17 November 2013

new balance MR1400v2 - road review

there's a part of me that feels like a traitor in reviewing the new balance MR1400v2.  that's because i've become an avowed minimalist runner.  having made the transition to forefoot running some 18 months ago, and subsequently working with low-stack, low-to-zero drop running shoes since then, tackling a 9mm drop (24mm heel, 15mm forefoot) racing flat is like going back to meat after spending a couple of years as a vegan.

(which i'm not)

however ... i won this pair of 1400v2s through a twitter giveaway sponsored by new balance canada.  i tweeted in support of team new balance athletes eric gillis and rob watson as they were preparing for the scotiabank toronto waterfront marathon, and they were both sporting the 1400v2 in the race.  so, despite the fact that i have plenty of running shoes in the current rotation, and also despite the fact that i tried to give these shoes away to two of my running partners (both of whom are in need of new shoes but sadly are a full size smaller footed than me), i have chosen not to look a gift horse in the mouth and give these racers a fighting chance.

if you haven't read any of the online reviews already, i'll let you know that i was probably sub-consciously (if not consciously) influenced by peter larson's review of these shoes, which led him to deem them as frontrunners for shoe of the year.  i also then read this weekend believe in the run's review of the 1400v2, in which they also gushed about the shoe if not to quite the same degree as peter.  so if these well-versed shoe reviewers give the 1400v2 the double-thumbs up, who am i to disagree?

well, let me give you my breakdown, focusing on the high/low lights ...
  • aesthetics - new balance canada let me choose which colourway i preferred, the blue/green combo or the 'sulphur spring' version.  without a yellow shoe in my arsenal, i chose sulphur spring and these are the coolest looking kicks in the cupboard by far.  besides the silver-foil "N" logo, there are also other little reflective accents that i appreciate as a pre-dawn runner.
  • laces - if you've read any of my other shoe reviews you know that i've a penchant for flat laces.  with that in mind, i will take these laces any day of the week.  they are essentially of the sport oval variety, but they're maybe half the diameter of any other oval lace that i've ever come across.  light and easy to tie, they don't seem to want to come loose and i like 'em a lot.
  • drop - ok mr. larson, here's where you got into my head.  you'd noted that they don't feel like a 9mm drop shoe - and while i do notice that they're certainly not a level platform, i tend to agree that it's not like i have to work to keep the heel from getting in my way.  mind over matter, or new balance witchery?
  • fit - as the 1400v2 is built on new balance's NB-J racing last, i was concerned that these shoes would not be wide enough for decent toe-splay.  sure enough, i found the toe box a bit tight (even after using shoefitr to try to get approximately the right size).  the solution that i was able to work out had to do with the removable insole.  at first i thought that i would try running without the insole at all, but found that the heel collar was riding a bit too high then - so instead i swapped out the stock insole for the insole from my skora phases (which for whatever reason give me hotspots when i wear them with my phases - so my phases are now worn with insoles from my skechers gorun 2s).  
    insole from skora phase (top) vs. stock new balance insole
  • weight - these shoes are light.  like, just how i like it light.  6.4oz listed for men's size 9.  race-ready light.
  • flexibility - these are not the kind of shoe that you can roll up into a ball.  that's partly because there seems to be a midfoot shank that affords some stability.  still, it's not like wearing wooden clogs out there - they seem to work with my feet rather than against them.
for my final verdict on whether or not i could marathon in the 1400v2, watch my review video below:

all things considered, i give the new balance MR1400v2 a solid four out of five feet - if they were good to go out of the box and maybe something closer to a 4mm drop, they would edge up in the ratings.  but they were free, and they will have a regular place in my rotation!



  1. Thanks for this Patrick. I've wondered about these shoes since Pete Larson reviewed them. Over the years I noticed that Mr Larson's preferences as about as far away as mine as possible. He loves both the Kinvara and Mizuno Universe 3, both of which I simply do not like to run in.

    I'm glad you conducted this review since I know that your preference in shoes is very similar to mine. I think I'll stick with my Inov8s and Skechers for now.

    By the way, I purchased a pair of Inov8 233 and I'm finding that I do like them on certain days because of the 6mm drop and the fairly stiff sole. I find that rotation them with the BareX180 and RoadXtreme 138 makes for some really good running.

    1. i appreciate you reading the review stan! because of the weight they don't feel clunky, and i know that i've progressed at least to the point that i don't need my shoes to encourage forefoot running - just ones that don't interfere with it.

      i was mostly interested in what a racing flat feels like by way of stiffness - the gorun speed is still on the wish list to try. but if push were to come to shove at this point in time, i think that i might just take the gobionics back out on another marathon.