Monday, March 30, 2020

ASICS MetaRacer Multi Tester Review: "Shaken not Stirred"

Article by Derek Li, Hope Wilkes, Sally Reiley, Michael Ellenberger and Sam Winebaum

ASICS MetaRacer ($200)
Stats
  Official Weight: 6.7 oz / 190 g
  Samples: men’s US8.5 190 g / 6.7 oz
                  men’s US9.5 200g / 7.05 oz
                  women’s US8  168 g /5.9 oz
      women’s US9 182 g/6.42 oz         
Stack Height: 24mm heel, 15 mm forefoot, 9 mm (may not include sockliner)
Available Japan April 17, 2020; elsewhere June 26, 2020, $200

Introduction
Sam: Two years in development by teams in Japan and Boston,  the ASICS MetaRacer is the brand’s carefully considered and distinctive entry into the super race shoe, race. Its midsole includes a bottom loaded (below the midsole) double wishbone shaped, front to mid foot carbon plate below the same type of cellulose nanofiber infused Flyte Foam midsole as the Nimbus Lite for bounce, lightness and durability yet with no plate at the heel for a softer landing and for decoupling to move the gait forward,

As with the Glideride and Evoride it incorporates ASICS Guide Sole technology to reduce ankle flexion and lower leg motion. The outsole is ASICS Grip.

The upper is a single layer, highly hydrophobic engineered mesh with a special emphasis in design on airflow. In a functional nod to ASICS heritage, yes they were creating state of the art marathon racers way back in the 1960’s, it even includes a front air circulation port as seen in the 1960's Magic Runner below which was created by the ASICS founder as over the years their research shows lowering foot temperature has a positive influence on reducing heart rate.
The result is a 6.7 oz, 24mm heel / 15 forefoot stack state of the art racing flat for the elite marathoner. Prototype results have been promising with Sara Hall clocking a 2:22 PR at Berlin and Emma Bates a 2:25 at Chicago.

The ASICS product and PR team were kind enough to give our review team a detailed briefing with Q&A via a video call after our testing was complete.


I titled the review "Shaken not Stirred" as, if James Bond needed a fast shoe to get away from bad guys, I am pretty sure he would select the classy MetaRacer with all its tech subtle and under the hood, as in his Austin Martin. Now the color. He might chose something more subtle but who knows!

Sunday, March 29, 2020

New Balance Fresh Foam 880v10 Multi Tester Review: A Totally Modernized Classic Trainer

Article by Don Reichelt, Hope Wilkes, Renee Krusemark and Sam Winebaum


New Balance 880v10 ($130)

Introduction

Sam: The 880 long a stalwart neutral daily trainer of the more traditional variety gets a total modernization while still retaining a 10mm drop and and easy to move along all training purposes ride. The changes start with a single piece Fresh Foam X midsole in place of the prior Acteva (underfoot for support) and below  Abzorb (an EVA rubber blend for cushion and compression resistance) foam combination. The upper is now Hypoknit engineered knit with zonal areas of stretch and structure.

New Balance 880v9

Hope: Hard to be sure, but I think I had the 880v5 many moons ago. Quite a lot has changed in terms of NB’s design choices and foam tech since then! I generally gravitate toward uptempo trainers and racers for my daily miles, so this model is a bit of a departure from my personal preferences. Even so, it’s clear to me that the 880v10 gets a lot right. Details matter when you’re choosing a shoe to run in on a daily basis and NB has done a masterful job of nailing the details.



Don: Right out of the box the 880 stands out as a workhorse in the daily trainer category. I haven’t considered New Balance in a long time, mostly because the fit hasn’t been right for me for some time. But combined with a nice, responsive Fresh Foam midsole and a surprisingly great knit upper, the 880 has really nailed it for me. After my first run, this shoe had quickly become one of my long day shoes because it just has so much going for it! 


Renee: I have not run in a New Balance shoe for probably eight years, and even then, it was a shoe in the minimus line. I have the New Balance OG Fresh Foam Cruz v1, which I wear casually. I like a light shoe, even for daily miles. The 880v10 is not super heavy, but it is heavier than I prefer. That said, the shoe is comfortable right from the box. The upper and midsole have many positives, and I think the shoe has appeal for a variety of runners. I prefer a ground feel shoe as opposed to a soft, cushion feel and while the 880v10 is a cushion feel, it does so without feeling too squishy and soft. I received the “light slate with bali blue” color, which I thought looked nice (the plushy tongue has orange trim). The more I look at them, they remind me of the dentist office. Not sure why.

Note: None of our testers ran in the v9. Sam ran in the v7 GTX a while ago,

Pros:

Sam: 

Easy transitions at all paces including slow

Soft and extremely well cushioned without being mushy

Upper 

Versatile for most runs except workouts/uptempo for some.

Hope: outstanding heel hold, tongue thickness is just right for a comfortable fit without being too puffy, toebox height, lots of reflective trim

Don: Great cushion while retaining feel, stable platform, comfortable and secure knit upper (first time I’ve ever said that!) Awesome daily trainer for just about anything but track days

Renee: A cushioned midsole without being squishy and a very comfortable upper; the heel hold is positively supportive while running steep hills (on pavement ONLY); the outsole performs well on dirt/gravel (flat surfaces) for a road shoe



Cons:

Sam:

Stout external heel counter may add unnecessary weight

Hope: heavy, heel gets in the way a bit especially on hills, could be more flexible up front, no discernible rebound/energy return feeling

Don: A bit heavy, possibly over engineered

Renee: heavy; the heel hold is great for uphill on pavement (i.e. supportive when the legs are sore); however, the heel hold is intrusive when running up and down hills on gravel/dirt; the neutral support features (coupled with the weight) do not work well for uneven surfaces; also, I hate the puffy tongue look



Tester Profiles

Editor's Note: We welcome Renee Krusemark to the RTR test team for this her first review.
Renee is a former U. S. Marine journalist, which is when her enjoyment of running and writing started. She isn’t that awesome of a runner, but she tries really hard. Most of her weekly 50-60 miles take place on rural country roads in Nebraska, meaning mud, gravel, dirt, hills, and the occasional field. She runs a half marathon around 1:40 and hopes to get a full marathon at 3:30(ish) some day. Not today. But some day. 

Don is a competitive ultra runner with races under his belt, including a 16:27 100-mile trail PR and a third place finish at the 2018 Badwater 135. Primarily runs the trails in Colorado but also holds a marathon PR of 2:45. 

Hope is in her 20’s and after several ultras is now more on the road. She has a marathon PR of 3:47. She trains about 50 miles per week with many of her runs in the (broad) 8:00-10:00/mile range. She is happy to hit 7:30 miles on tempo days.

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 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the just sub 1:40 range training 30-40 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.


First Impressions and Fit

Hope: Not my favorite shade of blue, but undeniably a handsome shoe. Smooth shape without pretentions of super-modern or minimalist design. This is a shoe designed to protect your feet over hundreds of daily miles. That’s visible at a glance: sturdy external heel counter, lots of rubber outsole, supportive upper, and a moderately thick midsole. My US men’s 8 (my preference -- thanks, NB) fits true to size.

Don: Good looking shoe right out of the box, the gigantic (over engineered?) external heel counter really stands out at first sight. Visually, this shoe is everything you’d expect from a high mileage daily trainer. Nothing super flashy, but better looking than other options in the category! I’m usually a 12.5, but New Balance sent me a size 13 for my test pair. Honestly, I can get by with the 13 but think the 12.5 would have been perfect for me, making it fit true to I’d think. The toebox is surprisingly generous (might be a byproduct of my half size up) and the knit upper feels great on the fit and holds the fit well. 



Step in feel is everything I’d expected; soft, welcoming, and inviting for a run. I won’t be screaming at you to take it to the track, but you might get an urge to look up a local social group run as soon as you put it on your foot. Just has that perfect easy day feel to it!

Sam: True to size with a comfortable broad and soft toe box (wides also available). Midfoot hold is secure but not constraining. The rear achilles collar could be touch softer and less rigid. The fit is just about perfect for those basic every day miles.


The look is modern and Fresh to go with the updated Fresh Foam midsole.


Renee: The shoe is comfortable right from the box. On first impression, the shoe seemed a bit narrow on the lateral side. The toe box is wide enough (I have the B width), but the side overlays and thicker upper along the sides were a bit intrusive on my little toe. That feeling lessened as I ran in the shoe. My note would be if you find the shoes slightly narrow, just wait. The upper is flexible. I found that the heel collar hit my ankle more than I liked, but neither the heel collar or toe box bothered me when running. The shoe has a cushion feel without being too soft, which I like. As a daily trainer, I would wear this shoe for easy, slow runs. I’m not a fan of the big plushy tongues, but it doesn’t affect the shoe itself. For size, I wear between a women’s 7.5 and 8, almost always choosing an 8. Of note, the women’s size 8 in the 880v10 is slightly shorter than my size 8 in other brands (Reebok FFE OG, Brooks Ravenna 10, Pegasus 37). If you are between sizes, I would go with the longer size. 


Upper

Hope: I realize it’s not very descriptive, but my immediate impression is that the upper is NICE. Soft and comfortable without being overly thick. Support and lockdown is excellent, especially in the heel. I especially appreciate the abundant reflective trim. As a late-night and early-morning runner, this safety feature is important to me. The toebox offers plenty of room to flex my toes without being cavernous. My one concern here is that the upper might run a bit warm in summer weather because the knit is fairly dense. The laces are the right length, stay tied, and have a bit of stretch to them — perfection!



Don: I have never said this before so I had to sit down while writing this… I like this knit upper on this shoe. Wow, that even surprised me. I usually find knit uppers to be sloppy and unforgiving to my gait… but this shoe really blends the knit upper with the security of a traditional upper. It feels good, gives where it should, and holds where it should. I second Hope that it might get a little warm when the sun comes out and the days get hotter, but that’s a minor concern for an upper that seems to do everything else well for me. Due to the thick, potentially absorbent knit, I feel it could also be a nightmare in adverse weather conditions. I ran once on a muddy-ish/wet day and it soaked up everything it could rather quickly. 


Sam: The new engineered Hypoknit upper brilliantly balances the soft comfort and give of knit with no fuss (cages, overlays, over snug or loose stretch compression) structural support in all the right places. 


The knit is made up of three kinds of fiber: the main blue which is soft and slightly stretchy, the white which seems to provide a touch of structure and a silvery fiber at mid foot which clearly when pressing the upper provides effective but unobtrusive support in conjunction with the New Balance "N".

The collars are more traditional in design than other 2020 New Balance trainers such as the 1080v10 or More v2 which have molded thin and weight saving "elf" like shapes,  The result is a super comfortable, roomy, and more than adequately supportive upper for daily training miles.


Renee: The upper is great. Secure enough without being tight. Perfect. I do have a slight issue with the lateral side overlay, but the knit upper is more flexible than it looks. I can’t stand to have a cramped toe box, and the 880v10 is roomy and comfortable. The toe box area allows for air, but I did find the midfoot and heel areas to become hot during a long run in only 75 degree (fahrenheit) weather, which suggests that during summer months, the shoe might lack breathability. 


Midsole

The 880v10 gets a Fresh Foam midsole vs the prior Abzorb and Acteva combination.


Hope: The FreshFoam feels a great deal firmer in the 880v10 relative to other FreshFoam models out now. This is a case where I have to acknowledge that the midsole is of high quality, but isn’t my preference. Heavier runners will appreciate the resilience of this iteration of FreshFoam. At my size, I’m not compressing it enough to get a noticeable rebound effect, so the foam feels a bit dead to me. I’ll also note that cold weather running could’ve had an effect on the midsole’s performance for me as some foams firm up at low temperatures.


Don: I haven’t run in New Balance in quite some time, so I think this is actually my first Fresh Foam shoe. Hard to believe, but it’s true. Safe to say, I’m really impressed with how it feels on slower or recovery days for me. It has a ton of cushion while somehow still giving me a sense for the ground, something I miss from a lot of other shoes in this category. It feels like a perfect tradeoff between a firm ground feel and a squishy soft feeling… I really like it! 


Sam: A great softer and low stack midsole at 22mm heel / 12mm forefoot (without sockliner) While not the "fastest" Fresh Foam shoe the best for me as it combines plentiful heel cushion with nice rebound with a more agile if somewhat thinner cushioned forefoot than say the 1080v10 or More v2. 


As on other New Balance Fresh Foam trainers such as the 1080 and More one can see the laser engraving and data driven shaping of the lateral midsole sidewalls above which contribute to deflection and rebound while the smaller shapes on the lateral side add a touch of stability.

And now that Fresh Foam shoes outsolesare no longer monolithic, stiff slabs of lozenge shaped rubber pads, the full Fresh Foam experience  underfoot (foam itself and the side wall shaping) actually works and with the flexibility here works really well for me. Fluid, flexible, well cushioned, and decently stable and responsive the feel here.


Renee: I liked the midsole even though I prefer a ground feel. There is cushion, but without being too soft. I don’t think the midsole is responsive enough to use the shoe for anything other than easy paces, but I think that might also depend on the weight of the runner. 


Outsole

New outsole design along the lines of 1080v10


Hope: Grip is good. No problems cornering on wet roads. I think I’d prefer a thinner outsole that was full-coverage, but I understand NB’s choice here from a flexibility perspective.



Don: Adequate grip with no complaints here. There’s a lot of rubber down there so I’d estimate a solid amount of life in the rubber for an average runner. 


Sam: Yes, plenty of grip on wet and dry roads but not an outsole for snow and ice due to broad contact shapes. The real story of this outsole is the excellent geometric decoupling and flex grooves which allow the shoe to transition easily at slow and moderate paces and more than adequately at speed. The lug pattern is similar to the 1080v10 and More v2 but here with a less monolithic patten with the result  a more flexible shoe.


Renee: I ran a crushed rock path, pavement, and country (dirt/loose gravel) roads in the 880v10 and the outsole did better than expected on the rock and dirt. For a road shoe, the outsole performed as well as other options (Pegasus, Ravenna). 



Ride

Hope: Just okay. More fun on the treadmill (where I appreciated the touch of stability that the shoe’s weight provides) than on roads. I felt the heel got in the way a bit on hill climbs and descents. Overall the feel is a bit heel-heavy. I love how perfectly the external heel counter holds my foot, but might be willing to sacrifice that reassuring feel for a bit less weight at the back of the shoe. As I mentioned above, the midsole didn’t feel at all dynamic to me. It’s tough for a fairly traditional foam to impress with all of the “super foams” on the market!



Don: I actually really like the ride from the 880. For an everyday, high mileage trainer, this feels like one of the better options to me. I really like how secure and stable the shoe feels during all phases of the gait cycle, no matter if you’re running uphill, downhill, or flats. It’s not going to shock your world like some of the crazy new technologies might, but it’s going to do one thing really well; allow you to keep running day after day. 


Sam: A classic higher drop daily trainer ride but one with a modern Fresh Foam ride which has plenty of cushion and some rebound from the combination of midsole and softer outsole. Actually as the drop is higher and the forefoot somewhat thinner. the ride is more lively and agile at slower paces than either stiffer or more rockered competitors and stable mates. There is no "struggle" to amble along or pick up the pace, to a point as this is not an uptempo training ride but a daily all purpose big miles ride. This said most daily training is not a race and for that purpose the 880v10 has very good and comfortable versatility,  


Renee: Heavy for me, overall, but the ride has its time and place. On hilly country roads, the heel support was too intrusive going up and down hills. The heel counter/collar comes up higher than I like. I think the cause of this is not the shoe, but the uneven surfaces. However, on hilly pavement/even surfaces, that heel support was great. I think the even surfaces allowed the neutral-yet-stable features to do their thing. Going up hill on pavement, with sore legs, the heel support was coddling. I think the 880v10 can be a great trainer for a runner who wants more hills (on pavement) but needs support (without wanting to wear an actual support shoe). The shoes can handle a slow pace for me (9 to 10 minute/mile pace), and I could run short distances, less than 10 miles, at an 8 minute/mile pace. Definitely not a tempo, interval, or race-pace shoe for me because of the weight. The shoe is better suited for my short, slow runs (around 9 minute/mile pace; less than 10 mile distance). The shoes felt okay on a 16-mile slow run (9:10 minute/mile pace), but the weight of the shoes became more than noticeable after mile 10. I think for lighter runners, the shoes are too heavy for long distances.  


Conclusions and Recommendations

 

Hope: Ultimately this shoe isn’t my cup of tea, but runners who put their trainers through the wringer and heavier runners may want to give these a look. I appreciate NB’s thoughtful upper design and love the heel lockdown.

Hope’s Score: 8.5/10

-1.0 for lack of dynamic midsole feel

-0.5 for weight


Don: I think this shoe is going to be a favorite of mine for slower fun runs and longer days I’m leaving the watch at home. It feels like a shoe I can put a ton of miles into, which means it’s likely to be a great value for runners looking for one shoe to take out daily. I admittedly don’t have a ton of shoes in this category, but honestly that’s because I’ve never liked the few I’ve tried. This one feels different to my foot, and gives me a solid road option for the days I’m not out on trails!  

Don’s Score 9.25/10 

-0.75 for weight concerns due to upper and over-engineering  


Sam: Not the most exciting but one of the most polished and up to date classic daily trainers out there. Totally modernized with a Fresh Foam midsole,  well matched outsole, and comfortable engineered knit upper that actually has no real compromises as knit uppers often have, the 880v10 is solid! It is also a solid value for a durable up to date trainer at $130. It is a great choice for both beginner runners seeking a do it all shoe, and experienced runners seeking a high mileage, durable and comfortable daily driver,

Sam's Score: 9.2 /10

Ride: 9.2 (50%) Fit: 9.4 (30%) Value: 9 (15%) Style: 9 (5%)


Renee: The midsole and upper are comfortable, no questions asked. This is a daily trainer for slow/easy miles. Given the weight, the shoes might appeal more to heavy runners or runners who want support without wanting an actual support shoe. Also, I found the shoes very supportive (in a good way) when running hills on pavement with tired legs. I don’t recommend the shoes for uneven surfaces, but they can handle a non-technical path if it’s flat. Because of the heel support, I think this shoe might be a great choice for runners who want to train with more hills (on pavement), but still need that support. 

Renee’s score: 8.5/10

-.5 weight

-.5 limited use (i.e. easy/slow paces only)

-.5 slightly intrusive heel and heel counter (depending on the surfaces)


WATCH SAM'S 880v10 VIDEO REVIEW


Comparisons Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v10 (RTR Review)
Sam: The choice here is between a more rockered ride in the 1080v10 vs a flatter profile  and more flexible higher drop conventional geometry in the 880v10. The 1080v10 will lean slightly more towards faster paces than the 880v10. I prefer the less stretch less compressive higher toe box volume upper of the 880v10 .


New Balance Fresh Foam More v2 (RTR Review)
Hope: I ran the FFMv2 and the 880v10 back to back. I think the 880v10 has the better upper by far and a grippier outsole, but prefer the underfoot feel and lighter weight of the FFMv2. I’ll punt here and suggest trying then both on.
Sam: The More v2 is 4mm drop, stiffer, and does not have much of a rocker but moves along. It is a full ounce ligher.  It is clearly more cushioned, especially at the forefoot While More is $30 more its fine roomy upper is kind of crude and rough in comparison to the 880’s. The choice comes down to ride preference. I prefer the more easier going ride of the 880.

New Balance FuelCell TC (RTR Review)
Sam: A totally different concept for the TC with a carbon plate, stiff rocker profile, and bouncier more cushioned Fuel Cell midsole. The 880v10 has a broader slower pace versatility as it can more easily cruise slowly and is $70 less but for sheer fun and speed plus race potential no question the TC.

Watch RTR's 880v10, 1080v10, More v2, and Fuel Cell TC Comparison Video

Asics GlideRide (RTR Review)
Hope: A bit unfair to compare a “concept car” shoe to a somewhat vanilla trainer. The exaggerated toe spring in the GlideRide keeps things rolling along smoothly. I prefer the comfort of the 880v10, but the GlideRide is more fun and better suited for speedier efforts.
Sam: Agree with Hope. The 880 does have the advantage of accommodating slower easy paces a bit better. I would flip a coin on which upper I prefer. They both are outstanding with 880 leaning slightly more towards comfort and Glideride toperformance,


ASICS Cumulus 22
Hope: The Cumulus 22 feels lighter and snappier than you’d expect. That liveliness beats out the 880v10 although the uppers are close in terms of quality and style.

ASICS Nimbus 21 (RTR Review)
Hope: A case of a touch too soft vs. a touch too firm. I’d choose the Nimbus, but note that this softer shoe’s outsole seems noticeably less durable than the bomb-proof 880v10’s.


Brooks Ghost (RTR Review)
Hope: The Ghost 11 has similarly heel-loaded cushioning. Although its upper is absolutely gorgeous, the shoe felt barely runnable to me because it was so stiff, so the 880v10 is the easy choice.
Sam: Agree with Hope 100%. Ghost is almost a lump in comparison and Ghost fans looking for a livelier, more flexible traditional higher drop daily trainer should for sure consider the 880.


Saucony Triumph 17 (RTR Review)
Hope: The T17 is bouncy and plush. Runners in need of stability will prefer the 880v10’s more conventional midsole, but I enjoyed the T17’s ride over the 880v10’s.

Nike Zoom Vomero 14 (RTR Review)
Don:  I feel like the Vomero runs much lighter on the foot, but really didn’t work with my foot. The 880 stands out as a clear winner, albeit just a wee bit heavier (about a ½ oz) and a shoe you’d be less likely to actually race in. 
Sam: Vomero 14 was my 2018 shoe of the year for its rear stability with lively fast and thinner forefoot feel, a feel I like. It was a shoe for fast long runs. The 880v10 also has a thinner forefoot but a more cushioned one. Its flex is easier going and easier to move comfortably at slower paces but not as exciting run fast. It is a more versatile choice in a daily trainer than Vomero.
Hope: I’m with Sam. The Vomero is a dynamite shoe that runs faster than expected. Much more lively than the 880v10 so you won’t be bothered by the (minimal) extra weight.

Nike Pegasus 37 (RTR Review soon)

Renee: Both shoes are heavy for me, as I prefer even my daily trainers to be less than 7.75 ounces at most (the 880v10, size 8 weighed approximately 8 ounces on my scale and the Pegasus 37 is fairly close). The Pegasus 37 has a ground feel while the 880v10 has more of a cushion, plush feel. The React in the Pegasus 37 allows for faster paces than the 880v10, but neither shoe is capable of tempo or solid interval runs for me because of the weight. If you need some support and cushion, the 880v10 is better. If you want ground-feel and don’t need support, go with the Pegasus 37. 


Read reviewers' full run bios here
The product reviewed was provided at no cost. The opinions herein are the authors'.
Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and current preferred shoes

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