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New Balance Fresh Foam 860v11 vs 860v10 Comparison Shoe Review

by Sportitude
31 Aug 2020

Josh reviews the next generation of one of New Balance’s best-selling stability running shoe families, the New Balance Fresh Foam 860v11 running shoes and weighs it up against its predecessor the New Balance 860v10.

Staying true to the premium feel and fit of previous generations, the New Balance Fresh Foam 860v11 is a stand-out on the radar of loyal 860 fans, while elevating the comfort for the modern road warrior. With overpronator-friendly engineering and various width offerings available, this could be the go-to ride in your running shoe rotation.

A full ground contact outsole provides a smooth, consistent connection with your running surface and caters to heel strikers with harder-wearing rubber at the first point of contact beneath the heel.

Both midfoot runners and heel strikers benefit from the addition of springy and shock-absorbing Fresh Foam X cushioning that has proven to be successful among other performance road shoes in the New Balance line-up. The 860v11 improves on the New Balance 880 running shoe family with a softer step-in feel than its predecessor, but without feeling spongy or marshmallowy underfoot.

New Balance have updated the 860v11 with a flared heel counter to ensure an irritation-free fit around your rearfoot without compromise to the locked-in support. A durable open engineered mesh extends the lifespan of your best running shoes while delivering a breathable, natural-feeling ride for road warriors of all levels.

Check out the review with full transcript below.

Hi guys, Josh from Sportitude and today it’s shoe review time and we're going to be talking all things New Balance Fresh Foam 860v11.  This shoe has had quite the update from its predecessor the New Balance 860v10 and to be completely fair the New Balance 860v8, New Balance 860v9 and New Balance 860v10 were all similar in a roundabout way but with subtle variances from year to year.

The 860v11 has had quite a makeover. There’s a lot to like about what New Balance have introduced into this shoe and I’m looking forward to bringing that to you in today's review.

Like all my shoe reviews we’ll talk about all things outsole, midsole, upper and profile the runner that should be considering this shoe. We aim to give you enough information to potentially make this your next running shoe purchase. Without further ado let's get stuck in.

Runner Profile

First things first, we're going to profile the runner that should be considering the New Balance 860v11. This shoe sits in the stability category and has some medial support on the instep.

New Balance have placed the dual density foam underneath the arch which is hard to see to the naked eye.There’s a line which splits the two midsole densities. The dual density foam is underneath and close to the ground to provide a little bit of stability for that midstance phase of overpronators.

'Overpronator' refers to runners with a foot type that ever so slightly collapses through midstance. They come down on heel strike to midstance and have a little bit of roll through their arch. New Balance have placed that support right under the arch to give the foot extra support and protection.

When brands manufacture a stability shoe they'll use some form of arch support and New Balance have rolled with the dual density foam on the medial side.

Outsole

Let's talk about the outsole of this shoe. Looking underneath the shoe you can see that New Balance have used full ground contact. There's no Trusstic system or plastic device that's been placed in the midsection of this shoe.

Being full ground contact, you're going to get a beautiful purchase to the ground from your heel point to midstance and toe-off - a nice plush contact the whole way through your gait cycle.

New Balance have placed their harder wearing rubber on that lateral side of the heel which is the first point of contact for heel strikers. Keep in mind this shoe is targeting that heel striker. If you’re a midfoot runner you can still use it but obviously heel strikers need a little bit of extra protection underneath the heel.

As you're coming through to the forefoot we've got three flex grooves. Comparing it to the New Balance 860v10, you can see there's not a lot of change with regards to the flex grooves underneath the foot. They still have full ground contact and that durable, hard-wearing rubber from the 860v10 to the 860v9.

As you come through to the forefoot it's more to do with how they've introduced the compound of rubber. You're using that hexagon-style shaping system in the 860v11 versus the horizontal flex grooves on the rubber of the 860v10. You still have your flexibility patterns with one and a half flex grooves in the 860v10 and three flex grooves in the forefoot of 860v11. 

To be completely fair I don't think one is more flexible than the other, that's my personal opinion. I’ve ran it both and tested them both. I certainly find them to be both very stable from an outsole perspective.

Midsole

Most the change in this shoe has come in the midsole. We have a heel-to-toe drop of 10mm for both men's and women's models. New Balance have introduced Fresh Foam X into this midsole. Previously they've used a tri-density foam which is essentially two components in conjunction with that medial post on the instep.

New Balance have had plenty of success with obviously the Fresh Foam X technology across a number of their different shoes over the last few years and they've introduced it into this ever-reliable workhorse, the New Balance Fresh Foam 860v11.

You can see on the midsole a black line that comes across and then as you go to the lateral side of the shoe it works around the back and the whole way down to the forefoot.

They've placed their softest foam closest to the foot, so it does improve that first feel when you do step your foot in. You notice that element of change from the 860v10 to the 860v11 with that extra softness underneath your foot.

However, using the New Balance Fresh Foam 880v10 and the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v10 for example, the full-length Fresh Foam X technology underneath the foot is quite soft and plush. You don't get that soft, plush feel inside the New Balance Fresh Foam 860v11.

You just get an element of additional cushioning with regards to the layering of Fresh Foam X. It improves the overall comfort but it's not that really soft and squishy responsive Fresh Foam X that we know with the New Balance Fresh Foam 880v10 and New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v10.

Upper

Coming through to the upper, there's a familiar structure to the New Balance 1080v10 at the back. They've gone with this flared heel counter construction, based on the success the 1080.

A lot of brands across the industry are attempting their version of this flared collar. It probably started with Nike Pegasus, Nike Vomeros and a few other brands have jumped onto it as well. New Balance had plenty of success with the 1080 and then obviously rolled the flared heel counter over to the 860v11.

I really like this design. It provides less irritation at the back of your Achilles insertion on the base of your heel. You still have that internal heel construction so you're still getting plenty of support at the base of your heel when your foot locks into that shoe.

I like the fact that you don't have that sort of pushed, leaning in set-up which sometimes can rub and irritate the lower Achilles as well. The feedback is that not all people like this design but most people that have set themselves into a flared heel counter construction from New Balance have really liked the fit and feel.

You can still get your lockdown from the heel lock lacing system. There is the additional eyelet at the back where you can introduce that heel lock to really hold the back of that heel as well if you need a little bit more support.

The depth of this shoe in comparison to what it was last year is almost identical. I don't feel this fit is deeper, wider or shallower. It is a very similar fit to the New Balance 860v10. That's a great thing. Continuity from one model to the next is important, especially when changing quite a lot with the engineering features of this shoe.

The depth and the width are very similar. If you've been a 2E previously in the New Balance 860v10 you’ll be a 2E in the new New Balance Fresh Foam 860v11. The same applies for the fit of women’s widths as well.

The one biggest change is the engineered mesh up top. You have a very open breathable engineered mesh on the 860v10 which was pretty similar to the 860v9. In the 860v11, they've added an extra layer on top of that open mesh. It's a new engineered design from New Balance and it almost has that Nike Flywire feel about it.

I don't like to use a comparison of another brand when we’re talking about a brand’s execution, but I have to point it out. It has that really Flywire feel to it. It adds an extra element of durability especially on top through the toe box.

If you're a runner or walker that has a history of potentially wearing through the upper or of getting some unusual wear patterns with your toe lift, I can confidently say you won’t see that with how New Balance have executed the mesh through the forefoot, which is great. It's a durable upper but still very light and breathable which is fantastic.

Widths

With the ladies’ model we have three widths on offer. We have a B which is standard, then a D and a 2E. It’s great when a brand calls out widths, I love it. In the men's you've got your standard D width, a 2E and a 4E on offer as well.

Three different widths in men's and women's makes life a lot easier for us to fit a running shoe for someone. If they fall into this category of support and cushioning we can play around with the width to get the fit spot-on.


There you have it guys, that is my take on the New Balance Fresh Foam 860v11. It’s a fantastic update from New Balance, well done. I love what they’ve done with the Fresh Foam X introduction to this shoe without changing the total fit and feel from what previous New Balance 860s have felt and how they’ve performed.

I love the introduction of the flared heel counter. I think New Balance have done a great job and I really like what this shoe represents.

If you have any questions on the New Balance Fresh Foam 860v11 please contact our Sportitude shoe experts. If you have any success with this shoe, if you've got it at home you've tried it and ran in it, please let us know your thoughts as well. We’re always keen to hear what you the runners out there think of a specific shoe and design.

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Until next time stay safe. Happy running and we'll see you around on the road. Take care.

FEATURES

  • Support: Stability
  • Upper: Mesh
  • Midsole: New Balance Fresh Foam X
  • Offset / Drop: 10mm

Men

  • Width: D (standard), 2E (wide), 4E (extra wide)

Women

  • Width: B (standard), D (wide), 2E (extra wide)