New Balance 860 v9 Review

New Balance has made some slight changes with the 860 v9 – How does New Balance’s latest version of the 860 stack up to previous versions and its competitors? Let’s find out!

New Balance 860 v8 vs 860 v9:

There are a few changes with the new 860 v9- While New Balance has stuck to the formula that has made the 860 their go-to stability shoe, the update tweaks the cushion and fit enough that it might be worth trying them on before re-ordering.

  • The upper has changed from the 860 v8 – fewer overlays, a slightly different stitching to tighten up the fit, and most notably a shallower and more tapered toebox.
  • New stitching and a new toebox design have narrowed up the overall shoe, and the toebox is noticeably shallower than the outgoing 860.
  • The main change from a feel perspective is a softer ride with a more flexible transition
  • This change might alienate runners and walkers who preferred the almost boot-like secure feel of the old 860s, but should gain some fans who like a softer, more performance-feel.
  • The softer ride and better transition are a result of a slight midsole redesign with a few extra grooves

Fit

The 860 v9 fits pretty standard across the board. It’s not as forgiving as the previous v8 and has about average toebox room. It is true-to-size length-wise – maybe very slightly big, but nothing to require a switch from your normal size. It no longer has the overall boot-like structure to the shoe that previous 860s have had.

Feel

New Balance has really improved the ride of their classic guidance shoe – it’s a cushioned yet not cloud-like ride. The ride of the 860 v9 is now pretty soft, with the improved flexibility keeping things responsive. Previous 860 customers might feel like this is a bit of a change from their beloved shoe, and it does feel different. The support that runners have felt in terms of a flat, boot-like ride is gone in favor of a more traditional landing and then transition. We’re thinking that these changes are going to draw in some new fans.

Function

The New Balance 860 is one of the original stability shoes. While the new version feels less stable in the heel due to an improved landing and transition, it doesn’t seem to have any less guidance than previous versions. It seems that the 860 remains as stable as it has traditionally been.

Comparisons:

New Balance 860 vs Mizuno Wave Inspire 14:

The Wave Inspire 14 and the 860 v9 feel similar in terms of softness, with the Inspire feeling a little softer even with the increased softness of the 860. The 860 still has more guidance than the Inspire 14, but you pay for that guidance in weight. Despite being considerably heavier than the Inspire, the 860 no longer feels as heavy as it is. With the better transition on the 860 v9, they feel about the same weight on-foot. The Inspire 14 is a little narrower than the 860 throughout, but with the change to make the 860 a little narrower they are now pretty close.

New Balance 860 vs Brooks Adrenaline:
The Brooks Adrenaline, despite being considerably lighter than the 860,¬†feels like more shoe. The 860 is a little lower and amazingly feels like the same weight. Even though New Balance has made the 860’s toebox a little shallower it still has more room than the Adrenaline – both in the toebox and throughout the shoe. The 860 has more guidance than the Adrenaline.

New Balance 860 vs Saucony Omni ISO:
The Omni ISO actually feels a lot like the old 860 v8 in terms of just being a lot of structured shoe. The new 860’s softer, more streamlined feel makes it feel much lighter, faster, ad lower than the current Omni. The Omni has much more room in the toebox, and is a little wider overall. They each weight almost the same, with the 860 feeling a little lighter on-foot thanks to the improved transition. Both have a significant amount of guidance.

New Balance 860 vs Nike Structure:
The Structure 22 feels a little lower than the 860, but the overall ride is a little firmer. The Structure 22 is now wider than the 860, especially in the forefoot. The 860 is going to have a little more guidance for pronation. Weight is similar – you don’t really feel any difference on-foot.

New Balance 860 vs 880:

The 860 is New Balance’s flagship stability shoe while the 880 is their classic standard-weight trainer. Each are designed for a very different runner, with the 880 appropriate for neutral or supinating runners and the 860 designed for those with some flexibility in their gate.

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