Hands-on Gear Review

New Balance Minimus 10v1 Review

Great option for minimalist road runners at a solid price point, but traditional runners will need to read up and take time to transition into this style.
By: Ryan Baham ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Aug 22, 2017
Price:  $115 List  |  $94.95 at Backcountry - 17% Off
Pros:  Utilitarian, extremely light, durable, form-fitting, low profile, stylish
Cons:  Run small, toebox cramped for long second toes, thin sole offers less protection
Manufacturer:   New Balance
72
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 14
  • Responsiveness - 25% 5
  • Landing comfort - 25% 7
  • Weight - 20% 9
  • Durability - 10% 8
  • Upper comfort - 10% 7
  • Breathability - 10% 9
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Our Verdict

The Minimus 10v1 is the ideal road shoe for the minimalist runner and those looking for a more natural ride. From its sturdy, lightweight upper to its firm Acteva midsole, these shoes delight and impress. They're great on the road, rough aggregate, trails, and even the gym and grocery store. Plus when you show up to the bar wearing them, people know you're serious about outdoorsing. There's a certain gritty stoicism wrapped into these, brooking no luxury, just attacking the road. That's the hoped-for perception when you show up to the group run, anyway.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

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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 great minimalist style that appeals to that who want a stripped-down shoe. They were actually discontinued for a number of 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.

Performance Comparison



Responsiveness


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.

The Acteva midsole does a good job of returning energy with minimal sap.
The Acteva midsole does a good job of returning energy with minimal sap.

Unfortunately, its great qualities don't save it from earning the Lanterne Rouge here. HOKA's Arahi took the top spot for this measure, but its design is on the other end of the cushion spectrum in the maximalist zone. If responsiveness is a must, we suggest going with a similar design like the On Cloud, though some of the more traditional kicks like the Boston 6 and Kinvara 8 might also do the job.

Landing Comfort


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.

The low profile Acteva midsole and uniform landing platform help to make this a real delight for the minimalist runner.
The low profile Acteva midsole and uniform landing platform help to make this a real delight for the minimalist runner.

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 in both the On Cloud and the Kinvara 8, but it was the Pegasus 34 and Brooks PureFlow 6 that filled the top slots here.

Weight


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.

These come in at just 17.2 ounces for men's 11.5.
These come in at just 17.2 ounces for 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, four other shoes are within an ounce: the Boston 6 at 18.1, Nike Free RN at 18.0, Kinvara 8 at 17.6, and the On Cloud at 17.3. We think the minimalist runner will be the happiest with the Minimus, but a good alternative can be found in the On Cloud for traditionalists.

Durability


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.

The strong mesh upper is secured to the superstructure support bands with thick  strong threading.
The strong mesh upper is secured to the superstructure support bands with thick, strong threading.

They came out near the top, leaving durability comparable to some of the heavy stability models, sitting next to the New Balance 1540v2 and ASICS GT-2000 5. If durability is the mark, we think runners will be happy with these, but if they need more support, the ASICS might be a better choice.

Upper Comfort


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 the ASICS and other more traditional models, especially those in the stability style.

The form-fitting  stripped down upper offers a natural fit that adds to its comfort.
The form-fitting, stripped down upper offers a natural fit that adds to its comfort.

The natural feel puts the minimalist up near the top, but creature comforts still win out in the end. The Pegasus 34 and PureFlow 6 get top marks in this field. Both models feature great padding and natural form-fit.

Breathability


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. There are a few straps 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 had the same top performance with their extremely light design and extensive use of mesh in their upper. The PureFlow 6 also had a top spot here, though their heavier design might make the other two more desirable options.

Best Applications


The Minimus 10v1 are fantastic cross shoes, great for most outdoor activities, and of course, for minimalist runners. They also do very well on trails up through craggy technical trails. The one caution is that the sole is thin, so if the terrain is expected to be especially craggy or littered with sharp rocks, a shoe with a thicker sole might be preferable.

Value


$114.99 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.

Conclusion


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.

Out comparing notes with runners during a side by side with the Minimus (John  front)  Kinvara 8 (author  middle)  and Nike Free RN (Tomasz  back).
Out comparing notes with runners during a side by side with the Minimus (John, front), Kinvara 8 (author, middle), and Nike Free RN (Tomasz, back).

Ryan Baham

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