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New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v12 Review

A smooth rocker design helps provide comfort but can have a vague ground feel due to the substantial cushioning and minimal support
New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v12
Credit: New Balance
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Price:  $160 List | $159.99 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Excellent cushioning, smooth heel-to-toe rocker, improved heel cup
Cons:  Lacks support under heel, vague ground feel
Manufacturer:   New Balance
By Matthew Richardson ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jul 8, 2022
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
69
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 12
  • Cushioning and Landing Comfort - 25% 9.0
  • Responsiveness - 25% 6.0
  • Upper Comfort - 20% 8.0
  • Lateral Stability and Support - 15% 5.0
  • Weight - 15% 5.0

Our Verdict

The New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v12 implements one of the best rocker designs that helps you have a smooth footstrike and strong take-off on your forefoot. Ample cushioning helps reduce fatigue over long runs and many miles, and an improved heel cup improves the upper comfort over previous models. This model has one of the most all-around comfortable designs that we tested. However, the extensive cushioning sometimes makes the shoe feel a bit vague and squishy and we wouldn't mind a bit more stiffness and stability. If you're looking for a shoe with great all-around comfort, this could be the perfect model for you.

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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Excellent cushioning, smooth heel-to-toe rocker, improved heel cupResponsive cushioning, breathable upper, lightweightLightweight, great cushioning, comfortable upperResponsive, excellent lightweight upper, cool colorwaysResponsive, fast, lightweight, affordable
Cons Lacks support under heel, vague ground feelMinimal support and stabilityLess responsive, lacks rubber outsoleStiff, minimal ground feel, narrowMinimal support, lacks outsole rubber
Bottom Line A smooth rocker design helps provide comfort but can have a vague ground feel due to the substantial cushioning and minimal supportExcellent cushioning that provides great energy transfer with an extremely comfortable, performance fit upperThese lightweight shoes have top landing comfort and maximum cushion with a great upperThis shoe has excellent responsiveness to propel you forward and is perfect for long-distance tempo runs and racingThis affordable ultralight model allows for maximum turnover which provides a snappy and quick feeling
Rating Categories New Balance Fresh F... Saucony Endorphin S... Hoka One One Mach 4 Nike Zoom Fly 4 Saucony Kinvara 13
Cushioning and Landing Comfort (25%)
9.0
9.0
8.0
6.0
6.0
Responsiveness (25%)
6.0
8.0
8.0
10.0
9.0
Upper Comfort (20%)
8.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
7.0
Lateral Stability and Support (15%)
5.0
6.0
5.0
6.0
5.0
Weight (15%)
5.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
9.0
Specs New Balance Fresh F... Saucony Endorphin S... Hoka One One Mach 4 Nike Zoom Fly 4 Saucony Kinvara 13
Weight (per shoe, size 9.5) 10.7 oz 8.3 oz 8.1 oz 10.0 oz 7.3 oz
Heel to Toe Drop 8 mm 8 mm 5 mm 8 mm 4 mm
Midsole Material Fresh Foam X PWRRUN PROFLY React foam EVA
Sole Rubber Rubber XT-900 Rubberized EVA Rubber Rubber
Upper Material Synthetic mesh Engineered mesh Engineered mesh Mesh, Flyknit Engineered Mesh
Width Options Normal, wide, extra wide Normal Normal Normal Normal
Sizes Available 7 - 16 7 - 15 7 - 14 7 - 15 7 - 15

Our Analysis and Test Results

If you are looking for pure cushioning and comfort, the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v12 could be for you. A thick foam sole provides substantial cushioning for even the longest of runs. An updated heel cup fixes previous heel slippage, making this one of the most comfortable overall models we've tested.

The pronounced rocker design helps push you into a progressive forefoot takeoff and can help compensate when your legs get tired towards the end of a long day or event. While not as stable as more rigid and supportive models, we think this shoe is ideal for those looking to prioritize cushioning and comfort over stability and responsiveness. That's not to say this shoe feels slow by any means, but it can sometimes feel a little squishier than some of the more rigid models.

Performance Comparison


New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v12 running shoes - the rocker motion on the 1080v12 helps get you into a toe-off...
The rocker motion on the 1080v12 helps get you into a toe-off position leading to comfortable running even when fatigue sets in.
Credit: Matthew Richardson

Cushioning and Landing Comfort


Standing out for its excellent cushioning and landing comfort, the 1080v12 is one of our top recommendations for those prioritizing a well-cushioned trainer. It is perfect for long runs or days when you want to give your legs a bit less stress. Substantial compression of the foam can be felt under the entire foot, leading to soft landings and less fatiguing legs.

New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v12 running shoes - thick foam material helps absorb energy leading to a plush...
Thick foam material helps absorb energy leading to a plush comfortable landing.
Credit: Matthew Richardson

This level of cushioning may feel a bit overkill to those looking to push the pace and who desire a more firm and stable platform for more efficient power transfer. As with all heavily cushioned models, there is a slight sinking feeling into the footbed which dulls the responsiveness when pushing off into the ground. We don't think most people will find this too detractive, especially those who prioritize landing comfort over other performance metrics.

Responsiveness


As we mentioned previously, this shoe's responsiveness doesn't feel as instantaneous as other models, especially those with carbon or nylon plates within the midsole. However, we continue to be impressed with the liveliness of this shoe for such a well-cushioned design. The rockered sole design helps propel the runner forward and promotes toeing off as it rolls your foot into a natural position. We think that this is one of the best rocker designs we've tested.

New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v12 running shoes - the rockered sole design helps propel the foot forward during...
The rockered sole design helps propel the foot forward during toe-off, which helps offset some of the potential squishiness of the soft foam.
Credit: Matthew Richardson

The foam — while soft and compressive — still feels springy enough when combined with the rocker design to not feel too sluggish. This is one of our favorite shoes for long, easy distance runs because of the nice blend of cushioning and rocker. For shorter distance racing and tempo efforts, we think a shoe with a bit more rigidity would be preferred. These are generally lighter, more responsive, and offer better power transfer, but don't offer the plush comfort of this model.

Upper Comfort


Our only previous complaint with the previous version of this shoe was heel slippage, which was minor but still annoying. We are happy to see that we did not experience any heel slippage with this new version. New Balance has accomplished this by using a more common padded heel cup design which we much prefer. The rest of the upper is similar to previous models which stood out for its comfort and breathability. This upper design continues the theme of comfort and we experienced no blisters or hot spots.

New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v12 running shoes - the breathable upper is seamless and comfortable even wet.
The breathable upper is seamless and comfortable even wet.
Credit: Matthew Richardson

Lateral Stability and Support


This is not the most supportive or stable model in our lineup due to its higher stack height and softer cushioning. If you require more stability and support, we would suggest looking for a firmer midsole and outsole design, but we do think this shoe's support and stability would be sufficient for runners used to soft, cushy shoes. The rockered sole design helps guide your stride and provides a natural footstrike motion.

New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v12 running shoes - a higher stack height reduces the stability of this model but we had...
A higher stack height reduces the stability of this model but we had no issues and still found our running sure-footed.
Credit: Matthew Richardson

In our experience, a highly cushioned model such as this needs a wider platform in order to provide more stability and support without compromising the cushioning. However, a wider platform generally is heavier and therefore tends to feel sluggish.

Weight


Weighing 10.7 ounces for a men's size 9.5, this shoe has gained a little over an ounce from the previous version. From what we can tell, this is due to enhancements in the upper design, mostly in the heel cup. While far from the lightest in our test group, this is one of the most fully-featured models. Durability will likely be more substantial given the exterior outsole rubber which we've seen removed on other models to lighten the weight.

New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v12 running shoes - the new balance 1080v12 is one of our favorite trainers for...
The New Balance 1080v12 is one of our favorite trainers for all-around usage for all pace types.
Credit: Matthew Richardson

Should You Buy the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v12?


The New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v12 doesn't do everything perfectly but has a lot of positive attributes, including one of the better rocker designs we tested among the best men's running shoes available today. It's fairly lightweight, has a nice rocker design, and is very comfortable. If you don't intend to race or do regular speed workouts and don't want to buy multiple types of shoes, this is a great all-around value for daily training and long-run efforts.

New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v12 running shoes - outsole rubber makes this confidence-inspiring even when the...
Outsole rubber makes this confidence-inspiring even when the conditions are wet.
Credit: Matthew Richardson

What Other Running Shoes Should You Consider?


The Fresh Foam 1080v12 is a very well-cushioned shoe and can feel a bit soft to runners looking for more support. The Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22 is our recommendation for those who want a little firmer platform and more lateral support and stability. If you don't want to sacrifice the luxurious cushioning but want something with a bit more speed and agility, we'd recommend the Hoka Mach 4 or the Saucony Endorphin Speed 2.

Matthew Richardson

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