New Balance caught considerable attention around two years ago with the introduction of the Minimus shoe. Built on a wider and ergonomically designed last there was significant room in the toe box and a comfort of fit that belied the rather unorthodox look of the shoe.
Move into 2012 and the Minimus Zero has hit the shelves and for my money this is a stunner for those people who have already put more than a few months of natural running in the bank.
Notice I say natural running not barefoot running, because the Zero in the name refers to the difference between the first and newest model, which now has no raise between the midsole and heel heights.
The lightweight fabric upper gains structure and longevity from both the honeycombed substructure and the minimal but effective ‘swirling’ support bands around the toe box. Importantly this reinforcement does not overly restrict the available width but does provide a notion of support and structure.
The midsole and outer delivers a deceptive amount of cushioning due to the use of strategically placed circular indentations in a vibram outer. The shoe is built on a curved last, which by default provides mid-shoe flexibility. However a small medial raise in the midsole material enhances the torsional restraint.
Further control and fit adjustment can be had from the asymmetric lacing yoke and the New Balance N on the outer side of the upper.
The shoe is suited for shorter distances or for those who have completed a transition to natural running and enjoy a total minimalist approach. It is also a great middle distance track-training shoe and the outer can also be found to work on many off-road conditions.
Once adapted to the zero platform, this is an extremely comfortable shoe which delivers the flexibility of many barefoot options, but the cushioning and protection of a shoe many times heavier and more substantial.
Very worth a consideration even if initially it is a quality racing, track and road shoe.