I wrote in a previous post about my deep love for the Nike Free running shoe series. I also mentioned in that post that I was, however, looking to test out a potentially more minimal shoe despite favoring the Nike’s already. I decided to give the New Balance Minimus 20 V2‘s a try. I got them on a great deal from The Clymb. Below is my personal review of this particular model after about 3 months of use. This particular model will probably be refreshed by the time I release this review but I wanted offer a Minimus review reference so others could use it when deciding on New Balance Minimus shoes in general. Immediately, below is the product description from New Balance themselves.
The latest from Minimus, the 20 Road features a low-to-the-ground four-millimeter drop along with expanded Vibram® outsole coverage and an enhanced upper for those looking for more complete fit.
- 4mm drop: due to variances created during the development and manufacturing processes, all references to 4mm drop are approximate.
- Barefoot friendly internal construction.
- Minimus is a whole new approach to footwear, a new place on the spectrum from barefoot running to the traditional maximum-cushioning running shoe. Inspired by Good Form Running and designed to be worn with or without socks. With only a 4mm drop* from heel to toe, as little as a third of that of a traditional running shoe, the Minimus collection holds a world of discovery for neutral runners as well as those with gait issues or chronic injury to conquer by learning better form.
- Synthetic/Mesh upper
Here are some pictures fresh out of the box.
I took my first run in these new shoes after nearly 2 weeks of recovering. I took ample time off after the San Jose Rock ‘n Roll half marathon so I could have fresh legs when starting this testing period. The shoes fit more snug than most of my other shoes have felt initially. The right shoe was also a bit off initially as it felt as though it shifted to the right of my foot. Other than that, the first walk around in them felt great. They have an overall nice and solid feel from front to back and I can definitely sense a close proximity to the ground; almost as if I’m walking barefoot.
My initially run in these shoes was a simple recovery run to get my legs back under me. A simple 4 mile loop around the neighborhood with my neighbor Mike. We started out slow and picked up the pace about 30 seconds every mile. These shoes felt great right from the first strike. Good solid traction with every foot strike and a real light weight and breathable feel throughout the run. The unevenness in the right shoe eventually worked itself out. All in all, a great first impression and no unusual soreness or fatigue the day after.
After a month in these shoes I put about 90 miles on them and was about well into the point at which I usually feel a shoe is broken in. I encountered no unusual issues or signs of aging or degradation with the soles. I also experienced no physical discomfort in the first month either. I am a bit concerned about how long these shoes can last though. I feel so close to the ground with every strike, that I wondered how long the tread can last over all the next two months.
At two months in, I was heavy into the middle of an advanced 15K training plan that had me doing over 40 miles a week. That’s a lot of ground contact and I am happy to say that my feet and legs were no worse for wear. I was really worried about how well my legs and shoes would hold up under this training plan; but everything worked out very well. I added some time on the treadmill as well and the shoes felt good on the treadmill belt. I can say though that these shoes do not do well on wet ground. The change in season brought some rains in and a couple of runs on the wet pavement and concrete. I felt like I was on ice skates in these shoes. There is just not enough tread pattern on the bottom of them to keep you glued to the ground. This lack of traction is a ding against the Minimus.
I met a few issues at the three-month mark that I can’t really attribute to the shoes. I suffered a back injury while snowboarding which took me out of training a while. I also got the flu during that period. My mileage was severely limited during this stretch but I also completed my first race in these shoes near the end of the 3rd month in them. I am glad to say that despite these setbacks I set a new 15K PR and was able to get back into the full swing of training. With all that, I can say that these shoes have held up really well and my recovery time has also shortened. Like with all minimalist shoes, you need to build up your endurance in them; but once I was at strength, I felt really good in them. Below is a gallery of what the shoes look like at the end of the 3 month test period in them.
After completing a couple hundred miles of training and a race in them, I can give them two thumbs up, without any doubts. I really enjoyed the shoes after the first 25 miles and my performance has improved during that time. So, I can say at the very least, the shoes have not hurt my running. To be fair, I have used low profile minimalist shoes for a while so they were a natural transition for me. Angela was also breaking in a pair of the same shoes during the same period and by all accounts gives them a thumbs up also. Most of her mileage was on the treadmill but she had no complaints while using these shoes.
So, as long as you have spent time in minimalist shoes before, than you should give these a try. However, if you live in say, Seattle, I would not recommend them. They just do not perform well on anything but dry ground. On that note, they aren’t great for track workouts as well; but they aren’t marketed or designed for that purpose either. All in all, a great shoe that will make my spring 2014 racing shoe purchase a harder decision. If you are looking to pick up a new pair of running shoes make sure to swing by my Sponsor’s site, TriSports.com, and include them in all your endurance sports shopping.
Like a glove, or even more so like a sock. A little odd feeling at first and then perfect after break in. Get the right socks to keep shoe from sliding left and right during initial runs. They run true to size with no half-size up or down adjustments.
Much better than expected. After 225+ miles of training and racing, the tread holds up better than my Nike Free shoes did. No visible degradation of the sole or side walls.
Super lightweight, snug fit, close ground contact with good feedback. Breath really well and doesn’t need a lot of re-lacing. Fits very compactly in a gym bag.
Poor performance on wet conditions or track surfaces. Will destroy the legs and feet of anyone not used to minimalist shoes.