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New Balance Fresh Foam 860v11 Multiple Tester Review

The New Balance Fresh Foam 860 has been a long standing stability daily trainer for quite some time now. The shoe features Fresh Foam X for cushioning and a protective ride, a medial post for some added stability, and a highly durable outsole for many miles to come. The shoe has many subtle features that help contribute to a smooth ride from heel to toe!



Specifications (per Running Warehouse)
Weight: 11.0 oz (men's size 9), 9.3 oz (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 31mm / 21 mm
Drop: 10 mm
Classification: Moderate Stability Daily Trainer

HIGHLIGHTS

Matt: The New Balance 860 v11 is a smooth riding, stable, daily trainer that continues the progression of new age stability shoes with some traditional features. Featuring a well integrated post, a super smooth rockered sole, a very well locked down upper and some subtle pop from the Fresh Foam X. Add in incredible durability and you have a secure, stable and consistent trainer that will take you along for miles!

David:
The New Balance 860v11 is a daily training stability model that is really smooth from a rear foot landing and delivers a smooth toe off. The shoe is very rhythmic and provides a very pleasant ride. The shoe is very strategic and subtle throughout providing a good lock-down throughout as well as flexibility in the right places. Those who like stability shoes should be excited for this one!



FIT

Matt: The New Balance 860 v11 fits true to size in my normal men's size 10. It feels like it runs just a hair long while standing, but this disappears while running. I would go with your normal size. The fit overall is fairly normal. The forefoot fits average to slightly snug while the midfoot fits average and the heel fits just a hair wide. The forefoot has a quicker taper over the lateral forefoot, but the mesh stretches to accommodate this. The laces work especially well with the upper and lock down the midfoot very well. The tongue is attached with two mesh attachments to the midfoot that keep it secure. The heel part of this shoe has a great deal going on. There is a heel counter that is slightly flexible but does have a retrocurve design. This does put some pressure into the Achilles tendon while standing and walking but disappears on the run. Those with sensitive Achilles tendons should be wary of this shoe, but those with sensitive heels will be fine. The heel collar rises up fairly high and the retrocurve design of posterior collar cups the heel decently. There is still a large amount of cushion and room in the rearfoot, so I still had to lace lock the shoe. Overall a great fitting upper, although a little too much going on in the rear.

David:
The 860v11 fits true to size in my normal size 9.5. The heel is held really well with a external (though covered) heel counter and a retrocurve design to the posterior aspect of the shoe that takes pressure off of the achilles and also seems to prevent any slippage. The shoe may run a tad long in length but there are no problems with lockdown anywhere. The tongue is padded yet durable, just like the rest of the shoe. The upper is a tad thick but breathable and holds the foot very well. I took this through trails, roads, sharp turns, you name it and my foot was locked in, especially through the midfoot. The toe box is slighlty wide in width and provides enough room for both toe splay or wider feet. Overall the fit is very good. 




RIDE

Matt: The ride of the 860v11 is very stable and VERY smooth. This is the most rockered traditional trainer that I have tried. It almost feels like a smoother maximalist shoe without all the extra baggage. The posterior lateral heel bevel is significant and provides a really smooth guided  landing. The midfoot is structured without being obtrusive and is very stable. The forefoot is a little stiffer, but has some decent toe spring that easily rolls you forward. The cushioning is very protective, but is on the firmer end of the spectrum. The Fresh Foam X top layer does provide some pop and a softness up top, but the mild firmness provides even more stability. This makes the ride fairly consistent, with the forefoot feeling a little firmer than the heel due to the lower stack height. There is an 8mm drop, but I did not notice anything drop related due to the solid unilateral heel bevel. The weight is listed at 11 oz, but thanks to the above factors, it rides like a far lighter shoe. Overall the ride is very smooth and rockered with a little firmness that adds to the additional stability

David:
The ride is definitely really stable and fluid through all major transition points. The shoe has a well done posterior lateral bevel to the heel that kicks off initial contact with a good transition. From there the medial post is present from the heel through the midfoot. There is also a topsole above the posting that rides just above the insole of the shoe and almost acts like a guiderail. The toe off is helped with flexibility grooves in the outsole placed at forefoot and along the midline of the foot just laterally. Ultimately the result is a really smooth ride from heel to toe. The cushioning is very protective, but does seem to ride a little on the firmer end. I had no feet soreness though after a 14 mile and a ten mile effort. The traction is decent but should be ok for most running situations outside of serious trails. As someone who normally does not need a lot of stability, the shoe almost felt like a little much to me through the midfoot, but honestly did a good job of providing it. Someone who likes max stability should be excited for this construction. 




STABILITY

Matt:  I expected a thick harsh post based on the looks of the 860 v11, but the true stability couldn't be farther from that. The medial post is very well integrated into the sole, creating a very balanced ride in the heel and midfoot. The rockered sole not only smooths the ride, but creates a very well facilitated ride that emphasizes forward progression. There is mild sole flare in the front, which combined with the previously mentioned stiff ride and toe spring provides a very stable forefoot. There are many elements of stability here that work together very well without being obtrusive. Those who like traditional posts will enjoy this shoe while those looking to try a stable shoe will be pleasantly surprised by how well this shoe guides you rather than forces you with stability.

David:
I discussed this in the ride section in good detail, but the 860 does a great job of providing stability for foot and ankle in several different ways. The rocker is designed well particularly in the heel that transitions into a nice subtle sidewall created by the midsole. The sidewall sits on top of the medial post that extends from the rearfoot to the midfoot. Though the shoe is intentionally pretty rigid through this section there is a flexible forefoot that helps ease the more rigid region in the midfoot well. Overall the shoe creates a fluid and stable ride from heel to toe. Even though there is a medial post, the shoe is not dependent on it by any means to create stability. 




SPEED

Matt: The 860v11 is a daily trainer meant for long runs, easy runs and mileage. This is not a speed shoe given the higher weight, although the Fresh Foam X does provide a little pop when you fatigue. The solid cushioning, great stability and smooth ride make this shoe a great long run shoe that can handle a little uptempo work like strides or hills. Anything faster and you are going to want to switch out shoes after warming up in these.

David:
The 860v11 is best at daily training and recovery efforts. The shoe is more on the heavy side of things and the shoe is designed to have smooth yet slightly lengthened transition times. This is a shoe you will be wanting to be comfortable in for many miles, not just for faster sessions. The shoe does have some responsiveness for some slight uptempo work, but primarily is best at daily paces. 




DURABILITY

Matt:I have about 40 miles on my pair with only a bit of wear on the posterior lateral heel of my left shoe (my normal). The remainder of the tread still looks fairly brand new (except for the dirt). The sole has retained the same stable ride and the Fresh Foam X still has that subtle bit of pop. The upper has absolutely no signs of wear and still looks new. Overall I expect a fairly normal to slightly above average number of miles out of the 860v11 for a trainer.

David:
After about 40 miles I have virtually no wear. Some minor scraping and abrasion in the forefoot of the outsole but it is looking really good. The upper is constructed in a very durable fashion and shows no signs of tearing or discrepancies. The midsole is built to last and has not wavered in ride in any way yet. I would expect beyond industry standard for this shoe, but still expect some wear in the outsole. 




THOUGHTS AS A DPT 

Matt: The New Balance 860 v11 is another example of companies using a variety of strategies to provide stability. The post is a natural component of stability, but the rockered and stiff sole, mild sole flare and a full ground contact outsole also contribute to the stability. The rockered sole especially adds to maintaining forward progression of movement. There has been a great deal of negativity recently regarding posts, but they are still an effective means of "stability" for certain groups. When I worked in running stores it was always interesting to me that people with stiff, high arched (we know that arch height has no relation to stability shoe need) feet would come in wanting a shoe with a large post. We know that often these stability methods do less than we think (as Dr. Benno Nigg and many others have repeatedly demonstrated). However there may be another element to stability that is not discussed and that may be the feeling of stability. Somatosensory input (aka just sensory system) gives information about what is happening to our bodies. This includes information about position (proprioception), stretch, weight bearing, temperature, contact, etc. It is not uncommon during gait evaluations to see someone who says how much they love a stability shoe and the support feels great, yet they may still be moving around everywhere. Hence the comfort paradigm that we often reference here (again Dr. Nigg). Biomechanics is just one of the many things that goes into gait and movement. The human body is amazingly resilient and often does its own thing for reasons we are still trying to understand. If someone is comfortable, isn't getting injured and loves a certain type of shoe, don't mess with it.

RECOMMENDATIONS 

Matt: Stability wise I think the 860 v11 is awesome. The post and several other elements are integrated very well. My two suggestions are to consider lightening up the shoe a little as 11.6 oz for a men's size 10 is on the heavy side. However the smooth ride very much offsets this (as mentioned). The most important thing would be to change the retrocurved heel counter. I can feel it digging into my Achilles tendons, which are a bit sensitive. I haven't had any issues, but certainly notice it enough that it may warrant toning down a bit. The remainder of the soft heel that comes up is fine!

David:
Normally I'm not a huge stability guy, but this shoe does a great job of providing stability in a durable workhorse fashion. I do think the upper could be slightly thinned out and the length slightly shortened, but overall the fit is still good. The full contact outsole is great and the shoe has some flex grooves built in to make sure it isn't overly rigid. Overall I'm very impressed. 


WHO THIS SHOE IS FOR (Conclusion)

Matt: The New Balance Fresh Foam 860v11 is very stable stability shoe for those who want a smooth riding, reliable trainer for eating up miles in. The 860v11 is sturdy and structured, yet super smooth for longer runs. Featuring a triangular post with several other features that provide stability from a wide range of areas, this is an evolved stability shoe. The bevel further adds to this and provides a very smooth ride no matter where you land, although people who land farther back may better utilize the many technologies in this shoe. The 860v11 has evolved nicely and is a solid choice for those wanting a stability shoe with a rockered and reliable ride.

David:
The New Balance Fresh Foam 860v11 is a high stability training shoe for those who like to run long miles in the same workhorse. The shoe is incredibly durable and features many components that contribute to its stability, outside of traditional posting medially. In a lot of ways this is a traditional stability shoe with some very modern touches and accents. The combination is done well and I think with the nice bevel this will agree with most rearfoot strikers looking for some stability in their trainers. 

GRADING
Matt
Fit                    8.5 /10 (Great forefoot, heel a little thicker than necessary, and heel counter still curves in)
Ride                 9.5 /10 (Super smooth ride from heel to toe. A little stiff through the forefoot)
Stability           10 /10 (Very well integrated stability at every part of the shoe)
Speed               7.5 /10 (A daily trainer and long run shoe. Not meant for speed)
Durability         9.5 /10 (Highly durable upper and outsole. Midsole retaining feel well)

David
Fit                     9.25/10 (Upper is on thick side, length is a little long, otherwise great)
Ride                  9.5/10 (Very fluid transition points from heel to toe, components help)
Stability            10/10 (Stable from nearly every aspect)
Speed                7.5/10 (best at daily training efforts)
Durability         9.75/10 (some wear noted, but should easily surpass industry standard)


Total Score: 91 % (M: 9.0 /10  D: 9.2/10 )

Thanks for reading!

TESTER PROFILES:
Dr. Matthew Klein is a 140 lb male with notable PRs of 14:45 for 5k and 2:32:44 for the full marathon.  He typically runs 70-100 miles per week and trains at a variety of paces from 8min per mile recovery runs to 4:40 per mile 1k repeats.  He prefers firmer and responsive shoes with snug heels and medium to wide toe boxes.  He is particular to less cushioned shoes and close to the ground shoes, but can handle a little cushion when he gets beat up.

Dr. David Salas is a 135 lb male with notable PRs ranging from 3:54 in the 1500m to 1:08:36 for half marathon. He typically runs 60 miles per week and trains from about 7:30 recovery runs to fast shorter efforts at 4:30 pace. He normally prefers neutral shoes with a firmer ride, but is completely open to other types of shoes.  He is a footwear enthusiast at heart and will always appreciate a high quality shoe when it comes around. For updates on training or testing, IG handle: @docsofrundavid

Dr. Brown is a 155 lb male with notable PRs of 18:18 5K, 39:25 10K, 1:29:01 half marathon, and 3:54 marathon. He typically runs between 20-40 miles per week at a variety of paces from 7:30-8:30 min/mile for recovery runs to 6-6:45 min/mile for tempo runs. He typically prefers shoes that provide some cushioning underfoot but still maintain a more firm and responsive feel. Current goals for 2020 are to break the 1.5 hour half marathon and 3:30 marathon. IG handle: @nate.docsofrunning



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.

Matthew Klein, PT DPT OCS FAAOMPT
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist
Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists

Nathan Brown PT DPT MS
Doctor of Physical Therapy 
Masters in Anatomy and Clinical Health Science
Movement Performance Institute Certified in Advanced Functional Biomechanics 

David Salas PT DPT CSCS
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist

***Disclaimer: These shoes were provided free of charge in exchange for a review.  We thank the  people at New Balance for sending us a pair.  This in no way affected the honesty of this review. We put at least 35-50 miles on trainers and 10-25 miles on racing flats prior to reviewing them. Currently we have *** miles (Matt), (in progress) miles (Nathan) and 39 miles (David) on our pairs. Our views are based on our 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.

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