New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 V9 – Sleeker, but not yet sleek enough.

I like maximal cushioned shoes, so I’ve been looking forward to trying the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 for a while. It wasn’t the first New Balance shoe I tested, but it was the first Fresh Foam shoe I got to test and I was curious about it. Every big shoe company has their own cushioning material. Nike has Epic React, Adidas has Boost, Asics has their Gel and New Balance has Fresh Foam. 

New Balance has made quite a few changes compared to the previous version of this shoe. Obviously, they still used the Fresh Foam in the midsole, but it has been adapted to create a slightly softer ride. The outsole and upper have also gotten an update. The New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 V9 is a neutral running shoe that weighs 254 grams and has an 8 mm drop. It has a heel height of 30 mm and a forefoot height of 22 mm. Sometimes a shoe feels light or heavy regardless of the weight of the shoe itself, but more because of the weight distribution throughout the shoe. This shoe feels surprisingly light for the amount of shoe. 

Upper

The upper is made up out of two separate parts. There is the double jacquard mesh on the toe box of the shoe, while the heel counter is made of a much smoother material and has a build in heel cup. New Balance calls it the Ultra Heel with their 3D heel counter to improve the fit and comfort. To be honest, I’m not sure why that makes it special, because I don’t see how you can even have a 2D heel counter. 

This upper is supposed to be sleeker than the one on the 8th version of this shoe, which had more overlays, but it still seems to me that there are still many of components to this upper and maybe some of those could have been eliminated. Especially in the midfoot there are some overlapping parts on the in- and outside of this shoe. Although it didn’t create any hotspots, I don’t think that much overlapping was really necessary. On the inside of the midfoot there is an extra piece of colored fabric stitched in to provide a splash of color, but it is hardly noticeable through the jacquard mesh. 

I had some issues with the collar of this shoe. Since there is no padding in the collar and there is only a stitched rim, this would create blisters on my achilles. I first tried to fix that with some band-aids, but after a couple of kilometers the band-aids wouldn’t stay in place anymore, so I tried sports tape instead, which did stay in place and made it easier for me to run in the shoes. But I could only run in them if I taped my achilles before I went out on a run. 

Midsole

Since the midsole of the 1080 V9 is so thick I was expecting a very plush ride and that I would sink into the midsole a little bit. So, I was quite surprised to find that the Fresh Foam felt different than I had expected. It was a lot firmer than I had anticipated. Initially, I couldn’t really feel any difference in firmness throughout the midsole. It just felt firm and not very flexible to me. But over time the midsole softened a bit and now I can notice that the Fresh Foam is a bit firmer underneath the midfoot than underneath the forefoot and heel. The firmer Fresh Foam underneath the midfoot does help with stability. 

The midsole has laser cut indentations in the shape of diamonds and hexagons, to fit the same patterns on the heel counter and outsole of the shoe. These appear to be there mainly for aesthetic reasons, although New Balance claims that they are based on data. However, what data and their purpose never became clear to me. 

Outsole

The outsole is made out of blown rubber hexagon-shaped lugs and has a pressure map painted on it in different colors. The blown rubber appears to be the same density throughout the entire outsole, but the hexagons are different sizes throughout. The outsole has five flex grooves cut out of the rubber to provide flexibility, but they don’t really seem to help much because of the stack height of the 1080 V9. 

I was surprised to see that the forefoot of the outsole started to wear down after only about 50 kilometers in these shoes. Especially, since I’m a heel striker. I have no idea why the wear has started underneath the forefoot instead of the heel. Maybe this shoe changed my gait more than I realised. 

Fit

The 1080 V9 has a wide forefoot and the toe box is nice and roomy, which is often the case with New Balance running shoes. The sole is even wider than the upper which creates a stable ride. 

The heel is a bit narrower, which I personally do not mind, since I have a bit of a smaller heel. However, the heel of the 1080 v9 is also shallower than I’m used to with other running shoes, which might partially explain the problems I have with the collar of this shoe. 

I wore my normal running shoe size with this shoe and it fit me just fine. 

Performance

The 1080 v9 is a nicely cushioned shoe that has a bit of bounce to it. It is not a very fast shoe, but more of a long distance running shoe which you might use for longer training runs or maybe to run a marathon in if you don’t have a racing shoe or just prefer more cushion during your marathon. 

Conclusion

I had my initial doubts about the 1080 V9 and it took me a while to break them in and to fully figure out the best way to run in this shoe. But it has grown on me and I started to like the Fresh Foam midsole. I like the Fresh Foam, but I’m not in love with the upper. I would have definitely liked this shoe better if it would have had a padded collar and a smoother transition between the different upper materials. It will be interesting to see if New Balance changes anything about the upper in version number 10. 

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