New Balance Rubix – Redesigning the stability shoe

The Rubix is the new stability shoe from New Balance. It has an 8 mm drop and quite a bit of cushioning. The shoe reminded me a bit of the 90’s somehow. Maybe because of the outsole that is a bit wider than the upper. But at the same time, it’s also a modern shoe with nicely printed overlays and a knitted upper. It weighs 255 grams, so it is a pretty light shoe. 

Upper

The shoes upper is made of a jacquard mesh, a double-layered knitted upper, which is seamless. The fabric is breathable but doesn’t dry quickly. When I went for a run in wet conditions, the front of my shoes got wet and this wet patch slowly spread out during my run, while the mesh was slowly absorbing the water. Eventually, my toes started to get wet as well and it wasn’t even raining at that time, it was just from the water on the road and the wet leaves. The upper seems to take up water like a sponge. Within a few miles the entire front of my shoes were soaked and by the end of the run, so were my socks. 

The tongue and collar of the shoe are pretty thickly padded, something that I personally like. It just feels plush. The outside of the heel of the shoe has a nice reflective print on it. Overall, I did find that the heel cup of the shoe provided enough stability. 

The printed thermoplastic polyurethane overlay makes sure your midfoot is snugly locked in place. I like this feature, it looks nice, and it’s firm and flexible at the same time. It locked down my foot nicely and I didn’t experience any hotspots with it. It also extends onto the heel of the shoe in order to firmly lock down your foot.

Midsole

In the Rubix the midsole has a different color compared to the outsole. The midsole is the most innovative part of this shoe. The midsole is made out of softer foam than the outsole. It is divided into different segments and the segments vary in how thick they are, something New Balance calls guidance ramps. In this way, the shoe provides more support in areas where overpronators need it most and through this design the shoe guides your foot in the right direction. 

The midsole is thicker underneath the lateral side of the shoe, while it’s actually thinner on the medial side. Overall the midsole foam is thinner underneath the forefoot of the shoe than underneath the heel. 

Outsole

The outsole of the Rubix consists of a denser kind of foam than the midsole. The outsole is also divided into segments and these segments also vary in thickness, just like in the midsole. In this way, the midsole and outsole work together to create a dual-density foam sole. 

The outsole foam is thicker on the medial side, while being thinner on the lateral side. In this way the foot is guided to a more natural gait, trying to prevent overpronation. Although this dual-density foam construction does help with the gait of the runner, it does also affect the cushioning of the shoe. I do find the cushioning in the forefoot of the shoe well enough, but as a bit of a heel striker, I do think the shoe lacks heel cushioning. I experienced quite a bit of ground feel in the heel and less so with the rest of the shoe.  

Performance

The New Balance Rubix is a stability shoe, but not quite in the way that you would expect. I’ve ran in stability shoes before and they are often made with a post, made out of hard materials, underneath the medial side of the midfoot to prevent you from rolling your foot inwards. However, that isn’t very comfortable while running, since it obstructs your natural gait too much. However, the Rubix doesn’t feel that way. It does have medial stability, but it doesn’t feel like someone squeezed a tennis ball underneath my foot. It does use the guidance ramps, but since they fused it together with the outsole, it is not as noticable. It gives you a smoother transition, than a more traditional stability shoe would have. I don’t really notice it when running, I do however notice it while just standing in these shoe. It is therefore one of those running shoes that are comfortable to run in, but not so comfortable to wear as everyday sneakers. 

Because the foot is guided by these guidance ramps, these shoes can probably also be worn by someone with a more natural gait, since their foot would be guided into a gait they already have.  

The outsole doesn’t provide much traction on the road. In wet conditions it even gets a little bit slippery. Therefore, this shoe is best worn in dry conditions. Which is fine if you are one of those runners that doesn’t run in the rain at all, but for most of us that can be a bit of an issue. I realise it isn’t a waterproof shoe, but that doesn’t mean the upper has to work like a sponge. It has resulted in me picking another pair of running shoes over the New Balance Rubix when I went out for a run while it was raining. 

Fit

I did find that the Rubix does have enough room in the toe box and I wore my regular size. 

Conclusion

The New Balance Rubix isn’t a traditional stability shoe. I’ve worn stability shoes before, but I often didn’t like them because the stability feature was mainly working against me instead of working with my foot. It mostly felt like a struggle running in those shoes. I didn’t have that experience with the Rubix. But the New Balance Rubix isn’t perfect either. I do find that the sole could be a little bit more plush with regards to the heel cushioning of the shoe and the upper does need to change, because at present it absorbs too much water. However, this is the first version of this shoe, so I am expecting it to get better in the future. I’m looking forward to seeing the future versions of this shoe. 

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