One of the most popular shoes in 2015 was the New Balance Zante. Competitor loved the shoe so much, it named it the “running shoe of the year” in March of 2015. I felt it was a little premature. I ended up leaning toward another shoe from New Balance as a top 2015 shoe, the Vazee Pace. I am still fond of the Zante and was plenty excited to get my hands on the update. After putting in miles in the new version, I have no doubt that the Zante v2 will be just as much a crowd favorite as the original.
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I Plucked the Zante v2 out of the cradle they were shipped in, I held the new version proudly. “Wow, Meaghan check these out!” She rolled her eyes at me and went back to working on her computer. I think she was jealous that we only got the men’s version this round. Anyhow, these babies are really beautiful. The original version won people over with their good looks, these are even better. The uppers have more sophisticated welded overlays adding to the sleekness of the Zante. The original was put together in three sections of different material, the forefoot, lacing to heel, and then the collar. The Zante v2 is one piece woven in different densities which looks to be unified for a one-piece upper. There are more reflective elements on the v2, along with a more structured heel counter. The tongue loses its lace pass through do-hickey and gets a little pillow to soften the lace cross over the top of the foot. The design of the geometric pattern on the midsole and outsole has been retooled, but other than aesthetics there isn’t much different. At least, I am unable to notice a difference between v1 and v2. Running in the Zante is fun. It is a light shoe with plenty of cushioning. The transition from under the ball of the foot to the toe off is noticeable in a good way. It adds to the fast feel of the Zante. Don’t worry about whether you land on your heel or your midfoot, the shoe has plenty of midsole throughout the foot. The ride is on the firmer side, but not unforgiving. The outsole is covered in sticky rubber, completely covered. When I ran in wet conditions, I still felt sure footed. Did I mention this is one beautifully designed shoe? So clean.
Matt Spicer, of New Balance, noted that the Zante update included thicker material “upper laterally and medially in the forefoot/midfoot… There were a few issues of lateral wearing of the mesh [Zante] from some runners with a marginally wider forefoot. Hopefully, this will provide better substance to the upper.”
The footbed was changed. In the v1, there is a thicker footbed with perforations, the Zante v2 has a thinner cheaper looking footbed. I am not sure what prompted the change, but it seems like a downgrade. There is more going on in the overlay department on the v2 (good thing), but I am guessing this is why the v2 weighs a full ounce more at 9.35 oz for a men’s 10.5, versus the 8.25 oz for the original Zante*. Heavier always ends up in my bad column, but seriously, this time, it really doesn’t make a difference. The shoe still feels light and quick on turnovers. *After we published this post, Ken Larscheid, from Running Lab in Michigan noted that the extra weight is probably a result of an addition of 1 or 2mm of extra rubber on the outsole to help with durability.
I really am happy with this update, and I think it will be very popular this year. The Zante v2 is priced to sell in the low $100s. You’re gonna want these in your collection. I get excited about speedwork when I am lacing up these trainers. You can try to snatch up the existing Zantes on sale.
I ended up running in the Zante V2 for the 26.2 with Donna Marathon. Not only did they feel good the whole race, I BQ’d and took 1st place in my age group. So now I really love these.