New Balance NBX a racer on a roll
The good ‘toe-off’ is one of the great desires for running at speed. The New Balance NBX has a built in forefoot roll that will put runners into a forward motion.
With a striking grey and orange finish, the upper and midsole of this lightweight racer is both immensely practical and filled with features. A strong but lightweight mesh allows the free flow of any fluid thus keeping the weight of the shoe down in all conditions. Thin rubberized lines are embodied into the upper and connected into the lacing in a configuration that allows the forefoot to be controlled by increasing the tension in laces at various levels. The laces use standard metal holes, but the elasticated tongue is fully stitched in to give a pull-on effect. This will make the shoe particularly attractive to triathletes looking for quick changes with a good fit. The glove-like fit on the curved last is particularly good with more than adequate room in the toe-box.
While not offering the rigidity of an anti-pronation trainer, the heel cup is fairly strong for a racer. Additionally the double-hole lacing at the neck of the lacing U and reinforcing strips on the upper allow further control to be achieved if necessary.
The multi-component midsole has New Balances patented ‘Absorb’ material in the forefoot which provides both the cushioning one looks for in a racer, but also the stability and resilience. The N-ergy capsule covers the whole heel area and is exposed at the sides, perhaps slightly too far for those who invert at the back of the rear leg lift. However it works very well in absorbing the heel impact, although this is normally minimal in most quality or speedwork training. Where it really comes into it’s own is in downhill running.
Most of the midsole EVA is exposed with 6 smooth strips of hard wearing rubber providing the wearing surface. These combined with a forefoot flex groove, make for a very flexible midsole, which, augmented by the sculpting of the forefoot both on the outside and at innersole level, initiates a forward propulsion of the as the runner moves towards the next stride. This really is a joy, and will help runners move towards a structurally more correct running position for speedwork. Initially this took a few sessions to get used to.
The material protecting the N-ergy capsule is again high carbon, with an even harder wearing of the New Balance Ndurance rubber at the heel.
Over 200kms were run in the shoes. These were not only used for track and for other quality sessions, but also in a 21km road race. It was also clear that there is potential for runners to use it in even longer events, particularly where they like the stable feel in a running shoe. The smooth outer would tend against its use on grass for XC races, but otherwise the grip exceeds initial expectations.The wear on the shoe was excellent, although the effective flaring of the heel resulted in some nominal wear on the inner edge of the heel area.This is a shoe that will be enjoyed by everyone looking for a flexible light shoe for faster work.