Tuesday, August 11, 2020

New Balance Fresh Foam X Beacon v3 7 Tester Review: One Foam Courageously Succeeding as Midsole and Outsole

Article by Ryan Eiler, Sally Reiley, Peter Stuart, Hope Wilkes, Michael Ellenberger, Mac Jeffries, and Derek Li

Fresh Foam X Beacon v3 ($120)

Introduction

The Beacon v3 gets a snazzy new engineered mesh upper and some mysterious X changes to its Ground Contact Fresh Foam midsole. It gains a bit of weight, about 0.5 oz. Seemingly not that strikingly different looking than v2, although the midsole side wall geometry is visibly different, the key question the team set out to answer: How does it ride? How does it fit? Where does it shine ?

Pros:

Ryan/Sally/Jeff - Impressive cushion/weight ratio 

Ryan/Sally/Hope - Engineered mesh upper fits like a glove

Ryan - Fresh Foam midsole has a huge range of capabilities

Sally - Enjoyable ride that strikes that right balance (for me) of firm but soft

Sally - Good value for a very versatile shoe

Peter- Fun

Peter Great fit, great ride.

Mac/Jamie: Ample fit in toe box

Michael: Lively and fun - especially at faster clips!


Cons:

Ryan - Wish the heel counter was more robust down low

Ryan/Sally/Michael - Traction suffers a bit with foam-heavy outsole

Sally: Outsole pattern is a rock magnet on gravel

Peter: my right shoe makes a ticking noise. 

Mac: Upper/Lacing tends to loosen during runs

Jamie: Too firm for a daily trainer

Michael: Slightly long in the toe (well-fitting elsewhere)


Stats

Approx. Weight:: men's 8.0 oz/ 227g(US9)  /  women's 7.1 oz / 201g (US8)

  Samples:US W8: 7.1 oz / 201 g, US M9.5: 8.3oz / 236g US M9.5 US9.5 8.54oz / 242g

 Approximate v1 weight (based on samples): 7.4 oz / 210g  men’s US9 

Stack Height: 26mm / 20mm, Offset 6mm

Available now.  $120

Tester Profiles

Ryan Eller A hopeless soccer career led Ryan to take up running, and after taking a decade-long break from competing, he is back racking up mileage whenever he can.  He calls the 2018 Boston Marathon the hardest race of his life, where he finished in 2:40, barely remembering his name at the finish line.

Ryan decided to forego his Wall Street job to be a gear junkie, and is currently the fledgling entrepreneur behind his company, Bridger Helmets.  Most days, you'll find him loping along the Charles River in Boston.  Of all the places he's run, Central Park NYC and the New Hampshire coast top his list.

Sally is a mother of five who ran her first marathon at age 54, and has now run the past six Boston Marathons and one Chicago, with a 2017 Boston PR of 3:29, good for 8th in her age group. Along the way she has raised over $200,000 for Massachusetts Eye and Ear Hospital running with Team Eye and Ear. A relative newbie to road racing, she has achieved All-American status in the 10K (44:04) and 5K. To commemorate her 60th birthday she ran the NYC Marathon in November finishing 2nd in her age group with a PR time of 3:28:39.  Sally is a compact (petite) runner at 5’2’’ and 105 pounds.

Peter lives in Austin, Texas and has been a sub 3 hour marathoner as well as a 1:25 half marathoner in recent years

Mac is a former 275 lbs American football defensive lineman who took up running at age 30. Now, at 6’4” (193cm) 200 lbs (91kg) he has PRs of 19:19, 1:33:xx, and 3:19:xx. He runs 50-70 miles per week

Michael is a 2019 graduate of Northwestern University Law School in Chicago, with an interest in patent and intellectual property law. Prior to law school, he competed collegiately at Washington University in St. Louis (10,000m PR of 30:21). He recently finished 2nd at the Chicago Half-Marathon in a PR of 67:43, and was the top Illinois finisher in the 2017 Boston Marathon (2:33:03, 82nd overall). He recently secured a 2:31 marathon PR at the Austin Marathon. 

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.

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.


First Impressions and Fit


Ryan:  Out of the box, the heel has a rounded, somewhat nontraditional shape. In hand, the first thing I felt was how supple the heel counter seemed. So soft, that I was skeptical it could do a proper job of holding my foot in place at pace. The engineered mesh upper is handsome, not overly done, and has a seamless appearance that looks as if it would be comfortable. Because of the Pegasus-esque heel tab and how pliable the rear of the shoe acts, it slides on with ease. 

My M9.5 fit true to size, with perhaps a touch more space than usual in the toe box.


Sally: My initial reaction when I lifted the shoe out of the box was Wow, this shoe is light! And cool looking (my 25 year old daughter reacted with a thumbs up in approval). It felt great on the foot, almost like a well broken in favorite pair of shoes. They fit true to size, although they are very ample in the toe box for my narrow foot. 

The flared heel looks weird, but provides more support than the softness of the heel structure would indicate, and makes for a very easy entry. I was curious as to how they would perform on the run!


Peter: What, a new Beacon? Whoa! (actual first reaction). I immediately noticed that the upper is softer than the Beacon 2 and the shoe has an overall more cush vibe. I have no idea what I mean by that, but that’s what I thought. Fit is great. The shoe slides on, laces up and is supportive in all the right ways. It’s an excellent fitting shoe that has given me no problems at all. 


Mac: I discovered the OG Beacon by accident. Tried it on in a Factory store the day it was released - completely by chance - and (they didn’t have my exact size) ended up calling random NB stores around the country until I found someone willing to ship me a size 14. I was that impressed with it. My only real complaint with v1 and v2 was that the toebox didn’t “give” a whole lot. V3 has changed that: the fit is comfortable right out of the box, and the size 14D fit my 13.5E foot just fine with no pressure on my tailor’s bunion. 


Hope: A fan of the Beacon since the OG for its lightweight, snappy ride, I was eagerly awaiting the update. The Beacon v2 is one of my most-run shoes from this summer! My first impression of v3 slots in somewhere between Peter’s and Mac’s: another stunning upper from NB and a midsole that’s a bit beefier than before.


Michael: Long-time New Balance wearer, first-time Beacon user! And what an exciting time to try them - the Beacon 3 is cool, refined, and ready to roll. With a heel vaguely reminiscent of the new FreshFoam More and a bouncy, FreshFoam X-laden midsole, what’s not to like? Let’s get running!


Derek: I like the aesthetics of the shoe. Very simple, calm colors. The big thing that stands out is of course the heel area for me. I skipped Beacon 2 and 1080v10, so this is my first time trying the elf-ear heel in a NB shoe. Step in feel was good, and the heel wrap and Achilles support were better than expected. 

Overall, shoe volume is on the generous side, especially in the toe-box. Lacing up and walking around, the lockdown is decent, but it still feels like Beacon 1 to me. I have 2 pairs of Beacon 1, both with less than 100 miles on them, because while they are decent shoes, the ride doesn’t particularly wow me in terms of dynamism. I was hoping for Fresh Foam X (it is X right?) would change the ride significantly, but I have to say walking around in the shoe, I’m maybe feeling a little bit more bounce from the foam, but the difference is less than I was expecting. It’s sort of like you are expecting Razor 3 but get Ride 8, if you know what I mean. Well, things may change once we get running.

Upper

Ryan: There isn’t much pomp and circumstance, just a well-shaped mesh to receive your foot in an anatomically friendly way. Minimal overlays/bolstering are required because of how well the mesh contours and holds the foot in place. Breathability is a strength here, and with a simply designed tongue, there isn’t any additional bootie-like fabric to wrap around your foot and retain excess heat/sweat.

The heel counter fascinated me, and I was sure I was going to hate it before I tried it on. To my hand, it felt way too soft and flexible, as I could flatten the entire heel with a squeeze of my thumb.  

Boy, was I pleasantly surprised when I turned it up to 10k pace and it proved me wrong. It left me thinking that maybe most of my other shoes’ heels are overly engineered. I noticed its stretch only slightly when running uphill at a solid effort. 

The collar of internal padding around the heel helped to compensate for its thinness, and probably helped keep things situated. Well played, New Balance.

Sally: The upper is indeed simple and not over-engineered. It is very light and breathable, yet holds the foot securely. It seems as if  the large N (for New Balance, duh) serves to provide some structure to the midfoot. I experienced zero heel slippage, even without using the extra lace hole (which seems very low on the ankle to me). There are pads inside the ankle along the sides that are very similar to the pads on the Nike Vaporfly Next%, which lock the foot in comfortably. I found I needed higher socks, however, and socks without a heel tab, so as to avoid clashing with the heel counter. The tongue is Goldilocks simple, not too anything. 

The toe box is generously ample, bordering too ample for a narrow foot such as mine. All in all, this simple, clean upper works great.


Peter: Yup, NB got the upper just right here. I agree with Sally about those little pads inside the heel. They do a terrific job of holding the foot in without creating any pressure or friction (like they did on the OG FF More). They are plenty breathable (And I’m running in Texas summer heat). Lacing is simple and efficient and the tongue is a perfect thickness and length (It’s weird how many shoes get the tongue wrong, but this isn’t one of them). It’s mesh, and mesh works. Kudos to NB on taking what worked about the previous iterations of the Beacon upper and refining them.


Mac: I echo what the others said: Simple and effective upper. My only real complaint is that I felt the shoe loosened a little over the course of my runs, so that I wanted to re-tighten them mid run. That is a favorable alternative to a shoe feeling too tight, mind you, but it is something to consider. 


Hope: Can I just use a bunch of flame emojis? The upper is beautiful and thoughtfully designed. I was skeptical about the achilles flare when it debuted in the Beacon v2, but again here it’s proven itself capable of contributing to a comfortably locked down fit. The heel pods are bigger than in the v2, but I don’t notice them while running. They just work. The Beacon v3 has a “pull the laces tight and go” kind of upper -- not at all fiddly or difficult to adjust. The smooth, overlay-free toebox is roomy without being cavernous. I would describe the fit as performance-minded, but not race tuned.


Michael: New Balance has made some terrific uppers lately (see: FuelCell TC, Propel v1, and Prism), and the Beacon 3 is absolutely no exception. In fact - it’s perhaps the best entry yet (though in the end, I think the TC edges it out - but it’s close!). The heel collar flares away from the achilles effectively, and the lacing, while not overly tight, was snug enough for even some faster running. Plus, the breathability (on some muggy Chicago days) is there. New Balance has a definite win here. 


My only knock against it here is the toebox - it’s not wide, but it’s just too long in the toe box. I wouldn’t go down to a size 8 (I think the rest of the fit, especially through the midfoot, would be a little too snug), but there’s just a little too much room up front. Not a deal breaker - probably easily alleviated by thicker socks - but something to keep in mind if you tend to be in-between sizes.


Derek: The upper definitely feels thinner and more breathable than Beacon 1 (again, I skipped v2). While Beacon 1 had a bit more of a fabric upper feel, this one feels more like synthetic mesh up front with the molded neoprene feel of the heel counter. Overall, I like the new upper. It is relaxed in fit, but still affords quite good lockdown and pretty much does its job and disappears on your foot during the run. It breathes very well for the warm humid conditions I run in, and does everything you need from an upper. The elf-ear is a total non-issue and I experienced no heel slippage or Achilles rubbing from it. I think the trick is that they got the internal padding around the heel just right. That elf-ear looks quite thin and flimsy from the outside, but there is actually pretty good padding on the inside, more than say some of the Nike Zoom X racers. 

I think with this upper and the overall platform, people are going to find that it fits wider feet and lower arches a little bit better than other recent NB models like the 890v8. Laces are a little bit on the long side, but that’s a minor issue that can easily be rectified.

Midsole

From New Balance:

"With the Beacon v3, we wanted to achieve a light, cushioned and almost airy experience.  Each shoe in the Fresh Foam X collection is formulated a bit different depending on the experience we’re achieving for that particular model."


Ryan: Fresh Foam X doesn’t look like anything special, but after some time with it underfoot, it’s clear that the folks at NB have spent plenty R&D time in training its behavior. It feels firm to the touch, but somehow manages to bring plenty of cushion to an 8.1 oz shoe. I can’t overstate how impressed I am at the amount of cushion that’s provided by such a lightweight shoe, at such a reasonable price. This is one slab of foam that people are going to find hard to hate.

Sally: I found that the midsole and the outsole sort of blend all together into one entity in this shoe. I heartily agree with Ryan that this is an impressive ride, firm yet cushioned while feeling very light on your feet. 


Peter: Definitely an improvement from the Beacon 2. Fresh Foam X feels great underfoot. It’s a really nice balance of firmness and cushion. I don’t find them mushy at all--and I find they provide a decent amount of energy return. I put them on back to back with the Beacon 2 (and then one on each foot) and found a considerably different feel. The 2 feel hard (efficient but a little unforgiving), while the Beacon 3 feel bouncy.


Mac: Definitely digging the FFX. I agree that it is softer than earlier versions. I might like a little more “pop” on faster and longer runs, but overall, this is a very versatile midsole that falls nicely into the upper tier of the “do everything; I can only pack a single pair of running shoes on this trip” category. 


Hope: If Nike’s React compound had a baby with OG Fresh Foam, it would feel like Beacon v3’s midsole. I miss the thinner midsole and greater road feel of the OG and v2, but I expect this will be more of a crowd pleaser. Comparing the flex point in v2 and v3, the v3’s is further towards the midfoot. On the run this translates to less pop out of the forefoot and what I would characterize as a more relaxed ride than previous versions of the Beacon. To me this feels a bit like the Kinvara-ing of the Beacon: a lightweight model gains weight (in this case, midsole weight) to appeal to the traditional trainer crowd. I’ve seen some chatter about the Beacon being a polarizing model and I expect it will be polarizing no more as the updated Fresh Foam X midsole feels forgiving yet firm and still plenty fast.


Michael: Actually, what Hope said is exactly the comparison I was going to make (RTR reviewers think alike?) - the FreshFoam of old, paired with a bouncier React-like cushion, yields FFx. And yep, New Balance has done it right - there’s a healthy portion here, and I’m willing to take any additional weight gain to yield some additional bounce underfoot. It’s not a soft ride, by any means, but it’s springy - and more so at faster clips (I dropped a couple sub-6 miles in these with ease, and even on strides, I felt the energy return immediately). The biggest downside of what NB has packed on the Beacon 3 is that I wish it was on the Propel 2...


Derek: This is, I think, the key area of interest for most people, because NB gave it the Fresh Foam X stamp. The midsole sculpting is also noticeably different from v1 and v2 with the midsole running up a little on the sides to add a little more medial and lateral stability. Personally, having used the shoe for a variety of paces, the stability aspect is a non-issue for me, as the platform is pretty wide and stable to begin with, and not overly squishy as to create instability on foot strike. 

For me, the foam has a subtle bounce to it, that is loads more noticeable at faster paces (<7:20/mile for me) vs. recovery paces. It seems to be a bit more refined and has a bit smoother transition than Beacon 1, while also feeling a little less dead overall. 

Outsole

Ryan: New Balance is heavily relying on Ground Contact Fresh Foam to come through here, as it’s front and center in both the midsole and outsole. With only five orange rubber pods to combat the asphalt, time will tell whether these can last past 400 miles. Grip isn’t as good on wet, non-asphalt surfaces, but on the road the grip was perfectly fine.

There’s a bit more curvature around the perimeter of the heel than is standard, and it felt to me like it allowed more freedom in pronating. The outsole is most certainly not designed with stability in mind, but rather focuses on low inertia and a pleasant under-foot feel.


Sally: It is an unusual outsole with those five thoughtfully placed orange pods, but durability could be an issue.  I agree with Ryan that the outsole is a bit slick on wet and on grass, but seems plenty grippy on dry pavement.  I did find that the pattern of the pods/grid was a rock magnet on gravelly surfaces, and stones got caught between the pods. Not a deal breaker though.


Peter: I’ve got a strange popping going on underfoot on my right shoe at about 40 miles. I have no idea what it is! There’s definitely some wear on the exposed rubber. We shall see how it holds up. I’d say that it’s seeming to wear a little faster than the Rincon 2. So far so good, but these might be a 200-250 mile shoe. 


Mac: The (lack of) outsole does very well here and compliments the purpose of the shoe nicely. It is a quiet shoe that - with the relatively thick midsole - would feel very stiff with a full rubber outsole. Not the best on wet asphalt, but you won’t be doing a ton of puddle running in these anyway, since the midsole would absorb a good deal of water and get heavy quickly. The exposed midsole - ground contact Fresh Foam - may raise durability concerns, but I imagine the midsole will compress before the outsole makes your pair unwearable. 


Hope: Similar tooling to v2, but with more rounded edges and deeper, differently patterned grooves of the rubber and Fresh Foam X Ground Contact pods. I’m not sure what’s gained by further beveling the heel as it likely makes for an unstable ride for heel strikers. Grip seems slightly worse than regular Fresh Foam Ground Contact (which I thought was outstanding, even in league among full-coverage outsoles), but I’m uncertain if that’s related to the foam compound, the depth of the channels crisscrossing the sole, or both. Should be adequate for all-conditions road running, but not advisable for trail running.


Michael: I was surprised - pleasantly - with how the outsole wore over my review miles in the Beacon 3. The photo below represents about 20 miles of road running. 

The outsole looks quite bare, and I was expecting chewed up foam from the initial break in. Instead, I had no noticeable wear (despite running some heavy concrete and cement “trails”), and I imagine the durability here - at least outsole-wise - will be on-par with most shoes of its class (something I wouldn’t necessarily predicted). At the very least, it’s already performing ahead of the exposed Rincon 2 outsole! Unfortunately (or perhaps, fortunately!) I didn’t have any wet conditions to test it in.


Derek: I was surprised to read on the tech sheet that the outsole patches use blown rubber here, because there is already very little outsole rubber to speak of. Comparing to the outsole of Beacon v1, the rubber in v3 seems to be noticeably softer, and that makes me suspect that they went with a different rubber formulation previously (though it is entirely possible that after 2 years, the blown rubber has hardened a bit in my Beacon v1). 

Regardless, I consider the Beacon to be a relatively fast wearing shoe, mainly because of the exposed midsole. I have some forefoot balding on the exposed midsole at the front of the shoes already from one of my faster runs. Grip-wise, it does fine on dry surfaces, and the wider last helps navigate corners pretty well. On wet surfaces, I have found the outsole a little hairy especially when taking corners. I have not gone off-road in this shoe, but I don’t expect it to enjoy even soft trails very much.

Ride

Ryan: I’m not entirely sure how one foam can so courageously succeed at being both a midsole and an outsole, but this one does it well. I think there’s something to be said about using one compound for both purposes -- it creates what I can best describe as a seamless ride. The same foam absorbing your impact is the same one propelling you forward, and it makes heel to toe transition feel very predictable.


The Fresh Foam X manages to provide ample cushion, but avoids acting unstable or lazy like some hyperactive or antiquated midsoles that I won’t mention here. Right from the first few steps of your run, there’s a fleet footed feeling from how little effort it takes to move these along.


I might not reach for these for a hard 5k, or for a marathon training ‘long run’, but for anything in between, these are in play. 


Sally: As I said before, this is an impressive ride, firm yet cushioned while feeling very light on your feet. Personally,  I would like to see more forward roll, but that is probably because I am getting lazy after being spoiled by running in so many much more expensive shoes with features such as Saucony Speedroll and the like. Don’t get me wrong, this shoe feels effortless in many ways, and the Fresh Foam X responds to your every pace. Its versatility is impressive. And at only $120 (sad that we now  say “ONLY” when dropping $120 for a pair of shoes!), this is a great value for a do-it-at-all-paces shoe.


Peter: Cushioned without being mushioned. Rides great for me at any pace. I’ve done long runs, fartleks and hill repeats in them and keep wanting to take them out for more. One of the more enjoyable rides of the year for sure. 


Mac: Plenty of cushion just a tad on the soft side. Good - not great - pop, but makes up for this with plenty of shock absorption. Nice rocker feel on impact through toe-off. 


Hope: I basically agree with what’s been said here. Smooth and soft without being marshmallowy. I’d like to see more toe spring to help encourage quick turnover. On its own, I think I’d be pretty excited about the ride, but as a successor to the Beacon line, I’m a bit disappointed that some of the lightweight feel is gone. Being a sub-9 oz trainer is less special than it used to be, especially in light of all of the “super shoes” available.


Michael: Consider me a fan. Genuinely, the Beacon 3 is a fun ride - and more so at “fun” (faster) paces. It’s not a shoe I would necessarily pull out for pure recovery days - it’s a little too stiff of a ride for that - but I do think it can do anything from easy to tempo. There’s no mush here - if anything, it tends a little towards overly firm - but I think it really performs well at a variety of paces and cadences. There’s a legitimate roll towards the forefoot (more rigid midsoles will facilitate this, if properly balanced), and I really enjoyed getting these moving. I’ll definitely be pulling these out for those autumn progressive long runs.


Derek: Overall, the shoe is good but not great for me. It is good in the sense that it is significantly more enjoyable for me than the Beacon v1, with a livelier ride and (subjectively) better vibration dampening characteristics somehow. There is a subtle bounce to the ride that you notice more at faster paces, and though it is not a shoe I would use for workouts, I have done one progression run in the shoe going down to 6:00/mile pace and the shoe handled the pace well. I think it will make for a fine daily trainer, with a tendency towards moderate pace runs. The big weakness for this shoe is in the outsole grip for me, and I think they might do well to just go with a few more patches of carbon rubber instead.

I personally also feel that this shoe would have been better off going with a 8mm or even 10mm drop; or add a bit more rubber in the heel to firm it up a bit. With so much exposed midsole, any compression of the foam is always going to be more noticeable than if there were some rubber coverage, and the shoe here rides a little flatter than what I expect from a 6mm drop shoe, and by that I mean that when I start to get tired and land a little more towards the heel on foot trike, I am finding it a little more ponderous in the transition department. So with that in mind, I think the Beacon is best suited for midfoot strikers. 

Conclusions and Recommendations

Ryan: Ounce for ounce, the Fresh Foam cushioning is hard to beat. Coupled with its flawless, engineered mesh upper, version 3 of the Beacon is bound to have a solid fan base. This shoe is bound to fit most foot types, given the pliability of both the forefoot mesh and the heel counter. I’d only steer folks away from this one if outsole durability or multi surface traction were of concern.

Ryan’s score: 9.4/10

Deductions for slightly soft heel counter, limited traction and durability


Sally: This good-looking, simple and light shoe impressed me with its firm yet cushioned ride, and its versatility at all paces. This will be a popular shoe for those who don’t want to have to invest in a quiver of different shoes for their running habit. Long or short, tempo or recovery, this shoe can fit the bill! 

Sally’s score:  9.2/10

RIde:   9.6/10   (50%)   Upper: 9.0/10    (30%)  Style:  9.0/10  (15%)      Value: 9.9/10   (5%)


Peter: A strong return to form for the NB Beacon 3. I loved the original (put 650 miles into two pairs), barely ran the 2 (37 miles total), and have over 50 in just over a week in the 3. A big indicator on a shoe for me is that I reach for it on multiple days in a row, even when I’m supposed to be testing other shoes. This is a big winner for me. One of my top 3 in 2020 so far. Great for any runner at any speed. 

Peter’s Score: 9.5/10--may wear a little quickly.

Hope: I realize in this review I’m the teacher that says, “I had your sibling last year, so I’m expecting great things from you” and I’m not willing to let the student shine on their own. The Beacon v3 isn’t the Beacon v2 or even the OG Beacon. And while that’s disappointing to me, in its own right, the Beacon v3 is an excellent shoe. Smooth, soft, fast, and ready to soak up almost any workout you throw at it, the Beacon v3 is a worthy update that takes the line in a somewhat new direction with more foam underfoot.

Hope’s Score: 9.55/10

-0.25 for lack of reflectivity -- they put reflective trim on v2 so I can’t overlook this

-0.1 for overly rounded heel

-0.1 for weight creep -- no more than this please!


Michael: I’m with the rest of the crew - the Beacon 3 is a definite winner. You could hammer a tempo in these, to be sure, and simultaneously pull them out for those miles when you’re just putting in the daily work. That is to say - these shoes have range! The Beacon 3 was my first Beacon, but it won’t be my last. My only knock is the slightly elongated toe, which leads to an impression that they’re a little big (even if well-fitting elsewhere). The outsole is perhaps a question mark based on its construction, but in my (relatively brief) testing, I had no qualms whatsoever with it. 

Michael’s Score: 9.5/10

Mac: Solid “do everything” shoe. You will look to these for all but the fastest Reps and all but the longest runs (and I imagine these will make a capable marathon racer for lighter, more efficient runners). Full Index of Mac Jeffries’ Ratings

Derek: A reliable all rounded daily trainer, but don’t expect to take it off-road, or expect to get a huge amount of miles from it. 

Derek’s Score 8.5 / 10

Ride 40% 8 Fit 40% 9 Aesthetics 10% 9 Value 10% 8


Comparisons Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon v1 and v2 (RTR Review)

Mac: The B3 is a solid update. I like the B1 and B2 fairly equally, even though many found the B2 to be a misstep. However, I am confident that most will find the B3 to be a superior shoe in virtually every way - and that is a high bar to clear. Better fit, more cushion, and livelier in ride. Verdict: Beacon 3. 

Peter: Loved the B1, disappointed by the B2, the love returns for the B3--probably my favorite of the bunch. It’s a terrific shoe. 

Hope: Still hooked on v2 and am unwilling to part with my OG pair even though it’s pretty beat. I like less, rather than more, shoe for longer efforts and the Beacon has been an integral part of multiple marathon builds. The weight gain in v3 is unwelcome to me, so my preference is for v2 and the OG in that order.

Derek: I wear US9.5 in both the Beacon v1 and v3. I find the Beacon 3 to be livelier with a smoother transition and better vibration dampening. Beacon 3 is also more breathable for me, with a noticeably higher volume fit. It is overall a more fun ride for me, and definitely worth the buy.


New Balance FuelCell Propel (RTR Review)

Peter: Actually not a totally dissimilar ride to the Propel. The upper is much better looking, more breathable and the Beacon 3 feels more balanced than the Propel.

Hope: I had the OG FuelCell Propel, but have not run in the update. The OG was too mushy for my tastes, so I would prefer the firmer, more resilient feel of the Beacon v3. 

Michael: Certainly more like the Propel 2 than 1, but I think the Beacon 3 beats out both. The Propel v2 has a firm, comfortable ride (and a bit of a rocker sensation), but the upper on the Beacon 3 is definitely better and the ride is more lively and fun. I’m taking the Beacon all day.


New Balance Fresh Foam Tempo (RTR Review)

Mac: Fairly different shoes, imho. Tempo is a Speed shoe that has the ability to go relatively long; the B3 is a Distance shoe that can pick up the pace. With the higher stack in the B3, you may not like running curves as much as you would in the Tempo. However, the Tempo's upper is fairly rigid, so if you have a wider foot, you will prefer the B3. Verdict: B3 for longer stuff, Tempo for faster stuff... but get both :-) 


Hoka One One Rincon 2 (RTR Review)

Peter: This may be the most similar shoe I’ve tried. I’m a big fan of the Rincon 2 (better upper than the original). I’ve put more miles on the Rincon 2 than any other shoe this summer. I think the upper of the Beacon 3 is a little more refined. The Beacon 3 has a little more bounce than the Rincon 2. The Rincon 2 is a little firmer. It may come down to personal preference. They are both a delight to run in. 

Hope: I agree with Peter, yet I find myself a bit alarmed that the Beacon v3 is so comparable to a maximal shoe. I’d come down on the side of the Beacon v3 for its somewhat better responsiveness, but this is certainly a close call.

Michael: Both are really good options (with really exposed outsoles!). I slightly prefer the Beacon, just because the upper is a little “fancier” (and the heel collar a little more comfortable). Both are on the lower-end of the price spectrum - which is much appreciated - but I think the Beacon is just slightly better. 


ASICS Novablast (RTR Review)

Mac: The Novablast is one of the best trainers released in the past year. It has a little more cushion and a lot more pop than the Beacon 3. Even though the Nova is sized a little large, I will take it over most any other trainer, aside from the Ride 13. Verdict: Novablast

Hope: The Novablast is big time fun, but I consider it too bouncy for regular use for me. The more directed feel of the Beacon v3 inspires more confidence when laying down speedier efforts.

Michael: Another close call! I think the Beacon 3 is more useful for more runs, because it isn’t quite so mushy (compared to the springy yet mushy NovaBlast). Undoubtedly, the ASICS is a strong option, but with the Beacon undercutting the NovaBlast in price… I think I’m taking the New Balance!

Derek: I wear US9.5 in both shoes. The NovaBlast is the significantly bouncier shoe, but I struggle to go fast in it. For me the NovaBlast is a better easy run shoe and has better overall cushioning with less ground feel, but the Beacon 3 is more versatile in terms of handling different paces. As a daily trainer, I think the Beacon is the better option. If you want something for long runs and easy runs then the NovaBlast would be the better option.


Reebok Panthea (RTR Review)

Mac: The Panthea is one that I initially liked and then liked less the more I ran in it. My biggest complaint was largely personal: the upper was too unforgiving, and it pressed on my Tailor’s Bunion something awful. I also didn’t think that Floatride in the Panthea was as lively as it was in its amazon cousin, the Fast. The B3 has more cushion, at least as much spring, and a far superior upper; the Panthea probably has better traction on wet asphalt. Verdict: Beacon 3


Nike Pegasus 37 M9.5 (RTR Review)

Ryan: Targeting the same level of performance, this is a very apples-to-apples comparison. However, the Peg weighs nearly 2 oz more than the Beacon, despite feeling like it has the same amount of cushion. The Peg has a more solid structure at the heel, but it’s one of those things that isn’t all that noticeable in practice. I’d take the Beacon over the Nike, with my only concern being the durability of the mostly-foam outsole of the Beacon.

Hope: The Peg is too stiff and too heavy for my taste. It’s nice for easy efforts up to 10k distance, but proved a miserable partner for me on double-digit runs. The Beacon v3 has cushioning that doesn’t require a break-in period and feels a lot smoother, so it’s my pick.

Derek: I wear US9.5 in both shoes. I prefer the Pegasus 37 for its smoother and faster feeling ride. It is not necessarily as cushioned-feeling as the Beacon, but it has noticeably better responsiveness when you want to pick up the pace. Grip and durability are significantly better with the Peg 37 as well.


Skechers GO Run Ride 8 (RTR Review)

Derek: I wear US9.5 in both shoes. The GRR8 is similar to the Beacon 3 in terms of transition for me, with the GRR8 having a little stiffer transition. Overall, the degree of cushioning is quite similar, but the Beacon 3 is a bit more forgiving in terms of vibration dampening, and is slightly bouncier in feel, but loses out to the GRR8 when it comes to the ability to handle pick-ups in pace. It is quite close here, but the Beacon 3 is an overall more refined shoe for me, from fit to ride.


Skechers GO Run MaxRoad 4+ Hyper (RTR Review)

Derek: I wear US9.5 in both shoes. Both shoes are similar in weight, with the Beacon 3 weighing 0.3oz more but costing $20 less. Overall, I have to say I prefer the more dynamic ride of the MaxRoad 4+. I think the Beacon is a little more responsive for fast tempo efforts, but for everything else, the MaxRoad 4+ is better. I would go with the MaxRoad 4+.


Saucony Ride 13 M9.5  (RTR Review)

Ryan: The Ride 13 is another worthy competitor of the Beacon v3, but NB’s Fresh Foam formula still seems to tip the scales in favor of the Beacon. Nearly 2 oz lighter, the Beacon feels only slightly less cushioned, but just as comfortable. That said, the Saucony feels more robust and I bet will stand up to mileage much better, with its full rubber outsole and heavier construction. I’d use the Ride 13 for heavier mileage, and toss in the Beacon for runs where I need quicker turnover.


Hope: The Ride 13 is heavier and pitched more solidly at the daily trainer crowd, but it manages to be super fast and fun. In a surprise pick given that I’m such a fan of lightweight trainers, I’m all in on the Ride 13 here.

Mac: Respectfully disagree with Ryan here: the Ride 13 is one of my all-time favorites, and everything that the Beacon 3 does well the R13 does just a little bit better: a little more spring, slightly more secure upper… it’s possible the difference between my weight and Ryan’s accounts for this difference in experience… or maybe Ryan is just weird ;-)

Peter: Ooh, a disagreement. I like the Ride 13 a lot. It’s a great shoe. The upper is way hotter than the Beacon 3. The ride of the Beacon 3 is a little more to my liking. I find it to be just a little bouncier. I agree that the Ride 13 will last longer. I’d go with Beacon 3...but I’d probably get both and alternate. 

 Watch Ryan's Initial Video Review (2:07)

The product reviewed was provided at no charge for testing. The opinions herein are the authors'.
Comments and Questions Always Welcome Below!
Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and current preferred shoes

RoadTrailRun receives a commission on purchases at the stores below.
Your purchases help support RoadTrailRun. Thanks!

HOLABIRD SPORTS
Available Now!
Men's & Women's SHOP HERE

AMAZON 
 Available Now!
Men's & Women's SHOP HERE

RUNNING WAREHOUSE
Pre-Order Now!
USA  Men's & Women's SHOP HERE
FREE 2 Day Shipping EASY No Sweat Returns
EUROPE Men's & Women's SHOP HERE
AUSTRALIA Men's & Women's SHOP HERE

ROADRUNNER SPORTS
Men's & Women's SHOP HERE
Join VIP Family, Get Free Shipping and 15% in VIP Benefits on every order, Details here


REI 
Men's & Women's  SHOP HERE

AMAZON 
 Available Now!
Men's & Women's SHOP HERE

WATCH OUR YOUTUBE REVIEWS ON THE ROADTRAILRUN CHANNEL



Please Like and Follow RoadTrailRun
Facebook: RoadTrailRun.com  Instagram: @roadtrailrun
Twitter: @RoadTrailRun You Tube: @RoadTrailRun

15 comments:

Ol said...

Great review, v1 was beautiful to run, I skipped v2 to try the 1080s (proffered Beacon 1!) and have just ordered v3 thanks to your assessment.

What would you rotate these with at the moment? I wear 1400s for speed days, assume Beacon 3 would do tempo~ race pace long runs, so I guess something for long 7-9 min mile runs and recovery days wouldn’t hurt?

Fraz said...

Thanks Peter for comparing it with v2 and ride 13. From all other reviewers here, your experience and opinion align most with my own experience. I have run in v2 which I hated initially but somehow put almost 600 kilometers in. I think what works here is the midsole in beacon shoes. Its one of those shoes that gets out of the way quickly and yet provide just enough cushion for even the longish runs. I am looking forward to getting the v3. The only thing I dislike is the color and looks of it.

Anonymous said...

How would you compare Beacon 3 vs Reebok Panthea?

Andreas said...

Are you sure it's fresh foam X?
From what I've seen - and advertised on the NB website - it's "just" fresh foam

Alan said...

Hi RTR,
there is a comparison of the Beacon 3 to the Propel, but how does it compare to the Propel V2 which is apparently a somewhat different shoe to the Propel V1?
Also, have any of you run in the Reebok Symmetros, if yes, how do they compare to the Beacon 3?

Christopher Colangelo said...

You made comparisons to the Saucony Ride 13 but the Beacon v3 seems to be closer in design to the Kinvara 11 or Freedom 3. Was wondering how it compares to each of those shoes.

Will said...

How does it compare to the Brooks Hyperion Tempo?

Sam Winebaum said...

Andreas,
Yes it is Fresh Foam X. I have updated the review with New Balance's clarifications which are also below:
"With the Beacon v3, we wanted to achieve a light, cushioned and almost airy experience. Each shoe in the Fresh Foam X collection is formulated a bit different depending on the experience we’re achieving for that particular model."
Sam, Editor

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
How would you compare Beacon 3 vs Reebok Panthea?

Mac: The Panthea is one that I initially liked and then liked less the more I ran in it. My biggest complaint was largely personal: the upper was too unforgiving, and it pressed on my Tailor’s Bunion something awful. I also didn’t think that Floatride in the Panthea was as lively as it was in its amazon cousin, the Fast. The B3 has more cushion, at least as much spring, and a far superior upper; the Panthea probably has better traction on wet asphalt. Verdict: Beacon 3

Will said...
How does it compare to the Brooks Hyperion Tempo?

Mac: Fairly different shoes, imho. Tempo is a Speed shoe that has the ability to go relatively long; the B3 is a Distance shoe that can pick up the pace. With the higher stack in the B3, you may not like running curves as much as you would in the Tempo. However, the Tempo's upper is fairly rigid, so if you have a wider foot, you will prefer the B3. Verdict: B3 for longer stuff, Tempo for faster stuff... but get both :-)

Andreas said...

Interesting, because on their website: https://www.newbalance.com/pd/fresh-foam-beacon-v3/MBECNV3-31106.html?dwvar_MBECNV3-31106_style=MBECNBW3#style=MBECNGB3

There's no talking of X just "Feel like you're going further, faster with the Fresh Foam Beacon v3 running shoe for men"

Anonymous said...

The branding on the tongue and insole of the Beacon v3 says Fresh Foam X, as seen in the images on this review and the NB website.

Unknown said...

How does the V3 compare to the FuelCell Prism?

Unknown said...

How does the V3 compare to the FuelcellTC? Just bought the TC and enjoying it, but wondering if there's a place for the Beacon V3 as I loved V1.

Jim said...

I’m wondering how this fits with the 1080v10. Both seem to be daily trainer and have very similar qualities. Would the 1080 be more of an easy day / long run shoe? Would the Beacon be more for those who just want a lighter daily trainer? I’m just trying to square whether these compliment each other in a a rotation or are for different runners.

Terrence said...

Interesting that Hope said the Beacons were polarizing. From everything I've seen and heard, everyone loves the Beacons (even when talking to NB reps). Except me! I bought a pair of v1s and they're my least favorite shoe. Heck, Beacon V1 and Zante Pursuit are my least favorite shoes in my collection. I bought both because of the oodles of praise, but ultimately hate them because I think Fresh Foam is garbage. Here's hoping FFX is better.