Michael’s Corner: New Balance 860 Shoe Review

I was recently given the opportunity to wear-test New Balance’s stability shoe, the 860 (now in its fourth version) thanks to the kind folks at NB providing me with a pair, on the house.  My last NBs were from sometime around 1999, a beautiful pair of RC1s that weighed somewhere around 2.6 oz. and fit like a dream.

Old NB

Until fairly recently, NB was most-associated with gray trainers worn by middle-aged men with pleated khakis but, friends, the times they are a-changing.  NB has gone on a style tear as of late to compliment the signing of top runners like Andy Baddeley and Jenny Barringer Simpson.  I mean, these are not your grand-daddy’s walkin’-around shoes:

NB 1260v3

NB 1260v3

So let’s get to the 860v4, which uses NB’s proprietary T-Beam technology coupled with high-density EVA foam and ABZORB® Crash Pad to provide stability for over pronators.  According to the NB website: “T-beam is a lightweight, flexible TPU shank engineered to deliver optimum torsional stability and arch support through a unique center beam design.”  The closes comparison in terms of both pronation control and fit would be the Brooks Adrenaline.  For those interested in the more technical specs of the 860, it features a 12 mm heel-toe drop, is built on NB’s PL-12 last, and weighs 10.9 oz. for a men’s size 9.  Looking at the picture below, you can see the higher-density EVA foam as the gray portion of the midsole on the left shoe pictured.  You can also see the NB crash pad that contributes to the shoe’s stability.

Outsole

Here’s what the rest of the world will see when you lace up your 860s.

Profile

And here’s what a plane will see:

Top

If there’s one word to use to describe the 860 v4, it’s “workhorse.”  If you’re looking for a wisp of a shoe that is little more than a slice of rubber between your foot and the road, keep on looking.  If, however, you are looking for a great blend of cushioning, stability, and responsiveness, then the 860 might just be the shoe you’ve been looking for, particularly if you need a bit more room in the toe box, as I do.

I’ve put roughly 40 miles on my 860s now and have been very happy with the results.  The ride of the shoe feels cushioned without being mushy – the kind of shoe that won’t protest if you want to throw in some up-tempo miles during your long run.  The 860 will accommodate both mid-foot and heel strikers equally, though I think the mid-foot strikers will find a more responsive ride as the shoe can trend toward the clunky side when heel-striking.  No one is going to mistake any stability shoe for a racing flat, but the 860s do exactly what they are designed to do, and they do it exceptionally.  One observation, the 860 seems to have a rather high cuff, so I’d suggest wearing something like the Run.Com Performance Crew Socks, which it just so happens are 50% off at Greater Boston Running Company.

The takeaway?  If you over-pronate and are looking for a stability shoe on the lighter end of the spectrum without sacrificing cushioning, try on a pair of New Balance 860s!

Note: I received these shoes free of charge from New Balance thanks to my employment at Greater Boston Running Company.  All opinions expressed are my own and have not been influenced in any way by NB or GBRC.

You can read more by Michael here.

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