Tuesday, March 20, 2012

New Balance Minimus Road Zero: 100+ mile wear test

First things first. Though I do test pre-production models for New Balance, I bought the MR00s outright, and even had to wait for them to be released to get my hands on them. Hey, I'm no elite, so my limited running prowess and inside connections only get me so far.

A nice coating of dirt road and two-track dust finally toned down the pearly whites

I’m not typically into road running. In most cases, I’d sacrifice the mileage and take the time to drive to trails. Lately, however, I’ve been finding my time to be too limited to be choosy about where I run. I live in a rural area in Western Michigan, so flat country blocks and "not so public" two tracks had to become my training ground until set out for Colorado in April.

I knew I’d need a road shoe that would allow for high volume with relative comfort. After trying the cheaper, bulkier cousin of the MR00, the NB 730, I decided to just bite the bullet and pay the money for the Road Zeros. My biggest fear was them being like the last version of the Minimus Road, which was quite terrible.

The Minimus Road Zero is flat, foot-shaped, and light. It has a very "moccasin-like" feel.

Long story short: I’m totally enamored with the shoes.

Upon trying the shoes on, they felt like many other minimal offerings:

A relatively smooth upper, a couple weird lumps here and there, and plenty of room to wiggle my toes. This issue with just slipping your feet into a shoe to see if you like it is that its like sitting in a new car to see if you'll like it 200,000miles later.

The weird bump in the shoe, at least for my foot, was on the lateral side of my arch, on both feet. It's either a seam or a small lump of extra cushioning. The true zero drop, super feathery weight, and cool aesthetic made me look past it and hope for the best.

After a few runs, the issue was totally resolved. I did, however, notice that I developed a little callus from the seam on the lateral side of my midfoot. This is pretty normal with any shoe. They all rub in different spots, and easing them into your running will help the skin to adjust accordingly.

The day I got the shoes, I ran in them. 7 days later, I had 90 miles on the shoe, including a track workout, a marathon+ distance road run, trails, and gravel roads.

The Minimus Road Zero seems to strike just the right balance. There's enough protection to run on gravel and semi-technical trails, but it's still flexible enough to run those flat sections of pavement. The upper gave me no blistering, and shows no signs of damage after 130 miles of use. I don't like to blame shoes for injury, but the truly flat, uninhibiting feel of these kicks has helped me run 2 quality weeks of road running injury free.

The Vibram Rubber on the outsole has also weathered quite well. The outsole design of the MR00, despite being a road shoe, provides more protection than the Minimus Trail Zero*. The MT00 has less rubber on the forefoot, giving it a more flexible feel, but less protection. If I were to buy one of these shoes and use it for both road and trail, it would be the more comfortable Road Zero. The Trail verson hasn't got the cool "burrito tongue." If you know me, you know I love burritos. I coudn't say no to a shoe inspired by a burrito, could I?

Any negatives? Sure. The upper is missing the uppermost shoelace hole, which I like using for tying my shoes in a "heel lock" pattern. This keeps me from tying the shoe as snugly as I typically like, and made the heel rub my foot a little. Still no blisters though, so no harm, no foul.

Lots of the jargon tossed around in reviews is less useful now than in previous years. Shoe companies like NB are hearing us, and making products to fit the needs of minimalist runners as we get more mainstream. The issues now are durability, cost/enjoyment ratio, and fit/feel. This shoe passes all those tests for me.

If you're looking for a great road shoe, I'd say this or Merrell's Road Glove are the way to go. Or the Nike Streak XC. Or the Somnio Nada. Ok, there are lots of good road shoes out there, but isnt that what we've been asking for?
Yeah I used the same photo in two blog posts. I like it, so look at it again!
The Zeros allow our legs to work the way they want to.

*I tested the MT00 this summer, and wore it for the Leadville Silver Rush 50.


  1. Cool, I find these type of reviews so much more useful than the the, "I just got a shiny new pair of minimalist shoes and can curl them into a ball" type reviews.

    1. Thanks! I haven't rolled these into a ball. Believe it or not, my feet don't perform that movement. :)