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New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12 Review:
Everything at a Premium
By Senior Contributor Nathan Brown

Many running shoe companies create lines of shoes to meet various running needs. This many times includes a traditional daily trainer with minimal rocker and moderate cushioning, a premium trainer option that is typically a bit more cushioned/softer, a lighter performance trainer, and then a racing option. The NB 1080v12 is one of those popular premium trainers that offers higher cushioning, a bit of rocker shaping, quality materials for the upper, and sits a bit on the heavier side but is meant for eating up miles. My first experience (and most recent till now) with the 1080 was in version 6 when training for my first marathon, and I ended up having to return them because the reinforced cage in the midfoot would cut my foot each run. Version 12 is a very different animal than my first time, existing as a premium trainer option that is somewhat unique to other comparable models from other brands. Let's look at why.

Price: $159.99 at Running Warehouse
Weight: 10.3 oz, 292 g (men's size 9), 8.3 oz, 234 g  (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 34 mm heel, 26 mm forefoot (unconfirmed)
Drop:  8 mm
Classification: Maximal daily trainer


The 1080v12 is New Balance's premium daily trainer that consists of a soft and plush FRESH FOAM X midsole (EVA) that is shaped with an aggressive toe spring (upward curve of the toe platform) and a significant heel bevel, creating an all-around rockered yet flexible platform. This shoe is created with comfort in mind from top to bottom, and it delivers just that. Given the emphasis on comfort, there is also a higher weight, which positions this shoe to be best used for easy and daily mileage without the desire to pick up the pace. Its geometry sets this premium trainer apart from other premium shoes like the Brooks Glycerin, Mizuno Wave Sky, or Saucony Triumph in terms of who may enjoy this shoe and benefit (or not benefit) most from it.


I may not have ran in version 11 of this shoe, but I know enough people who have (including our founder Matt) who are very pleased to see the Ultra Heel disappear and transition to a more traditionally-formed, semi-rigid heel counter that transitions seamlessly into the upper of the midfoot and toe box. The upper that surrounds the midfoot is rather thick with the use of internal underlay and does not have much stretch at all. This helps with providing a quality lock down on the midfoot and prevent heel slippage in this shoe. The midfoot also has a nicely padded tongue with padded gussets (which attach the tongue to the foot platform) to keep the tongue comfortably in place. Transitioning forward you have a much more stretchy (and quite comfortable) material that allows for splay and accommodation to varying foot types. In addition to the accommodating Hypoknit material, you also have a rather roomy toe box. I wouldn't say that this shoe is a half size large, but for those who sit between two sizes may do better going with your smaller of the two choices. Overall, this shoe delivers a secure, comfortable, and premium-feeling upper. It is still rather cold here in Wisconsin, so I cannot speak to the breathability here, but will update as it warms up.

"The 1080v12 is best for someone looking for a soft, comfortable shoe to simple tack on lots of miles."


The shaping of the 1080 v12 is what creates a very unique running experience compared to other premium trainers like the Glycerin, Sky, or Triumph. However, before we get there, let's start by talking foam and outsole. The FRESH FOAM X midsole is a very soft blend of EVA that has a lot of plush feel to it. It performs best on easy runs, daily mileage, and for longer runs for those who don't mind a little extra weight. The foam is not bouncy, but also not mushy or boggy, so it moves along quite nicely. Much of the rolling sensation is due to the geometry of the shoe. Given the weight and softer foam, it loses versatility and really is best for simply logging miles and no additional workouts. The outsole has a lot of rubber coverage, and the podular shaping does allow for grip on some of the light dirt and gravel trails that we have in town. I am seeing some quicker wear than normal in the rubber on the posterior (back) part of the shoe after 20 miles.

From back to front, you have a very rockered platform. The heel bevel is nicely integrated but does span a bit into the rear foot. For very severe rear foot strikers (mostly those who may be overstriding), you may notice a bit of a "hitch" when landing so far back. However, most rear foot strikers will find it helps produce a very cushioned and smooth transition to the midfoot. The midfoot itself is a rather flat platform, but quickly transitions to an aggressive toe spring combined with rocker shaping of the midsole (more on this below in DPT section). The toe spring in this shoe makes the shoe feel like a lower drop shoe (4-6mm) in comparison to its listed 8mm. This is because it raises your forefoot in comparison to the rear foot. Combine that with a compressive foam when landing and a heel bevel,  it feels like a lower drop than its 880v12 counterpart. The toe spring does provide a bit of a rolling sensation, which offsets the heavier weight on longer efforts and daily mileage. Additionally, the forefoot is flexible, which allows for some natural movement of the foot despite the toe spring and rocker.

If you're looking for a premium trainer to mimic your current walking shoe as you transition to running for the first time, you won't find that here. This is an approachable, but more running specific, premium trainer that operates off of some flexible rocker geometry. If you are looking for a more traditional trainer, check out the NB 880 or other premium trainers like the Glycerin, Wave Rider, or Triumph. 


The New Balance 1080 v12 is a neutral trainer that may provide appropriate guidance for some and may be on the unstable side for others. The reason for that is the combination of the bevel, flexible forefoot, and softer foam create a platform that transitions forward really nicely if you don't land too far back and/or also have strong calves and forefoot stabilizers. The aggressive toe spring and longer heel bevel work best for those who have an efficient and even slightly shorter stride. As your stride elongates, the heel bevel can become a bit more clunky leading to difficult transitions. Meanwhile, the toe spring, softer foam, and flexible forefoot give the feeling of a lower drop shoe, putting some additional requirements on the calf and foot to maintain a stable transition forward through toe off. Finally, the toe spring places the great toe into extension at rest, so for people with limitations in great toe extension, it can require compensations elsewhere in the foot. As always, the amount of guidance you need from a shoe varies and depends on many factors, but this falls in the true neutral category. 


Not all rockers are created equal. We have spoken extensively about forefoot rockers and the research behind why these may be used (you can check our our deeper dive on that HERE). It's pretty well documented that an appropriately place rocker can offload the calf and decrease overall work done at the ankle while running. What might sound confusing is that though the 1080v12 has a rockered geometry, it may not decrease demand on the calf and foot. How do those two things go together?

A bit part is that, again, not all rockers are created equally. The rockers used in the studies showing decreased calf demand while running have a stiff/rigid rocker with a certain angle of inclination and a specific apex where the slope starts. The goal of this specific design is to replace the "forefoot rocker" of the gait cycle, thus decreasing the demand to control extension of the big toe and produce plantarflexion of the ankle. The 1080v12 (and MANY other shoes on the market these days) have a forefoot rocker in appearance but not in function.

The biggest factor here is that the rocker in the forefoot of the 1080v12 is flexible. This means that as you land, the rocker (and in this case toe spring) will flatten. Then, as transition toward push off, the sole will flex and your body is going to have to control extension of the big toe and produce plantarflexion at the ankle (the very thing stiff rocker soles are meant to replace). Therefore, despite the very rockered appearance of the 1080v12, it likely is not leading to the decreased demand on the ankle/foot that a shoe such as the ASICS Glideride 2 or Saucony Endorphin Shift 2 may produce.

Now, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. In fact, I am of the persuasion that running solely in rockered shoes for people who do not have any injury (or specific need of a rocker) may not be the wisest move. The goal of this conversation here is to highlight that the placement of a rocker and how flexible it is really changes the consequences, good or bad, on the runner. If you're looking for a rockered platform to decrease calf/ankle demand, you won't find it in the 1080v12.


The 1080v12 sits in a unique spot as a premium trainer with a more aggressive geometry. I do think that shaving some weight off of the shoe would be beneficial, but it would be important to do so without losing the comfort that this shoe delivers. I appreciate that the geometry of the 1080 differentiates it greatly from the 880, providing two very unique options for runners from NB. To decrease the extension through the great toe (which again is only a problem for certain people) it could be nice to see a slightly less aggressive toe spring, which should not impact toe off too greatly as the forefoot flexes well with the foot. Also, please don't add a plate to this shoe. Too many trainers are getting plates. 


The NB 1080v12 is best for someone looking for a soft, comfortable shoe to simple tack on lots of miles. People with hallux rigidus (stiff big toe) should be cautious before purchasing this shoe due to the toe spring. This shoe is best for daily miles, long runs, and for those who appreciate a more significant heel bevel and a lot of protective feel under foot. It is also most appropriate for those looking for a shoe for easy runs or simply getting miles in, not for those looking for a versatile "do-it-all" trainer.



Fit: A- (Very comfortable upper with plenty of space and stretch in the forefoot for longer runs, good lock down. Possibly slightly large in forefoot, but not enough to go down half size in my case. A little on the heavy side)
A- (Smooth transitions as long as you aren't landing too far back. Soft without being boggy or mushy. Can feel a little heavy when tired and lacks some versatility.)
Stability: B [Neutral] (A true neutral shoe without major guidance one way or another. Operates on a flexible rockered platform)
DPT/Footwear Science: B (The toe spring may lead to problems for those with sensitivity to toe spring, and the flexible nature doesn't lead to the benefits of a rocker.)
Personal: B+ (I enjoy the softness of the foam and the transitions from heel to forefoot. I typically enjoy something a little lighter and versatile for a daily trainer/long run shoe.)
Overall: B+


Price: $159.99 at Running Warehouse

*Using the link to purchase helps support Doctors of Running. Thanks so much!

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Check out the 1080's sibling, the 880v12 here.

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Nathan Brown PT DPT OCS
Doctor of Physical Therapy 
Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist
Movement Performance Institute Certified in Advanced Functional Biomechanics 

Dr. Brown is a 155 lb male with notable PRs of 18:18 5K, 39:25 10K, 1:29:01 half marathon, and 3:29:44 marathon. He typically runs between 20-50 miles per week at a variety of paces from 8:00-9:00 min/mile for recovery runs to 6:45-7:15 min/mile for tempo runs. He typically prefers shoes that provide some cushioning underfoot but still maintain a mildly firm yet cushioned feel.

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.

***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 systematically put each type of shoe through certain runs prior to review. For trainers and performance trainers, we take them on daily runs, workouts, recovery runs and a long run prior to review (often accumulating anywhere from 20-50 miles in the process). For racing flats we ensure that we have completed intervals, a tempo or steady state run run as well as a warm up and cool down in each pair prior to review. This systematic process is to ensure that we have experience with each shoe in a large variety of conditions to provide expansive and thorough reviews for the public and for companies. 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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