Sunday, June 16, 2019

New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon 2 Review: Superb Upper Update Now Matches Ride Performance

Article by Mac Jeffries, Peter Stuart, Jeff Beck, Jacob Brady, and Sam Winebaum

New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon 2 ($120)
Sam: I first saw the Beacon 1 at the New Balance booth at the 2018 Boston Marathon. It had a sort of “lifestyle” easy going, not really a performance running shoe look, slipper like classy and soft upper and all. When I saw that it had a new form of Ground Contact GC Fresh Foam and almost no outsole, unlike the other Fresh Foam models with their stiff full coverage outsoles I knew it likely be a fine running shoe. Then I heard about the weight at a mere 7 oz or so and I was sure!

Indeed it was one of the big surprise and best shoes of 2018 for just about everyone on our test crew and thousands of others. Yet, back to lifestyle… The Beacon 1 upper was for me to loosy goosy and unstructured in hold and did not keep up with the superb platform. So it was with great interest that I first saw the Beacon 2 at The Running Event last December. When I saw the rear thin molded heel to lace up area of the upper, highlighted by a different color on my test pair, I felt that this update might really perfect the Beacon.
Mac: Finally… the Beacon has come BACK! I vividly remember trying on the OG Beacon in a NB store in Tampa a year ago this month: I could tell it was something different just sitting on the shelf, and after squeezing my foot into their size 13 and jogging down the hallway, I had to have a pair. Incredible cushion to weight ratio, firm protection, simple construction, smooth ride… so good.  Since this was before the nationwide release, I did what any reasonable person would have done: looked up the phone numbers of all the NB stores across the country until I found one that had a 14 in stock and would ship it to me. In fact, the v1 is one of the few shoes that I have bought multiple pairs of the same shoe and version, and I was getting ready to buy a third pair on closeout at RW when, at my doorstep, obviously delivered by Santa himself, updated Beacon 2 arrived. Good news: they didn’t screw up a good thing. Consider me giddy.  

Peter: LOVED the Beacon! Ran 400 miles or so on first pair, bought another, put about 300 on those. Such a great, simple, efficient jack-of-all trades shoe. As time moved on and other shoes came out (Razor 3, Hoka Rincon, Peg Turbo) I didn’t run as much in the Beacon. Now here comes the Beacon 2, with a great looking upper and the same great ride. How does it hold up? How does it compare to the other NB shoes with Fuel Cell?

Jacob: An update to a great shoe, very exciting. The original (OG) Beacon was a solid and enjoyable to run in, do-it-all shoe, from slow long runs to race day. Will New Balance improve on an exceptional first version or will they change what made it great? On first glance, the midsole appears unchanged, but the upper has been totally revamped—a promising start...

Mac: Upper. Everything that you liked about the v1 is still here - firm, lightweight cushion.
Sam:  Significantly improved mid and rear of the shoe lockdown as well as front hold.
          Dramatically less moisture absorption. Half of Beacon 1 which gained 1.8 oz in the rain.
Peter: Upper looks better, retains less water and fits great without any messing around.

Jeff: Didn’t break anything with the changes, upper went from decent to great.
Jacob: I’ll continue the upper praise; much more breathable, good fit with the heel redesign.

Mac/Sam: Besides the upper, the rest of the shoe is virtually the exact same. Although I love - present tense - the feel of the v1, we always want something better; I would have loved some anti-gravity foam or something. Outsole still sketchy on wet stuff.
Sam: Slightly shorter and pointier in upfront fit compared to v1
Peter: Novelty of light, bouncy ride may be eclipsed by the newer foams by NB such as FuelCell.
Jeff: The paradox of not changing much means its very similar to last year’s shoe.
Jacob: Midsole flex characteristics make it feel weird on bumpy surfaces/off road (same as v1)
Tester Profiles

Mac is a former collegiate defensive lineman who runs to fill the competitive void left after school and to stay in shape. He is in his late 30s, runs 50-80 mpw, and at 6’3”, has come down from his playing weight of 275 lbs to a steady 205 lbs for the last 10 years. Jeff’s PRs are 19:30, 1:33:xx, and 3:23:xx; he also teaches and coaches XC & T&F.
Jeff Beck is the token slow runner of the RTR lineup as such his viewpoints on shoe and gear can differ from those who routinely finish marathons in three hours or less.  Jeff runs 30 miles per week, both roads and desert trails in North Phoenix, Arizona. He has a PR's of 4:07 marathon and 5K at 23:39 both he is working to demolish with help from his coach Dave Ames.
Peter lives in Austin, Texas and has been a sub 3 hour marathoner as well as a 1:25 half marathoner in recent years
Jacob runs a mix of roads and trails in the Portland, Maine area. He runs every day and averages 50 miles per week. Jacob recently ran a 2:54 marathon and completed his first ultra, a 50km trail race
Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 62 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. Sam has been running for over 45 years and has a very dated 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the 1:35-1:41 range and trains 40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah. He is 5'10" tall and weighs about 165 lbs.

Estimated weight (men’s 9): 7.5 oz / 213 g   
Samples Weights:
9.7oz  (men’s 14), 0.1oz heavier than the B1
7.2 oz / 204 g (men’s 8.5), 0.18 oz  / 5g heavier than B1

7.9 oz/ 224 grams (men’s 10.5), .1 ounce/5 grams heavier than 10.5 Beacon 1
8.7 oz / 247g (men’s 12), 0.2oz/7g heavier than the B1
Stack Height: 26mm heel, 20 mm forefoot. 6mm drop
Available June 2019. $120

First Impressions and Fit

Mac: What the heck is up with that heel??? I won’t steal Hope’s line, but she nails it: the back half of this thing is crazy looking. Cool, but crazy, as if the Beacon had a baby with one of those swimming speed suits. Next, the front of the upper has obviously been thinned out and perforated for better ventilation.
The fit is nearly identical to the OG Beacon, with the exception that the foot really slides especially easily into the weird heel collar. Something about putting it on gives me the same feeling as one of those Youtube videos where all the pieces fit into a box just right. Also, just like the B1, the upper has a lot of volume, so I use a midfoot lock to help keep it in place. I went with the D width on these, despite going with the EE in the Rebels; they seem to be fine, just like the B1s.
Sam: The textured raised profiles of the high achilles molded rear contrasts sharply with the softer and darker toned front of the shoe with its hints of the same rear area color. The look screams performance and modern design while v1 just sort of disappeared visually. I tried one on each foot and my first run was also v1 on one foot and v2 on the other. The fit is “similar” and on the same last but.. dramatically improved. Beacon 1 had a somewhat sloppy easy fit at mid foot and upfront.
Its collars were low and while supportive didn’t really mold nearly as well to lockdown the foot as what we have in V2. I could clearly feel the very thinly padded contrasting color molded rear hug and support the rear of the foot with the support extending to mid foot. Not a stiff support just a secure stable wrap.

Peter: Wow, NB is not afraid to make some major design changes to an already great shoe. The high back tab near the achilles and the stiff heel cup make a statement and the front looks like a much more streamlined version of V1.

Jeff: “Yup, they changed very little,” the voice in my head screamed when I slipped the Beacon 2 on. Underneath the foot everything appears to be unchanged, and while the upper is a total departure from the more lifestyle than performance upper that the first shoe shipped with, it gripped my foot even better. Aesthetics may take some time to get used to, but running performance will be an easy transition for any runner that championed the first iteration. The shoe fits true-to-size 10.5 for me, just as the first Beacon did.

Jacob: When I unboxed the Beacon v2, I noted three things: 1. The midsole appears unchanged; 2. The shoe looks much more performance-oriented than the original; 3. The heel is quite something! Step-in feel confirms the midsole is the same and initial fit is great: no notable pressure points, a light and loose toe box, and soft materials—surprisingly similar overall feel to the OG Beacon despite the very different look/construction. The shoe slides on easily and the back of the shoe feels like it snaps into place around the heel. 

Mac: This is where you will see most of the improvements to the Beacon 2. The knock on the v1 was that it could get warm and retain water a bit. This was obviously a focus area for the NB Design Team, and it appears as if they hit the mark. The front of the upper is much better ventilated and a little thinner; it definitely is less water absorbent. The heel, as striking as it looks, is actually very functional and comfortable. Your foot slides right in, and doesn’t come out. The tab above the heel is available to help you pull the shoe on, but it flares back so as not to irritate your Achilles. If there is a negative, it is that the upper is still a tad voluminous. I used a midfoot lock - that you can see in the picture with both shoes in the pine straw - and had zero sliding issues.

Sam: Mac is absolutely right. Beacon 1 retains lots of water/mositure. I tested this today during my run in the rain. I heard all kinds of squishing sounds from my right foot with the Beacon 1 and none from the left with Beacon 2. Well, well….Beacon 2 absorbed +0.9 oz / 25 g,  while Beacon 1 absorbed a staggering + 1.79 oz / 51 g. I suspect much of the additional weight was absorbed in the thickly padded collars of the Beacon 1 as well as its upper which has a more 3D thickness and feel to it.
The entire rear unit is more and more consistently pliable and higher overall than Beacon 1 which had a hard heel counter, the thick padding and not nearly as much support. The futuristic looking rear of the Beacon 2 is highly functional while wild looking. Very, very well done functional and visual design.
Beacon 2 has a very thin collar area with a band of pads running from just behind the lace up to just before the rear achilles area sitting down about half an inch. All the rear structure comes from the single piece molded rear exterior piece which has rubbery consistency when pressed with the raised lines of the profiles providing structure while concave cavities provide flex, just like the Fresh Foam midsole side wall geometry in function and appearance. Cool tie in.
The top of the conventional non bootie tongue is smoothly lined on top with some texture on the underside to I assume grip socks. There is a bit of stiffening right at the top edge and then further down the tongue transitions to a thinner lightly padded construction whereas the Beacon 1 was pretty much all of the same softness and thickness and it seems less breathable overall.

I did find the front of the toe box somewhat shorter and pointier in V2 when run side by side with V1. I don’t think I would size up but to note. Otherwise as Mac notes the fit is quite broad but now unlike Beacon 1 well secured for me.
Peter: I’ll keep it brief. Outstanding update to the upper. The achilles tab is totally unobtrusive, the shoe slides on easily and I had to make almost no adjustments to the shoe once I laced it up. Breathability is much improved.

Jeff: When early pictures surfaced of the Beacon 2 and I saw what they did to the upper I was filled with dread. The heel resembles the heel in New Balance’s 1080v9, which is a great shoe that has serious heel slip issues; it was literally the only shoe I’ve ever run in that required special lacing techniques to keep locked down. Dread may sound overly dramatic, but my wife loves her Beacons (she has a number of pairs) and if NB ruined it I was never going to hear the end of it - as if I was the one that made the change. Luckily, while it resembles the 1080v9 heel aesthetically, functionally it’s completely different. The Beacon 2 upper absolutely locks down the foot, though comfortably, and actually makes the Beacon 1 pale by comparison. Sure, the B1 upper always seemed a little relaxed for a shoe that would be at home on hill repeats or a tempo run, but only when the B2 showed up with clearly a performance focused upper did the B1 seem to be that lacking.
Jacob:The most striking aspect of the Beacon v2 is the unconventional, geometric, flared heel. New Balance calls this design ‘Ultra Heel’ and though it looks rather gratuitous, as soon as I slid on the shoe I found it quite functional. The flared heel collar is lower and thinner than NB’s recently released FuelCell Propel (as well as the classic Nike Pegasus 35). The heel material is a fabric-covered dense, flexible rubber/foam that gets thicker towards the bottom of the heel, acting as a heel counter. There are two strips of foam padding about ⅔ of the way up the side which provide solid heel lock, even though it doesn’t feel like there’s much there at all during a run as the heel collar is low and thin. 
The engineered mesh in the midfoot and forefoot is fairly thin and noticeably perforated, providing ample but not airy ventilation. This is more striking in comparison with the OG Beacon upper which, even though I liked, felt thick and hot. The Beacon v2 upper isn’t stretchy but has a measured give that in combination with the heel design makes this is a shoe I don’t have to think about lace tightness to feel adequately locked in and comfortable. The toe box is roomy and doesn’t really touch my toes at all; this aspect feels similar to the OG. With a loose lace sharp corners or off-road may feel a bit sloppy in the forefoot, but the heel fit is always solid and a tighter lace (e.g. for racing) makes this largely a non-issue. Overall, the Beacon v2 upper is easy to dial-in, unobtrusive, and a definite improvement over the OG.

Mac: The best thing I can say here is that NB didn’t screw this up. At press, I haven’t seen anything that claims to differentiate the v2 midsole from the v1, which is fine by me. It is enough cushion to get this 200ish lb runner thru an easy 17 miles and a hard 10 miles without the legs feeling trashed. It is a lot of cushion, but it is stable and firm: the thin layer of Fresh Foam that was un-run-ably harsh in the Zante 4 is just fantastic on the thicker Beacon 2.
Sam: Exactly NB didn’t mess with the midsole at all. Run side by side feels exactly the same as Beacon 1. The GC Fresh Foam here is for sure not as harsh feeling as in older Fresh Foam shoes but it is important to note there is far more minimal outsole than usual for a Fresh Foam shoe. Usually I can detect even minute changes in ride or cushion and I could feel none.

Peter: Kudos to NB for knowing when to leave a good thing alone. Soft, but not too soft. The NB Beacon V2 is about as good as a more “traditional” foam can be.

Jeff: Not to bang the drum too hard, but not changing a thing of what worked well (just to justify “look, it’s a new version!”) was the right move. Other brands use a decimal system for minor updates, and honestly this really should be the Beacon 1.5, it is that close. All that said, the midsole is great. There’s a reason NB didn’t tinker, they had a hit out of the gate.

Jacob: I’ll reiterate what our other reviewers have said in that even on an A/B test with the OG Beacon, the misole feels exactly the same. Firm but bottomless cushion with good response and an easy transition. I was surprised the first time I tried on the OG as the midsole was much firmer than what I expected from others’ reviews and the look of that big, white slab of Fresh Foam. However, I welcome this firmness on easy days as it helps me keep turning over my legs, rather than sapping my strength as would some plush mush midsoles. At faster paces and downhills I get a bit more out of the depth of foam and find that the midsole rebounds quickly and encourages speed and forward momentum-kind of like the Nike Zoom Fly effect.

Mac: 90% of the outsole is simply exposed Fresh Foam.It is a modified version that NB calls Ground Contact Fresh Foam (GC) intended to be durable. Regardless, while it gives an incredibly smooth and quiet - no slapping and no more squeaking! - ride, I expect the wet traction and durability to be below average. If you scuff your feet when you run, 1. stop it!, and 2. understand that scuffing will degrade this outsole quicker than most. The yellow parts are firmer and more durable rubber. Some folks called for a little more outsole on the v1. I personally loved it then, and I love it now.  

Peter: The Outsole on the V1 held up better than I thought it would-based on the limited amount of blown rubber and the wealth of exposed foam. Still wouldn’t be my choice of shoe in the rain (Adidas Boston 7 with Continental rubber is a great choice for rain). It is quiet and holds up well.

Sam: I saw and detected no differences in the outsole or should I say outsoles as most of the outsole is that GC Fresh Foam.
Jeff: Agreed, agreed, agreed. The outsole holds up much better than expected, however, I wouldn’t say the wet performance suffers. On my inaugural Beacon 2 run I experienced a number of poorly aimed sprinklers that soaked the sidewalk I was running, and I didn’t have any traction problems. Not a shoe I’d take out on a trail that has any level of technicality beyond a groomed walked path, but the outsole is very comparable to most lightweight road trainers.

Jacob: The outsole is the weakest part of the Beacon v2 (again the same as the v1). While the wear-rate is standard, the grip is notably bad, the worst of in my rotation of 6-10 shoes. It is totally fine and not noticeable or detracting on most runs, but tough corners, rain-coated paint lines, and dirt sections all require more caution than is ideal. The Beacon v2 is not a good shoe for off-road usage anyways because of the flex characteristics of the midsole, but the outsole just makes it even less desirable.

Mac: As alluded to earlier, the ride is stable and firm, but very protected and well cushioned. Some have noted that Fresh Foam feels a little dead. Granted, although it doesn’t have the same pop as FuelCell, Hyper, or Floatride, you get out what you put in, and you can run hard for a long period of time without fear of trashing your quads.

Sam: With a 26mm heel, fairly low, and a 20mm forefoot, fairly high for such a light shoe, the ride is cushioned if on the dense side without a tremendous amount of bounce. It is quite responsive but given the lack of rubber doesn’t exactly have a resounding transition and pop off the forefoot as more pure racing shoe would and as such it also easier on the legs than a flat for sure. It’s a great riding shoe for all paces from slow to up tempo, although as with V1 likely not to excel in any. That is OK as versatility is the name of the ride game here. The new upper plays a huge role in the ride here really locking things down with considerably more security leading to a more stable consistent ride. The upper in V1 was just to unstructured for me with a quite loose mid foot hold on the medial side and a fairly sloppy forefoot lockdown which could get tiring at faster paces. Although only one moderate pace run in, it is clear that upper performance now matches ride very well.

Peter: As mentioned above. V2 rides just like the OG Beacon. It’s smooth, on the firmer side of soft and does well at any pace.

Jeff: I experienced the same odd phenomenon with the Beacon 2 as I did with the Beacon 1. Every easy run I try to do in the Beacon ends up pushing pace. My easy run pace is 9:30-10:30 depending on the day, and when there’s a pair of Beacons on my feet I find myself running sub-9 pace if I don’t pay attention to my watch. The firm, but not harsh, midsole paired with the geometry of the shoe just makes me want to run a little faster. I don’t know anyone else who suffers from the same affliction, so take a grain of salt, but definitely not the shoe I’d recommend as a day after/recovery run trainer.
Jacob: The Beacon v2 (and OG) ride is cushioned and smooth rolling while still being firm, responsive, and adequately poppy. When running slow, the firmness is more present but the ride is never harsh. The Beacon is never a chore to turn over and thus enjoyable on long runs. While the Beacon doesn’t feel bouncy when standing around or walking, at speed I can feel the dense foam spring me into the next stride as the foam rebounds. The faster the pace, the more pronounced this feels. The Beacon rebound is more like a dense rubber ball bounce than a soft rubber band spring; the latter more alike to high-rebound foams such as Nike Zoom X, Reebok Floatride, and New Balance FuelCell. I understand what Jeff noted about accidentally going faster when wearing the Beacon, though I’m able to keep it under control and am fine doing recovery runs in them.

There are two scenarios where I find myself wishing I had a different shoe. First, when I want something softer (just preference for the day), and second, when I’m going to be running brick sidewalks, or a light trail/road combo. Unlike some shoes which either mask the unevenness of the running surface with cushion or conform to the foot well and allow for good control, the Beacon midsole feels unstable and weirdly prominent on bumpy terrain. It feels like the firm midsole bends awkwardly; not a smooth experience. I never noticed this on straight road runs, so for many this will be a non-issue. It’s not a liability, but I find it very noticeable, slightly unpleasant, and different than any other shoe I’ve run in—worthy of remark.

Conclusions and Recommendations

These - and I am including my extensive history with the v1 here - are among my favorite lightweight trainers ever. When I go out of town, and I only have room for one running shoe, I grab my Beacons. When I cannot decide what shoe to run in, I grab my Beacons. They can go long, they can go fast, they can go easy, and they do it all very well.
Mac’s Score: 8.4/10:
I I made this really simple: I scored everything the exact same as the OG Beacon, with obvious improvements in the upper. What we get is a top-tier shoe with a RIDE that is just a smidge below the best stuff - Hyper, Floatride, etc. - available on the market today, and a VALUE that takes a hit because of the expected durability of the exposed outsole. I would buy this shoe any day of the week, and twice on Sunday.  

Sam: New Balance improved the Beacon with laser sharp focus on the upper, morphing a near lifestyle fitting and looking shoe in Beacon 1 (which under the hood (or the foot) had a high performance platform) into a top to bottom, higher performing and better fitting shoe with a visual design to match its performance. It’s like taking bench seats and body roll out of Porsche and replacing with bucket seats and a tuned suspension to take full advantage at speed of what is under the hood. While very effectively implemented here Fresh Foam just doesn’t have the springy pizzaz of some of its competition including New Balance’s own new FuelCell foam but for sure it is light on the foot and wallet in comparison to some in its class.
Sam’s Score: 8.7 / 10

Peter: A great, simple daily trainer. Not as exciting as some other new foams, but a great transition shoe from totally traditional trainers to the new foams. I’m with Mac: if I had one shoe to bring on a trip it would very likely be the Beacon.
Peter's Score: 9/10 

Jeff: Any fears that NB was going to blow up the Beacon after one year should be put to bed, this really is just more of the same of what was, and is still, a truly great shoe. The changes to the upper are fantastic, and the lack of changes to the midsole/outsole might be even better. I haven’t experienced New Balance’s FuelCell midsole material, so I can’t knock it for not having that - but the Beacon 2 continues to be a great shoe for most runners.
Jeff’s Score: 8.6/10 
Ride (50%) 8, Fit (30%) 10, Value (15%) 8, Style (5%) 8

Jacob: The Beacon v2 is an outstanding do it all shoe. It is not dramatic in any regard—the midsole is the old classic, traditional EVA, the stack height is average, the midsole is not overly soft or bouncy—but it is enjoyable on almost any run. Depending on the day, I wear them on easy days or workouts. While not a race-focused shoe, I’ve noticed them on the feet of competent runners in both Marathons and 5ks. The relatively wide toe box, easy to dial-in fit, and lack of any polarizing technologies makes the Beacon v2 a good pick for anyone. Both the OG and now v2 are among my most recommended shoes for a general-use trainer.
Jacob’s Score: 8.6/10
Ride (50%): 9, Fit (30%): 8, Value (15%) 9, Style (5%): 7

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE
New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon 1 (RTR Review)
Mac: Same shoe, better upper. B2, unless I only have exactly as much cash as the B1 is selling for on closeout :-)
Sam: The upper changes sell me on the V2. V1 was just a bit to sloppy in its upper to really perform. And for sure I’ll also take the bonus lower moisture absorption.
Peter: All positive changes. Much better upper, same great ride.
Jeff: Running in the 2 makes the upper weakness of the 1 become clear. But if you can find the 1 for a song, it’s hard not to suggest you take advantage of that. Both shoes fit true to size for me.
Jacob: I liked the v1 upper and while I agree with Jeff that running in the v2 makes the v1 upper weaknesses more notable, they’re both great shoes.

New Balance Fuel Cell Rebel (RTR Review)
Mac: Just got back from a week-long trip, these two shoes (B1, actually) were the only ones I took. Rebel is a little less cushioned, but it is more responsive, has a better upper, and is slightly better on wet cement. B2 for longer stuff, Rebel for faster stuff. Still, they compliment each other well - two very different feels - and I am glad I own both.
Peter: What a difference a year makes. The Beacon used to feel special and different, but now it just feels like a great daily trainer. The Rebel feels special and different--and like an extension of the foot. Also a bit faster.

New Balance Fuelcell Propel (RTR Review)
Jacob: Both the Propel and Beacon v2 are recent releases from New Balance with modern styling and a flared heel collar. They also both fall in the broad daily trainer category. The fit and comfort of the Propel upper are top-class, edging out the Beacon. The Propel outsole is also great; sticky rubber that works well everywhere I’ve taken it. The Propel midsole is much, much softer than the Beacon midsole. It’s one of the squishiest midsoles I’ve ever run in and though it is comfortable and fun, it has very little response and pop and I find the Propel a chore to turn over. No speed potential in the Propel really limits its versatility, so my pick is the Beacon.
Sam: The Propel has different softer and considerably bouncier/higher rebound FuelCell foam. It is about 2 oz heavier and more cushioned as well. Its fit while similar is slightly more accommodating and higher volume. It could be considered the easier days compliment to a Beacon 2. 

Reebok Forever Floatride Energy (RTR Review)
Mac: B2 is definitely lighter and better cushioned; it is also available in larger sizes and multiple widths. Forever Energy has the better outsole, slightly livelier midsole, and can be found for insanely cheap. Beacon is the more versatile of the two, and I would pay more for the Beacon.
Sam: While its upper is crude if effective in comparison I always tend to lean towards the livilest ride and Forever has that. This said the combination of great upper, very light weight and decent enough ride gives the nod to Beacon 2.
Peter: These are both great shoes. I think I’d go Beacon due to design and better upper materials. The Reebok is a bit firmer, and a little more traditional feeling.
Jacob: Both the FFE and Beacon are versatile daily trainers with race day potential. Sam’s use of “crude” in describing the FFE upper captures my feelings as well; hard to dial in, intrusive, and overall uncomfortable. The FEE outsole is better and the ride is springier but the Beacon is a more polished shoe and the much better fit (true to size at 12, whereas the FFE I didn’t like the fit of 12 or 11.5) makes it the winner.

adidas Boston Boost 8 (RTR Review)
Jeff: Both outstanding lightweight daily trainers, and both fit me true-to-size 10.5. The Boston is a full 1.1 ounce heavier, and has a lower stack (Boost is super dense), but it definitely has more pop. Boston’s upper is even more performance oriented than the Beacon 2. If you are looking for a speed day shoe, I’d give the Boston the nod, but if you want more of a Swiss Army Knife multi-tool of a shoe, the Beacon 2 would be better.

Hoka One One Rincon (RTR Review)
Jeff: Both shoes fit me true-to-size 10.5. The Rincon comes in nearly a half ounce lighter than the Beacon 2, though stack heights feel comparable. Rincon reminds me a lot of the Beacon, but just improved in every way. Rincon upper is lighter and more breathable, midsole/ride has more pop to it, and outsole durability should be about the same, maybe even slightly longer lasting than the Beacon with more rubber protection. Both great shoes, but I’d recommend even Beacon faithful give the Rincon a chance.
Jacob: I agree with Jeff that the Rincon reminds my of the Beacon—it’s in the same class at least—but the Rincon is softer, lighter, springier, and more breathable. I love the Beacon and the Rincon but my pick is the Rincon. Try on both if you can.

Nike Epic React (RTR Review)
Jeff: Beacon 2 fits true-to-size 10.5, Epic React is half size up at 11. Even though React gets a lot more press and buzz, New Balance’s Fresh Foam Ground Control may be the better lightweight foam that is a midsole/outsole combination. Nothing wrong with Epic’s upper, but the Beacon is better, and I prefer the ride of the Beacon as well. Save the $, go Beacon 2.
Jacob: Both shoes fit my true to size but the Epic React (ER) upper is harder to dial-in and less comfortable overall. ER upper is more breathable though. ER midsole is softer and more flexible and I definitely prefer it on some days, but it doesn’t have quite the same race potential as the Beacon. Both are good do-it-all daily trainers and I wear both on a weekly basis, depending on if I want softer and more foot-conforming (ER) or firm and poppy (Beacon). If I had to choose one, Beacon for versatility and comfort.

Nike Pegasus 35 Turbo (RTR Review)
Jeff: Both shoes fit true-to-size 10.5. Another lightweight daily trainer to put against the Beacon 2, the Peg Turbo boasts Nike’s ultra premium ZoomX foam, and has the price tag to match. Peg Turbo weighs nearly an ounce heavier at 8.7 ounces, but has much more rubber on the outsole to make up for it. Beacon’s upper is much more comfortable, and the New Balance foam is much easier to run in - ZoomX without a carbon fiber plate (ala Vaporfly) can feel mushy and unstable which are two words I’d never use to describe the Beacon. Save yourself $60 and go Beacon 2.

Skechers Performance GoRun 7 Hyper (RTR Review)
Jeff: Both shoes fit true-to-size 10.5. Both shoes are within a tenth of an ounce of each other, and stack heights feel comparable. GR7H has one of the best midsoles in running shoe history, unfortunately it is mated with a problematic upper that doesn’t hold the foot as well as the midsole would like. It also has substantially more rubber on the outsole in the form of strategically placed pods that should give the shoe more longevity. If you can make the upper work for you, take the Skechers and don’t look back. If the upper hold is wonky, and it very well may be, stick with the Beacon 2 and know that you have a drama free running shoe.

Skechers Performance Razor 3 Hyper (RTR Review)
Jeff: Beacon 2 is true-to-size 10.5, R3H is half size up 11. The Razor 3 Hyper is nearly an ounce lighter, has substantially more rubber on the outsole, and by feel a similar stack height. The upper holds as well as the Beacon 2’s upper, though the Beacon 2 has much more room up front. R3H has a similar effect on me as the Beacon 2 - even easy miles get faster. The Fresh Foam Ground Control foam in the Beacon 2 is great, but the Hyperburst midsole is nearly revolutionary. Spend the extra $10 on the Razor 3 Hyper, and don’t worry about the word “Speed” written on the side even if you don’t win races. Grow up, it’s an amazing shoe.

The product reviewed was provided at no cost. The opinions herein are the authors'.
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Anonymous said...

It would be great to have a comparison with the Hoka Rincon and New Balance Propel too, thanks.

Anonymous said...

Hello guys, first of all, I would like to thank you for your work, it's a blog reference for me, congratulations from Spain!

Between the new balance beacon V2 and the new balance fuelcell propel, which one has the softer cushioning? Which of both is more similar to the Skechers gorun ride 7? How would you compare the cushioning of both with the Skechers gorun ride 8 hyper?

Thanks for the answer!



Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Fer,
Thanks for kind words about RTR!
Sorry should have included Propel (and have now in comparisons) but both shoes in early testing but for sure Propel is softer, bouncier, and with higher rebound than even the nice Fresh Foam in the Beacon. It is also about 2 oz /56 g heavier. Propel should make a nice easier days (although it moves fast) complement to the firmer Beacon for NB fans. GOrun Ride 7 is more cushioned than Beacon 2 and also would make a good compliment. Can't comment on GORun Ride 8 as it is still not released but in general Hyper Burst foam shoes have a springy feel, far springier than Fresh Foam but not as bouncy soft as FuelCell
Sam, Editor

Jim said...

+1 for a Rincon comparison.


Boris said...

I tried the 1080v9 and the Beacon 1 in 43. The 1080v9 was great, the Beacon 1 was too big and wide upfront, quite sloppy. Maybe I could have tried to downsize .5 on the Beacon 1.

Would you say the Beacon 2 is closer to the 1080v9 in terms of upfront fit ?

Thanks !

Curious runner said...

Also +1 for the rincon comparison pls!

BoulderMike said...

I am enjoying this shoe but for one issue. I tried it for a 15 mile run this past weekend and experienced an issue by the tongue on the left shoe. The laces rubbed against my my ankle on the inside of my foot later in the run because the unattached tongue shifted.
Have any of the reviewers experienced this issue, and if so, any suggestions on how to lock down the collar, and/or re-lace the shoe to eliminate the laces rubbing against the ankle when the collar shifts to expose the laces to the foot?