Wednesday, April 20, 2022

New Balance Fresh Foam X Tempo v 2 Review

Article by Michael Ellenberger

New Balance Fresh Foam X Tempo v 2 ($120)

Pros: Light enough to be a do-it-all option; light and poppy; quality upper and fit

Cons: Looks like a gym shoe; potentially limited durability/lifespan; what is Fresh Foam X, exactly?

Tester Profile

Michael is a 2019 graduate of Northwestern University Law School in Chicago and is a patent and intellectual property attorney. 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. He has a 2:23 marathon PR (2nd place) from the 2021 Lakefront Marathon in Wisconsin


Official Weight: 258 grams (9.1 oz) US men’s 9.5

Stack Height: men’s 28 mm heel / 22 mm forefoot, 6mm drop 

Available now. $120 

First Impressions and Fit

Michael: Overall, this will be less “first impressions” and more “last impressions” - I put more than 120 miles on the Fresh Foam X Tempo v2, and am ready to give my complete impressions on it. 

Even so, I can tell you what my first impression was: “Wait, is this a running shoe?” Something about the appearance of the Tempo v2 screams gym-shoe/cross-training shoe to me, but don’t let looks deceive you! The Tempo v2 is a terrific option from easy days to tempo, and while it has its quirks, I’ll tip my hand early and say - in a crowded New Balance lineup, the Tempo v2 is a standout for me.


Michael: I’ve been a fan of knit uppers for a while, and will defend them to anyone. Sure, they may add a little weight (though I can’t even say that’s the case here!), but the comfort and durability - and lack of overlays! And improved fit! - almost always trounce any negatives. Happy to say - New Balance has done right by the Hypoknit upper here. In our lovely Midwest “spring,” I ran these in 75F and 25F degree weather without blister, hotspot, or discomfort, with the material stretchy enough to accommodate any weight of sock. 

Heck, there’s even a generous heel scoop that keeps pressure off your Achilles -even  in the shortest of socks, I ran pain free.

Lockdown-wise, I also came away impressed - on a quicker tempo run, dodging cars and pedestrians alike, I had no issues with lateral motion, even without stopping to ensure a tight knot. Plus, there’s an extra eyelet for those who use it (I certainly didn’t). The laces are too long, but I’m past complaining about that - it just means that, if you wear a Stryd footpod like I do (or similar), you’re going to hear that familiar knocking sound with every stride (until you perfect the lace tuck).


Michael: I have both the Fresh Foam X Tempo v2 and Fresh Foam X 1080 v12 right now and, let me tell you… to my feet, they aren’t the same midsole. They don’t even look the same! The 1080 has the micro-drilled holes and firmer, more traditional (dare I say, EVA-like) platform - which works really well in that shoe! But the Tempo v2 is… soft? And bouncy? And called out by New Balance as the softest most flexibleTempo/Zante ever. I don’t want to go too far in my praise (because ultimately, I would give up another ounce or so for another 5 mm of stack height here), but it really works well for a shoe of this stature. It’s light and aggressive, and really hits that mark of “performance trainer” that we don’t really see advertised much anymore.

But I’ll lodge here what is really my only “real” complaint - after just a few weeks of running, around 100 miles on the Tempo v2, I started noticing they felt… flat. I’m a light at around 130lbs  and usually efficient runner, and tend to put hundreds of miles on trainers before I feel a need to replace (that is, when I don’t have a massive backlog of shoes to test!) but here, I felt ready to switch out the Tempo v2 pretty at that point. I don’t want to speak for everyone on that point - it could have been a fluke, or just my neuroses getting in the way -  but I was a little put off by how quickly they went from “light and springy!” to “dead and “under-cushioned.” 


Michael: The outsole is now segmented No complaints - nothing special here with the blown rubber outsole here, though considering the light wear over 100+ miles, I am certainly happy with the outsole durability, and don’t think it will wear out for several hundred miles.


Michael: If you follow me on Strava (or pay close enough attention to pick up my training from these reviews), you’ll know I sometimes run slow, sometimes run fast… but mostly, do a lot of “aggressively medium” running. Some would say too much, but that’s the uncoached lifestyle. I frequently run at paces that aren’t easy or recovery, but aren’t quite workouts, either. For me, then, the Tempo v2 is a natural choice. It’s not an aggressive, carbon-plated trainer or racer, and it’s not a more relaxed, cushion-focused monster. It’s a lean, nimble, tending-towards-performance trainer that can handle 7:00 and 5:00 paces without much issue. Most of all — it’s fun!

Conclusions and Recommendations

Michael: I won’t belabor the point here - I came away a big fan of the Tempo v2, until I felt it reached old-age a little too quickly. That softest and most flexible ever Fresh Foam in a Tempo/Zante packing out? I don’t want to totally knock it for that - again, it could have been any combination of factors that led to an early demise - but it would make me weary of a full-throated recommendation. Still, the essence of the Tempo v2 is something I can very much support. New Balance killed one of my favorites all-time trainers, the FuelCell TC, and while the Tempo v2 is no TC, it does take a lot of cues - it’s fast without being race-specific, comfortable, easy to fit into a lineup, and just a fun trainer to have around. I wish my pair felt better longer, but maybe yours will. And can someone explain to me what Fresh Foam X’s really are?

Michael’s Score: 9.1/10


Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

New Balance Fresh Foam Tempo v1 (RTR Review)

Editor's Note: Michael did not review v1 but New Balance calls out the changes as a softer midsole and new far more segmented outsole.

Tempo v1 outsole

New Balance FuelCell TC (RTR Review) 

I mentioned it in the review, so I’ll make a quick comparison here - if you can find it, the FuelCell TC is one of the best trainers ever, and I can’t really recommend it highly enough. The Tempo v2 is good (read the review!), but the carbon plated TC is better.

New Balance FreshFoam X 1080 v12 (RTR Review)

The 1080v12 is a firmer, more traditional riding shoe, with a stiffer forefoot rocker. For me, that works well for long runs and easier efforts, but doesn’t feel quite as natural at quicker paces. If you want a shoe for recovery days or just generally want stack height, pickup the 1080. If you’re like me and you run too fast too often, the Tempo v2 fits in a little better.

Skechers Razor Excess 2: (RTR Review soon)

Another shoe I have kicking around for review purposes, the Razor Excess 2 is a Hyperbust-fueled more max-stack trainer at 30/26. But both the Razor Excess 2 and Tempo v2 come in around the same weight, and while I am a sucker for Hyperburst, I strongly prefer the Tempo v2. It’s softer, feels faster, and has a way better upper and lockdown than the Skechers. Pick the New Balance!

Skechers GoRun Razor + (RTR Review)

You know, we reviewed this shoe way back in fall 2020, and I was lukewarm on the Razor+. Then, over the course of the winter, I ended up putting a bunch more miles on the Razor+, and came away moderately more enthused about them (though still not totally in love). Now, thinking back to the Razor+ in view of the Tempo v2, I see there are some comparisons - both are fun and dynamic trainers, but both bottomed out a little too easily, and left my legs feeling a little more flat than I would have liked. I don’t think I’ll give the Tempo v2 another chance - too many shoes to get through! - but at least the comparison is there. Between the two, I’d take the New Balance - slightly better lockdown, and a better fit and finish than the Razor+.

Saucony Kinvara 13 (RTR Review)

There is a lot of similarity here; these two shoes have a very comparable feeling platform underfoot, and in the taxi yellow color, could be readily mistaken for one another when a runner goes zipping past you. However, I think the New Balance has a slightly better upper and lockdown, and a more fun and energetic midsole. You’re not making a huge mistake if you pick the Saucony, but I prefer the Tempo v2.

The Fresh Foam X Tempo v2 is available now from our partner New Balance HERE

Tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased through affiliate links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'
Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
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Michael said...


Nic said...

Oh how I miss the Zante V1... that shoe belongs in a hall of fame

Curt said...

How's the width on these? I've heard mixed things here.