The first time I saw these shoes, I thought they looked a little gaudy. Not quite Hoka/Vibram level obnoxious, but definitely too bright and clunky-looking for my personal tastes.
As of today, the color combination no longer shocks me every time I open my closet door, and I actually quite like the brightness. However, I would certainly not recommend them for anyone in search of running shoes to blend in. On that note, what happened to boring running shoes? Are they all neon now?
|Obligatory leg/shoe shot. AKA "the thigh gap angle"|
Colors aside, which really mean nothing and should probably never influence a running shoe decision, I still wasn't crazy about these "maximalist" shoes. Primarily because there is only a 4mm heel-to-toe drop, which is pretty minimal for me. I've been running for the past few months in shoes with 11mm heel-to-toe, which feels drastically different. I felt pretty comfortable in them for shorter runs (<5 miles at a time), but I didn't try them for anything longer. That's due to two factors: I'm not actually running long distances at all right now, and I don't particularly want to transition to a more minimal drop. I know that switching from a supportive shoe to a more minimal drop requires a slot transition and the use of different muscles, and that is not something I care to do at this time. Of course, that's my opinion, and every runner feels differently. I am firmly in the "if it's not broken, don't fix it," camp. I'm not injured, so I'm not changing the way I run!
Unfortunately, I did feel like there were some drawbacks that weren't particularly subjective. First, the outsoles of the shoe have a hexagonal print, but there doesn't feel like there is a lot of traction. I noticed when I wore them in the rain that I constantly felt like I was going to fall on the wet sidewalks. I didn't, but I certainly felt uneasy. Additionally, the toe box of the Fresh Foam shoes was narrow. I do have wider feet, so this is a common issue for me, but I wouldn't recommend it for someone who also has wide feet.
So... the main points that you need to know:
• The New Balance Fresh Foam running shoes have a minimalist heel-to-toe drop of 4mm
• Padded, "maximalist" design
• Potentially slippery soles
• Narrow fit
• Felt firm - lots of support, but not much cushion
• Lightweight at under 8 ounces for the woman's shoe
• BOLD colors (along with the blue/orange I was sent, there are gray/yellow and purple options)
• Price point around $110
Personally, I wouldn't purchase these shoes for myself in the future. However, I would definitely view them as alternatives to more expensive maximalist shoes. If I ever wanted to transition to this type of shoe, I would (and will!) keep the Fresh Foam in mind.
I received the New Balance W980 Fresh Foam free of charge from OnlineShoes.com, but this is my take on the shoes. I wasn't compensated in any other way, and this is 100% my opinion.