New Balance 890 v6 Review

March 12, 2018
New Balance 890 v6
GEAR INSTITUTE RATINGS
82
Fit
8
Comfort
7
Responsiveness
6
Ride Quality
7
Speed
4

The Good

  • Ventilates well
  • Smooth ride
  • Improved last shape

The Bad

  • Limited springiness
  • Comfort problems at front of toe box
  • Excessively firm for some users
THE VERDICT
The New Balance 890 v6 makes a number of improvements over its long-lost predecessors, It’s an an attractive option for everyday high mileage training, but doesn’t have the “wow factor” to make it a top choice for racing. Be sure to check the fit for length to ensure that your toes will be comfortable for those long distance outings.
FULL REVIEW

The New Balance 890 v6 marks the return of a model line that was discontinued three years ago, possibly because it was difficult to distinguish the 890 series from the newly developed Fresh Foam Zante and Vazee Pace models which were fairly similar in geometry and performance elements. The 2018 New Balance 890 v6 is a top-to-bottom reinvention of the prior model series, with a new last, new upper material, new midsole construction, and new outsole design.

Fit

Users of the previous 890 shoes should note that the New Balance 890 v6 uses a new last, meaning that it won’t fit your foot in the exact way of its predecessors. Instead, your point of comparison for the 890 v6 should be the Vazee Pace shoe, since New Balance adopted the same VL-6 last from that shoe for the new 890.  We found the shape of the last a great match to our foot shape, with appropriate width from rearfoot to forefoot, but perhaps a bit short in length to size. The midfoot has a mesh overlay that connects the laces to the midsole, and the standard tongue and lace system did a great job of locking the foot in place while running.  

Comfort

Keeping with a popular trend in upper construction, the New Balance 890 v6 uses an engineered mesh upper material, but it has generously spaced horizontal channel openings for improved ventilation and drying. Beneath the engineered mesh is seamless bootie that wraps the foot comfortably without any stitching. The toe box has comfortable dimensions in height and width to prevent hot spots, but the very front of the toe box has a small flap of fabric that some of our users reported being a source of irritation, especially if the length of the shoe runs a tad short. The ankle collar is well shaped with minimal padding and a nice secure feel around the rearfoot.

Responsiveness

Perhaps the most significant change to the New Balance 890 v6 is the overhaul of midsole material; gone is the ABZORB foam that was used in previous iterations, and in its place is a full-length layer of RevLite cushioning material. This represents a slight tradeoff of cushioning for firmness, and some of our users found the response to be a bit flat, without significant bounce or spring. Energy transfer from rearfoot to forefoot is also enhanced by thin strips of firm TPU, visible on the underside of the shoe, positioned between the midsole and outsole. The shoe has a firm feel on impact, without an enhanced feel of springiness at toe-off.

Ride Quality

With a fairly generous standing height of 27mm in the heel and a moderate 6mm drop to the forefoot, the New Balance 890 v6 rolls rather smoothly through the stance phase of running, and the firm cushioning is great for absorbing impact for high mileage outings and everyday training. For outsole construction, rubber placement is arranged into four separate compartments, each of which can move independently to accommodate individual biomechanics. Each of these outsole compartments has extensive cut-out sections to decrease overall weight, but the grip of the outsole compound is pleasantly secure on roads in wet or dry conditions.

Speed

One noticeable drawback of the re-booted New Balance 890 v6 is increased weight; the men’s version is a full ounce heavier than the previous model. General feedback from our testers about this shoe when running fast is that it’s simply decent: decent impact cushioning, decent energy transfer and general smoothness, but nothing particularly remarkable about it either. It’s probably best utilized as a daily trainer that can accommodate high mileage and also the occasional speedwork session or tempo run, but for race day you might want something lighter or snappier.  

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HOW WE TESTED

Testing of our lightweight road shoes was performed by a committee of testers, both male and female. Our group consists of six to eight testers who wore the shoes for total distances of approximately 20 to 80 miles. Single runs ranged in distance from three to 26 miles, and included casual training as well as speed workouts and road racing. The majority of our testing is conducted on asphalt roads or all-weather tracks, but we occasionally venture off-road onto jeep trails or smooth trails. Each tester prepares a summary overview of how each shoe performed in the criteria of fit, comfort, responsiveness, ride quality, and speed, and he or she also includes any additional thoughts or observations about the shoes during the test period. Feedback from all testers is consolidated into the criteria ratings.

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