New Balance Fresh Foam Roav – Is it a sneaker or a running shoe?

When I first saw the New Balance Fresh Foam Roav, I must admit, I did think they looked good, but they didn’t look like your average running shoe. Now, that doesn’t have to be a bad thing, there are lots of weird looking running shoes out there that aren’t half bad. Looking at the design it reminds me of the Fresh Foam More as well as the Beacon 2. But I wasn’t sure the New Balance Roav was designed to be a running shoe. 

But some research on the New Balance website made clear that they did intend this to be a running shoe. It was categorised as a running shoe on their website and the description of the shoe made it clear that this shoe was designed for “athletes on-the-go” and it could go from “those morning miles to the rest of your day”. Hm, okay. I guess it’s a running shoe/sneaker then.

But the New Balance Roav does have a Fresh Foam midsole. And I’ve already tried the New Balance 1080 V9 (which is definitely a running shoe) before and liked the Fresh Foam material, so I decided to give the New Balance Roav a try. 

The Fresh Foam Roav is a neutral road running shoe with an 8 mm drop. It’s not very heavy as it comes in at 220 grams for the women’s model. New Balance doesn’t give a stack height, but I’m guessing it’s 16 mm in the forefoot and 24 mm heel stack.

Upper

The upper of the Fresh Foam Roav is a one piece mesh upper. There is a band stitched onto the midfoot to provide some stability. The tongue and heel counter are minimally padded. There is a bit of stretch in the mesh and there is ample room in the toe box. 

The problem with one piece uppers is that they are difficult to adjust to your foot. And in this case the shoe only has four eyelets on each side with very thick laces and no extra eyelet, so this really limits the way you can adjust the shoe. If I want to lace the shoes a bit more tightly the fabric will fold over itself and create a hotspot. 

The Roav has the same Ultra Heel as we see in the New Balance Beacon 2. I was a bit sceptical at first, since it’s kind of odd looking and there is hardly any padding. But it wasn’t all that bad. It actually was less of a hotspot of me than the heel collar on the 1080 V9. 

Midsole

The New Balance Roav has a Fresh Foam midsole which does provide some cushioning, but there isn’t a whole lot of it. Thus resulting in quite a bit of ground feel. This together with the lack of support of the upper makes me feel like I’m just sliding around on top of the midsole. And as a result I started running with more caution and at a slower pace. 

Outsole

The outsole is made of the NDurance rubber, but it doesn’t have much profile on and is just flat with a pattern stamped into it. Which doesn’t really make it suitable for running anywhere else but roads.

Conclusion

The Roav has a very minimal upper, which does help with the weight of the shoe, but it doesn’t provide a lot of support. It is a stylish shoe, with Fresh Foam and the heel isn’t uncomfortable, but the upper is hard to adjust to your foot and it’s therefore difficult to get the right lockdown for running. 

Truth be told, the New Balance Roav isn’t an expensive shoe, it’s retail price is about $80 and I managed to get it on sale for around $50. But that’s not really an excuse, I’ve bought the Adidas Solar Drive and the Reebok Floatride Energy for similar prices on sale and I find those to be decent all round running shoes. If you like New Balance and Fresh Foam and you’re looking for a light shoe, you’d probably be better off considering the Beacon 2, which is a lighter shoe and you get more Fresh Foam. 

The New Balance Fresh Foam Roav is definitely more of a sneaker than a running shoe. If you’re looking for a sneaker with Fresh Foam and you’re okay with little support, this might be the shoe for you. But if you’re looking for a running shoe, look elsewhere. 

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