With the New Balance Fresh Foam More, New Balance has jumped into the thick midsole craze. Does New Balance’s Fresh Foam work in larger doses? I’ve got the answer.
The recent large volume midsole craze is driven by Hoka. Recently, we’ve reviewed the Hoka Bondi 6, Hoka Rincon, and Hoka Arahi 3. Nike has also jumped into the game in a big way with shoes like the Nike Zoom Fly 3 and the controversial Nike Vaporfly Next%. In all of those shoes, the larger volume midsole wasn’t a gimmick. The midsole design contributing to making the ride smoother and snappier while maintaining a very effective cushion setup. Because of the successes from other brands, I had high hopes for New Balance’s latest model.
I ran 70+ miles in the New Balance Fresh Foam More including speed workouts, trail runs, treadmill training, long runs, running over the Golden Gate bridge, and several flights.
The Fresh Foam More’s exaggerated midsole offers a fantastic ride. Every step is really smooth. The shoe gives you a nice rocker feeling so landing seems to propel you to and through toe off. In my experience, this worked whether you land on your heel, midfoot, or toes. The shoe quickly became one of my go to running shoes because it made me feel like I was exerting less effort in each of my strides.
Fresh Foam doesn’t do it for me in small amounts. I’ve owned New Balances with a thin slab of Fresh Foam and those shoes just didn’t provide the impact protection I wanted. However, a huge amount of Fresh Foam works great. The impact protection is among the best in recent running shoes and I believe it has a lot to do with New Balance’s midsole design. New Balance has given the foam lots of places to expand with small holes along the lateral side of the midsole and a depression in the heel portion of the outsole to allow for an extra bit of plushness during heel strikes. And even with all that cushion, the Fresh Foam More is still lighter than the average neutral everyday running shoe.
The traction of the Fresh Foam More is a good news, bad news situation. The hexagon-patterned outsole grips well across rainy roads and sandy trails but it won’t last long. New Balance uses what it calls Ground Contact Foam for the outsole. While Ground Contact Form is denser than the Fresh Foam midsole, it’s still foam and that means durability issues. New Balance opted not to protect the foam with rubber to save weight. While it’s nice the Fresh Foam More is so light, I still wish there was rubber on the outsole in high wear areas like the toe and heel. After 70 miles the outsoles are already looking extremely worn. Based on the way the Fresh Foam More wears down, I only expect them to last 150-200 miles.
Interestingly, the New Balance Fresh Foam More carries a 4mm drop. Most everyday running shoes end up in the 8mm to 10mm range. A 4mm drop is more typically found in Cross Training shoes. The reason is the added stability the lesser drop provides. Weightlifters don’t want to slide forward in their shoes as they lift heavy weights. Instead, they want a flat, stable platform. The 4mm drop in the Fresh Foam More works the same way. The runner stays put on top of the midsole and that’s great for stability.
In addition, the heel and half of the midfoot sit inside the midsole. This means you’re not moving off the footbed. Most instability on roads or trails that cause your weight to shift left or right won’t be cause for alarm. The higher midsole walls keep you upright. It’s the perfect addition for a shoe with such a large volume midsole and provides extra peace of mind.
On top of the above, air jordan 34 provides a wide base for the forefoot. The forefoot’s wide base allows full toe splay and extra support when tackling uneven terrain. You also get a typical internal plastic heel counter that helps the heel stay upright. Altogether, this is one of the more stable neutral running shoes I’ve tested. I do know many people that utilize Stability shoes are also looking for a neutral runner that may fit their needs. The New Balance Fresh Foam More is definitely worth considering even if you’re an overpronator.
The upper is a very typical mix of engineered and regular mesh. The engineered mesh is reinforced at the toe for protection, durability, and to give your toes a little more room. For durability, New Balance placed fuse overlays on the lace loops. The laces themselves are stretchy with a really cool 3M dash pattern. The upper is very breathable as the mesh pattern allows air to flow easily throughout the shoe. Finally, the holographic 3M “N” New Balance logo is awesome. It’s just for looks but it makes me smile each time I put on the shoe.
The New Balance Fresh Foam More fits true to size. I went with my normal size and had my preferred thumbnail worth of room.
The upper has no visible seams except behind the heel (which you can’t feel as you’re protected by the heel counter and layers of padding). The comfortable but not too thick collar features 2 achilles pillows and 2 ankle pillows that help prevent ankle area blisters and add extra comfort without the extra weight of a beefy cushioned collar. The middle lace loop on each side of the shoe connects to the tongue and keeps it in place. New Balance calls these Tongue Wings. It’s the best implementation of tongue stay tech I’ve ever seen. The tongue doesn’t move or slip to the side. As someone who often gets tongue slip, I really appreciate the thought that went into the Tongue Wings (even though the name needs a little work lol).
The New Balance Fresh Foam More delivers a large volume midsole and a well rounded shoe. The cushioning is great, the ride is smooth, and the support is top of class. You also get a few nice touches like Tongue Wings and the holographic 3M logo. The outsole durability isn’t what I would expect from a shoe this price but that’s the main drawback on an otherwise exciting shoe. Hopefully New Balance continues to make running shoes with large volume midsoles because their first effort was a success.