With 347 miles on these shoes they feel better than ever. That’s the thing that keeps me so happy with the 890s – the road feel. As a bonus, at 9.7 oz they’re super-light. These shoes use a very responsive midsole foam compound called “REVlite” that is ⅓ lighter than most foams.
The 890 is a neutral trainer but has more substantial cushioning than the others I’ve tried. Interestingly, the cushioning is supportive, soft and forgiving all at the same time. This shoe provides great surface-feedback; the cushioning seems to let just enough surface to push through the sole, giving a nice connected feel to your foot. On a gravely surface you will feel the gravel under your feet. I am finding this surface connection very satisfying. As a comparison, my previous favorite shoes were from Newton (Gravitas and Sir Isaac). The Newtons are a totally different animal but the point is that I don’t feel the road surface in the Newtons because of how the sole is built. Until I ran in the 890s I didn’t know what I was missing with regards to road-feel.
This is what my wear looked like after 271 miles. As you can see, substantial rubber is missing on the outside edge of the shoe. I suppose the wear pattern says a lot about my stride but I’m just happy that the sole isn’t more worn; they’ve still got life. The shoe is very flexible and does not have any solid plastic pieces in the sole. Instead, there are grooves that allow a lot of flexibility in the forefoot.
Looking at the New Balance 890 web page, you can see ample color selections. I’m happy with the gray and neon theme which also has lots of reflective parts. I put lock laces on all my shoes, so the “odd” (but effective) flat laces that come stock in these shoes are missing from my photo. Before installing the lock laces (and deciding to keep the shoes) I did a couple 5 and 10 mile runs and the stock laces never came untied.
Honestly, I had not even considered a New Balance shoe until trying them on during one of my marathon (pun intended) shoe-try-on-sessions at Road Runner. New Balance did a nice job describing the shoe design processes, and they have delivered a solid product that has lived up the the 890’s marketing hype. Features that attracted me to the shoe include a flat arch (no arch plate) to assist with fore/midfoot striking and the diagonal lines in the sole to ease the transition through each stride. There is a lot more “purposeful design” crammed into this shoe so check it out at the 890 design page for more fascinating insight.
The welded seams used to hold the shoe together have no visible wear and the inside of the shoe feels great on my foot. Normally I wear a thin sock but my two or three sockless runs in these shoes felt really good. The seams and shoe durability are holding up even after 347 miles; I’m guessing the bottom/tread of the shoe will disappear long before holes appear on the top-side.
These shoes feel great on the road, great on rail-trail conditions and great on the track. Some people might not like the extra soft feeling of REVlite + track surface, but for me the track feels so awesome that I am gravitating there at least once a week just to experience “the squish”.
This shoe review was written as an enthusiastic evaluation of the New Balance “Baddeley” 890, and NB did not compensate me in any way. I can’t find anything bad to say about this shoe except that they’re “bad ass”. I’m expecting this pair to survive 500-700 miles before retiring them.
About the reviewer Stein Langlie: I have had an active lifestyle for twenty years and only began focused running and training in early 2010. Since then I have been on the prowl for the best shoes as I improve my running form and stride. My weekly mileage is usually 30-50 miles and average around 8 minute miles. I’m a mid-foot striker who is not concerned about switching my stride up a little on longer runs, just to give different leg muscles a rest. I have completed one marathon (Baltimore 2010), one 50k (HAT 2011) and one 5k (Preakness 2011). Upcoming events include a 40 miler on 6/17/2011, a fall marathon (undecided) and the Ragnar Florida Keys relay race in January 2012.