Friday, June 07, 2024

New Balance Fresh Foam X 860 v14 Multi Tester Review

Article by Renee Krusemark and Sam Winebaum

New Balance Fresh Foam X 860 v14 ($140)


Introduction

Sam: The 860 has been New Balance’s  moderate stability/support daily trainer. With the v14 they jettison the  “traditional” firm and rigid foam medial pronation support post and substitute a thin hardened EVA Stability Plane plate. The entire midsole is now dual density with a soft (similar to the 1080)  Fresh Foam X underfoot and a slightly firmer foam (similar to the 880 v14) below and focused on the medial side. It gains 2 mm of heel and 4 mm of forefoot stack height to become an 8mm drop shoe while its weight drops 0.1 oz/ 3g.


This more gentle approach to stability, and both the foams are by no means firm, reflects the latest trends in this category of shoes towards less obtrusive support elements at the arch and towards more inherent stability and guidance of the foot. Neutral shoe fans don’t stop reading now. I rarely get along with traditional or some of the high on the midsole “rails” based approaches to stability (Brooks GTS, Nike’s plastic clips etc..) but here New Balance has really nailed a combination of soft underfoot and slightly firmer below Fresh Foam X with some geometric support from the medial sidewalls and the new Stability Plane plate. 

In fact,  for me it is their best Fresh Foam X ride to date as in the past Fresh Foam X has been overly soft (1080 and More) or borderline overfirm (880 v14).  Here we have a nice “balance” of forgiving cushion and gentle support. 


Pros:

Dual density foam and the plate energizes and stabilizes what is a softish ride: Sam/Renee/Sally

Smooth flowing at all paces: Sam

Notably secure comfort oriented upper, especially at the rear of the shoe: Sam/Renee/Sally


Cons:

Heavy for a modern daily trainer at about 10.5 oz US9: Sam/Sally/Renee

Outsole could use more profiling: Sam/Renee

This neutral runner felt the stability elements in medial forefoot more than desired (in B width:Sally


Most comparable shoes 

Fresh Foam X 880 v14

ASICS GEL Kayano

Saucony Guide 17

Salomon DRX Bliss

Brooks Glycerin GTS


Stats

Approx Weight women's  8.9 oz / 251g US8 :: men's 10.45 oz / 296g US9

Official Weight: men's 10.8oz / g US M9.5

Prior Version Official Weight:  men’s 10.9 oz US9.5

  Sample Weights: men’s 10.2 oz / 289g US8.5 

                             women’s 8.9 oz / 251g (US W8) 

Total Stack Height:  35.5mm heel /27.5mm forefoot, 8mm drop (prior 10mm drop)

Platform Width: 90 mm heel / 80 mm midfoot / 110 mm forefoot

$140 available now.

Sam’s Video Review of the 860 v14


First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Renee: I’m not a stability shoe fan, although I think the 860 checks all the boxes for its purpose. Runners who need a high stack, soft shoe with a comfortable upper and a slight amount of guidance will like it. I have no complaints about the upper fit or comfort. The shoe ran a bit long for me, so runners between half sizes might need to half size down. The upper doesn’t have the best breathability for hot days at fast paces, which is not much of a factor given that the shoe is best for casual/easy paces. 


Midsole & Platform

Renee: The midsole immediately under the insole is soft, but the feel is not mushy thanks to the Stability Plane and the “bottom” midsole layer which is more dense (see the graphic at the start of the article). The underfoot feel is very comfortable and the stability aspect is not intrusive for me, as someone who much prefers a neutral shoe. The 860 is a cushy beast. For long runs or easy miles, the midsole checks the boxes. Adding in tempo or faster paces during long runs (3 to 4 hours for my testing) is not possible for me because of the weight but stronger runners might disagree. 


Sam: I have never been a huge fan of “Fresh Foam” either overly firm and dead riding as in earlier shoes or mushy and energy sapping for me in the 1080 v13. Here the 3 part combination of softer Fresh Foam X underfoot, the thin but front to back Stablity Plane plate, and firmer towards the ground “solves” the long dilemma of either too soft or too firm. 


As a runner who prefers neutral shoes and really can’t stand firm medial posted, top of midsole rails or overdone mid foot rubber the 860 v14 strikes a nice balance.  Yes, some support beyond my preferences is felt from the vertical medial side walls but it is not overlay firm. Cushy as Renne says but never mushy the Stablity Plane is a great concept. 


By including a small turn on the lateral side of the plate the heel is well supported in what are quite soft landings while on the medial side it extends further forward for support. Heck, it’s largely what plated racing shoes do to keep their soft low density foams in check. Here it does that but also provides gentle support.



Outsole

Renee: For review, I wore the 860 on dirt and gravel. Sam’s note about the outsole profile made sense for me. At first I thought the high stack and rocker was causing some slight slipping on loose gravel, but the outsole itself is fairly soft and forgiving. I see this as an asset for walking though. The exposed midsole area has some wrinkling, but overall no durability issues. 


Ride, Conclusions and Recommendations


Renee: The midsole feels comfortable with an easy roll forward thanks to a rocker geometry underfoot. The only stability aspect I feel is from the “stability” plane sandwiched between the midsole layers. Unlike stability shoes of previous years, there’s no overwhelming guidance from “rails” that inhibit a natural ankle moment or at the arch from a firmer foam insert post. 


The ride feels best at slow paces for me, striking at midfoot or heel. I did short strides on fresh legs striking more naturally at my forefoot and the shoes felt fine, but most definitely this is not an uptempo shoe. The overall weight of the shoe, stability aspect, and soft midsole make the 860 best for easy paces, or dare I say it: walking. While it’s not my pick for a running shoe, it is very comfortable to wear for walking on tired legs. My score is based on my preferences, so I’ll stress that the 860 will be great for other runners who need the stack and stability. 

Renee’s Score: 8.4/10 (-1 heavy, -.6 best for easy/slow efforts only) 

😊😊


Sam: The "stability shoe", often in my view "over prescribed" continues to evolve with more guidance oriented approaches that adapt to the runner rather than firmly control. While here New Balance does keep the vertical medial side walls of such shoes, the foams are relatively soft and consistent throughout the midsole with no firm posts or plastic top of midsole rails or hard sidewalls. The Stability Plane plate provides moderate support while not in the way of my stride or shouting at me at the arch. As such, if you are support/stability shoe runner who wants to tone down on the older overt approaches it offers a still solidly stable transition away from the old school stability shoes.


I would love to see some form of the Stability Plane incorporated in lighter lower density midsoles, for example the Rebel v4


The ride is comfortable, consistent and protective making the 880 a reliable if somewhat heavy and not particularly exciting daily training companion. It is a great choice if you are unsure just how much "pronation control" you really need, so beginner runners in particular, or if you feel more traditional approaches to support are too overbearing.

Sam's Score: 8.9/10

Deductions for weight, and related, dense not particularly exciting midsole foams



Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE


New Balance Fresh Foam X Vongo

We have not tested the Vongo. It is a bit heavier as it is more shoe in terms of cushion stack. It has the same heel height as the 860 but with 2mm more upfront cushion as 6mm drop shoe.The Stability Plane is full length on both sides of the shoe unlike the 860's which is partial on the lateral side.


Saucony Tempus (RTR Review)

Renee: The Saucony Tempus is a light stability shoe, but one that basically rides neutral. The Tempus is a lightweight shoe for its stack as compared to the much heavier 860. The Tempus has some pep to its ride and works well for uptempo paces. I overwhelmingly prefer the Tempus, but would suggest the 860 for those who prefer softer cushion underfoot. Sizing is comparable with the 860 feeling slightly longer to me. 


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Tester Profiles

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 PR’s of 1:30:59 for the half marathon and 3:26:45 for the marathon.


Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is in his 60’s  with 2024 Sam’s 52th year of running roads and trails. He has a decades old 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the just sub 1:40 range if he gets very, very lucky. Sam trains 30-40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah be it on the run, hiking or on 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'.

Comments and Questions Welcome Below! Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and current preferred shoes

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1 comment:

Tom said...

Interested to know whether you prefer the 860 v14 or the slightly firmer 880 v14? I don't need to the stability of the 860 but have heard the 880 is overly firm. Cheers, Tom