New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon Review

This review comes from Chris Park, a fellow shoe geek and contributor to Doctors of Running. Chris has recently come off a healthy cross country season and has been able to put some solid miles on this shoe. Read on for his thoughts!

A Beacon of Hope?

New Balance! Where was this in 2015? Ever since the Zante v1, I’ve been a huge supporter of New
Balance. While they weren’t doing anything groundbreaking, every shoe I tried was simple and
efficient. Unfortunately, they starting to get a firmer and a bit chunky with each iteration despite the
low to the ground, responsive ride. Somehow, New Balance heard our prayers and came out with the
Fresh Foam Beacon, which has been delightful! Let's talk about why.

Specifications (per Running Warehouse)
Weight: 7.5 oz (size 9)
Stack Height: 26mm (Heel), 20mm (Forefoot)
Drop: 6mm
Classification: Lightweight Daily Trainer
Sizing: True to size


FIT/UPPER

New Balance has definitely done something special with this upper. It incorporates everything
you’d want in an upper: it’s soft, breathable, and light. (Looks pretty snazzy as well!) The upper
consists of a new knit mesh upper with enough support to keep your feet stable at brisker paces
without constricting your feet. Thankfully, I did not experience any blisters or hotspots during my runs.

Similar to many of their other shoes, the Beacons feature a bootie constriction to keep the midfoot locked down. However, I noticed that the midfoot fit far better than any other shoe I’ve tried from New Balance.
The Beacons feature a small rear heel counter that keeps the foot locked down. The forefoot fit is wider than
most shoes which definitely helps with toe splay.

The Beacons fit true to size in length and width, but if your feet are extremely wide, they are offered
a wider sizes.


RIDE/MIDSOLE

Despite their website saying otherwise, I firmly believe that the Fresh Foam midsole utilized in the

Beacon is completely different/made of a different compound than the Fresh Foam feature on the
Zante v4/1080 v8. From having a FAR softer and bouncier feel to being 3 ounces lighter than the
1080 v8 (10.3oz), the midsole is definitely an improvement in my book.

It has great flexibility in the forefoot and transitions very well from heel to toe. While I was a fan
of the Fresh Foam on the Zante v4s, I found the cushioning a bit harsh at times and not anywhere
near “plush.” If I were to compare them to any shoe, it would be a slightly firmer, more stable Skechers
GoRun Ride 7 (REVIEW).
*The Fresh Foam on the New Balance Beacon consists of an injected, molded midsole with a mix of
convex and concave hexagons to provide targeted stability and support in certain areas.

Overall, I really enjoyed the 6mm drop paired with the wider platform and bouncy ride. Anything
higher than 6mm would not have made sense because of the amount of cushion present. Furthermore,
the wider base provided a good amount of stability at faster paces despite the softer midsole. It definitely
made for a lot of enjoyable runs.


STABILITY

The Beacons are particularly special because of the relatively stable ride despite the amount of
soft cushioning they provide. Unlike similarly cushioned shoes (e.g. GRR7, Clifton), the ride remains
smooth and stable at most paces. While I found them a bit firmer than the Ride 7s and Cliftons/Napali
(not the 4 or 5), it was greatly appreciated because they felt better at faster paces.

Editor's Note: The relatively stable may be due to the slighter wider last. Similar to shoes like Hoka, you
can create a stable ride without posting or traditional methods. More on that soon....

SPEED

The New Balance Beacon is a daily, well-cushioned trainer that can handle anything from long runs
to brisk tempos. Given the recent trend with the Vaporfly 4%, I’d say these are a good alternative for
a marathon racer as well (Completely different shoe, but they are similar in that both provide great cushion).

However, I would shy away from using them at faster paces/below tempo pace (<5:00/mile). While

light and bouncy, I noticed that they became unstable at these faster paces, especially when making turns.

DURABILITY

After 200+ miles, I am excited to say that the cushioning has remained more or less the same. Thanks
to the “new” Fresh Foam, the midsole has not deadened out in the slightest. I expect to get around
300-400 miles on these shoes before considering replacing them.

Although the outsole is seemingly bare, New Balance strategically placed rubber lugs at high wear zones. To be honest, I wouldn’t be too worried about durability. According to New Balance, the
Beacon was constructed with a more durable version of the Fresh Foam, eliminating the need for a
heavy rubber outsole. Considering how good the outsole still looks after 200+ miles, I can see they
have done a great job.

THOUGHTS AS AN INTERESTED STUDENT

Pollard, Christine D. PhD

The recent trend with with “max cushioned” shoes has definitely been interesting. While it hasn’t
been something I’ve been against, it’s also something that I haven’t supported 100%. Ironically,
maximal shoes have been shown to increase impact forces and loading rate compared to “regularly
cushioned” shoes. A study done in June of 2018 out of Oregon State by Pollard et al. demonstrated
that runners wearing maximal shoes had increased impact forces and loading rates compared to those
wearing more traditional neutral shoes after only 5k. Unlike regularly cushioned shoes, maximal shoes
may cause runners to rely more on the shoes’ cushion over their own body to minimize these forces.
This may or may not contribute to certain injuries associated with impact forces. However, these problems
may be largely avoided through strengthening, coordination training and flexibility.

WHO THIS SHOE IS FOR (Conclusion)

The New Balance Beacon is for those who enjoy a highly cushioned, bouncy trainer for the roads. This
shoe is perfect for long runs, recoveries, and even marathons. However, I would shy away from them if
you are looking for a faster shoe. The wide fit (plus the offering of 2 widths) will appeal to many people
and the breathable upper will keep your feet blister free. I would definitely recommend taking a look at
this shoe!

GRADING

Fit/Upper          9/10
Ride/Midsole    8/10
Stability            6/10
Speed                6/10
Durability          7/10

Total Score: 72

Thanks for reading!

Chris Park
Future PhD Candidate

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 OCS
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist
Kaiser SoCal Manual Therapy and Sport Fellow

***Disclaimer: These shoes were purchased for their full retail price. This in no way affected
the honesty of this review. We put at least 50-75 miles on trainers and 10-25 miles on racing flats
prior to reviewing them.  Currently Chris has >200 miles on his pair. My views are based on my
extensive history in the footwear industry and years testing and developing footwear. 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.

References

1. Pollard, C., Ter Har, J., Hannigan, J., Norcross, M. (2018). Influence of Maximal Running Shoes
on Biomechanics Before and After a 5k Run. Orthopedic Journal of Sports Medicine, 6(6). DOI:
10.1177/232596118775720

Like and Follow Doctors of Running
Facebook: Doctors of Running  Twitter: @kleinruns
Instagram: @doctorsofrunning Direct Contact: doctorsofrunning@gmail.com


Please feel free to reach out, comment and ask questions!

Comments