Hands-on Gear Review

New Balance 1540v2 Review

Price:  $160 List
Pros:  Very durable, supportive and responsive, possibly reimbursable through Medicare
Cons:  Heavy, expensive, limited cushion
Bottom line:  This shoe is really geared toward the over-pronator who needs motion control and padding.
Editors' Rating:   
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Weight (Oz Per Pair for size 11):  32.4 oz
Toe to Heel Drop:  10 mm
Style (Traditional,minimalist,etc.):  Motion Control/Stability (Pronation)
Manufacturer:   New Balance

Our Verdict

These are at the extreme end of stability, functioning to get the person in desperate need of support and motion-control out on the road. They are not for the speed-demons looking for GC dominance at the local 10Ks, but we think there are a lot of folks out there who will find these reinforced, heavy trotters to be the right shoe for them. We're not the only ones who think that though - New Balance claims that these things might even be eligible for Medicare reimbursement under HCPCS code A5500. But for GC contenders, there are lighter, high-performance stability models like the HOKA ONE ONE Arahi and Saucony Hurricane ISO 3.



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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Ryan Baham

Last Updated:
Tuesday
August 22, 2017

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We had a lot of fun trotting in these, toying around with different paces and landing patterns. They certainly do a good job of bringing runners back to a neutral landing position and do the job of shoring up weakness in the feet and ankles. While they brought in the lowest score from our group, they shouldn't be dismissed. They are heavy workers for runners who need the extra support and help that not even the Top Pick for Stability winning HOKA ONE ONE Arahi could deliver. .

Performance Comparison


It's true that these guys round out the bottom of the field, but keep in mind, they're pretty specialized and have a good deal of redeeming qualities for the right runner.

Responsiveness


One of the most important aspects of the stability style is responsiveness, typically provided by a combination of firm midsole material and well-designed support structures. The 1540s did a great job with that, offering a thick, but firm EVA midsole that has just enough give to cushion the landing without sinking the foot. Surrounding that midsole they have a polyurethane rim to add support and durability and a solid TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) posting to help with kickback, support, and movement control. These attributes propel the shoe up near the top of this measure, comparable to the Saucony Hurricane ISO 3. But topping the measure is the HOKA ONE ONE Arahi, our Top Pick for Stability winners. Their mix of thicker, responsive EVA and stable design offer a more responsive experience.

John feels out the New Balance 1540s during a side by side comparison.
John feels out the New Balance 1540s during a side by side comparison.

Landing Comfort


These stompers use ACTEVA™LITE compression molded EVA in their midsole, combined with a rigid polyurethane rim called ENCAP® to add stability. This sounds great, but in practice, these had a pretty clunky landing, with a rough transition from heel to toe and tough forefoot landing which we attribute to the inflexible blown rubber outsole.

The blown rubber outsole provides limited upward flex and nearly impossible side to side flex.
The blown rubber outsole provides limited upward flex and nearly impossible side to side flex.

There were a number of shoes with much better landings, though they did cluster around the lightweight racing flats like the Editor's Choice Brooks PureFlow 6 and Best Buy Nike Pegasus 34, both of which topped this measure, but lack the stability of the 1040v2. But two of the other stability models also did very well in this measure, including the traditionally designed Hurricane ISO 3 and the Top Pick for Stability winning HOKA Arahi. As with responsiveness, we believe the Arahi is a superior lander and will delight most runners.

Multi-density EVA foam in the midsole and a wide  flat outsole create the ideal mix of stability and cushion.
Multi-density EVA foam in the midsole and a wide, flat outsole create the ideal mix of stability and cushion.

Weight


These carry a lot of weight to meet their performance. They hit 32.4 ounces in a men's 11 - much heavier than their nearest competitor, the high performance Hurricane ISO 3. They make up for this with extreme stability and high durability, but there are models much lighter. The lightest stability model is the HOKA Arahi and the lightest overall shoe is the New Balance Minimus 10v1, though the latter would be less desirable for the stability runner given its minimalist design.

The Sherman tank of our lineup  these come in at 32.4 ounces in a men's 11.
The Sherman tank of our lineup, these come in at 32.4 ounces in a men's 11.

Durability


The upper is framed by a tough composite through which the laces are threaded, reducing stress on the softer, but still sturdy mesh. Multiple lines of thread and heavy duty glue bind the layers of framing, mesh, and overlays to make a pretty rugged upper. Add to that a simple, solid midsole with a flat, blown rubber outsole and you have a block of a shoe that should be pretty difficult to wear down. Our experience proved that to be the case, but we did find some reviews that reported issues with the glue giving out much sooner than is expected for $160 of footwear. These rank next to another traditional stability model, the ASICS GT-2000 5. Between the two, we think most runners will appreciate the ASICS model more, but if extreme levels of stability are required, the 1540v2 might be the better pick.

Multiple layers of sturdy upper materials sitting atop a uniform midsole and outsole make a long-lasting shoe.
Multiple layers of sturdy upper materials sitting atop a uniform midsole and outsole make a long-lasting shoe.

Upper Comfort


Amusingly, their insole's argyle design betrays the shoe's easy-does-it, modest sensibility. These are about what you would expect for a bulky stability design. They will certainly work for the runner in need of a serious stabilizing force, but there are much more comfortable stability offerings. The Top Pick for Stability, the Arahi are two deciles more comfortable, but the most comfortable stability shoe in our lineup is the Hurricane ISO 3, barely behind the overall toppers, the Pegasus 34 and PureFlow 6. We think the Hurricane ISO 3 will please the stability runner.

The 1540's thick padding and sturdy frame keep you strapped in and chugging along (note the argyle).
The 1540's thick padding and sturdy frame keep you strapped in and chugging along (note the argyle).

Breathability


Given its level of fortification, this shoe is not the most breathable on the planet. Its thick layers of padding, mesh, framing, and overlays hold a lot of moisture and heat. The upside is that they'll be insulated and protective in cold weather. The other stability shoes did only modestly better here. If breathability is a must, we suggest looking at the On Cloud, which topped the measure.

Best Applications


These are meant for runners in serious need of stability. Their flat, wide outsole works best on roads and flat surfaces, but an adventurous runner might do fine on an easy, predictable trail.

Value


These come at a huge premium - $160. This is a steep ask for a clunky stability shoe, but these are aimed at those in serious need of support and stabilization. That being said, these might be the last resort for some runners and will therefore be worth the price. We think for the price, most runners would be thrilled with other offerings like the Arahi for $30 less and will be surprised by the cushion and support that it offers instead. But be sure to keep your return policies in mind and try a few models out.

Conclusion


We'll concede that these are something of a specialty shoe meant for runners who really need some stability in their life - no, we mean a LOT of stability. Their heavy frame and thick EVA midsole sitting atop a flat, broad, dense blown rubber outsole are just short of combat boots, but internal stability structures ensure that feet won't flail and each stride is returned to neutral. Not every runner is a gazelle and some guys just need a good, sturdy shoe to get them out there with some protection and support and these provide that in spades. As we mentioned before, even Medicare thinks they're useful enough that they might reimburse for them under HCPCS code A5500. This might not describe you and that's fine too, you might need a milder performance shoe like the Hurricane ISO 3 or the Top Pick for Stability, the HOKA ONE ONE Arahi.

Tomasz tries out the New Balance 1540s during a side by side comparison.
Tomasz tries out the New Balance 1540s during a side by side comparison.

Ryan Baham

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