New Balance 890v6 Review

This is the start of some rare shoe reviews here, as this will be one of three New Balance running shoe reviews (Matt also has one coming down the pipeline soon!). I have been hesitant to try anything of New Balance’s running shoe since my grand disappointment in the original Zante and similar disappointment in the Zante v2 (*gasp* he didn’t like the Zante?!?!?!).  The one New Balance shoe that I did enjoy was the 1500v1, but I think that is why I have enjoyed running in the New Balance 890v6 and have had blissful runs in the 1500v4 (review to follow this 890v6 review).  New Balance hasn’t pulled out any “miracle foam,” but as I have mentioned in other reviews, you have to have function follow form.  Because if the design of a shoe sucks, it doesn’t matter how good the materials are, the shoe is going to suck.  What New Balance is doing presently is designing shoes with excellent form, which lends them to perform beautifully on foot.  I digress, let’s jump into my take on the New Balance 890v6.


Specifications:
Weight – 9.6oz size 9 (men's)
Heel to Toe Offset - 6mm
Midsole Material – RevLite, TPU inserts
Category of Shoe – Neutral, lightweight trainer/up tempo

Streamlined mesh upper.  Note the midfoot region has a separate piece of fabric that works with the internal bootie to lock the midfoot down.  

Upper and Fit:
New Balance designed this shoe with an engineered mesh upper and an internal bootie design, which provides an irritant free wrap around the foot.  I am a big fan of engineered mesh and glad that New Balance has avoided using knit uppers.  Knit uppers in my experience, provide inadequate hold of the foot, cause irritation to the skin, hold moisture, and get really hot in warm weather . The upper overall is on a moderately narrow last through the midfoot, but opens up quiet spaciously in the toe box.  The heel grip is ok, as I have to use the lace lock trick and really crank on the laces to hold my heel in place.  You would think with a fairly rigid heel counter and bootie design that you would get a better hold on the heel.  This is a real shame for us narrow heeled folks, because this is a fun riding shoe! Have no fear if you have a normal width foot, because your foot will be held perfectly with a snug wrap from the bootie construction, forgiving engineered mesh, and anatomically shaped toe box.  The look of these shoes are top notch!  I love the look and they scream fast.  All the colorway options are fantastic and glad that New Balance is finally making sleek looking uppers on their running shoes.

Heel counter, which unfortunately in this shoe is not a good hold on individuals with narrow heels.  The heel counter isn't too stiff, so those with sensitive Achilles should have no need to worry.

Midsole/Ride:
There is nothing magical happening here, but the use of New Balance's tried and true RevLite midsole foam.  If you are not familiar with this EVA based foam, it is a firm fast riding foam that provides considerable protection despite its firmer character.  Those who like running on Boost, EVERUN, EGO, or DNA AMP, or mushy Hoka One One foam may not appreciate this midsole.  I am in the camp of runners who like a firm riding midsole, which potentially is due to my small frame, my gait, and the extra mobility in the posterior aspect of my feet.  This midsole is designed for speed, and speedy these shoes are!  There is one more design aspect of theses shoes that I should mention – the TPU strips that are embedded in the forefoot.  These forefoot strips act like a spring board every time you hit midstance during your gait and aggressively snap back propelling you forward from midstance to toe off.  It’s a really cool sensation and the midsole design simply works.  I like that New Balance didn’t go overboard with these TPU strips, but just enough to add tensile strength and resistance to the body’s weight on impact converting the potential energy to kinetic energy.  Paired with the firm riding RevLite, you have a fast and responsive midsole unit.  

The outsole design also is important to bring up as it contributes to the unique and fun ride of the 890v6.  The outsole is covered with blown rubber that is in segments that somewhat match the different parts of the human foot.  There is one segment that runs along the midfoot region, which acts almost as a medial wedge of support as the lateral edge of the outsole has more segments allowing for the midsole to collapse slightly more on the lateral aspect.  The outsole near the heel si quasi-decoupled in a sense, in that there is a separate “pod” of blown rubber that smooths out the landing from heel to forefoot.  Those TPU strips I mentioned before also lend to an inherent stable ride, by providing a very stable and firm forefoot to push off from.  In fact, you can kind of feel your feet rocking forward from midfoot to forefoot when you are standing still in the shoes.  By no means is this shoe a “stability shoe,” but simply has design elements that create a stable ride.  Which isn’t a bad thing!  I wish more companies would make similarly stable fast riding shoes, because the more speed oriented a shoe gets, the more unstable they seem to be.  Juts take any racing flat you have and you will notice how ridiculously narrow some of their midfoot areas are where your midfoot is practically sagging over the arch region (even Nike’s Vaporfly 4% has this same issue, with an overly narrow midfoot on a very high midsole stack height, contributing to even greater instability).

RevLite foam which is protective from wear with strategically placed blown rubber in podular sections.  Even though this has pod-like layout, the ride never feels like it.  The segments aid in giving a very smooth heel to toe transition.

Thoughts from a DPT (Dr. Matthew Klein PT DPT)
While this may not be a stability shoe, there are several elements that make this shoe stable.  Obviously the TPU strips in the forefoot add rigidity and stability up front and provide a nice pop off the groudn during toe off.  This is something that I very much liked in the Adidas Tempo 5 and 6 and Takumi Sen/Ren 1 and 2 that provided a fast and stable ride (which was then exchanged for Boost).  However, the firmer ride is important for not just shoe stability but joint stability.  In a study in 2015 by Baltich et al (with contributions from the great Dr. Benno Nigg), 93 runners were tested in three different densities of shoe firmness (categorized as soft, medium and hard).  Ankle joint stiffness increased as midsole hardness decreased across the board and decreased as midsole hardness increased.  Meaning that the body may have been better absorbing shock at the muscles rather than at the joints with a harder shoe (because it is required!).  So a firmer shoe may be better to protect joints because it may induce better protective response with muscle loading (this needs to be confirmed with EMG).  This was attributed to the reason for the increased vertical loading with softer soles.  The body needs some proprioceptive (body awareness) input to understand where it is and how to protect itself.  Softer soled shoes will provide less input, thus the body will land harder to figure out where it is.  A harder soled shoe may cause someone to land softer to decrease that loading.  So firmer shoes can be a great training tool to soften landing in those that respond and need good proprioceptive input. To those people who still slam the ground when they land barefoot, possibly due to a general lack of proprioceptive input (one of the important centers is at the foot.  The other two are at the pelvic and cervical spine), it may or may not be the best.  Further research is still needed.  However this is one of the main reasons I generally (not always) push people with poor joint sense toward a firmer ride because it is inherently more stable and provides a better sense of where the body is.  This again depends highly on the person, their individual gait and loading characteristics and why they have come to see me! 

Little wear after approximately 100 miles on the road. One can also appreciate the red TPU embedded strips in the forefoot.  They extend from behind the metatarsals up to the tip of the toes.  These TPU strips also help stabilize the forefoot and give a powerful toe off.

Durability:
I have approximately 100 miles on my pair and see little to know wear on the outsole.  Furthermore, the midsole feels as fresh as it did on day one.  RevLite is good stuff, granted you like a firmer riding shoe.  Also the engineered mesh of the upper has shown no signs of wear.  I could easily see the average person getting around 400 to 500 miles on these.

Room for Improvements:
Please fix the heel!  I think that if New Balance just added some padding around the heel it would help immensely with holding the foot on the platform.  This would allow narrow heeled folks as well as average width feet to enjoy these fun riding shoes.  Also the laces provided are ridiculously long (note the white laces I used).  Other than that, I don’t really have anything else to complain about.


Conclusions:
New Balance has done a terrific job with the 890v6.  Granted, I never ran in the prior versions and have no point of reference, but from other shoes I have run in or have tried briefly.  I tested the Fresh Foam 1080v7 and v8 in store as well as the newer Zante and Boracay when I was the New Balance store in NYC.  The fresh foam feels dead, where the RevLite has pop and an excellent transition underfoot.  The RevLite midsole with the embedded TPU strips makes for one heck of a shoe that is fast and fun to run in.  If you are in need of an uptempo trainer or like firmer light weight shoes as your daily trainer pick up a pair of these.


Thanks for reading!

Dr. Nathaniel S Kollias, DVM, MPH
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
Masters of Public Health 
Cornell University Laboratory Animal Medicine Resident 

***Disclaimer: These shoes were a personal purchase from Running Warehouse and were purchased at their full US retail price. We put at least 50-75 miles on trainers and 10-25 miles on racing flats prior to reviewing them. Currently I have 95 miles on my pair of 890v6. If you are a footwear rep looking for footwear reviews or consultations on development, we are currently looking to partner with companies to assist, discuss and promote footwear models. Partnership will not affect the honesty of our reviews.

Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this website belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. This website should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking medical care. If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your local running physical therapist. If you are in the Los Angeles area, I am currently taking clients for running evaluations.

Dr. Matthew Klein, PT, DPT
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Kaiser SoCal Manual Therapy and Sport Fellow
References

Baltich, J., Maurer, C, Nigg, B. (2015). Increased Vertical IMPact Forces and Altered Running
Mechanics with Softer Midsole Shoes. PLos One 10(4); e1025196. doi.org/10.1371/journal
.pone.0125196

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Comments

  1. I had a question. Would this possibly be a good option for someone that is having a bit of pain in the big toe when they are pushing off? Seems like the stiffer forefoot and tpu shanks would help relieve it.

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  2. Wasn't Fresh Foam intended to be their miracle foam when it debuted?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Marcus,

      Yes that is what it was marketed as. I know many people love the stuff, but personally, I am a fan of firmer midsoles. If you like soft and squishy fresh foam has it!

      Delete
  3. Hi Matt, how would you compare this to the Sketchers Forza 3? Seems similar?

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    Replies
    1. Hi demian sims,

      Matt has not ran in the 890v6, but I can share my opinion as I have fun in the Forza 3 (I have approximately 100 miles on a pair). The 890v6 has a much better transition from heel to toe and I think this has to do with the segmented rubber on the outsole. Remember, the Forza 3 is rather stiff with a rocker design (I am not a fan of rockered soles). The propulsion strips in the 890 just give it a faster toe off and an overall more aggressive ride compared to the Forza 3 with its soft forefoot. It's hard to "relax" in the 890v6, it begs to go fast. Hope that helps!

      Delete

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