New Balance Minimus 10v1 Review
Cons: Run small, toebox cramped for long second toes, thin sole offers less protection
Manufacturer: New Balance
Our Analysis and Test Results
We included the Minimus 10v1 in our road shoe review because we wanted the full range of offerings, including the tall stacks of the Hoka line and the tremendous minimalist style that appeals to that who want a stripped-down shoe. They were discontinued for several years, going through a few iterations and updates, but there was such a demand for them that they were recently re-released in their original form. What makes them so popular, aside from their sleek, no-nonsense design, is that they're all-purpose, agile, and will take a good beating. That being said, it isn't always a 1:1 comparison with traditional running shoes, as we'll explain as below as we move through the review.
The idea behind the minimalist style is to rely on the body, not the equipment. There is very little energy loss in the 4mm Acteva midsole, and the Vibram Rubber outsole provides a sturdy platform. We put these right at the center of this measure for two reasons. First, the shoe is basically non-additive - there is no added responsiveness to put it above average. Second, because it doesn't use lots of cushioning and material, energy isn't sapped away every time the foot lands, so it certainly isn't worse than average.
Unfortunately, its great qualities don't save it from earning the Lanterne Rouge here. If responsiveness is a must, we suggest going with a similar design like the On Cloud X, though some of the more traditional kicks might also do the job.
This measure is very runner-dependent for this style. A traditional runner not used to the minimalist landing will not immediately take to it. For minimalist runners, the landing is great. The thin foam midsole does just enough to buffer the impact while the rubber outsole is designed to disperse force and create a uniform landing platform.
They earned a spot near the top, but it's indisputable that the best landing comfort is afforded not just by natural fit, but also by lots of cushion. Comparable rides with more cushion can be found with traditional shoes, but minimalist guys will be excused for shrugging off the padding.
For any runner annoyed by the muddy clogs feeling, these are absolutely your shoe. Everything about them is lightweight and utilitarian. Even their 4mm of Acteva™ foam in the midsole is engineered to be 12% lighter than comparable foam. They also manage to shave off weight with judicious use of rubber on the outsole, selectively targeting high-impact areas. This brings them to 17.2 ounces in a men's 11.5.
Importantly, these run about a half size small, so we had to order a larger shoe, and even then, it undercuts the weight of the others in our review, but just barely. Amazingly, quite a few more traditional models come in lighter - the Saucony Type A8 is only 12.8 ounces in a pair of men's 11. But in the end, we think the minimalist runners will be the happiest with the Minimus.
One of the top advantages of the minimalist style is that it only has the bare necessities, and those are meant to be tough. Much of the upper is anchored by tough synthetic bands with the mesh heavily stitched on. Down at the bottom, the firm rubber outsole protects more vulnerable exposed midsole.
As we mentioned before, fitting like a second skin is about the most comfortable a shoe can be - at least for long-term performance - and these have that fit. One of our favorite features was the heel, which was held up by an external wrap anchored somewhere near midfoot. This means that the heel is more flexible and can better work with the foot than models with significant heel counters, like more traditional models, especially those in the stability style.
It's not surprising to see these at the top of the breathability chart. Their thin synthetic mesh upper allows moisture to pass out and the cool air to flow through. A few straps are running across the top of the forefoot, but it doesn't interfere too much with ventilation. We think folks will be happy with their performance here, but it would be remiss if we didn't also mention that the On Cloud X had the same top performance with their extremely light design and extensive use of mesh in their upper. The PureFlow 7 also had a top spot here, though their heavier design might make the other two more desirable options.
Their price is not a big ask for these trainers. They are fairly all-purpose and will last through enough miles to get better than your money's worth.
Unquestionably, these are meant for a specific running style, and it takes months to transition, but once a runner has broken through to the other side, the Minimus are some of the best racing flats out there - so good that New Balance was compelled to bring them back after years of retirement. They are stripped down enough to get rid of most of the cumbersome, rubby, hassle-creating structures, but reinforced enough to protect the feet and cling on with a natural fit. They are the top choice for runners looking to rely more on the body than the equipment without sacrificing reasonable comfort and protection.
— Ryan Baham