The latest in the New Balance Fresh Foam line is the 1080v11, released in February 2021. By all accounts, its predecessor, the Fresh Foam 1080v10, was an excellent ride. Why would New Balance mess with perfection?
In this New Balance 1080v11 review, you’ll find out what’s new, what stayed the same, and what could use improvement. The higher number New Balance shoes are more recent, but are they better?
Cushioned and Lightweight
The first and most prominent feature you notice when you slip on these running shoes is that they’re a lightweight and high-cushion shoe. They’re super comfortable right off the bat, requiring very little break-in time, if any.
The Fresh Foam line was introduced in 2014 and has clearly been popular, considering New Balance has continued it into v11. The New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v11 incorporates the brand’s updated EVA Fresh Foam X material.
That gives the midsole a terrific energy return, even after extensive mileage. You can easily tackle a half marathon in these trainers and be fine. The shoes hold up well to the punishment of asphalt or concrete running and reduce the average runner’s impact.
That translates to less stress on the knees and ankles. However, because it’s so soft, the Fresh Foam 1080v11 update might not be the best for runners over 198lbs. who need the extra support of a firm midsole.
Likewise, if you tend toward overpronation, the Fresh Foam 1080v11 is a neutral running shoe designed for runners with a neutral gate. If you want to stay with a New Balance shoe that’s good in this department, take a look at the Fresh Foam 860v11 instead. They have the same Fresh Foam but offer more robust arch support.
The 1080v11 weighs in at roughly 9.3oz, depending on your shoe size. That puts them right in the realm of average when it comes to today’s runners. They’re not the lightest shoe, but you won’t feel like you’re carrying a lot of extra weight.
Breathable and Flexible
Fans of the v10 will be pleased to know that New Balance has carried over the same flexible mesh upper material. It’s wonderfully breathable and one of the more flexible uppers on the market. If you’re running in the rain, you’re going to get your socks wet. But on a hot day, you’ll be happy to have the airflow.
The newer model has the same outsole as the 1080v10, which isn’t a disappointment. Each hexagonal pad is an individual shape, which means they don’t inhibit flexibility in the midsole. They provide fantastic traction, even on ice and other slick surfaces.
The heel has changed the most from the last version of the 1080s. It now has a molded neoprene type heel, shaped to fit snugly with no seams. It doesn’t have a loop or anything much to hold onto if you’re someone who typically needs to tug on your trainers.
This molded heel cup design is great for some people, not so fantastic for others. Whether or not this will be comfortable for you depends a great deal on your foot’s shape. It may be that you can compensate for any slippage with a simple lacing adjustment.
One noticeable difference between the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v11 versus the v10 is the mid-cage. They’ve swapped out the branded N logo for one that’s thicker and incorporated it into the lacing.
While the v10 had the brand’s iconic N logo on each side of the shoe, it’s larger in the new version. The logo material is raised and extends up the shoe a bit more. While this seems like a purely aesthetic choice at first glance, it does provide more lateral support.
Fit and Style
The New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v11’s are true to size, so you can feel confident when you’re buying online that you’ll get a good fit. The shoes are available in men’s and women’s sizes. Men can find sizes 6 through 20 in standard and wide. Women’s sizes are 5 through 13, also standard and wide.
The men’s and women’s styles come with different color options. The guys can choose from black, “cyclone,” red, blue, and white. The ladies have a choice of black, “citrus,” sky blue, light blue, and white.
The New Balance N logo is prominent on both sides of the shoes, but since this has function as well as form, it’s not a sticking point. If you’re someone who displays their brand choices proudly, this probably won’t be an issue for you.
The shoes are nice and streamlined, as a well-designed running shoe should be. The thickest bit of the shoe is the sole. It starts with 27mm for women (30mm for men) at the heel, 19mm (22mm for men) at the forefoot, and has an 8mm drop. The sole has a molded, hexagonal design that mimics the outsole treads.
It’s an odd design element that the lace holes don’t allow for the laces to lay flat once they go through them. Each one is a narrow slit that sits vertically along the upper. Presumably, this is to pinch the laces so they can’t move once you’ve tightened them up.
If you liked the Fresh Foam 1080v10 trainers, you’d likely enjoy the v11 update. They’re enough like the previous version to have most of what you love incorporated in the new design. The more stable heel and added mid-cage only contribute to the comfort and stability of the shoe.
A few minor nitpicky details keep this shoe from achieving perfection. Still, the overall feel is a comfortable, neutral running shoe. Breathability and traction remain the highlights of the design of the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v11, as well as the flexibility of the upper.