New Balance Fresh Foam Tempo v2 Review: Beacon? Zante? Both?
THOMAS: To better understand the New Balance Fresh Foam Tempo v2, you have to follow a strange evolution that includes the New Balance Fresh Foam Zante, Fresh Foam Beacon, and of course, the Fresh Foam Tempo. This may get confusing, so put on your Deep Focus Spotify playlist and strap yourself in for a ride.
The Zante was a surprise hit for New Balance. It was developed to go head to head with the Kinvara, and both shoes had a simple enough concept. The idea was to offer just enough foam to protect the foot for the marathon. In many ways, the shoes were perfect for long-distance runners looking for the magic combo of lightweight shoes that offered ample cushioning. Before these two shoes, you had light flats or heavy trainers. Fun fact: my two fastest marathons were in the Kinvara and the Zante. In the new age of super shoes, it seems nuts to run a marathon in shoe a shoe that doesn’t have a high stack and a plate, but at the time, they were on the shortlist of race day shoes for competitive runners.
Before New Balance dropped the Zante from the lineup, they put out some slight variations of the shoe that didn’t make a splash. The team decided to rename the Zante for its next go-around, which is how we got to the Tempo. In the process, it became a more built-up shoe. The new version lived in a weird spot — not quite a daily trainer, not quite a race shoe. It was just kind of meh.
Meanwhile, the Fresh Foam Beacon harnessed the Zante formula and became popular as a comfortable, bouncy, and lightweight daily trainer. That lasted for three versions before getting spiked this year. Everything happens for a reason, and that reason is the Fresh Foam Tempo v2, a blend of the Zante/Beacon/Tempo which, in the end, feels like a blend of the Zante Pursuit and the Beacon.
TL;DR: The Tempo 2 is a Beacon/Zante update, and it ain’t bad.
JARRETT (WIDE): Last year we were introduced to the New Balance Tempo, and it seemed to be a polarizing shoe. Some of the reviewers thought it was lacking, while I enjoyed it as I piled the miles on. It was light, airy, and wide!
If you bought the first Tempo, take all your prior opinions and toss them out. The Tempo v2 has been rebuilt from the ground up.
MERCER: If you needed more evidence that we’re in 2020 part two, everyone is revamping their tempo shoes like clockwork. However, the Zan- I mean, Fresh Foam Tempo v2 remains plateless and on a bed of Fresh Foam X. While most crave the new technology, the LetsRun oldheads still love the Kinvara and Adidas Adios, and this shoe definitely caters toward them. I don’t count myself among their ranks, but that didn’t stop the shoe from being a pleasant surprise.
THOMAS: The Fresh Foam midsole in the Tempo 2 is just about perfect for what the shoe is. The landing is soft and flexible while still giving you feedback from the road. New Balance’s generous rubber on the outsole can also dig in when you’re ready to pick up the pace. I’d say that the Tempo 2 feels like the sport version of the Beacon, but the upper is undoubtedly better this time around.
The Hypoknit upper is flexible over the toebox but is rigid over the saddle, and the thinly padded gusseted tongue gives the shoe a solid lockdown over the arch. Both the collar and heel counter are minimally padded and keep the ankle secure without rubbing or hotspots. My size 10.5 fits true to size and weighs 9.1 oz./260 grams with a 6mm drop.
JARRETT (WIDE): The midsole is made up of Fresh Foam X. With the low stack, it has a firmness to it, but I also found it to be smooth with a slight bounce. The Tempo v2 feels like a lower stack Beacon, so this may be a solid replacement for those devastated by the news of no Beacon v4.
I took the Tempo v2 out for the Saturday 10 mile Faster Bastard run and it performed well. I was cruising in the mid-7s while having a steady conversation (I swear I’m not trying to brag…). It’s a light (7.9oz. for my size 10 2E) and nimble shoe that has just enough Fresh Foam X to keep it from being too firm. Oh, and did I mention how quiet it was? I became used to the loud stomping of my ASICS Metaspeed Sky, so it was nice to be able to hear my surroundings.
The outsole has enough rubber in the forefoot and wrapped around the heel to work great. There is some exposed midsole foam, but the wear on it seems to be cosmetic. I thought the outsole was super grippy and actually felt almost sticky when cornering the hard right turns around the Baltimore harbor promenade.
MERCER: New Balance pretty much rebuilt the Fresh Foam Tempo v2 from the ground up, so we have a lot to cover. Let’s take it from the top.
The hypoknit upper still stays strong in the Fresh Foam lineup and it didn’t feel half bad. The stretchy areas are really stretchy and allow for a nice accommodating fit, and the stiff parts are rigid enough for a secure lock-in (pay attention, Hoka). The ventilation on the sides isn’t too noticeable but it does keep your feet cool enough. It’ll probably be a lot more noticeable in the summer.
Moving to the midsole, this is where my confusion started. It’s softer than the Kinvara, so is it a daily trainer? It has a little bit more snap than the Kinvara, so maybe it’s a tempo shoe?
Either way, the midsole is pretty good for anything you want to do. I personally had a hard time fitting it into my runs, but only because I wanted a little bit more cush on the easy days and a bit more pop in workouts. If you could only have one shoe, then the Fresh Foam Tempo v2 can cover all the bases.
The outsole is mad sticky and for the first couple miles, I could just hear the midsole peeling off the concrete. If you want to do the pacer test, this has you covered.Shop Fresh Foam Tempo V2
THOMAS: The shoe hits the high notes for what the shoe is intended to do. My knock on the shoe is that is it looks dull. It doesn’t scream “Let’s go fast!” Even the branding on the shoe is low key like New Balance wasn’t sure they wanted people to know it is a New Balance shoe. The “N” is hidden on the heel in colors that don’t stand out.
The other thing that may be a problem for New Balance is this: why would you choose this shoe over the Rebel v3? I mean, this is basically the Fresh Foam version of that shoe in terms of where it lives in a runner’s arsenal. So maybe it’ll come down to whether the consumer prefers Fresh Foam over FuelCell midsoles.
JARRETT (WIDE): It’s a shame that the bad issues I have are all wide specific. The Tempo v2 is a narrow shoe, even in my 2E. You can tell just by looking that the profile is slim and the platform isn’t very big.
On all of my runs, I noticed the ball of my foot felt like it was on the sidewall of the midsole and teetering on the brink of blisters. My midfoot was bulging and the toe box isn’t spacious. I think anyone who has bunions is going to have a hard time. Lastly, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this is considered wide because of additional upper material and not an actual wider platform. The Hypoknit upper in the midfoot bags weirdly on my foot and I feel like a sausage in it. Let’s just say that this isn’t a very flattering shoe for me.
Basically, the Tempo v2 seems geared towards a regular to narrow foot person, even in the wide.
MERCER: I like a good knit upper, but we’re going to have to see how this plays out in the summer. Hopefully, it doesn’t become a sweat towel.
My big toe also kept getting caught on the toe box structure piece, but that’s likely just because the shoe runs a bit long.Shop Fresh Foam Tempo V2
THOMAS: If you loved the Beacon or the Zante, they’re gone. Sorry. The good news is that the Fresh Foam Tempo v2 is the answer to your predicament. The shoe is fun, lively, and fast underfoot—the knit upper works. I just finished reviewing the Kinvara 13, and this shoe is what I had hoped the Kinvara would have been. Unfortunately, the Kinvara felt firm and harsh, while the Tempo 2 is softer and more responsive. The Tempo 2 can be used as an everything shoe, for example, daily trainer, tempo workouts, even racing. At $120 the Fresh Foam Tempo v2 can cover many bases.
JARRETT (WIDE): I want to like the Tempo v2. I enjoyed the underfoot feel and was able to pick up the pace well, but even in 2E wide, it’s just too narrow for comfort. If the platform was a touch wider, I would be giving it the thumbs up… but it isn’t. My foot felt cramped from the midfoot to the toebox, and that outweighed any enjoyment. You’re better off going with the Rebel v2.
Unfortunately I’m probably going to shelve these and I just don’t feel comfortable giving the New Balance Tempo v2 the #WideFootFam approval.
MERCER: I was pleasantly surprised by this shoe, even with Tempo in its name. I was hoping for something a little bit quicker, but I’ll settle for what it has to offer. If you’re a big fan of those low cushion daily trainers, I’d go ahead and pick this up.
You can pick up the New Balance Fresh Foam Tempo v2 for $120 in April 2022 by using the shop link below.Shop Fresh Foam Tempo V2
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These look sweet. Shame they don’t seem to be available in normal sizes 🙁
I bought the Version 1 because they had them in the NB outlet. I guess I will run in them for a year and then get a Version 2 when they hit the outlets in 2023?
I love the fresh foam x and I have 2 pairs of the Hierros that i love. I am looking at buying a pair of 880 v12’s next, but the Tempo will be my summer shoe that I run a 5 k race in. I think it will be a nice ride.