New Balance Fresh Foam Zante v2 ReviewFebruary 25, 2016
- Low stack heights for improved stability
- Smooth and responsive midsole
- Outsole tread lacks grip and wears fairly quickly
- Midsole may feel stiff to some users
The New Balance Zante v2 is an outstanding shoe for everyday training, speedwork, or racing; it has proven to be one of the best all-purpose shoes in our test group. Testers loved the comfortable ride and smooth heel-toe transitions of this shoe. Optimal conditions are on road or track, in dry conditions.
Fresh Foam is a midsole technology from New Balance that is crafted from computer generated impact analyses of multiple runners throughout the gait cycle moving at high speed. The resulting EVA utilizes lightweight single-density material configured in a variety of hexagons: larger, convex hexagons in the rearfoot, transitioning to a thinner concave pattern in the forefoot. This geometry provides consistent impact cushioning no matter where a runner strikes the ground, with both support and energy return as the foot proceeds through stance phase and toe-off.
The Zante is built on New Balance’s VL-6 performance running last that has a wider forefoot area than the company’s previous racing lasts. Fit is true to size, with a “just right” amount of room in the forefoot and a comfortably snug midfoot. Tension is easily adjusted with a classic lacing system.
Uppers on the Zante v2 are slightly thinner and more breathable than the first version, and material construction is seamless for sock-like comfort. Mesh is thicker in the rearfoot area, but the entire shoe breathes and dries effectively as needed. The toe box allows full toe splay to prevent chafing on long runs. Moderate padding around the heel collar and ankle provide a bit of additional comfort.
Most testers describe the responsiveness as springy and energetic, although some described the Fresh Foam EVA as stiffer than others in this category. There is a slight upward angle in the toe area which helps increase toe spring for forward propulsion and increased pace. The 6mm drop platform appears to be a sweet spot of stability and forward momentum for speed work.
The asymmetric hexagonal midsole EVA cells provide a firmer feel in the rearfoot and midfoot, with an easy and smooth transition from midfoot to forefoot. For such a light and low-riding shoe, the Zante v2 offers remarkable overall cushioning and comfort.
With lightweight construction, a low platform, and a highly responsive midsole, the Fresh Foam Zante v2 is suitable for fast training or racing from 5K to a marathon. One caveat is that the thin outsole rubber with very shallow (1mm) lugs loses some grip and spring in wet conditions.