New Balance Running Shoes Review

New Balance, the Boston-born brand, has been around for over 100 years, but what really made it stand out was when it started innovating with foam in its running shoes. The 990, first introduced in 1982, was made with an EVA foam midsole, encapsulated by a polyurethane shell. New Balance now uses several variations of EVA-based Fresh Foam and FuelCell technology, and it’s this which sets its latest running shoes apart, from the Fresh Foam X More V4 to the FuelCell Propel V4.

New Balance Shoes

Which New Balance shoe is right for me?

There are two key midsoles to look out for when choosing your New Balance shoe, the Fresh Foam and the FuelCell. The Fresh Foam is all about comfort and good energy return, while the FuelCell is for the speed-chasers. We’ve taken a closer look at some of the most popular models of New Balance running shoes to help you find the right shoe for you.

Discover: New Balance Women's

What is Fresh Foam?

Fresh Foam is New Balance’s cutting-edge material designed to provide maximum cushioning for high-impact foot strikes on roads, tracks, courts, and fields. What's really cool about Fresh Foam is that it's been developed using 3D motion captured pressure mapping and force application data from real athletes. This means that the level of softness has been precisely quantified to provide optimal comfort and support for your feet. Whether you're an athlete or just looking for a comfortable pair of shoes, Fresh Foam is definitely worth considering. It’s resilient, soft, light and designed for a comfortable and springy ride.

Which New Balance Fresh Foam shoe is best?

New Balance Fresh Foam X More V4

Fresh Foam X More V4

The Fresh Foam X More V4 is New Balance's most most cushioned running shoe. Similar in many ways to the iconic Hoka high stack shoes, if you’re a fan of max-cushioning, this may be the one for you. They’re soft, responsive, resilient and provide a smooth ride thanks to rocker shape, which helps move you forward.

Despite the height, the Fresh Foam X More V4 has quite a shallow drop, at 4mm, so good for runners who don’t like the common 8-10mm drops on some shoes. The weight isn’t too bad either, considering the size of the sole, at just 237 grams (8.4 oz) - so it wouldn’t be your speed / race shoe, but it’s also not going to weigh you down.

The engineered mesh upper is breathable and supportive, while the outsole is made from durable rubber for added traction. The rocker guides the foot and helps to propel you, though it is quite a distinct ride - I am personally a big fan of the rocker.

Runners who normally pick this shoe:

  • Great for new runners, who are seeking maximum protection
  • A good option for runners doing longer distances
  • Ideal as a high mileage workhorse shoe
  • Runners who suffer with joint pain

Fresh Foam X 1080v12

The New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12 is one of the brand’s plushest running shoes. It’s comfortable, versatile, has great flexibility, energy return, and also looks pretty cool too. Not quite as cushioned as the Fresh Foam X More V4 but it’s still very close, the Fresh Foam X 1080v12 is a very versatile shoe, great as a daily trainer, from short speedy runs to easy long runs.

The Fresh Foam is a great shock absorber, so again will suit runners who struggle with niggles or joint pain, and has also got a bit of a rocker, to enable quick and smooth turnovers. This shoe is only a little lighter than the Fresh Foam X More V4, at 234 grams (8.3 oz), so it isn’t your marathon race shoe but it might just be your favourite training shoe.

The Hypoknit upper is a new addition for Fresh Foam X 1080v12, providing a streamlined fit that is plush and soft. The heel also has more padding than the v11 and may help people who suffer from Achilles Heel pain. The only drawback about this shoe though, is that it may not be for runners with narrow feet, with a few of our customers finding the the midfoot is a bit spacious.

For a road shoe, the lugs are also pretty big, offering good grip whether on dry pavement or compact trails.

Runners who normally pick this shoe:

  • Runners who are after a good allrounder shoe
  • Runners who have slightly wider feet (regular feet are also fine)
  • Runners who like cushioning but not too much
  • Runners who suffer Achilles issues
  • People who are after a shoe they can run in and walk around all day in
  • Runners looking for a shoe for their first marathon

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12

Fresh Foam Hierro V7

With the trail running scene continuing to grow, it was only a matter of time before New Balance gave it more focus. They have made a few models, already on version 7, and they really have got better every time. The problem with trail shoes is that some can be quite harsh and low to the ground, which on long runs over uneven trails can be testing on the feet. But the Fresh Foam Hierro V7 is of course made of New Balance’s revolutionary soft Fresh Foam, which puts comfort and spring in every step.

One of the big differences between this and the previous version is in the sole. The lugs have increased spacing and are around 1mm longer, which makes a big difference on gravel and muddy paths. Another difference is in the more sustainable material; the Fresh Foam Hierro V7 now meets the New Balance Green Leaf standard, which means over 50% of the materials are environmentally sourced, and the midsole between 3-5% is constructed using plant-based materials.

Initially, this shoe was dubbed as a light trail shoe, only good for compact paths, but the V7 is a much better all-rounder, with a light toe cap, breathable and durable upper, and very good stability - it’s also a modest 235 grams (8.3 oz) and has an 8mm drop. I wouldn’t wear it on super rocky terrain but for most UK trails, it does the job.

Runners who normally pick this shoe:

  • Runners who run on compact trails
  • Runners who have a mixture of road and trails on their runs
  • Runners who like more cushioning when running
  • Runners who want a comfortable training shoe for long runs

 New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro V7

New Balance Fresh Foam X More Trail v3

Fresh Foam X More Trail v3

When testing out the Fresh Foam Hierro v7, some runners said they wanted even more cushioning. Well, the Fresh Foam X More Trail v3 is the answer, reminding many people of the Hoka SpeedGoat - It’s basically the Fresh Foam X More V4 in trail version. The difference is that the Fresh Foam X More Trail v3 actually has two layers of foam, one slightly more dense than the other, to offer more stability on uneven trails, and comfort against big rocks - there’s no rock plate but the 40mm of height in the shoe puts quite a lot of distance between you and the ground, although it never feels too bulky.

The sole has moderate traction, perfect for compact trails, grassy and dry mud trails - but maybe not a typical UK winter, where the trails become like an ice rink if you aren’t in the right shoes.

Some runners have found the fit of the shoe to be little on the wide side, and wouldn’t feel comfortable taking the shoe on technical trails due to some heel movement. But when it comes to the material, it’s pretty durable and breathable, thanks to the synthetic/mesh construction.

At 260g (9.2 oz), this isn’t a speed shoe or a race shoe, but it’s great for easy trails, from easy runs to longer training and even hiking.

Runners who normally pick this shoe:

  • Runners who run on more compact trails
  • Runners who have a mixture of road and trails on their runs
  • Runners who like maximum cushioning when running
  • Runners who want a comfortable training shoe for long runs
  • Runners who easily feel rocks and debris underfoot

New Balance FuelCell

The New Balance FuelCell shoes look a lot more like racing shoes, with a streamlined design to help power you through everything from everyday runs to speed sessions, and in the case of SuperComp Elite v3, race day! FuelCell is New Balance’s highest energy return performance foam to date, delivering a propulsive feel that can help drive you forward with every step. They are generally quite a bit lighter than the Fresh Foam shoes and while they still have quite a large foam midsole, they don’t have the maximal cushioning you’d get with one of the Fresh Foam shoes.

New Balance FuelCell

New Balance FuelCell Rebel v3

For regular FuelCell Rebel runners, version 3 was highly anticipated. New Balance says the design of this shoe is ‘inspired by classic racing shoes to evoke the spirit of speed’ and for most runners who have reviewed this shoe, they have certainly felt the speed.

The FuelCell foam delivers a propulsive feel to help drive you forward, and is reactive whether you’re a lighter or heavier runner. It never feels like the cushioning goes ‘flat’, and the rebound is quick and reactive - the gentle rocker also helps with propulsion. For a shoe that has quite a lot of cushioning it’s lightweight, at 164 grams (5.8 oz), which makes it good for everything from long runs to tempo runs and speed sessions.

The shoe offers good support and durability, thanks to an inner sleeve, which gives a thicker - yet still breathable - mesh than v2. It also fits better than the v2, which ran a half-size shorter.

Runners who normally pick this shoe:

  • Runners looking for a great shoe for speedwork
  • Runners looking for a comfortable yet fast 10k - half marathon shoe
  • Runners who like soft cushioning and a light shoe
  • Runners who don’t like speed plates / TPU plates

New Balance FuelCell Rebel v3

New Balance FuelCell Propel v4

New Balance FuelCell Propel v4

The first thing that sets the New Balance FuelCell Propel v4 apart from other New Balance running shoes, like the FuelCell Rebel, is the TPU plate, which offers ‘superior propulsion’. A TPU plate is a highly versatile plastic material with unique properties that offer both superior energy return and stability. This doesn’t give as much propulsion as a carbon-plated shoe but it is still very reactive if you want to pick up the pace.

Version 4 is softer than version 3, and the upper is a little more cushioned too with an internal heel counter for structure and heel lockdown. With the cushioning in the upper comes heat, so for runners whose feet run warm, it may get a little hot, especially during summer.

What makes the New Balance FuelCell Propel v4 so versatile is that it feels stable and cushioned during easy paces while it feels energetic and agile at faster paces, making it great for everyday mileage, long distances, speed work and even races.

At 229.8 grams (8.1 oz), it’s a bit heavier than the FuelCell Rebel v4 but with the additional boost from the TPU, you wouldn’t know it. For the price, this shoe runs like a much more expensive shoe; responsive, agile, soft and durable.

Runners who normally pick this shoe:

  • Runners looking for a great all-rounder shoe
  • Runners looking for a shoe with high stability
  • Runners looking for a highly cushioned yet still fast shoe
  • Runners looking for a good speed work shoe

Are New Balance shoes true to size?

While New Balance trainers are generally true to size, some reviewers have noted that certain styles can run a bit wide, especially for those with narrow feet.

Which New Balance running shoes are Neutral?

Most New Balance shoes are pretty neutral. They aren’t made for correcting people’s running patterns but to support and enhance a neutral running pattern. The Fresh Foam X 1080v12 and the FuelCell Rebel v3 are two of our favourites, with the right amount of support and propulsion. Those with a bigger rocker, like the Fresh Foam X More V4, while still technically a ‘neutral’ shoe, will guide your running pattern more. Why not shop the New Balance collection now and find the right ride for you?