It molds my narrow foot well, while also giving me a bit of wiggle room in the forefoot. I’m a big fan too, of the heel counter. It’s hit or miss with my foot when companies try to get fancy like this, but it collars my foot well.
My only issue is the last eyelet. It’s poorly placed and padded for my foot type, so it digs into my fibula, causing some discomfort. The tongue is also too thick, and that combined with needing to use the last eyelet for a secure fit, it puts a lot of pressure on the side and top of my foot. It presses up too much due to the thickness of the tongue. You almost need to lace it perfectly once and leave it alone, otherwise I often found I was focused more on how I laced this 890, rather than on my run. That gets frustrating.
Sam: The midsole (and much of the outsole) is a new flavor of RevLite called Ground Contact RevLite, echoing Ground Contact Fresh Foam in shoes such as the Beacon and 1080v8. It is described as resilient, durable, and responsive. I would say this is true but this is not the soft bouncy, and agreeing with Derek, less than lively in response and pop ride of the Beacon. Quite firm but not unpleasantly so this midsole has distinct and clear response and a transition which gets increasingly smooth as the pace picks up. The midsole itself, forgetting the effect of the outsole on firmness feel, seems by pressing ever so slightly softer than the 890v6 and for sure firmer than Fresh Foam Beacon's midsole.
There is still a stability tilt to this shoe as while there is less outsole coverage there are medial side walls which resemble the Nike Zoom Vomero 14 or Brooks Ravenna 10 but are shorter, as soft as the rest of the RevLite and less extreme in profile. After the first 5 miles, the walls were no longer noticed beyond a slight sense of guidance and stability now higher off the ground than the previous outsole plate approach.
Derek: I was one of the few people who found the Ground Contact Fresh Foam in the Beacon a little dead-feeling. That said, I found that there was a decent firm bounce to the midsole of the 890, most noticeably in the forefoot, and this feel tends to get better at faster paces. The shoe has a very uniform feel otherwise, from heel to forefoot. One thing to note is the slightly raised midsole sidewalls on the medial and lateral sides of the heel, presumably to improve heel stability. This design is seen quite often these days, eg in the Reebok Run Fast. Here, the sidewalls don’t bother me, maybe because the durometer is softer, and also the heel volume is on the wide side.
Dave: Fresh Foam Ground Contact (GC) was awesome in the Beacon. It was one of the top midsoles of last year and I would argue it can easily compete with anything this year so far in 2019. RevLite GC is formulated for a lighter more speed work oriented shoe in the 890v7. The platform underfoot feels different from last year’s 890v6 (see photos below comparing v6 to v7 underfoot). Last year’s 890v6 had a wider feeling platform under the forefoot. And the 890v6 was a bit stiff when trying to crank up some speed. It was also a bit loud and slappy a times.
This year 890 feels much more dialed in. It is almost such a narrow platform underfoot that you feel you might roll over at any point (nothing to worry about, it rounds corners well) - - RevLite GC is definitely firm. But it accelerates nicely from heel to mid foot, loading nicely with a more pronounced toe off compared to last year. I like that change. The shoe has more power this year. I ran a 10 miler with 8 miles as a progression, after an easy 2 mile warmup, and got to experience all paces with this shoe straight out of the box. The faster you go, the more it shines, but it also feels ok at moderate paces. I would tend to think this shoe will shine in the Tempo, Fartlek, Progression range, and if you really like the toe off feeling like I do, most likely for some longer volume work at the oval office. I may be a little “wonky” at 800m and down.
Derek: there isn’t much outsole rubber to speak of. All the lime yellow rubber not at the heel seems to be of the blown rubber variety so don’t expect a ton of rubber durability here. Exposed midsole isn’t too big of a problem in terms of durability in the Beacon so hopefully the same will apply here. They do use carbon-injected rubber for the heel so there’s added durability back there. In terms of grip, I would say it’s on the weaker side. It’s absolutely fine on dry tarmac, but on wet concrete surfaces things can get a bit sketchy.
Sam: Clearly the outsole coverage is reduced as shown below with 890v7 to the right.
This reduced outsole coverage must be a huge contribution to the weight savings. The 890v6 had a very extensive firm outsole all the way through the midfoot creating a stable platform feel, to stable and firm for my tastes unless run fast. While still thick and firm towards the back, with a light stabilizing component from the side walls, given the outsole does not extend forward or as wide as the v6, the sense of a plate is gone. When combined with less extensive forefoot rubber and no orange TPU strips, the transition is easier, if not quite as snappy as there is also no longer a disticnt flex point. The front and rear feel slightly softer and easier on the foot, particularly at the mid foot and toes as a result of the reduced rubber.
Dave: I get it. To reduce weight you need to get rid of things on shoes. Well, unfortunately I think they got rid of 80% of the outsole coverage the v6 had! I am beginning to see some early signs of wear. It also got a bit more slippery in the rain as I got more miles on the shoe. On a positive note, due to less grip on the outsole, the shoe is very quiet upon footstrike compared to last years v6. I’m about 33 miles in on my pair, which is probably less than Sam or Derek, so it’s hard for me to chime in on how this will hold up. With less outsole, the shoe is much smoother transitioning than last year’s, so please take note of that.
Derek: There was a distinct sort of hump or slope from midfoot to forefoot when I first tried on the shoe, which contributed to the rockered feeling of the outsole, but this feeling went away after about 15 minutes of initial running. Maybe the midsole broke in a little more, so the result was just a smooth seamless transition from heel strike to toe off. All in all, the shoe has proved remarkably agile over a variety of paces, from very easy 9:00 miles down to 5:30 mile pace. I haven’t used it for anything longer than an hour, and truth be told the degree of stack is on the lower end of what I would feel comfortable with for a long run.
I really like the shoe for tempo work or anything with a mix of easy stuff and hard pickups in speed. The forefoot is on the wider (anatomical) side, so there’s plenty of room for toe splay and forefoot stability is fairly good.
Sam: The ride is on the firmer side and responsive, but not punishingly so, as I sometimes found the v6 given its outsole and especially at slower paces. Losing the outsole rubber really helps soften the ride and shock, front to back, and especially at mid foot. It also makes transitions off midfoot far easier for me, especially at slower paces. I do notice a touch less snap and distinct flex as the v7 so far is stiffer and the TPU strips up front are gone. This said, the toe off is easier and slightly softer in feel. You really had to push the v6 hard to work its magic and get past the firm midsole outsole coverage, not nearly as much here but this is still a shoe focused on speed.
Dave: A pleasant shoe to run in for sure. I like the new rockered feel and more narrow geometry underfoot. It feels good fast. But as I mentioned earlier, it feels good at higher end aerobic speeds too. It makes a perfect Fartlek shoe for fast efforts. In my wheelhouse it fits in as a Workout day shoe, best suited for Tempo, Fartlek, but I am also interested in taking it to the track (Haven’t any track work lately, due to training for Ultra...more miles have been calling than speed)
Derek: This is a great all around shoe that shines for uptempo work. Considering the durability concerns, I think it could be a great do-it-all shoe for a lower mileage type runner, or someone looking for an athleisure type shoe. The fit is on the generous side as far as lightweight trainers go, so I think it would work better for medium to higher volume feet. People with narrower feet might struggle to get good lockdown with this upper. For me personally, I think it works best as a 5-10k type racer, or workout shoe for longer intervals and tempo runs.
Derek Score 9/10
-1.0 for outsole durability. I’m not hard on my shoes, but even I’m seeing the forefoot wearing after less than 50 miles.
Dave: Derek hit it well above. Great for uptempo work and nice to rock even casually or for a runner looking for a light shoe who may only do light volume running. I think it’s an improvement from the v6 and I like to run in it much more. It has its place in my rotation, that’s for sure. I would definitely recommend it for the runner who may be struggling to find that Tempo day shoe.
Dave’s Score: 9/10
-.50 for poor lacing via the last eyelet on a narrow ankle.
-.50 for exposed outsole.
Sam: The 890v7 starts with a superb looking, and performing upper. Underfoot, running on mostly GC Revlite midsole with minimal rubber, we get a stable and nicely responsive but quite firm ride, yet one with shock well attenuated. Let's not forget this is a shoe weighing about 7 oz so very light for the overall substance delivered: stability, cushion, and response. Something had to give to drop 2.3 oz and it is the outsole which is both a plus in many ways including weight and a less harsh slappy ride but also a potential minus in terms of longevity. It is still a model focused on speed and up tempo with a touch (less) but none the less very decent stability. I find the range of doable paces (and I mean slower paces), with all the plated rubber of the v6 removed at mid foot, increased. I much prefer it to v6.
My happy medium would be this upper on an underfoot platform whose firmness is between the softer Beacon and the 890v7, with more flexibility upfront and a slightly softer feel but the same light stability out back,
The v7 is well described by New Balance as a “workouts” shoe. As a daily trainer, also in the description, I think, given its relative stiffness and firm midsole, it is for runners who prefer very light firmer trainers or tend to run faster and shorter rather than longer and/or slower. This said it can also offer a very light near stability racer option for those who gravitate towards shoes such as the 1400, 1500 or DS Trainer. Bonus! It can double as a good gym and wearing around town shoe.
Sam’s Score 9.3/10
-0.4 for dense, somewhat dated feel of RevLite which lacks the smooth, springy feel of newer foams, even here in modified ground contact form where much of the outsole is removed, potentially affecting longevity
-0.3 for forefoot stiffness/need to activate rocker, and cushion, somewhat limiting pace versatility to speed for me.
New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon (RTR Review)
Derek: completely different feel. The 890v7 feels lower to the ground, and has a faster and smoother transition. It also has a bouncier ride for me up front, compared to the Beacon. The 890 is an overall more exciting shoe to run in. I relegate my Beacons to pure recovery miles these days.
Sam: Agree with Derek very different feels here from upper to ride. 890v7 is a faster shoe for sure. I prefer Beacon’s softer more flexible forefoot but at the heel I prefer the extra stability and 2mm more stack of firmer RevLite. As a slower older runner I get more utility out of Beacon. I only wish it had 890’s more dialed and elegant upper (particularly upfront) and a slightly firmer midsole and more of it closer to 890v7’s which might get me past the low heel feel at slow paces of the Beacon for me,
Dave: 2 shoes, 2 different days for me. But between the two, I really just get a hell of a lot more enjoyment out of running in the Beacon. It was one of the best shoes of 2018 and I’ve seen a ton of success from a coaching standpoint with it as well. Multiple athletes I have coached have trained in it and I have a bunch of female elites I coach who broke 3 hours in it! Beacon just is a bit more versatile for me. But I won’t sleep on the 890v7, either. It has its place for workout days. Derek hit nail on the head too. It’s a great recovery day shoe for me as well!
New Balance Vazee Pace (RTR Review)
Derek: the Vazee Pace feels higher off the ground but also feels significantly harsher underfoot. Despite the lower stack, I feel less beat up in the 890, over any distance.
New Balance Zante Pursuit (RTR Review)
Derek: for some reason the 890v7 works a lot better for me than the Pursuit. The 890 rolls through the stride a little better, and is also noticeably more flexible and is more forgiving at easier paces. The Pursuit wins in terms of snappiness at fast paces, and in terms of outsole grip and durability.
New Balance 1400 (RTR 1400v6 Review)
Almost same weight higher drop. Suspect 1400 has a lower forefoot with drop transferred from heel to forefoot?.
Dave: Comparing 890v7 to 1400, the 890 definitely has more flex and more pop. The RevLite GC shines in 890, whereas 1400 is just traditional RevLite. You can immediately feel the difference in snap. There is much more pronounced toe off action on the 890. However, outsole durability will shine in the 1400, while 890v7 may struggle.
Reebok Floatride Run Fast (RTR Review)
Dave: Run Fast is an amazing shoe and if I had to pull this or the 890v7 for a workout, I’m all over the Run Fast. I just like the midsole better, and it feels smoother. Run Fast can also become that general mileage day shoe, just as 890v7 can, but it is more fun to fun in for me. What’s faster? Reebok Run Fast. I’ve had some amazing workouts in it!
Derek: Run Fast wins in terms of outsole grip and durability, and it has a very snappy feel if you really up the pace for speed work. That said, I find the 890 to be the more cushioned option, and it tends to transition a bit smoother for me than the Run Fast. Overall, I prefer the livelier ride of the 890 to the Run Fast. I found the Run Fast to be on the harsher side at slower paces, compared to the 890, so in terms of overall versatility, I prefer the 890.
Sam: Echoing Dave, the Run Fast at an amazing approx. 0.5 oz lighter, can and has been, a pleasant general daily mileage shoe while the 890v7 will not be for me due to its rockered stiffness and dense cushion. I do agree with Derek that the 890v7 is more cushioned but the Floatride foam's energy return and smooth feel wins out for me. In terms of slow vs. fast running the Run Fast slightly higher drop and somewhat more flexible ride make slower running easier and more pleasant if slightly firmer.
Hoka One One Carbon Rocket (RTR Review)
Dave: 890v7 all day. Carbon Rocket did not work at all for me. 1mm drop got me, combined with a carbon plate that loaded from the midsole, not the heel….biomechanics thrown off.
Sam: Carbon Rocket any day for running something, anything (recovery, tempo, long runs, daily miles) other than speed work where I just don't have enough strength and knee lift to drive them. While the carbon plate makes Rocket feel "firm" it is more cushioned in the forefoot and while only a 1mm drop vs 6mm for the 890v7 heel cushion feel is very close for me. Clearly the 890 feels like a higher drop shoe but not by much.
Skechers Performance Razor 3 Hyper (RTR Review)
Dave: The Razor 3 boasts the best midsole technology in the running game in 2019 and that’s Hyperburst. 890v7 has the making to be something like that someday, it just needs a better outsole and some fine tuning of RevLite GC. Again, both of these shoes have their place. But if you want an awesome midsole experience, I gotta give the nod to the Razor 3.
Sam: Revlite even GC is dated in feel and weight (with Razor more than 0.5 oz. lighter). Razor's Hyper is zingy and springy while Revlite is denser/firmer, more responsive and somewhat dull in comparison. The Razor suffers from to little what the 890v7 has a bit too much of, heel rubber. Razor has a very thin heel outsole and combined with its 4mm drop and softer midsole its heel gets low when I and most eventually will get back on the heels when really tired. It is only a shorter faster run and race shoe for me as a result. The 890v7 is more stable with a denser feel and has more overall utility but is not as lively. or satisfying As for looks 890v7 for sure and it can also "fit in" better post run than Razor.
Available April 1st, 2019
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The product reviewed was provided at no cost. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.
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