Thursday, April 27, 2023

New Balance Fresh Foam X 880 v13 Review: 10 Comparisons

Article by Sam Winebaum

New Balance Fresh Foam X 880 v13 ($140)


Sam: The 880 has long been New Balance’s “workhorse” classic high drop (10mm) daily trainer, a durable versatile shoe designed for most daily training needs with a firmer responsive ride. With the v12 (RTR Review) it saw big changes in ride and fit. It got a wider platform and a combination of Fresh Foam for the main midsole and FuelCell as a front lower layer. The upper was no longer a snug performance fit and was for me loose and not that secure and the underfoot feel was soft and almost too mushy for me. Yes, pleasant but no longer what I expected in an 880. And it gained considerable weight.

Would v13 return the 880 to its more responsive origins or stay mellow? In appearance it is for all intents identical- upper, midsole, outsole. Spoiler alert.  Firmer outsole rubber and a slightly softer main Fresh Foam midsole along with a more dialed upper move it back closer to its usual character with the weight dropping a bit to 10.25 oz  / 290g  in a US9 on the same 32mm heel / 22mm forefoot, 10mm drop. I note the 22mm forefoot is quite thin by today’s standards and for the overall weight of the shoe. Let's see how they run!


Responsive, stable and protective ride with a touch of bounce from Fresh Foam and FuelCell: Sam

Versatile, protective and durable single shoe for the daily miles ,  beginner runner or walker: Sam

One of the few remaining more traditional riding, high drop daily trainers: Sam

Durability: extensive 5mm deep now firmer thick outsole (also adds response and pop): Sam


Firm, thick extensive front outsole rubber and low 22mm front platform is a bit punishing if stable and durable. 

22mm forefoot is low by today’s standards and noticed. Not “bad” just what it is, an older ride flavor with a touch of new age bounce: Sam

Weight due to extensive rubber is up there at 10.25 oz with that 22mm forefoot, a trade off for durability.

A bit lumbering and dull riding but not overly firm.


Approx. Weight: men's 10.25 oz  / 290g (US9)  

 Samples: men’s 10.0 oz  /  283g US8.5

 v12 10.16 oz/ 288g US8.5

Stack Height: 32mm heel / 22mm forefoot, 10mm drop


Available now including from our partners: 

New Balance HERE Running Warehouse HERE

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Sam: Nothing fancy that is for sure in my Navy Blue with a white midsole  A conservative looking shoe that is for sure, and that’s OK. The massive outsole coverage with 5mm deep rubber remains. Clearly a visual cue, if not a practical one, that the 880 v13 is all about durability more than light weight or speed.

At first glance there are no visible changes to upper, midsole, and outsole. About as subtle an update as I have ever seen. 

The engineered mesh is almost identical to v12, a tiny touch thinner and softer. As before, not the thinnest mesh but a soft and pliable one. I wondered if and how the sloppy fit of the v12 would be improved. It is, as it looks like NB took some volume out of the midfoot so now, unlike the prior version, we have a secure fit front to back and while not the most plush one a very comfortable one. It’s a fine upper with the 880 not only available in my Standard, but Narrow, Wide, and Extra Wide. 

My fit is true to size, secure, and comfortable.The lace up is among the easiest, smoothest, and never adjust on the run I can recall. 

No upper issues and none of the relative midfoot sloppiness of v12.


Sam: The midsole is made of a combination of two foams: the entire rear and right below the foot  is Fresh Foam X (light gray) with FuelCell (white) above the outsole at the mid to forefoot.

The Fresh Foam layer appears to be unchanged in firmness from v12 with the FuelCell layer slightly softer.

The combination delivers a relatively soft and forgiving feel with some rebound. The squared off heel area with a max platform width of 90mm is plenty stable. Given all the stabilizing rubber I think the heel feels a bit too broad for me. A slightly narrower platform would also save some weight.

The thick and now firmer outsole needs to be considered in terms of overall feel. It is not only firmer but 5mm thick so it delivers a final layer of response and stability to the shoe.  Both are quite well matched if each is noticed as its own element in the mix. 

I found v12 close to too soft underfoot for the workhorse nature of the shoe. Here with v13 the combination of softer front Fuel Cell and firmer front rubber almost works, but doesn’t quite, as the outsole pattern up front did not change, remaining very full coverage, leading to a fairly firm feel at the ball of the foot. 

This is a shoe that could use a few more mm of forefoot stack height as recall the full stack height is 32mm heel / 22mm forefoot, 10mm drop so we have relatively thin 22mm upfront of which 5mm is quite firm rubber. Many, if not most trainers these days are trending towards a forefoot stack at least in the high 20’s but here, given all the rubber, I imagine adding to the front without reducing the heel height would add to weight.

I also think with such firmer rubber the actual outsole design should be reconsidered to give the front of the shoe more cushion and more flex at the ball of the foot.


Sam: We have a NDurance rubber outsole with lots of deep rubber coverage that is for sure. I measure a solid 5mm of rubber depth (same as v12). We’re talking trail shoe rubber depth but of course here with flat high contact surfaces for the road. There is a lot of rubber to wear through here. 

As a shoe focused on durability it is the right way to go but despite the soft Fuel Cell layer above the outsole we still can’t get past the 22mm stack height up front all the way. 

Maybe the forefoot rubber and arrangement could be toned down, thinned out a bit with cushion added above to soften and flex the front more at the ball of foot. I do also note the v13 is slightly stiffer than v12 likely, due to the firmer rubber 

The extensive rubber and broad platform at the rear to midfoot lead to a fairly flat and stable rear landing and decent transitions. I would prefer a bit more decoupled rear crash pad to move things forward a bit quicker. 

Ride, Conclusions and Recommendations

Sam: One of the last of the classic high drop trainers with a thinner more flexible forefoot,  the 880, after some over mellowing in v12, leans back towards its predecessors with a snappier ride, a nice forgiving combination of foams, a firmer outsole and a more secure upper. Not the lightest shoe out there for its stack, it focuses on durability. Its  full coverage thick outsole and now broader than pre v12 platform stable deliver a well cushioned consistent neutral ride that while it won’t speed you along will help you get miles in day after day.

Its weight to cushion ratio is not that strong (mainly due to its deep full outsole rubber)  but clearly a conscious decision was made by New Balance to focus on durability here. 

I do think the rubber coverage could be toned down and better segmented upfront and at the heel with forefoot cushion added.  Doing so might keep the weight or ideally reduce it as at 10.25 oz for a relatively low stack shoe weight is up there.

Does it set the world on fire? No. Is it an exciting trainer as their SC Trainer is? No. Is it a steady performer for regular day in day out running and walking that should last a long time? Yes.. As such it is a great choice for the beginner runner, those who wear their shoes hard, if you need the 4 different widths available from Narrow to Extra Wide, or if you miss those old school higher drop thinner forefoot shoes with more road feel than the current max cushion trending shoes.

Sam’s Score: 8.85

Ride: 8.6 I score the ride lower than v12 while it is improved. Weight for stack is the key factor as others have improved and streamlined outsoles while increasing and improving cushion and reducing weight

Fit: 9.2 Scores way higher than v12. A really fine upper with many fit widths to suit anyone

Value:9  Mainly for expected durability due to the outsole

Style 8.8 Conservative and just fine


10 Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

New Balance Fresh Foam X 880 v12 (RTR Review)

Sam: The v13 sees essentially no visibly apparent changes yet its upper is now more secure while fitting about the same, its overall ride slightly firmer and more responsive due to a change in the firmness of the outsole rubber, a significant improvement for me if a bit overdone. I prefer the v13 return to a more classic responsive ride having found the v12, a significant change in platform from v11 to soft and sloppy fitting.

Salomon Aero Blaze (RTR Review)

Sam: Considerably lighter, almost 2 oz / 57g lighter on an almost identical stack height but with 8mm vs 10mm drop, the Salomon leans more uptempo than the 880, if it is a bit less forgiving overall. If you enjoy a more traditional firmer ride and tend to run faster paces day in day out it is a better choice.. Similar fitting uppers with the Salomon’s more performance oriented. Both have outstanding outsoles and expected durability. The weight difference alone has me choosing the Salomon.


New Balance 1080 (RTR Review)

Weighing about the same with a somewhat higher stack height of 34 heel / 26 mm forefoot you get 4mm more forefoot stack height and thus more front cushion in the 1080. More rocker based as opposed to flex based in ride. it depends on what you prefer. In this direct match up I tend to prefer the 1080 as a daily trainer for its additional cushion and easier to roll ride.

Nike Pegasus  (RTR Review)

Direct competitors the Pegasus is quicker and firmer more suited to faster paces than the 880. It has a “smarter” outsole design with plenty of rubber and a more aggressive lug profile making them suitable for light trails. The stack height is almost idential at 33 mm heel / 23 mm forefoot as is the 10mm drop but the Peg40 checks in 0.8 oz lighter. Both have a somewhat dated riding midsole. If faster shorter runs are your focus with even some trails Pegasus 40, if mellow daily training 880v13 is the better choice,

Saucony Cumulus 24 and 25  (RTR Review)

Sam: While the Cumulus 24 was very much like the 880v13,  the Cumulus 25 is a far different shoe. Considerably higher stack than the 880 v13 at 37.5 heel / 29.5 mm forefoot weighing 0.8 oz /22g less, it is more cushioned, softer, more energetic, and has a smoother ride than the 880 but a less responsive snappy one. Its upper is more plush than the 880’s and a touch less secure but is fine for daily training purposes.

Mizuno Wave Rider 26 (RTR Review)

With a giant 12mm drop for its 38.5 mm heel / 26.5 mm forefoot platform the latest Wave Rider is somewhat more cushioned overall, weighs about the same  and has a much more pronounced impulse forward from the yet higher drop and its plastic Wave plate. The 880 is flatter, has a less pronounced drop forward sensation and is more mellow in feel. Both have fine true to size uppers and extensive durable rubber coverage although I find the Mizuno’s deeply decoupled heel easier to roll forward. Both are quite stable for neutral shoes..

Saucony Ride 16   (RTR Review)

Sam: Priced the same the latest Ride is clearly more performance training oriented than the 880v13 whereas in the past they were closer competitors. The Saucony also has a clear advantage in weight Men 8.8oz / 250g US9  and stack at  35mm heel / 27mm forefoot, 8 mm drop. It’s foam is a bit firmer while its ride is not as firm overall as it has considerably less (if very adequate) outsole coverage, the secret to its lighter weight and more agile quicker ride.  As far as uppers I prefer the more consistent, comfortable  front to back fit of the 880 for all but faster paced runs.

Hoka Clifton 9 (RTR Review)

Sam: The latest edition of the lower drop (5mm vs 10mm in the 880)  Hoka daily trainer is another comparative with lower weight (1.3 oz less) , higher cushion stack and less outsole rubber than the 880v13. Softer, a touch less responsive than the 880 it is less stable but more stable than some prior Clifton. It has a equally fine all smooth fitting true to size upper that is a bit less dense and thick than the 880.

ON Cloudsurfer 2023 (RTR Review)

Sam: Very soft riding and energetic, the latest Cloudsurfer is super fun to run, lighter by almost 2 oz / 56 grams on the same stack height and has a superb upper. What’s not to like in this comparison? Well its forefoot is thin when compressed if with lots of rebound. If you are a heavier runner and especially if you forefoot strike or if you want to just get your miles in steady as can be the 880 is a better choice. 

Available now at our partners

New Balance HERE 

Fleet Feet HERE

Running Warehouse US HERE

Top4 Running Europe HERE

Running Warehouse Australia HERE

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Tester Profile

Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 65 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. 2022 was Sam’s 50th year of running. He has a decades old 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the just sub 1:40 range if he gets lucky,, training 30-40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah be it on the run or nordic skis. He is 5’9” tall and weighs about 164 lbs, if he is not enjoying too many fine New England IPA’s.

Samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased via shopping links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

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Anonymous said...

Please correct this to ASICS Cumulus, not Saucony.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sam, so would you say the v13 is marginally firmer or is it a reasonably noticeable change in firmness?

mrmike7189 said...

I liked the 880V12 better. It rode nicer. It had better build quality, was better looking, the laces were better quality , the tongue was longer, the cushioning inside the heel and sides was plusher. It seems that the upper going from the jaquard mesh to traditional mesh was an improvement, but NB cheapened the shoe in other areas I mentioned, yet still wants to charge $140....Hell NO! Its a $99 shoe all day...just