The Tuesday Kick: Subtle but fast

Light, even with Andy Baddeley's name inscribed on the heel

The Tuesday Kick is – horrors! – a bit different this week. This week’s Tuesday Kick also marks the first gear review on Sub-three and, yes, it’s a shoe.

Full disclosure: New Balance Canada provided the shoes for review. The opinions are strictly mine.

The shoe

New Balance 890v2

The official description

New Balance describes the kick as a lightweight, neutral running shoe, built on a last designed to drop the heel height. This brings the shoe closer to the ground, making it more stable, but without sacrificing cushioning.

The 890v2 (retail $139.95) features an 8mm drop from heel to forefoot, which New Balance says guides the foot into a more natural position.  In fact, the company says a “crash pad” in the heel works to absorb any initial shock, providing “the right amount of lateral release to guide the foot smoothly through the toe off.”

The shoes also feature the names of Andy Baddeley and Jenny Barringer, Team NB runners who inspired the kick’s design, on the outside heel.

We say

Baddeley and Barringer’s names inscribed on the heels do not add any overall significant weight to these smooth riding, pleasingly light shoes.

Who wears them

I do. Please see the “about” section of this blog.

Why he likes them

I’ve run with the shoes on both the road and on treadmill and it’s hard not to be impressed. Weighing in at nine ounces, the shoe is surprisingly plush. But it’s not the overwhelming kind of cushioning that you find in a lot of the higher-end shoes like Nike’s Vomero or Asic’s Keyano. Rather, the 890v2 retains it’s nimble trainer feel.

Surprisingly, the toe box is quite narrow – surprising, because New Balance used to have quite wide, boxy, roomy toe boxes. But this shoe is designed to wrap around your foot. The upper consists of  a”no-sew” one-piece with very unobtrusive strapping and a midfoot wrap that holds the foot securely.

The heel to forefoot drop encourages proper form. Despite the “crash pad” technology in the heel, you’ll notice if you’re striking back there. That said, this is a shoe for efficient runners. If you slap the ground running, you’ll feel it in these; the soles are thin enough (although hardly minimal) that you’ll feel the ground contact if your form is sloppy. I found that alone encouraged soft foot-falls and keen awareness of foot strikes.

A lot of thought went into this shoe’s aesthetic design. The version I have is an understated silver with green and blue highlights and a solid white lower. The laces are extra long, which is a little annoying if you don’t take advantage of all the eyelets.  Ultimately, the 890v2 is subtle, but looks fast.

And, don’t get me wrong: it feels very fast. If you’re not clocking a PB, then don’t blame it on the shoe. The overall ride is reasonably plush, but very light.

I’d use the 890v2 in a five or 10 km race, even a half-marathon. I’m a pretty efficient runner, but I think you’d still notice the ground contact too much on distances exceeding those.

A couple of things I didn’t like were the semi-diamond tread, which is prone to picking up small rocks (you know the kind that after a couple of kilometres drive you nuts with their clicking sound after each foot-fall), and I found the shoe could breathe a bit better. After a recent run in heat I noticed the sweat pooling around my feet.

Those are minor gripes, however. With its nimble feel, relatively soft ride for its weight class, transparent fit, and overall feather weight, the New Balance 890v2 is my current trainer of choice.

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About subthree

A multiple award-winning journalist, I'm currently a contributing editor with both Canadian Running and Canadian Cycling magazines. My articles have appeared in Explore, Canadian Geographic, enRoute, The National Post, The Globe and Mail, and many other magazines and newspapers. Formerly a competitive cross-country mountain biker, I switched to running in 2006. I've run seven marathons, qualifying for Boston five times (and which I've run once). Generally, I've placed or won in my age group in races, in distances ranging from five and 10 kms to half and full marathons. I've also taught spin classes at a number of leading Eastern Canadian gyms. Sub-three was a 2012 #Runchat finalist for Best Overall Blog.
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8 Responses to The Tuesday Kick: Subtle but fast

  1. Rob Jackson says:

    I love New Balance. I’ll have to see if I can get a pair of those. Thanks for the info Charles.

    • subthree says:

      Rob, I should have mentioned that these shoes aren’t the lightest in their class. The Saucony Kinvara probably beats them. But I’m notoriously picky about my shoes, to the point where I normally try on about a dozen pair each time I purchase. NB hasn’t always worked for me in the past, but overall I’m liking the feel of these. Again, I stress efficiency in form on the part of the runner is key with these. They’re not as minimal as my Nike Frees, but the shoe definitely does not tolerate the slap-slap sound on pavement of a poor runner. Thanks for reading.

  2. runningfarce says:

    I was going to say – I thought I read that Saucony was coming out with a shoe that dropped the heal as well. This must be the thing to do to offer an “alternative” to minimalism. Let me know how long these shoes last you with the smaller sole.

    • subthree says:

      Again, another point I meant to raise in the review: my impression – yet to be proved since I haven’t put a ton of miles on the shoe yet – is like most trainers, the NB may wear down relatively quickly. The compound used in the heel is fairly soft, so a lot of road miles could erode it. I’m saving the shoe for fast track days and races.

  3. Noortje says:

    Hahaha, I love the comment under ‘who wears them’ 🙂

  4. Maurice Vienneau says:

    One of the very few lightweight shoe I could find in in 2e width. I`ve used them regularly in half marathon races without problems except for the occasional blister as even a 2e is fairly narrow. I haven`t dared for longer distances yet.

    • subthree says:

      If you do end up racing a longer distance in them, I’d certainly be interested in hearing your thoughts. I’ve always raced with a trainer – except for marathons, when I’ve gone with a lighter cushioned option. Even so, these days I’m leaning toward a more minimal shoe for longer distances.

      Thanks for commenting – and reading.

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