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Road • August 11, 2020

New Balance Fresh Foam 860v11 Performance Review

new balance 860v11 - feature

What You Need To Know

  • Weighs 11.2 oz. (324 g) for a US M11.0/ 9.6 oz. (272 g) for a US W8.0
  • Bangarang! We finally get a Fresh Foam midsole in this baby (with a Fresh Foam X topsole)
  • Stable AF, as you would probably expect
  • Embrace the dadness…er…I mean…darkness

TAYLOR: Keeping up with the times takes some real commitment. Does having an active Facebook account… count? I hope so, because, to me, TikTok is still just the sound that haunts Captain Hook’s waking and sleeping life.

While a viral TikTok moment could make a shoe cool, there are more substantive aspects of a shoe that can tip a runner off to where it’s at in the current climate. That’s why we have updates, half updates, colorway updates, shoelace updates, special editions, etc.

I’m happy to say that the New Balance 860 v11– despite its dad aura– is quite up-to-date. Last year’s v10 had some promising new aspects but it was a bit lagging, like a download over a dial-up connection. Straight up– it needed a major midsole replacement. The 860 v11 got it and it provides an all-around nicer running experience. Let’s dig in.

JARRETT: The long-time stability fan-favorite New Balance 860 has returned for version 11. With it comes the introduction of Fresh Foam into the 860 line, an updated engineered mesh upper, and an Ultra Heel that no longer curls in.

new balance 860v11 - feature1

The Good

TAYLOR: X gon’ give it to ya! Fresh Foam X that is! It’s the most important part of this whole review because it singlehandedly elevates a stability shoe that was pretty “meh” to a legit option. Last year’s model was a little clunky because of both the posting and the lackluster TrueFuse midsole.

If you’re wondering what differentiates Fresh Foam X from Fresh Foam, it’s essentially like the “all bourbon is whiskey but not all whiskey is bourbon argument.” Fresh Foam X is a collection of shoes that utilize a midsole compound that’s a derivation of Fresh Foam. Essentially, the standard Fresh Foam is tweaked to give it a softer ride. As a byproduct, it’s less dense and a bit lighter than standard Fresh Foam. Remember that for all other reviews.

Now back to the actual review.

The softer layer of Fresh Foam X on the top of a Fresh Foam midsole makes this so much better for a few reasons: 1) softer feel – but not necessarily plush, 2) much smoother ride, and because of those two things– 3) more responsive. It was more than needed, and because of that, I actually enjoyed running in the 860v11 on pavement, track, and gravel.

If you’re checking this review out, you’re probably on the search for stability. X marks the spot on the 860v11. This is New Balance’s most stable model. What I like about the stability in the v11 is that it is smoother than previous versions. The overall ride did not feel as compartmentalized, but rather, it rolled pretty nicely at any speed after the initial contact. In a track workout, I didn’t feel that the posting affected speed until I was going under 6:00 per mile pace. It wouldn’t be my first choice for workouts or racing, but if you’re looking for one well-rounded stability shoe, here you go!

Without a doubt, the 860v11 held onto the right stuff from the v10. The engineered upper is flexible, breathable, and straight-up comfy. It’s a very well-rounded upper that brings the “average score” of the v11 much higher.

The heel-counter repeated itself but seems to be in line with 2020 trends. The whole elf ear thing doesn’t appeal to me in terms of looks, but it does with comfort. The updated Ultra Heel provided a soft and secure heel-lock. It extends higher than the previous model so I didn’t feel any of the heel counter digging into my Achilles.

JARRETT: The midsole now contains a top layer of Fresh Foam X for more cushioning. This is pretty big, as last year’s iteration felt outdated with the TrueFuse. While v11 isn’t your bouncy shoe, it has been softened up and it makes the ride more comfortable. Who could complain about that?

If you’re looking for a super stable shoe, you’ve come to the right place. With the firm medial post in place, the 860v11 is more stable than a job in the federal government. You federal employees know what I’m talking about!

I’ve got no qualms with the engineered mesh upper. It wraps the foot and holds well in the midfoot. There’s room in the toe box and the length is spot on for my 10.5, but more importantly, the 2E width is great.

The tongue is more traditional compared to other New Balance options like the Propel V2, FuelCell TC, or even the 890v8. It’s nicely padded and sits up against the ankle without moving much.

The best part of the update (yeah, even better than the FFX) is the Ultra Heel. It now flares out instead of curling in and is so much better. Not only is there no heel slip or uncomfortable rubbing, it also acts as a pull tab! The more structured heel cup keeps the heel in place for additional support.

The outsole is pretty much the same as the previous iteration and is covered in full blown rubber. The slight difference is the pattern. As I said in my review of last year’s 860v10, the outsole is going to last and grips the pavement as it should.

Shop 860v11 – Men Shop 860v11 – Women new balance 860v11 - above

The Bad

TAYLOR: This is a personal thing, but I really do not like the feeling of a medial post. I don’t mind stability, but the posting in the 860 has always felt obtrusive to me. Granted v11 is a much smoother experience than the past models, I still feel the firmer foam post takes away from the overall flow of the shoe. It doesn’t help that the 10mm drop adds some unnecessary weight to the heel, causing your foot to heel-strike first.

“Heavy” is a theme in this section. Even though the 860v11 has really made some leaps and bounds over the past couple of iterations, it is still beefy for a road shoe. At 11.9 ounces for a men’s size 10.5, it’s a bit unacceptable. 

JARRETT: Even though my 10.5 2E cut a half-ounce off the previous model, it still comes in at a hefty 12.4 oz. It feels heavy towards the end of a longer run, especially during hot and humid summer runs where the shoe soaks up sweat. When I got home from a stupid humid Saturday long run, they were weighing 13.9 oz. Wooooooof.

I know this is a personal preference, but the color options are boring. I’m talking black on black. Black on grey. Grey on black. Maybe some blue. My pair had some neon green, but it was on the outsole. If I’m lying on the ground, I guess that’s cool.

Shop 860v11 – Men Shop 860v11 – Women new balance 860v11 - outsole

New Balance Fresh Foam 860v11 Conclusion

TAYLOR: If you don’t mind a stability shoe with strong medial posting, the New Balance 860v11 could be what you’re looking for. It is an everyday trainer that boasts more than stability. A decently smooth ride and a very comfortable fit will be appealing to most over-pronating runners (especially compared to previous models). It performed consistently on roads, track, and gravel whether I picked up the pace and/or went long.

P.S. I’m thankful for Colorado mountain casual for being its own style. It’s really a no-holds-barred style where a 1972 Reebok ski jacket or half-tights in the grocery store are just as acceptable as your new Eddie Bauer puffy. I can keep up with those kinds of trends. 

JARRETT: I’m glad New Balance sorted out almost all my issues from the previous iteration. It’s lighter (slightly), the midsole now contains Fresh Foam X, and they replaced the curled in the heel for one that flares out and holds well.

You liked the 860v10? Great. You’re going to like the v11 even more. I’d like to see some more weight cut next year, but this is easily a top stability option that comes in wide.

You can pick up the New Balance 860v11 for $130 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.

Shop 860v11 – Men Shop 860v11 – Women

Have something to say? Leave a Comment

  1. William B Lewis says:

    To warm for me run 3 / 5 miles and my feet are on fire

    1. SM says:

      I agree completely. I have found the shoe to be too hot. It’s perfect for winter, but not warm months, and never any race.

  2. Dex says:

    Great review! Do you have any other recommendations from other brands that have a similar profile to the 860v11 for stability and comfort?

  3. Craig says:

    I feel for a true stability shoe New Balance blew it and this shoe is too soft for those that actually utilize it. Most people that don’t need a stability show aren’t going to run in it and will be the the 880/1080/Ride/Rincon/etc.

  4. David Gray says:

    I have two pair of Fresh Foam 860 and the back of the shoes (plastic insert) broke I have seen others who have had same problem. Do you know if New Balance is doing anything about this defect?

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