Monday, December 12, 2011

New Balance Minimus Zero Road Initial Review

No other shoe has made a better first impression on me in terms of fit, feel, and yes, even looks.  I rarely comment on the look of shoe simply because it is not that important to me.  For anyone who has worn Vibram FiveFingers or Soft Star Shoes understands what I mean.  These shoes however, just look damn good on and off. 

Luckily they feel just as good as they look.  The interior of the Zero Road or MR00 is silky smooth with no seams.  The few overlays are welded and thus there is zero irritation when wearing New Balance Zero Road sock-less.  This shoe also has the perfect amount of width.  It hugs your foot in all the right places while allowing great freedom in the wide toe box.  The Zero Road comes to a sharp point, but your toes are not shoved into the end of the shoe.  They feel much wider than they actually look.  

One of the most unique features of this shoe and one that I wish was standard on all shoes is the tongue.  The upper is actually all one piece that has simply been cut down one side to allow easy on and off.  I also really like the laces and how the hold the foot in the shoe. Usually I take remove the standard laces the shoes come with and replace them with Yankz laces. With the MR00 I have no plans on removing the laces.  They allow you to tighten certain areas while leaving other areas loose.    

While the upper and interior of this shoe is great, the outsole of the New Balance Minimus Road may be the best part of this shoe.  It provides a great combination of protection, ground feel, and flexibility. In addition the high wear areas are composed of Vibram rubber which should mean great durability.  Only time will tell how durable this shoe will be but I am very optimistic.  This shoe isn't the most flexible or has the best ground feel of the minimal shoes on the market but it is above average in all aspects.  The Minimus Zero Road is also extremely light weight.  My 10.5 weigh only 6.4 oz.  This makes them one of the lightest shoes in my collection.  

As you can tell, my overall impressions of this shoe are very positive.  I am yet to find any real weaknesses in this shoe.  I do wish the shoe was a bit more "foot" shaped but this shoe will be available in widths so that should help those of us with wider feet. 

This shoe reminds me a lot of a racing flat but a racing flat that is zero drop and a wider toe box.  With that said I really think this shoe could be used for all distances.  I plan on using it for my next 5k and it has quickly become a contender for my next marathon.  That is how truly versatile I think this shoe is.  After I put some more miles in this shoe I will post my additional thoughts but you should really consider picking this shoe up when it releases early next year. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011


This review is long over due.  I was planning on reviewing the EVO I and II much sooner. However, once I decided that the EVO would be on my feet for my first marathon, I decided to wait to write the review after it was complete. I finished in 3:34:54. I am pretty happy with my time for my first attempt.

Mile 26. Notice the heel strikers
behind me as I am still able to land
on my midfoot in the EVO
Choosing which shoe to wear during your first marathon, in my opinion, is as complex and important as choosing a mate (I hope the future Mrs. Obsessive Runner doesn't read this).  Is there really a more intimate relationship than the one you spend with your shoe over 26.2 miles?  Maybe between a mother and her child over 9 months of pregnancy, but only just maybe!  Okay, I'm exaggerating a bit but the wrong shoe choice could make for a very painful and miserable 26.2 mile run. There really isn't a more important decision you will make for your marathon.  Yes, wearing the right clothing and choosing which and how many gels to consume is important, but for over 40,000 steps, your shoe choice is what matters most.  That is why after trying several different shoes, I finally decided to break down and try the EVO. After my first 10+ mile run, I knew that I had found the ONE!  THE SHOE! The shoe to get me through my longest run to date.  Our training together wasn't always a perfect relationship, but it was very productive and fruitful one.  Now onto the review.

EVO I on left EVO II on right
The fit of the EVO is its greatest strength and also its biggest drawback.  For me the EVO fits perfectly.  Especially after I added some Yankz laces to them.  I add these to just about all of my shoes as I believe they holds the foot securly in the shoe, but the elastic component allows the foot to flex where regular laces can be restrictive. The EVO is just wide enough, but not too wide to make them feel sloppy.  The upper of the EVO is very unique. VIVOBAREFOOT calls the outer material aTPU Hex Flex Cage.  I like to think of it as the shoe's exoskeleton. Under that is a thin mesh material.  This is where others have had problems with this shoe.  When the shoe flexes, the upper material can and does press on the big toe which may lead to abrasions.  I tend to wear socks with my EVOs and thus don't have any problems with this.  The upper is really the only difference between the EVO I and EVO II.  The EVO II has the interior liner that extends all the way to the toe box where as the EVO I liner stops around the midfoot.  This makes the EVO II a bit more comfortable sockless, but also a bit heavier and warmer.  I generally where the EVO I during warmer months and the EVO II as the weather turns colder.  

Ground Feel
The ground feel of the EVO is very good with its unique hexagon outsole.  It is a very firm durable outsole that transmits ground contact very well.  Without the removable insole the EVO's ground feel is probably on par with the VFF Bikila or Komodosport.  It is not as good as say the KSO or Altra Adam but it is better than the Merrell Trail Glove.  The EVO is also extremely flexible.  Again not as flexible as say the Altra Adam, but much more flexible than most other shoes. There are runners who have claimed to have gotten 1,000 miles or more out of a single pair of EVOs and I tend to believe them.  I have several hundred miles on mine and could easily get several hundred more.

It is really tough for me to find any real areas of improvements for this shoe. The issue with the upper rubbing on the big toe is probably the only area that needs improvement and from what I have heard, the newer "version" of the EVO have eliminated this problem.  The only other area of improvement is possibly to lighten the shoe, but to be honest the EVO has never felt heavy to me even rain soaked at the end of my marathon. 

It is tough to give a shoe a bigger compliment then choosing it for your first marathon and that is how strongly I feel about the EVO.  It is my go to long distance road shoe.  It provides me just enough protection and amount of ground feel for those 20+ mile road runs.  I have not taken the EVO on the trails a lot but I'm sure they would do well in most conditions.  VIVOBAREFOOT has really produced an exceptional shoe that I believe all runners need to have at their disposal. 

Weight: 8.4oz EVO I / 9.3oz EVO II
Toe Box: Wide
Heel to Toe: 0mm
Flexibility: Very Flexible