Thursday, December 31, 2020

New Balance Fresh Foam 880v11 Multi Tester Review: A Most Useful Daily Trainer

Article by Derek Li, Renee Krusemark, and Sam Winebaum

New Balance Fresh Foam 880v11 ($130)


Sam: The Fresh Foam 880 is a model which traditionally was reserved for the shoe walls of specialty run shops and was not available online beyond New Balance’s site. With the pandemic came a totally remodeled 880, the v10 featuried a Fresh Foam X midsole, Hypoknit upper and new outsole geometry. And online sales beyond New Balance’s site. 

What remained was a 10mm drop neutral do it all daily trainer and thus it stood as a distinct choice within the New Balance line of daily trainers as the flexible neutral alternative to the also completely remodeled 1080v10 a rocker based 0.5 oz lighter  4mm drop trainer with a price tag $20 higher than the 880.

The 880v11 gets a slightly softer, and for slightly more comfortable Jacquard knit upper in place of Hypoknit, a reduction in its heel clip size and a more streamlined higher and slightly less plush achilles and heel collar. 

The result is a 0.5 oz lighter shoe putting it a mere 0.15 oz heavier than the 1080v11 at 9.7 oz / 275g. And as with prior 880, it will be available in wide. I really like the 880v10, my first of this model, and wished for a slightly more comfortable upper,  weight under 10 oz. New Balance delivered on both! A slightly softer ride was also something to be wished for. Read on to see  if that made the upgrade as well!


Derek: How I ended up reviewing this shoe was down to pure luck. I had my name down for 1080v11, and 880 showed up instead. Now the 880 isn’t a shoe most people think about or even recommend to their friends. I actually thought it was a stability shoe like the 860, until I did a little more research. To clarify, the 880 sits squarely in the neutral category. Have there already been 11 versions of this shoe? Isn’t the 890 the neutral daily trainer of the NB line? Aesthetically, it doesn’t quite have the alluring curves of the 1080, the racy looks of the 890, or even the elegance of a Beacon. Don’t let that put you off. How does it perform? Read on to find out!

Renee: I ran the 880v10 in 2020 and gave it a good, but not great, review rating for RTR. Then, after the review, I found myself continuing to run my 20+milers in them and decided to add it to my “Best of” list of 2020. I didn’t love the 880v10, but something about the shoe worked really well for me on my country road long runs. I was not thrilled about the hard plastic heel cup or the weight of the 880v10, both changed, so testing the 880v11 was welcome. 


Approx. Weight: men's 9.7 oz / 275g (US9)  /  women's 8.57 oz / 243g (US8)


men’s  9.45 oz / 268g (US8.5)   281g / 9.91oz  (US9.5)

women's 8.57 oz / 243g (US8)

880v10 Weight 10.25 oz / 290 g US9. 

Measured stack (Derek) 32mm heel, 22mm forefoot. Offset: 10mm

Available in Wide

Available March 2021. $130



A more traditional geometry flexible, 10 mm drop  trainer with totally up to date construction.

Solid locked down fit front to back.

0.5 oz drop in weight is noticed. No longer heel heavy and slow to transition.

Notably smooth transitions to toe off

Lively but not overdone increased bounce, slightly softer with plenty of stable softer feeling response.

Derek: Nice forefoot bounce, good vibration dampening, comfortable secure fit. 

Renee: slight reduction in weight from the previous version, more refined and breathable upper, reduced heel cup plastic


Derek: Heel counter a bit too firm but not uncomfortable

Sam: Forefoot a bit thin feeling and overly flexible for long runs

Renee: still a bit heavy as compared to other daily trainers, elf heel is not my favorite

Tester Profiles

Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 63 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. Sam has been running for over 48years and has a very dated 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 5’9” tall and weighs about 164 lbs.

Derek is in his 30’s and trains 70-80 miles per week at 7 to 8 minute pace in mostly tropical conditions in Singapore. He has a 2:41 marathon PR.

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 has 2020 PR’s of 1:35:44 for the half marathon and 3:26:45 for the marathon

First Impressions and Fit

Derek: My first impression of the shoe was that it looked pretty vanilla. Fit is true to size, and very easy to dial in. That heel counter is pretty firm though, quite a departure from the unstructured  elf ear heel counters of the other newer trainers NB has churned out recently. The shoe also looks like it has a very low drop to it, so I was surprised when I measured it at a 10mm drop. Walking and jogging around, there is decent flex through the toes, and surprisingly, a little bit of spring to the underfoot feel, not harsh or dead at all. Things are looking up already! 

(A few weeks after I started testing this 880v11, I scouted out the existing 880v10 in a local NB concept store, and found the upper fairly similar in both models. In fact, they had softened the heel counter by adding a subdued version of the elf ear to it in v11) 

Sam: A traditional no nonsense look with a low slung looking design appearing to be more performance trainer than daily trainer. Gone are the speckled contrasts highlighting zonal structure of the v10 ‘s Hypoknit using 3 different fibers which is now replaced with a more conventional engineered Jacquard mesh which is at the same time soft and supportive, just as supportive as v1o but now softer and more comfortable than the somewhat scratchy feeling Hypoknit in the v10 . Fit is true to size although maybe a touch short with medium socks with the overlay free toe box generous and also not sloppy. Even with no gusset tongue or overlays, beyond the “N” midfoot, hold is excellent and the slightly plusher rear collars of v10 are not missed at all. 

Renee: Having run multiple long, 20+ miles with the previous version, my first impression of the 880v11 was “Thank God! They got rid of the ig external plastic heel cup.” Of course, the heel is now part elfish, which is also not my favorite. The other (and probably only difference) is a more refined upper.The v11 loses some of the thicker, unnecessarily heavier knit patterning from the previous version. The fit is the same as the first version (and the ride is basically the same too). The 880 works for me, although I do understand how it might seem like a boring shoe for some runners. Read on to see if the 880 might work for you!

The fit is true to size; I wore a women’s size 8 in both the v10 and v11; runners between half sizes (like me) might consider the longer of the two sizes. 


Women’s Colorway

Derek: There are in fact very little in terms of tangible differences to the upper of the 880v11 compared to its predecessor. The core material is engineered Jacquard mesh. 

Up front, there is an internal laminate that forms the toe bumper and gives the toe box some volume. 

The toebox itself is fairly generous in width and should fit most feet pretty well. There are some overlays at midfoot to give the shoe some structure, though the fit is by no means stiff in this area. The bulk of the structure is most noticeable at the heel. 

There is an external plastic counter wrapping the upper-midsole interface running halfway up the heel. It is considerably slimmed down from the v10 likely accounting for a good part of the weight reduction.


Unseen here is some additional softer laminates running internally and all the way up to the collar around the ankle. The whole package is fairly rigid but not uncomfortable as these elements are all smothered by generous amounts of padding. 

The tongue itself is also moderately padded and the overall feel is luxurious, to a level often seen only in the premium daily trainer category. 

As stated above, one key difference from the 880v10 appears to be the adoption of the Achilles flare of the heel counter, though here it is fairly mild. 

While this upper appears fairly traditional and simple, it is effective and incredibly easy to dial in the fit. In fact, this is one of those uppers where the foot just stays put in all the right places even with minimal lace tension. 

Sam: Derek describes the upper well. The v11’s engineered Jacquard mesh upper is softer on foot than the v10’s Hypoknit which was a touch scratchy and dense. We still have a denser weave at midfoot to lock the foot and a fairly stiff collar to make the lace up secure. This allows the rest of the upper to be pliable, especially up front and without any overlays or a gusset tongue and with  a solid hold helped by a decently stiff toe bumper which is not noticed. Very few of the newer light overlay free engineered mesh uppers pull it off as well as the 880 does.

Renee: Sam and Derek cover the specifics well. The upper of the 880v11 is more breathable, more refined, and more comfortable than the previous version (the previous upper was not bad, however). The overlays are more minimal and thinner across the toebox bumper and midfoot sides, allowing for more air. On cold runs, 15-20 degrees Farhenheit, I wore two pairs of socks. 

I ran with the 880v11 using snowshoes, so although obviously not water resistant, the upper stretches enough for two pairs of warm socks. 

The fit is the same as the previous version. On first feel, the toebox seems slightly narrow on the lateral side, but I don’t feel that while running. The upper is secure and comfortable for short or long runs. The tongue remains plush. The heel loses some padding though. I love the massive reduction in size of the plastic heel cup. The heel of the version 10 was intrusive for me, particularly because I run uneven surfaces and need the flexibility.


Derek: Fresh Foam X is all the craze now because of what it’s doing in the Beacon and 1080. While 880v10 already received the FFX treatment, I felt like it wasn’t quite as bouncy as it could have been. There are some minor changes to the placement of shaping of the midsole in 880v11 and somehow it is now a slightly softer and bouncier shoe, while still retaining most of what made the 880v10 a solid workhorse: stability, grip and a natural riding responsiveness. The flex grooves are still there and work really well here to provide good natural flex through the metatarsophalangeal joints. 

The midsole performance here is actually pretty impressive. I like it more than in Beacon 3. The overall vibration dampening and mild forefoot bounce put it on par with non-plated trainers like Pegasus 37 in terms of responsiveness but with a more balanced ground feel; not as harsh. 

Sam: I think Fresh Foam X is an improvement over Fresh Foam as it is slightly softer and bouncier. The 880v10 also had Fresh Foam X but I notice a slightly softer, more forgiving, and bouncier ride feel in v11. This may be due to the darker underfoot layer which is softer than the white below which may have been made softer than v10’s as New Balance tells us there are no changes to the Fresh Foam X white layer. We are not sure what that dark layer is made of but it is clearly a different softer foam


The stack height here is 28mm heel /18mm forefoot so this is not a highly cushioned forefoot stack shoe, yet, while thin, there is plenty of forefoot cushion. With the relatively soft  outsole in the mix all of this leads to a consistent stable feel up front if not quite as responsive as Saucony Saucony Ride 13, a direct competitor  which has slightly firmer and slightly more cushion with big bars of thick front rubber to deliver some pop, if a denser feeling response than 880v11’s. 

There is 4mm less cushion up front than the 880v11’s New Balance stable mate the 1080v11 also with Fresh Foam X but I find, likely due to the dark layer softer underfoot in the 880, that it is softer feeling all around if less cushioned than the 1080.

The 880 is a flexible shoe contrasting with the more rockered based higher stack slightly firmer  1080. As such it flows easily at all paces. 

Renee: I did not notice a difference between the midsole of the 880v10 and 880v11. They felt the same for me. In either case, the Fresh Foam X works for me because it is not too plush or soft while also not being overly firm or hard. For me, it is the perfect midsole for long runs. Typically, I prefer a traditional, non-rocker shoe for long runs, probably because I run gravel/dirt and uneven surfaces. The midsole of the 880v11 is comforting enough and responsive enough to let my legs and feet do what they need to.


Derek: The outsole coverage is largely unchanged from 880v10. There is loads of blown rubber covering the forefoot interspersed by flex grooves, and some firmer carbon injected rubber in the heel for added durability. In reality, I think they could easily have gone full blown rubber for this model, because the rubber is so thick that you should easily get 500 miles out of this if you are efficient. Outsole grip is really good, as expected for a shoe with predominantly blown rubber coverage. I found the outsole to be effective and yet not overly stiff thanks to the flex grooves. I think NB recognized what worked well and were smart enough to keep out of the way. 

Sam: Plenty of rubber well arranged here. The full coverage up front helps stabilize toe offs and is not so firm as to create an overly sharp contrast between midsole and outsole. The flip side is that this nice match has the outsole rubber quite soft so a touch less responsive/ snappy which is perfectly OK for a daily trainer.  The forefoot is flexible leading to easy toes offs which are surprisingly stable as well, tribute to the upper hold in part and to the well distributed rubber coverage. 

Renee: The outsole is exactly the same as the previous version. The firm rubber outsole helps with durability and stability, which is probably why I like them for running country roads. The outsole adds to the weight, but for me, it’s a good compromise for its functionality. The pattern allows for some grip and traction (not great, but fine) on dirt and gravel. And although not at all grippy on mud, the outsole does not accumulate mud because there are not lugs. 


Derek: I’m just going to say it. I like this shoe a lot more than I thought I would. It straddles that middle ground really well; stable but not harsh with just enough forefoot bounce to make things interesting. I think it works great as a daily trainer and can handle the odd bit of uptempo work. It’s not necessarily my preference for a long run; I prefer something a little softer like a Nimbus Lite for that. I also think it is just a tad too heavy to be something that people will choose as a do-it-all that can do simple workouts in, but for the shorter middle ground runs where pace isn’t a big concern and you are just doing it to log the mileage, this shoe just gets it done. 

Sam: The ride is “classic” as it is a flexible 10mm drop shoe. It is “modern” in the sense that the Fresh Foam X midsole and the outsole design provide, as Derek says, some bounce, plenty of cushion, stability and flexibility.  But for the forefoot stack being on the thin side and flexible, potentially limiting its long run potential for some, the 880v11’s ride is versatile and pleasant at all paces. Even slow recovery paces were pleasant and while it does not have the pop and sharp toe off of plated shoes or shoes with firm front rubber, overall the 880 has an excellent do it all ride. 

Renee: Sam and Derek said it all. The 880v11 will seem, on paper, like a classic/traditional shoe. And with super, lightweight power shoes on the market, the 880v11 seems like a boring, too heavy shoe. But try it! Just try it! 

Like Derek, I liked the v10 much more than I expected, and the 880v11 improves that likeability. At 8.5oz, the 880 is not as lightweight as I want in a daily trainer. However, the shoe is a perfect long run shoe for me: it’s not that heavy, the outsole is durable, the 10mm drop and weight is balanced well between the midsole and outsole, and it is comfortable. I prefer a traditional ride, non-rocker shoe for my long runs, and the 880 is a great choice. From slow long runs, to long runs within 30 seconds of marathon pace, I can use the 880 on pavement, gravel, dirt, crushed rock, and in some snow and mud.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Derek: The New Balance 880v11 is a solid dependable no-nonsense daily trainer that handles the middle miles well, and provides an easy and fuss-free fit. At the end of the day, daily trainers sit on a spectrum of ride characteristics from the very soft Hoka Clifton, to the very responsive Adidas Boston. It all boils down to what you like to feel. Where does the 880v11 sit? Right now it sits right in between the Nike Pegasus 37 (both men’s and women’s) and the ASICS Nimbus Lite 2 for me. Lean more towards Peg if you want something with more ground feel and the Nimbus Lite 2 for something a little softer and bouncier. The 880 leans more toward the softer end of the spectrum for me, and should work great as an affordable and durable daily trainer for many people. 

Derek’s score 9 / 10

Ride 8.8 (50%) Fit 9.5 (30%) Value 9 (15%) Style 8 (5%)

Sam: Not a huge update but a solid positive one with a smoother softer upper, a touch softer more forgiving cushion and a half ounce drop in weight to about 9.7 oz / 275g.  The 880 sets a high bar in the crowded “traditional”, under 10 oz daily trainer category This category is characterized in my mind with by 8-10mm drop (10mm what we have here)  and a thinner more flexible forefoot when compared to “new age”  more max cushioned and rocker based options such as the 1080 from New Balance.

I might wish for a touch more forefoot cushion and a slightly firmer front outsole if my use was speed and uptempo oriented and to extend range to longer runs. Then again you have the 1080 for that!  Reducing the weight to closer to 9 oz from its current 9.7 oz would a nice to have but the weight here is not really noticed as the flexible platform is smooth and flows well at all paces. 

Easy to run at all paces, agile and flexible with plenty of softer cushion and a touch of bounce the new upper holds it all together and to the platform very well.  This middle of the road trainer is clearly the product of many subtle improvements and doesn’t pretend to be “radical” in design or ride.  It is not an all out speedster of a trainer as while thin and agile its forefoot is softer and that is OK by me.  It is a steady totally modern take on the “traditional” daily trainer that succeeds and can be  a great option for those seeking a single daily trainer for a variety of run types. 

Sam’s Score: 9.29 /10

Ride: 9.3(50%) Fit: 9.5 (30%) Value: 9.3(15%) Style:8 (5%)

Renee: The 880v11 is not boring: it is useful. For me, this is a daily trainer, but more so for longer runs (15-20+ miles). For runners who do not like a rocker and do not like plush recovery/long run shoes, the 880v11 is a must try. Although I do not like the elf heel in the new version, the heel is better than the 880v10 as the external plastic external heel cup is reduced, leading to a slight reduction in weight, I would recommend the v11 over the v10. The shoe is durable (my 880v10 still looks new after months of 20+ mile runs on country roads). 

Renee’s score: 9.1/10 

(-.75 unnecessary elf heel without padding, -.15 a bit heavy for short/mid-distance daily training)


Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

880v10 (RTR Review)

Sam: V11 has somewhat more softer bounce from its midsole and a more agile transition. Uppers are similar in ft with v11 slightly softer and more comfortable as we switch to engineered Jacquard mesh from a fairly rigid at midfoot, dense Hypoknit. The 0.5 oz weight drop is noticed. Not a huge update but a positive one, one adding a touch more comfort and softness top to bottom.

Derek: I wear US9.5 in both models. Ride is actually fairly similar in both models. Upper material feels a little more comfortable in v11 especially at the toebox. I don’t think one is significantly better than the other. 

Renee: The ride is the same, but I agree with Sam that the slight weight drop is noticeable. The v10 had an intrusive big external plastic heel cup, which is thankfully gone in the v11. I do not like the elf heel, but that’s a personal preference. The v11 is worth the cost, unless you want the plastic heel cup of the v10 for additional stability.

New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 (RTR Review)

Sam: 1080 V11 is more cushioned with 4mm more Fresh Foam X at the forefoot and 2mm more at the heel. Its platform, especially at mid foot, but also at the hee,l is wider so is a touch more stable. It is less agile in transition. Same story up front where while there is no rocker in 880 the lower stack (and less cushion feel) and longer easier flex translates to a snappier slightly more traditional more uptempo feel.  The 880 weighs 5 g more while the 1080 has a rocker and more of a rolling ride. The 880 upper is without flaws for me.  While the 1080’s very streamlined molded rear area is designed to help reduce weight and to a weight below the 880 even with more stack, The 1080 upper is not as secure overall and it contrasts in fit feel to the relatively rigid rest of the Hypoknit upper and even requires a gusset tongue to hold it all together.  As with v10 of both I lean towards the 880v11 again over the 1080v11


Derek: 1080v10 I wear US9.5 in both models. 1080 feels much more cushioned and has a slightly bouncier forefoot. Transitioning is similarly smooth between the 2 shoes. 1080v10 heel lock is significantly poorer than 880 which has one of the best heel locks of the year for me with minimal lace tension. 

 Watch Sam’s Video Reviews and Comparisons 880 v11 v 1080 v11

Saucony Ride 13 (RTR Review)

Sam: The Ride 13 is a very close comparison. Ride 13 was my 2020 daily trainer of the year and 880 gets close but not quite. 

Both are flexible more traditional daily trainers with a higher drop (10mm for 880, 8mm for Ride 13) The 880 has slightly softer and more bouncy cushion but has 2mm less of it upfront than Ride 13 with the same heel height. The missing 2mm of front cushion is felt on the 880. The Ride 13 adds thick bars of front rubber, which while it is still a more flexible shoe, give it more response than 880 with a touch less ground feel but more cushion. I prefer the more polished upper of the 880 over the somewhat denser but still fine Ride 13’s. but in the end it is always ride that decides While heavier by about half an ounce,  the Ride 13’s ride is more stable and overall it is a slightly more versatile shoe as it handle uptempo better due to front rubber providing response and it is also a somewhat more protective and stable long run ride.    

ASICS GEL-Cumulus  (RTR Review)

Derek: I wear US9.5 in both models. Cumulus is a firmer though not necessarily harsher shoe. Cumulus also has a more flexible forefoot, and that extra bit of snappiness that the 880 has makes it a more fun shoe for picking up the pace in. Both shoes have excellent fit and lockdown, and both have great vibration dampening for their level of ground feel. Overall I think the 880 is the more versatile shoe. 

Sam: I mostly concur with Derek. I did find Cumulus 22 harsher though especially at the forefoot. 

ASICS Nimbus Lite 2 (RTR Review)

Derek: I wear US9.5 in both models. Nimbus Lite has a more refined bouncy feel to it and has noticeably less ground feel. Overall the Nimbus Lite is a softer and more cushioned shoe but does not handle faster paces as well as the 880. It’s close, but overall I prefer the bouncier ride of the Nimbus Lite 2. 

Sam: Daily trainers in different classes with Nimbus Lite 2 a more long run take on the genre due to its additional softer cushion and wider platform.

Reebok Symmetros (RTR Review)

Sam:  The Symmetros Floatride Energy midsole is fantastic in its springiness and it has great heel stability but it falls apart up front with a forefoot that is soft and more unstable than 880’s and a toe box that I did not find nearly as secure making the front of the shoe problematic for me. I personally couldn’t daily train regularly day in day out in the Symmetros as a result and absolutely can in the 880.

As a daily trainer the 880v11 is more stable and secure, not quite as dynamic and is more versatile. 

Nike Pegasus 37 Men’s  (RTR Review)

Derek: I wear US9.5 in both models. Peg 37 is snappier and harsher and would handle the faster paces better than the 880. 880 has better heel lock and overall fit for me, and is the more cushioned and forgiving shoe. 880 has a more stable wider platform. 

Nike Pegasus 37 Women’s (RTR Review)

Derek: I wear US9.5 in both models. Both shoes have bouncy forefoot feels though the Peg 37’s is more abrupt and a bit more prominent from an isolated airbag. 880’s bounce is more spread out and feels more continuous from midfoot to forefoot. 880 also has a snappier forefoot and do transitions a little smoother. 880 has a more stable wider platform. 

Sam: This is a close call. The women’s Peg clearly has a more prominent rebound from its Zoom Air unit than the 880 and less flexibility and rear stability but for me has a slightly firmer, stiffer more stable if a touch harsher feeling front of the shoe and a thinner feeling very front of toe off. The transitions are smoother and the toe off more decisive in the Peg as the pace picks up, a bit less so at slower paces. 0.35 oz lighter, the Peg leans faster paces better than the 880 and slower paces not quite as well. In this match up a slight lean towards the Peg which was one of my 2020 daily trainer of the year finalists.

Renee: I did not like the Pegasus 37. The shoes felt heavy and clunky underfoot. The midsole felt harsh and inflexible. The 880v11 has a better ground feel for me without compromising comfort from the midsole. The outsole of the Pegasus has better traction, but the 880 performs well on country/gravel roads. If you do not like the ride of the Pegasus 37, the 880v11 is worth a try. 

The 880v11 releases March 1, 2021

Products reviewed were provided at no charge for testing. The opinions herein are the authors'

RTR Team's Best of 2020 Articles
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RTR Contributors Best of Run 2020, Year in Review Articles

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