Hit The Road In The Lighter, Speedier New Balance 890v7
The RW Takeaway: Enough cushioning for a day at the track or shorter distances, but not enough to power through marathon training long runs.
- Sturdy knit upper is highly breathable.
- Thin midsole is best suited for efficient runners who don’t need a lot of cushioning.
- Very little rubber on the sole keeps weight low.
Weight: 204g (M), 158g (W)
A year ago, we gave the 890v6 a Best Update award because of its new last, the shape the shoes are built on, which offered runners a roomier forefoot fit. It also became a speed day shoe, thanks to updated midsole foam and a thinner heel, which made the shoe firmer and more responsive. Then New Balance went and completely blew up the shoe.
Totally redesigned, v7 is lighter than ever – in fact, it’s lighter than the brand’s RC 1400 racing flat. So, if you knew v6, forget it, because this shoe is barely recognisable – it’s a full 57 grams lighter.
The changes, however, resonated with our testers, who primarily used the shoe for track workouts and easy treadmill sessions, as well as occasional tempo runs and short races on roads. The new knit upper provided us plenty of forefoot space for comfort, but the no-stretch construction meant we were locked down when we kicked up the speed.
All felt the midsole was too thin to be used as a daily trainer. Two-thirds of our testers used the word “adequate” on their feedback report, saying that, while the foam felt hard, it’s exactly what they expected from such a lightweight, speedy shoe.
Light and Snappy Sole
One of the biggest ways New Balance shaved weight from the shoe is by stripping away most of the rubber from the sole. The v7 has a thin horseshoe-shaped strip around the heel for durability on landing, and more at the tip of the shoe for abrasion resistance on toe-off. Three other strips are positioned where you’d experience the most wear on the bottom of the shoe. The rest of the sole is made from a Revlite compound that’s been tweaked so it can be exposed to pavement – the white foam is durable enough to make contact with the road without getting worn down too quickly.
The Revlite foam is extremely thin and firm, by design. It takes the harsh sting out of the road, but doesn’t feel soft or mushy. Instead, you feel – and hear, if you are a forefoot striker – the quick slap on the tarmac, and experience a quick toe-off with each stride. We found the shorter the rep on the track, the better this shoe responded; 400s were the sweet spot for me during my spring marathon training cycle.
A Breathable, Sturdy Upper
We unanimously loved the well-vented upper of the v7. In place of the engineered mesh used on the previous model, the new shoe has a thick knit that flexes to accommodate your foot but won’t stretch or feel loose.
“Most knit uppers either stretch so much they feel sloppy, or are less stretchy but aren’t shaped like my foot enough,” said one tester. “It’s just an incredibly designed upper.”
Much like engineered mesh, however, this single layer upper has zones constructed in to blend structure and breathability without the need for overlays. That made the shoe exceptionally breathable on hot runs. The big holes on the vamp – the front of the shoe, above the toes – let sweat escape and can also be a stylish feature if you’re wearing brightly coloured socks.
I’ve long liked the 890 for its versatility – early versions could be used for long runs and easy jogs. The newest model, however, is more purpose built. I wish I could wear it more regularly, but the thin sole doesn’t agree with my aging body. But, when pushing hard on an already cushioned track, I found it smoothest and most agreeable with my stride. The shoe’s as light as most any racing flat you’d find for that exact purpose, though the fit of this shoe is more in line with a comfortable trainer. One gripe I have: Despite all the minimal, lightweight treatment for the rest of the shoe, the tongue is overly fat and thick. But I do like the wide internal straps that attach both sides of the tongue to the midsole, essentially creating a saddle over your midfoot for a secure fit.
Wear Tester Feedback
Lisa G., tester since 2017
Arch: Flat | Pronation: Neutral | Footstrike: Heel
“I really liked the design upgrade on these shoes. I had issues with the previous version’s narrow toe box and I was nervous at first, but that trepidation quickly turned to delight. They were so lightweight that I couldn’t help but want to run faster. These would definitely be a great shoe to PB in your next 5K or to help you through that tedious (yes, I said it!) speedwork.”