New Balance Minimus Zero Road Review
The minimalist running movement isn’t exactly brand new anymore, but running shoe manufacturers have committed to this trend to varying degrees. New Balance was one of the pioneers with barefoot/minimal shoes and remains one of the most passionate makers of shoes and even apparel for the minimal fanatics out there. New Balance offers a full spectrum of footwear for minimal runners, ranging from highly-cushioned, lower-drop shoes for those that want a more natural experience all the way down to the close-to-barefoot folks. The Minimus Zero line from New Balance is aimed right at those latter foot-nudists, and comes in a trail model (see our review of the Minimus Zero Trail here) and a road model.
Where the Minimus MT10 and MR10 shoes feature a 4mm heel-to-toe drop, the Minimus Zero line is dead flat with no drop and is equipped with only 12mm of foam underfoot (this means that the midsole foam under the heel of the shoe is the same thickness as that under the forefoot). The result is a very pure, virtually barefoot running experience. This feeling is accentuated by the innovative new seamless upper in the Minimus Zero. To say that this upper is slipper-like is an understatement. I have actual slippers with more structure and less ventilation and comfort than this! The entire upper is made up of a very open sandwiched mesh that truly conforms to the foot. A very few structural overlays are welded to the upper only where they are needed most. An innovative closure system is made up of the medial side of the upper wrapping up over the top of the instep and under the lateral wall to minimize tongue migration and irritation, and the result works well and feels great.
Some criticized the initial MR10 shoe for not being minimal enough, but I don’t think anyone will make that argument about the Minimus Zero. The upper is extremely flexible, conforming, and comfortable. The Minimus Zero has a thin midsole (12mm) that, along with sparse outsole rubber placed in only key wear areas, provide just a minimum of protection from the road. At only 6.1 ounces for Men’s size 9, this weighs in with all the best ultra-light racing flats out there. For me, the minimus zero is not enough shoe for day-to-day running, but I like it for occasional recovery runs for foot-strengthening and gym workouts. I think minimal fanatics who love the MT10 for off-road business will love the Minimus Zero Road for burning up the pavement.
Our testers put the Minimus Zero through runs from short interval workouts up through a 10-mile longer run, and frequent plyometric and weight lifting sessions, and found that it performed very well. The only reported criticism was that the upper mesh seems that it might be slightly delicate – fuzzing a bit after 50 or so miles. Also, the place that the non-removable sock-liner is connected to the upper can lead to some irritation. This sock-liner seems too narrow, such that the seam sits right under the ball of the big toe and caused some testers irritation, especially when running without socks. If New Balance could revise this so that the seam is closer to the edge of the shoe base, comfort would be increased.
The New Balance Minimus Zero Road retails for $109.99.
For more information, visit newbalance.com.