new balance 880 v12 cover
RoadShoe ReviewsSite Feature

New Balance Fresh Foam 880v12 Review: Great Ride, But a Roomy Upper

What You Need To Know

  • Weighs 10.3 oz. (292 g.) for a US M9 / US W7.5
  • The best 880 ride yet thanks to the Fresh Foam midsole
  • There’s A LOT of room in the jacquard mesh upper
  • You’ll quit the outsole rubber before it quits you
  • Available in April 2022 for $130

RYAN: Let’s get one thing out of the way up top — I’m a firm believer that New Balance makes the best running shoes right now. So much so that I wore through a pair of the Fresh Foam 1080v11 and a pair of the FuelCell Rebel V2, and now I’m on to my second of each. I even went so far as to corner Robbe at the Christmas 5K and offer to bribe him into letting me review some New Balance shoes this year. Christmas came late, and here we are.

The Fresh Foam 880v12 is a new model for me, but one that came with high hopes. After seeing it teased at The Running Event, I figured there had to be something good going for this workhorse of a daily trainer. It’s got lots of what I like in a shoe — Fresh Foam X in the heel, a dense version of FuelCell in the forefoot, solid outsole coverage, and a pretty slick launch colorway. My only question was whether or not it would be able to tempt me away from my sweet, sweet Fresh Foam 1080v11 (which has over 300 miles in it). Let’s find out.

JARRETT (WIDE FOOT): Ever since we saw the 2022 New Balance lineup at TRE this past December, I’ve been foaming at the mouth to try them out. Usually that only happens when I drive past a Zaxby’s sign, so good news, New Balance – you’ve really buttered my Texas toast. Now let’s see if these shoes are worth their salt.

JEREMY: 880? 890? 574? 1080? Every time I get a New Balance shoe, I desperately try to remember their numbered model system before giving up and just googling it. For those with as bad a memory as mine, the 80 is “Neutral: For high-mileage runners who require light shoes and the protection of superior cushioning.” Both the 1080 and 880 fall under this category and are launching new versions this spring.

So here we are, with the New Balance Fresh Foam 880v12. If you think about it, that’s an insane number of iterations and longevity that’s only been eclipsed by Kidz Bop and Lethal Weapon and probably Fast and the Furious if we’re all so lucky. It speaks to this enduring workhorse trainer’s simplicity and solid overall design. Let’s turn on the NOS.

ADRIENNE: First of all, it’s been a hot second since I last reviewed a shoe, so audience — be warned if this review goes all over the place.

I’ve run in a few of the 880 iterations over the years and found the v10 to be my favorite so far. Simple, comfortable, durable as all get out in a reliable base mileage shoe. Is it sexy? Um, not really. But this is a shoe you marry more than date, as I know many faithful 880 wearers that aren’t named Emma Coburn. Let’s see if the 880v12 is ready for a vow renewal or divorce paperwork.

new balance 880 v12 toe

The Good

RYAN: When I see that Fresh Foam X label on a midsole, I smile automatically. There’s no other way to put it than Fresh Foam X is my shit. It’s what makes the 1080v11 my go-to — a thick slab underfoot for heaps of miles. Now, the Fresh Foam 880v12 promises New Balance’s softest version of the foam yet. It’s designed to feel better on the step-in, and I’d have to agree. I enjoyed the feeling on all of my runs and found myself wishing that maybe New Balance had skipped the denser FuelCell layer altogether.

I also loved the blown rubber outsole coverage on the Fresh Foam 880v12. The rubber is THICC, like, thick enough that you’re gonna get tired of it before the shoe does. I had no problems with grip, either. I headed down my favorite snow-covered rail trail without any slips or slides.

New Balance really knows how to class-up a colorway. The shoe’s navy mesh base could have been bland, but the orange and light blue hits bring it to life. Even the forefoot FuelCell foam adds a nice pop of bright orange color. I noticed that the bottom line of the N logo is reflective, too, which is handy for those runs later in the evening. Said logo is made even better with the little N at the base — there’s just something adorable about it.

Unfortunately, the color and the logo are the best parts of the upper… let’s continue to the stuff I didn’t like.

JARRETT (WIDE FOOT): The dual-layered midsole got a big update. The heel and top layer of the forefoot are Fresh Foam X, which is tooled to be softer, while the bottom layer of the forefoot is a denser FuelCell compound for more energy return. The Fresh Foam’s softness is immediately apparent when putting on the shoes. It just feels, well– softer– and better.

While I noticed the Fresh Foam cushioning on my runs, it was most apparent when running downhill. I loved the softer landing it provided, but not to the level of the max cushioned Fresh Foam More v3. I found that the 880v12 shined when going at a very comfortable pace. I had some issues picking up the pace, but running around Baltimore’s Inner Harbor at an 8:30-9:00 minute pace was most comfortable.

The upper is a similar engineered mesh to the v11, and the tongue in v12 sits a little lower on the ankle. However, there seems to be plenty of room in the upper, to the point that I’ll have to comment on it in the section below. As for the width, I think the #WideFootFam will be happy. I found it to have plenty of room without pinching anything.

I’m a fan of the new, playful look of the 880. Maybe it’s the fact that the baby blue and peach logo go together so well. It could be the touch of yellow in the outsole, too. Either way, I’m happy not to have an all-gray shoe! Speaking of the outsole, there’s a monstrous amount of rubber, and I’d almost guarantee it will outlive any other part of the shoe over time.

JEREMY: When I put the Fresh Foam 880v12 on, I almost immediately noticed the softness underfoot. The Fresh Foam X provides the soft underfoot feel and the denser FuelCell creates a little rigidity and snappier toe-off. On all of my runs in the 880, I appreciated the Fresh Foam X cushioning that made for a comfy ride and kept my legs feeling good on those 10-plus mile efforts. I also enjoyed the extra foam extending behind the foot for a nice, stable platform for landing on with each stride.

Another aspect of the 880 that I greatly appreciated was the rubber outsole. There’s a serious amount of rubber on the bottom of this shoe that provides excellent traction and durability. No worries breaking this shoe out on a slippery day, it can handle it.

Want more New Balance? The Best New Balance Shoes Right Now

ADRIENNE: Step in is a 10 out of 10 for me, it’s another model that I’m slow to take off after a run. For $130, you get a well-built, durable shoe that won’t beat your legs up. The midsole updates seem to work well with my stride, especially when I’m tired and my form goes all over the place. Another change I like is that there feels like less lateral bias in the heel compared to other versions. New Balance added its own “dovetail” design, which seems to work well here. It’s smooth as butter and can handle long miles.

I’ll say that this is the best-looking iteration of the 880 yet. The double jacquard mesh is free of overlays, and you can pound out the miles in style with a few reflective hits. Step-in feel rivals the likes of the Brooks Glycerin, and that says a lot for the 880v12.

There’s a good amount of Fresh Foam X underfoot. Each year, the patterns of the midsole and outsole get more defined, and this one resembles stones in the bed of a pond or some other serene scene. The blown rubber coverage is everywhere — even in a good portion of the midfoot. As I said, this bad boy is built to last! With the continued retooling of the foam, the ride is smooth and forgiving. The heel cushion is noticeably softer than its predecessor and makes the drop feel less noticeable (if you’re me, a plus). The forefoot is stiffer for a livelier toe-off but still provides a good amount of protection from the concrete.

The ride is pleasant. It won’t blow your mind, but it doesn’t have to. This is ideal for my recovery and easy days when I need to chill and not try and do anything crazy. It also will likely work for most neutral runners.

Shop New Balance 880

new balance fresh foam 880 v12 rear

The Bad

RYAN: At the risk of sounding like a broken record (I mean, we’re kinda already there), the New Balance Fresh Foam 880v12 is a tale of two halves. For as much as I jived with the midsole, the upper just wasn’t always doing it for me. Specifically, the double jacquard mesh felt like a sweater for my feet. It wasn’t bad to start a run, but once my feet got warmed up, they began to sweat and slip around a little bit. Maybe less room in the toe box would have fixed this, but I don’t want to lose all of that volume.

We do like a comfortable tongue here at Believe in the Run, but the Fresh Foam 880v12 might be pushing it. It’s so plush that I found myself ratcheting the laces tighter and tighter in search of a locked-in feeling. The padding around the collar is the same — there’s plenty of it, but it can be tough to get tight enough.

My other issue is that the EVA foam seemed to lack some pop on colder days. I tried to do a workout in the shoe, and it felt like I was battling the foam to keep the pace up. I’ll be curious to see if warmer weather fixes that feeling, but then I’m sure my feet will sweat even more.

JARRETT (WIDE FOOT): I found the upper extra voluminous to the point that I had to cinch down the laces extremely tight and use the heel lock lacing technique. Once I did that, I had a solid lockdown. Comparing these to v11, I think they might run just a touch longer, which explains the extra room in the forefoot.

When it comes to daily trainers, weight isn’t that big of a deal. However, my size 10.5 2E weighs 12 ounces compared to my previous pair’s 11.3. I like to think I’m a reasonable person, so we got no beef if New Balance agrees to get v13 back down.

JEREMY: While the double jacquard mesh upper wasn’t altered significantly in this version, the fit never felt quite right for me. It was always a little big and roomy despite alterations in the lacing between runs.

My only other note is that his shoe isn’t exactly light. It’s gained over half an ounce at 10.3 ounces for a US M 9.0 compared to the 880 v11! The weight was definitely noticeable when trying to go faster than easy paces.

ADRIENNE: Of course, the Fresh Foam 880v12 could stand to be a little lighter, but you can’t get everything that you want. A little more forward motion would be appreciated in future versions. We don’t need it to be Speedroll tech or anything, but the ride did feel a little flat in that area.

Shop New Balance 880

new balance fresh foam 880 v12 tilt

New Balance Fresh Foam 880v12 Conclusion

RYAN: Did the New Balance Fresh Foam 880v12 tempt me away from my beloved 1080v11? No. However, it did convince me to hang up my Nike Pegasus 37. It’s slightly pricier than the Peg at $120, but I much prefer the Fresh Foam X to Nike’s midsole. The Fresh Foam 880v12 is a great daily training option if you want to sponge up some miles in the cold. I’ll wait to pass judgment on the warm weather potential of the shoe since it’s still a balmy 24 degrees here at home.

Perhaps the 880v12’s biggest challenge is overcoming its half-sibling. It costs the same as the FuelCell Rebel V2, and I’d have to say that I lace up the Rebel more than any other shoe.

JARRETT (WIDE FOOT): The New Balance Fresh Foam 880v12 continues to be one of the best workhorses on the market. It’s going to work as expected and, with the updated Fresh Foam X midsole, will feel even better. The 2E width is excellent, but you may need to pull the laces extra tight to get a secure lockdown. If you’re looking for a daily trainer or are a casual runner, here is one of the safest options you could pick.

JEREMY: To quote Larry David, the shoe is “pretty, pretty good,” but the weight precludes it from being great. For a daily trainer, this shoe will get the job done. It has a soft, comfortable feel underfoot and is an excellent option for easy and recovery day running. It has excellent traction and a smooth ride to get you through the miles feeling fresh.

If you’ve enjoyed the New Balance 880 in the past, you will enjoy V12.

ADRIENNE: Coming in March, New Balance’s update strikes a great balance of bringing the new to a classic daily trainer. This shoe won’t set any speed records but will be waiting for you when it’s time to grind. If you liked the previous versions, you will probably like the v12. I may have found my recovery shoe for my next training cycle.

You can pick up the New Balance Fresh Foam 880v12 in April for $130 by using the shop link below.

Shop New Balance 880

new balance 880 v12 side

 

4 Comments

  1. This review is helpful. I’m reading this while standing in my v10’s, and not sexy is right but they’re my favorite running shoes to date. Really didn’t like the v11’s at all – too firm/stiff and my heel doesn’t nearly fit into the heel cup comfortably. Fingers crossed 🤞 on these new 12’s.

  2. I’m glad I read this. I bought the v11 online but the fit was off, so I went to the store and tried on the v12. Sadly I feel like there was too much room in the toe box like the reviews and left with a different color v11 which I love. I have been wearing the 880’s for many versions….may have started at v6 but can’t be sure and they’ve been my favorite. I was disappointed in the latest version as I just foresee too much movement with my foot with the extra space. I hate to go back to the drawing board, but if NB doesn’t correct that, I be searching for another sneaker in a few months.

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