New Balance Fresh Foam X 880 v14 Review

New Balance Fresh Foam X 880 v14 Introduction

The New Balance Fresh Foam X 880 v14 is a neutral daily trainer built with cushioning from New Balance’s Fresh Foam X technology.

What’s curious about the Fresh Foam X technology is that not all of the foam in their different shoes seems to be similar.

Having tested the New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 v13, the midsole experience was very different as that shoe was softer where this shoe is much more stable but also more responsive.

This shoe falls in a competitive lineup with the Asics Gel-Nimbus 26 and the Saucony Ride 17. This shoe is built well from a durability perspective but the energy return from both the Gel-Nimbus and Ride are going to be better.

The shoe comes in at 9.5 oz for men’s size 9, which is a good weight for the purpose of the shoe. At $140, the shoe is priced below many of its competitors.

In terms of updates from last year, there are a few. First, the toe-to-heel drop has gone lower from 10mm in last year’s version to 8mm in this year’s version. The overall stack heigh is relatively the same, just a lower heel drop.

The shoe is slightly lighter – 0.5 oz – than last year’s as the foam is now updated with the Fresh Foam X cushioning.

The upper on the shoe has changed slightly as well, which makes the shoe feel a little more form fitting than last year’s model.

New Balance Fresh Foam X 880 v14 First Impressions

When first taking this shoe out of the box, I noticed that it was relatively lightweight.

The construction of the upper looked smooth and the rubber on the bottom looked like it was built for many miles. My first run in the shoe was my first easy run after taking a week off.

The shoe was relatively smooth and stable. I didn’t feel much energy return but it responded well as I played around with my paces. The shoe never felt like it was helping me but it also did not get in the way either.

My later runs in the shoe included strides, hill repeats, and tempo efforts. The shoe handled all of these with ease. I definitely understand why some people love this shoe as it can handle a variety of runs and just doesn’t get in the way.

As I said earlier, there’s not much energy return so it doesn’t feel like you’re getting much help either. For one effort, I wanted to push the pace a bit but seemed to struggle doing it with this shoe.

It’s not light or bouncy enough for the experienced runner to push to those higher, threshold paces. For the more novice runner, it’s a great all-around shoe.

New Balance Fresh Foam X 880 v14 Upper

The construction of the upper on this shoe is very good. It’s a fine mesh with sufficient padding all around.

The design is different this year as the upper is now one piece. I had no issues with the lacing system and the shoelaces stayed tied even on a single knot.

The tongue was redesigned this year and seems to stay in place better than last year’s version. The shoe fits true to size. The toe box was slightly tight but not enough for me to want to get a wide width.

New Balance Fresh Foam X 880 v14 Sole Unit

The midsole features the Fresh Foam X technology. It is not a thicker midsole than in v13 but the heel drop has changed from 10mm to 8mm. Because of the change in foam, this version is lighter than the previous iteration as well – albeit not a huge difference.

As I had mentioned earlier, this foam is not the softest nor does it give much energy return. It’s not nearly as soft as the 1080 v13 even though the technology is similar.

The lower heel drop does help give a smooth, comfortable ride for those easy miles. It’s also decently more responsive and stable – handling different paces within the same run very well.

The traction on the outsole is good. I never felt slippage in rainy conditions and it gripped as well as a road shoe would on grassy or gravel surfaces. The outsole is made of Ndurance rubber, which is NB’s proprietary rubber that claims to enhance durability. It is the same material as in the previous version but the layout is a bit different this time, hoping to increase traction in high wear areas while also using a bit less rubber overall. This is likely the contributing factor to the shoe’s weight loss in this new version.

In comparison to the Gel-Nimbus 26, this shoe is feels firm and doesn’t have the same energy return as the Nimbus. While I thought the Nimbus was firm, this shoe is firmer.

That being said, this shoe is lighter and has a lower stack height. This shoe feels more responsive and can handle some of those faster paces better than the Nimbus.

The outsole grips are relatively similar to me.

New Balance Fresh Foam X 880 v14 Conclusions

The New Balance Fresh Foam X 880 v14 is a great daily trainer that plays a part for just about any runner.

For the experienced runner, it’s a great easy day shoe where you might end up incorporating some strides or pickups. For the novice runner, it’s a great everyday shoe with great versatility.

This shoe will stay in my rotation as an easy day shoe or some of those group runs where the pace picks up just a bit past easy.

My biggest issue remains the price point. For just a little bit more, you can get other shoes with better energy return, softer cushioning, or lighter weight.

There isn’t enough in this shoe for it to stand out from others and to justify saving a few bucks. I do think it does the job as a workhorse shoe.

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