New Balance MT 101 Review

March 2, 2015
Speed & Agility
Security of Fit

The Good

  • Light, nimble, and precise
  • Low to the ground ride with tremendous inherent stability
  • 10mm drop facilitates faster turnover and precision

The Bad

  • Lack of cushioning and protection demand careful foot placement
  • Shallow outsole lugs struggle on loose surfaces
  • Slightly narrow toe box

The original New Balance MT 101 was an all‐out blast to run in on technical terrain, and the reissue is no different. The handling and agility of this shoe are nothing short of superb. Just watch where you step!


Every now and then you come across a shoe that just seems to turn trail running into pure play. The New Balance MT 101 was one of those shoes, and this reissue perfectly recaptures all of the characteristics—good and bad—of the original model. The MT 101 offers up all of the features necessary for outstanding performance on technical terrain: light weight, precise handling, and natural stability. The MT 101 also offers excellent turnover on groomed trail, making it a viable candidate for off road speed-work and a nearly perfect short distance trail racing shoe. The main drawback with the MT 101 is the general lack of protection. Although the MT 101 handles brilliantly, the consequences of a mistake in foot placement are quite high, and made worse by the fact that the shoe encourages faster running. This is also not a shoe that most runners will be able to wear for more than an hour or two due to the minimal cushioning. But even if longer durations can be tolerated from a cushioning perspective, loss of precision in foot placement due to fatigue could be a concern. The MT 101 will appeal to anyone who enjoys faster paced running on technical single track, but is probably not the best shoe for heavier runners or those who need a lot of cushioning and support. The shoe does seem to run a touch small, so runners should consider sizing up.

Comfort is clearly not the strong point of the MT 101, but for a lightweight trail shoe the comfort is better than average. A lot of lightweight shoes seem to have uppers constructed of stiff, scratchy material, but the MT 101 is not like that at all. And while the midsole cushioning is certainly thin, what’s there has a soft feel to it and feels good on the foot.

Speed & Agility
The MT 101 is a bit unique in low-profile trail shoes in that it has a 10mm drop. While some runners might be turned off by this, turnover is greatly enhanced over shoes with a lower heel. This combined with the light weight allows the runner to respond extremely rapidly to changes in terrain and simply fly down technical trail. These same characteristics and the short outsole lugs also make turnover outstanding on smoother surfaces like dirt roads. The energy return is fairly typical and strikes a good balance between ground feel and responsiveness.

Security of Fit
The fit of the MT 101 is simply amazing. The overlay material has a slight compressibility to it that really helps enhance the fit without overtightening the laces. The foot also sits very neutrally in the foot bed, which keeps the upper from having to fight against the natural motion of the foot.

The New Balance MT 101 is arguably one of the most naturally stable shoes on technical terrain ever made. The major contributing factors to this are the low-profile fore foot and the security of fit. The rock plate also adds torsional rigidity, but not so much that the ground feel is compromised.

The New Balance MT 101 is going to be hard to beat at an MSRP of $90.


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