Monday, November 26, 2012

New Balance MR00 Minimus Road Review

New Balance has fully embraced the 'minimalist' movement and their latest road shoe shows just how serious they've gotten. I actually picked up this pair at a local store over Thanksgiving (Playmakers, can't be beat) and thought they were just racing flats. The flat style & light weight were enough to try them on, and the feel on foot was amazing. So imagine my surprise when I went to look up their actual stats after a couple runs and I realized they were from the Minimus line, and not regular flats. It was a pleasant surprise, and for the amount of comfort they provide I was shocked to see they actually have a 0 heel/toe drop.

Stats: Weight & Toe Drop
At 6.1 oz it's definitely in the featherweight class (I'm not sure if anything will be lighter than the old 3.9 Mizunos) but I think the extra heft comes from the quality Vibram sole (more on that later). On top of the light weight, they actually measure 12mm in the forefoot AND 12mm in the heel for a completely flat shoe. I was surprised, because the 0 drop shoes I've ran in before like the Merrel Trail Glove always felt like my heel was low, which made sense since most racing flats I've trained in still had a 3-5mm raised heel. However these MR00's felt more like the Piranha's or Wave Universe, so it was a pleasant surprise since that means I should be getting more natural strike out of my mid/forefoot & heel impact dampening from the little extra stretch in my calf & achilles.

Sole (Vibram)
The biggest problem with the lightweight flats I like to train in is often the sole. Racing flats love to save weight by using a hard tack that feels plasticky on the bottom. The New Balance MR00's go in the complete opposite direction with a great rubberized Vibram sole. The result is a great feel on the road, and I'm guessing great durability. I'll update this review after a few hundred miles and check in on that.

Fit / Feel
Technical stats aside, this is the reason I bought these in the store. New Balance gave these a nice wide forefoot that feels secure on foot but roomy, and a great inner lining that feels soft barefoot. The low, but solid sole is much better than the thick rubber of Nike Frees, and also helps prevent pronation since the sole can't compact all that much compared to a cushier shoe. These feel just as good as the Mizuno Wave Universe on foot, but the rubberized sole means they feel even better one when you start making contact with the ground.

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