Staff Pick: New Balance 1400 V2

Strap on your seat belts and hold on tight because this racing flat’s gonna take you for a ride. 

New Balance 1400 V2 racing flat running shoe

RUNNING SHOE: New Balance 1400 V2

Category: Lightweight, Racing Flat

Best for: Training, Racing

Weight: 6.8 oz.

Heel-to-toe drop: 8 – 10 mm

Price: $100

PRODUCT REVIEW

The newest 1400s were just released, and, I gotta tell ya: Oh. God. Actually, can we take a moment of silence? Just for a minute. Because I…just a sec.

OK. So. The New Balance 1400 v2.

These bad girls are almost exactly what a running shoe is supposed to be. Other shoes that would fall into this category are the Brooks Launch, the original Adidas Adios (and then the Adios 2), the Asics Tarther (sniff), maybe the Saucony Kinvara—maybe—but I can’t think of the other ones right now because I’m so loveydoveytingley that my neurons are pretty much making out with each other. These could be classified under “Shoes I would wear if I could only wear one shoe for the rest of history, or, ‘til something else cool comes out.”

I had profound and probably unhealthy love for the original. I mean, I loved them so much I wore them to Cooter’s Place because I wanted to be, you know, respectful. Serious. True story. I’d put the 1400 on the same altar as the original Adios and the Tarther, both of which are now in line for sainthood. It’s true. Shoes can be saints.

The main thing you want to know is that, yes, they are new, top to bottom. They weigh like an ounce less than the previous version, which means that you’ll PR in salad bar lunges no prob. A hair under 6 and a half ounces. The midsoles feel a bit firmer, which is the sexier way to do midsoles, though I don’t have an exact durometer on that. Everyone now has a new midsole compound that is X or Y% lighter than the previous, yet retains all the cushioning properties, etc. New Balance calls their product REVlite, which would be a really good name for a rock band if I were the lead singer. There is more blown rubber on the full contact outsole, and that means more smoothiness to you and me. The upper is new too, with a more open mesh, so on those days when the humidity reaches hyper moist levels, you’ll be way more comfortable, but no less disgusting.

The one concern I have is, thus far, is the fit right at the toes. The v2 seem to be a bit, I don’t know, pointier at the toes. Am I seeing that right? It certainly looks like it. I can’t say for certain yet, but I’m thinking that people with a bit of width right there at the end of the foot may have an issue with that. And I think maybe the overlays in the front are just one too many. My feet are pretty narrow. Not really, really narrow, but regular narrow. It doesn’t really bother me, but I’m just trying to think ahead. Maybe I’m just concerned about the pointiness. I dig the fit in the heel and midfoot, though; it’s snuggy. The 1400 v2 almost has a curved last. Almost. These are built on a Japanese racing last, which might be why I like them so much.

The Japanese part. If you’re new ‘round here, and don’t know what I’m talking about, let me catch you up to speed a bit. I’m—how do I say this delicately?—fond of the Japanese shoes. If I say it not delicately, it’s a fetish. I mean, what’s not to like? I mean, the Japanese looooooooove the marathon. Fukushi. Kawauchi. Seko. Q-chan. Tamagoyaki.1 The thing I like about the Japanese-designed shoes is that they tend not to be so baroque. There’s not a bunch of designy crap all over them. Simple, functional design aesthetic and not much else. We Americans want our running shoes mostly to look like effing space shuttles, like Millennium Falcons, all chromey and stuff. Anyway.

The 1400, the Tarther (sniff) and the Adioses are all kind of the same shoe, except different. They’re all Japanese marathon racers with, give or take, 9ish millimeters of heel-to-toe offset. They’re lightweight, yet substantial enough to do the daily miles. Poppy. Responsive. Not that anyone cares about the exact number, but for the 1400 I’ve seen that the offset is anywhere from 8 to 10 mm. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is that you strap these bad girls on, they disappear—Vwooop!—and you get to rollin’. They’re just so smooth. Like the original Adios even, except for the pointy part. I’m serious. Shoe Pantheon. Pantheon of Shoes.

It’s pretty rare that I wear the same shoe on consecutive days. It seems to me that a good shoe rotation can help with keeping those little niggles at bay. But the 1400 v2s are one of those shoes that you want to wear every day.

The 1400 v2s are what running shoes are pretty much supposed to be. That’s not to say that shoes that aren’t like this are no good. I know they are. And not everyone can wear one model. But running is supposed to be simple. At some point we came to believe that our running shoes weren’t performance shoes if they weren’t, you know, all techied out, because of, you know, marketing. But here’s the deal: Really good design—really good design—doesn’t need all that stuff to be legit. It just doesn’t. We just think it does, maybe because we don’t have faith in ourselves, or know what good design is. I don’t know. But the New Balance 1400 v2 is almost—almost—exactly what you need, and nothing more. Except the 1600. You need the 1600, too.

1F*** yeah, tiny omelets!

Check out the V2’s predecessor here, or find a store near you for the New Balance 1400 V2.   

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