I was very interested when New Balance announced it was releasing a Minimus line over a year or so ago. I was very disappointed when they announced the shoes in that line would have a 4mm drop (transition from heel to toe). I was so disappointed that I chose not to bother purchasing or reviewing them. They recently released an update to that line with a level platform, or zero drop sole, so I was again interested. I purchased both the Road and Trail versions of this shoe, and while I will review them both, this one is about the road model or MR00.
The Minimus line with its now-level sole is a worthy addition to the world of minimalist/natural footwear. That’s not to say they are perfect or that everyone will like them, but they are a good addition to the range of options that seems to grow every day. The line includes trail, road, and lifestyle/walking versions, and they are all vastly different, but the road one was the one I was the most interested in. I’m a road runner, and I have always loved running in racing flats or shoes that are in that same light, flat, and flexible category. This shoe fits right in there and is, in my opinion, a huge improvement on the first version they came out with.
The shoe is light, weighing in at a measly 6.4 ounces so it has that performance feel right there. The sole is roughly 11mm thick at the forefoot and heel. There is a slight bump through the arch area, and I couldn’t get an accurate thickness measurement there but it’s not much. There are no seams in the upper and it’s got a very soft and smooth liner in it. This makes it a great option for those of you who don’t like socks. The midsole is comprised of their REVlite material, which is in fact “lite”, and it feels that way on your foot. It’s also fairly flexible. I found the standard version to be too snug for my foot, but in true New Balance form the shoe is offered in varying widths so you can get a better fit if need be. The shoe is once again soled with Vibram rubber, which gives it some durability. The rubber is only used in select areas that are considered higher impact areas, but I still think it’s enough to give the shoe more life than similar shoes on the market.
I like it, and I will start with that. I think it has a great look to it. It’s smooth and stylish to me. It comes in three colors, but this bright green is my favorite. If you’re interested in a more subtle style it also comes in a white with orange and blue highlights. There is also a solid red version similar to the green but nowhere near as bright. The overlays are simple, and there aren’t many of them, which I like. That kind of stuff can get in the way of a shoe’s performance so keeping it off this shoe works for me. Overall I can see this shoe being in the “you either like it or you don’t” category, but I think more people will like it than not.
This one gets mixed reviews from me. I like that New Balance widened the toe box, but I am not necessarily sold on their approach to it. They widened it quite a bit at the ball of the foot but then gave the shoe this big sweep to a point just in front of the big toe. It feels forced, as if they felt the shoe had to have a pointed toe. After spending so much time in my Altras, this shoe feels odd with that pointed toe sticking out there. I do feel that this sweep they gave it allows you to wear the shoe with less length at the toe so that might be something you have to consider in sizing them. Both of the sales associates I talked with at the New Balance store said they felt I needed more length at the toe, but I went against their recommendation and like the snugger fit. The heel is fairly standard in fit and feel, although it can’t be considered snug. This works for me, but if you want a snug heel fit then you might not dig this shoe. The lacing is offset, and there is no secondary hole at the top of the shoe where you would make the runner’s loop to tighten it down. You just sort of get what you get, which isn’t a bad thing because it’s not bad at all. I did notice that the shoe is molded inside and there is a little bump through the mid-foot to give a bit of that typical arch support feel. It’s not much, and I would have preferred the shoe just be flat inside, but it’s not enough to take away from the shoe for most people. Overall it’s a good fit and I like it.
Sadly this section is limited for me. The pair I ordered was a wide width, and I had to wait to get it. When I got it I immediately went to test it, and I felt a strange and sharp edge in the arch of one shoe that bothered me a lot. After inspection it appeared to be a manufacturing defect where a part of the foot bed wasn’t trimmed enough, and it left a tiny but sharp edge running through the arch. I was able to run around a little in the shoes with some socks on so I could get a good feel for them, but it’s not like I put a ton of miles on them. Normally I would have just exchanged them and gone for more miles, but that would have meant another special order so I went for a pair of trails instead. So here’s what I think based on my limited testing. The shoe has a good performance feel and given the chance to get another pair I could definitely use it as a very comfortable racing shoe. I would also enjoy logging some good training miles in them as they are capable of both. For the small amount of running time I actually got in these shoes they felt nice, and I liked them. I can’t speak to durability or things of that nature, but the feel is good, and they should hold up like a typical shoe even though they have less material in the midsole. The ground was slightly muted but I had a good feel for impact and didn’t feel at all like I needed to stomp my foot down to feel the ground. You’re not going to feel a lot of the subtle changes in the terrain underfoot, but you’ll notice bigger stuff for sure.
I would own this shoe and use it. If the exchange wouldn’t have meant having to special order another pair I would have just done that. I was feeling impatient that day and just went with something else. I would also recommend this shoe for someone looking for something that not only has the performance feel and edge to it but also a little room in the shoe. Those are a tough combination to come by right now and New Balance has done a good job of making it something you can get. They’ll have some competition in that area soon, but as of right now they are kind of alone. This was a big step in the right direction for the Minimus Road shoe, and I’m happy to see it.
(I apologize for the low light pics. My lighting got weird on me. Note that these shoes are much brighter in good light than they appear here)