New Balance shoes have been a part of my running shoe rotation for two years now. Last fall, I included the 890v4, 1400v2 and Fresh Foam 980 in my Guide To Neutral Running Shoes. In the last few weeks, I’ve been trying out the three newest New Balance shoes in the neutral running category: Fresh Foam Zante, Fresh Foam Boracay, and 890v5. How does each pair stack up? I’m happy to report that these are three excellent updates that will suit different types of neutral runners.
The shoe vitals are as listed by New Balance for the women’s version. I tried each pair in a women’s size 9, courtesy of New Balance, and listed them from lightest to heaviest.
Weight: 6.4 oz
Drop: 6 mm
Colorways: 3 standard
The New Balance Fresh Foam Zante is for folks who want to run—or feel—fast. The lightweight shoe rivals the New Balance 1400 in responsiveness, but with feel-so-good cushioning and an insole that cradles your arches like your favorite pillow. The Fresh Foam’s midsole design of interlocking convex and concave shapes means the shoe gives where you need flexibility and holds firm where you need support, much like the Fresh Foam Boracay. But New Balance used biomechanical data from faster runners to build the Zante.
The result? A shoe that rides like a dream—a dream where you’re setting PR after PR. You may not run a 5-minute pace, but you can imagine what that feels like in these shoes.
Springy and speedy, the Zante promises a quick heel to toe transition with an “aggressive toe spring.” It delivers. The shoe is light, supple, and downright fun to run in.
The upper is a soft and flexible mesh bootie that hugs in all the right places—at the heel, arch, and outer ball of the foot—while leaving breathing room in the toes. In short, this shoe fits like a glove and responds like a race car.
The stripped down design has just what you need and nothing more. Best of all, it has enough cushioning to take you on long runs too.
I love everything about this shoe, and don’t have a singe critique for it. I totally see why Competitor Magazine named the Fresh Foam Zante the 2015 Road Shoe of the Year. It’s earned a spot in my personal shoe rotation and might even be my favorite pair of New Balance shoes yet.
Will you love it as much as I do? Yes, if you like to feel the road under your feet in a light and soft ride. Maybe not if you prefer a beefier or more plushly cushioned shoe.
Weight: 7.34 oz
Drop: 8 mm
Colorways: 3 Standard, 1 Pink Ribbon
The beloved New Balance 890 series got yet another update. I’m happy to report the 890v5 is as comfortable and cushioned as its predecessor. The ABZORB crash pad feels fantastic under heel and the REVlite cushioning is downright plush throughout. Add in an OrthoLite insole for an ultra comfortable ride. The no-sew two-way stretch mesh upper moves with your foot while being highly breathable and fits even better than the previous version. The fit is true to size.
New Balance added nearly an ounce to the shoe, bringing it from 6.4 to 7.34 ounces. Honestly, I wouldn’t have noticed the difference if I hadn’t looked it up.
My only complaint about the 890v4 had been a toe box that was a touch tiny for me. Of course, it hasn’t stopped me from logging long runs or doing races in the shoes. And the 890v5 didn’t change in that area.
If you already love the 890v4, then you’ll also love the 890v5. This is a high-mileage design with excellent cushioning and a finer fit than its predecessor.
Is this the shoe for you? Yes, if you’re looking for a traditional trainer to carry you through some serious miles. Maybe not if you prefer a barely there or more responsive shoe.
Weight: 7.69 oz
Drop: 4 mm
Colorways: 4 Standard, 1 Limited Edition
The Fresh Foam Boracay is a superb update to the original Fresh Foam 980 New Balance shoes that debuted last summer. The new model is softer, smoother, and roomier—all in a good way.
With its Fresh Foam line New Balance took biomechanical data from runners to create a single-piece midsole and outsole. Like the original, both the Boracay and Zante use a mix of convex and concave hexagons in the midsole. The concave shapes collapse to create flexibility where you need it, and the convex layers hold steady to give support where you need stability most.
My major critiques of the old shoe had been a narrow toe box, stiff sole, and firm—rather than soft—cushioning. I called it a “neutral shoe that rides a bit more like a stability trainer.” The Boracay update largely solves these issues.
The shoe now comes on a wider platform with plenty of wiggle room in the toes. New Balance adjusted the hexagon pattern based on biomechanical data from average paced runners. The result is a softer cushioning that feels like it could carry you for miles and miles and miles. The shoe is still a bit stiffer than say, the 890v5, but not to a fault. Plus, the two-way stretch mesh with no-sew overlay is sparkly—sparkly! These put a smile on my face every time I wear them, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
What will you like better—890v5 or Fresh Foam Boracay? The Fresh Foam Boracay is roomier and lower to the ground. The 890v5 is the cushier and more traditional shoe with a higher heel. Mid-foot strikers might prefer the Boracay, while heel strikers might prefer the 890v5. I’d suggest a side-by-side comparison on your foot of these two New Balance shoes. These are two very different trainers designed with the same purpose—to see you through heavy training.
New Balance gave me complimentary shoes to try. As always, all opinions are purely my own. Just read my critique of the original Fresh Foam to see. I’m always honest about my experiences. Seriously. For more information, read my Disclosure policy.