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New Balance Minimus TR Review

Part streetwear, part minimalist trainer, these kicks are as lightweight as they are fly
New Balance Minimus TR
Photo: New Balance
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Price:  $120 List | $119.95 at Amazon
Pros:  Remarkably lightweight, cushy, good transition potential
Cons:  Gym-specific, lack of natural feel, difficult upper design
Manufacturer:   New Balance
By Aaron Rice ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jul 23, 2021
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62
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 8
  • Natural Feel - 40% 5
  • Weight - 20% 7
  • Traction - 15% 8
  • Versatility - 15% 5
  • Durability - 10% 8

Our Verdict

The New Balance Minimus TR is a minimalist trainer with maximum style for those who spend most of their time in the gym. This zero-drop shoe will certainly appeal to those interested in transitioning from conventional to minimalist footwear, as it still maintains the structural integrity and comfort of a well-cushioned midsole. While a midsole shank provides enough stability for heavyweight lifting, the majority mesh upper makes this shoe lightweight and breathable enough for high-intensity interval training. As long as you don't plan to run more than a few miles on the road as a warm-up for your gym session, this is a great minimalist option for a dynamic gym trainer.

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Price $119.95 at Amazon$115 List$80 List
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Pros Remarkably lightweight, cushy, good transition potentialSuper flexible, amazing feedback, spacious fit, breathable, optional insoleSuperlight, exceptional natural feel, flexible, affordableSuper low-profile sole, comfortably padded, designed for durabilityTough exterior, stable, snug lacing system
Cons Gym-specific, lack of natural feel, difficult upper designHeavier than most, potential durability issues, short lacesDiminished grip off-road, confining stretch collar, bulky lacesTapered toe box is a bit restrictive, traction is compromised by dirt, lack of versatilityOdd flex pattern, decreased sensitivity, lack of dexterity in toes
Bottom Line Part streetwear, part minimalist trainer, these kicks are as lightweight as they are flyFrom its airy fit to its free range of motion, this barefoot shoe offers the best in lightweight running performanceA barefoot trainer that continues to define the category, this shoe’s ultra-thin outsole helps deliver superior natural feelAn incredibly thin outsole, supportive padding, and reinforced sidewalls make this an ideal barefoot gym trainerRun in comfort and confidence in this tank of a FiveFinger shoe
Rating Categories New Balance Minimus TR Xero Shoes HFS Merrell Vapor Glove 5 Inov-8 Bare-XF 210 V3 Vibram V-Trail 2.0
Natural Feel (40%)
5.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
Weight (20%)
7.0
6.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
Traction (15%)
8.0
7.0
6.0
6.0
8.0
Versatility (15%)
5.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
Durability (10%)
8.0
6.0
7.0
8.0
9.0
Specs New Balance Minimus TR Xero Shoes HFS Merrell Vapor Glove 5 Inov-8 Bare-XF 210 V3 Vibram V-Trail 2.0
Style Minimalist trainer Barefoot road Barefoot road Barefoot road Barefoot trail
Weight (per shoe) 7.0 oz (size US 8.5) 7.9 oz (size US 9.5) 5.8 oz (size US 8.5) 6.8 oz (size US 9) 6.9 oz (size EU 42)
Stack Height Undisclosed 5.5 mm (w/o insole) 6.5 mm 1.5 mm (w/o insole) 5.7 mm
Heel to Toe drop 0 mm 0 mm 0 mm 0 mm 0 mm
Outsole Rubber
(No Specifics Available)
5.5mm FeelTrue 2 mm, Vibram Ecostep 1.5 mm,
Inov-8 rubber
3.7 mm, Megagrip Rubber
Midsole Rubber
(No Specifics Available)
None None None 2 mm EVA
Insole Integrated
(No Specifics Available)
3 mm High Density EVA Integrated
4 mm EVA
3 mm Power Footbed None
Upper Material Mesh Mesh and TPU Mesh and TPU Mesh and Rope-Tec TPU 3D Cocoon Mesh
Best For (running, gym, etc.) Gym Running Running Gym Running
Width Options Standard, Wide Regular Regular Regular Regular

Our Analysis and Test Results

Aside from their retro colorway, the design of the New Balance Minimus TR is actually rooted in science. The unique appearance of both the outsole and upper are patterns derived from reaction-diffusion systems. Perhaps "TR" stands for "Turing" instead of "training." There are vague statements on the product page referring to "reaction-diffusion engineering," but, even upon request, we were unable to gather any further information from the manufacturer about specifications or the engineering behind this minimalist trainer.

Performance Comparison


Stylish, with purpose. The reaction-diffusion-inspired design seeks...
Stylish, with purpose. The reaction-diffusion-inspired design seeks to add stability and improve durability to the base of this gym-specific trainer.
Photo: Jill Rice

Natural Feel


The Minimus TR may be considered a conventional trainer with a minimalist twist. The structure is much more traditional, with a thick midsole supported through the middle by a rubber shank for increased stability. The fit is also quite conventional, with a "snug, secure fit" via a full mesh wrap, locked down by spandex-infused laces. To ensure a tight fit, designers opted to stiffly sew the tongue directly into the vamp of the shoe, making it seriously difficult and seriously annoying to pull on.

The full-wrap upper of this shoe keeps it tight to your foot, and...
The full-wrap upper of this shoe keeps it tight to your foot, and doesn't offer the same width across the toe box as other minimalist shoes.
Photo: Jill Rice

Sizing


If anything, the Minimus TR runs on the tight size. If you are hoping for any space for your foot to spread out, we suggest sizing up by about a ½-size (for both EU and US sizes). However, we always suggest that, if possible, you visit your local shop and try these shoes on in person to find your perfect fit.

However, once on, the Minimus TR is surprisingly agile. Despite the thickness of the midsole, the shoe is quite flexible, which combined with the tight fit makes them exceptionally nimble. The balance of flexibility and stability is right on the mark for both dynamic exercises and heavy weight lifting sessions. While it feels more substantial and much less naturally inclined than its barefoot competitors, this lightweight, zero-drop trainer represents a comfortable bridge to a minimalist shoe from more conventional designs on the market.

This flat-soled trainer offers plenty of flex to back-up its stable...
This flat-soled trainer offers plenty of flex to back-up its stable grounding, making it an ideal option for dynamic workouts.
Photo: Jill Rice

Weight


Tipping the scales at just 7-ounces — a significant difference between this shoe and the rival Minimus Prevail — the Minimus TR is remarkably lightweight considering its construction. The majority mesh construction gives this glove-like shoe a light and airy feeling, making it a perfect companion for tough, dynamic workouts. Don't be turned off by the relative bulk of its design; this shoe is as breathable as it is nimble.

Despite its more conventional design, including a supportive rubber...
Despite its more conventional design, including a supportive rubber shank, this shoe miraculously weighs in at just under 7 ounces per shoe.
Photo: Jill Rice

Traction


It's tough to say whether or not the reaction-diffusion-inspired design is actually engineered to improve traction or if it is simply unique in appearance alone. Whatever the reason behind it, these shoes are very tacky on manufactured surfaces — particularly on common gym floors, like tile, rubber mats, or wood parquet. The zero-drop design allows you to apply even pressure through your feet, drawing on your natural tendency to grip. This, combined with the midfoot rubber shank, helps prevent forward and aft movement, which is equally important for weighted dynamic exercises, like kettlebell swings.

The pattern of the outsole matches that of the upper. With its...
The pattern of the outsole matches that of the upper. With its complex, and yet somehow entirely natural design, the tacky rubber effectively sticks to prevent sliding on gym floors.
Photo: Jill Rice

Versatility


This shoe is purposefully built as a gym-specific trainer. But if you are going to run in these shoes, it will certainly be on the road. Again, this is a case where we were happily surprised by the performance of the Minimus TR — the midsole provides a comfortable cushion and seems to rebound for a bit of extra propulsion. It is reasonable to warm up with a jog to the gym, but there is really no way to qualify this as a running shoe. However, it does present an interesting point of intersection between conventional and minimalist designs. If you have been wondering about zero-drop shoes, then the Minimus TR will be a comfortable jump-off point.

The cushioned midsole of this otherwise gym-specific trainer adds...
The cushioned midsole of this otherwise gym-specific trainer adds both comfort, and a spring to your step.
Photo: Jill Rice

Durability


Again, considering this shoe through the lens of the gym, it includes all of the right design points to increase longevity. Even under the weight of max-power lifts, the TPU-infused midsole doesn't collapse — instead, it offers substantial rebound. This is further supported by a significant rubber shank, adding reinforcement across the midfoot to keep this shoe from collapsing under pressure. Together, these should act as a system to keep the Minimus TR from breaking down structurally over time. And if you keep these as a gym-specific trainer, then there is no reason for the outsole to wear through.

A TPU-reinforced heel (note the red insert), and the rubber midsole...
A TPU-reinforced heel (note the red insert), and the rubber midsole shank both help improve stability and durability.
Photo: Jill Rice

Value


For those who care for a bit of flair, then the retro-streetwear style of the Minimus TR is worthy of the price tag. Considering their performance in the gym, they can be justified as a worthy investment in your athleticism. But if you need a versatile cross-trainer, then we suggest looking at other options.

If you are seeking a supportive, yet minimalist gym-trainer, and...
If you are seeking a supportive, yet minimalist gym-trainer, and have an affinity for style, then the Minimus TR falls squarely within your wheelhouse.
Photo: Jill Rice

Conclusion


For those considering crossing over from conventional to minimalist footwear, the New Balance Minimus TR presents a stylish means of transitioning. This gym-specific trainer is stable and supportive enough for weightlifting yet lightweight and nimble enough for dynamic workouts.

Aaron Rice