Color: Blue with white
New Balance's marketing pitch: The support you need and the lightweight construction you demand.
Surfaces tested on: Road, synthetic track, ambient temperature of 23° C/74° F
Upper: Mesh, welded and synthetic leather overlays.
Midsole: Dual density compression molded midsole with medial post, T-beam medial shank. 6 mm heel to toe drop
Outsole: Hard carbon rubber in heel, softer blown rubber under mid and forefoot.
Weight: 233 gms/ 8.2 Oz for a half pair of US11/UK 10.5/EUR 45/CM 29
Widths available: D-standard (reviewed), 2E-wide.
The New Balance 1500 v1 is a brand new intro this year, offered as a lightweight trainer with a medium heel to toe drop of 6 mm. We haven’t tested the MR1400 V2 and the 1600 V2 (yes, we know, a bit of catching up to do), but based on appearances alone, the 1500 v1 seems to be positioned as a more cushioned and ‘conventional’ version of the 1400, a shoe which happens to be much lighter and race focused.
That said, it’s always hard to place these models in clearly marked slots. For example, the 1400 V2 might be lighter than the 1500, yet comes with a 10mm drop. The 6 mm drop 1500 v1 features a harder medial post in its low profile midsole, which sets it apart from the 1400 and most lightweight (neutral) speedsters.
A quick scan of this narrow footwear category will tell you that there isn’t much of a choice when it comes to motion control or support versions. The only other two models we can think of are the Asics DS Trainer 20 and the adidas Tempo 7 Boost, both of which cater to the population of runners seeking medial support. Haven’t reviewed either yet, so we’ll discuss the 1500 v1 in near-isolation. The Zante feels similar in a couple of areas, so at some point today we’ll briefly cover those overlaps.
We’ll come straight to the point without a lengthy discourse – we found the 1500 v1 to be excellent.We’re getting increasingly enamored of crossover racers, sub-9 oz. models which fill the gap between traditional trainers and all-business racing flats. So far, we haven’t encountered a dud in this category, from the adidas adios/Boston/Tempo Boost to Nike Zoom streak. Ok, the GoMeb Speed too.
There is a clear economy of visual and actual bulk in the 1500 v1’s construction, yet you never get the sense that the shoe is a strip down of materials and features. There is an unmistakable sense of purpose in how the shoe is put together, all the way from the upper to the very outsole nubs. That translates into a finished product which feels just right in most places, be it how the upper fits to the way in which the midsole behaves during transitions.
Midsole combines a single density layer of New Balance’s ‘Revlite’ EVA foam with a small medial post of harder density. A plastic T-beam underlay supports the medial side, just under the firmer density area.
The 1500 has a molded and perforated EVA insole which is removable and identical to the one used in Fresh Foam Zante. There’s no board lasting, with the material between the insole and Revlite midsole being soft EVA.
The shoe might only weigh only 233 grams/ 8 Oz, yet there’s no cutting back on outsole rubber. The geometry is that of a full contact one, hard carbon rubber in the heel in addition to soft blown rubber starting from the midfoot and going all the way till the tip.
The medial and lateral outsole halves are separated by a wide longitudinal groove, and branches out into the forefoot flex grooves, which works as well as they look. Flexibility is good on the 1500 v1, but stays in the sweet spot of flex and stiffness. The toe spring is of median height, between the Zante (which has a higher toe spring) and one of New Balance’s neutrals like the 1080 V5. This keeps the last stage of the gait cycle feel smooth and effective.
The amount of heel cushioning did take us by slight (and pleasant) surprise. There is plenty of heel padding, but without too much squish. A part of the 1500 v1’s ride feels like something out of a Zante, and that assumption isn’t entirely misplaced. Both shoes used the same insole and EVA foam strobel, so that’s around 25% sameness right there. The insole helps maintain a consistent padding feel on top of what is already a smooth ride.
On the arch side of the midsole, the harder density midsole is very noticeable once you start putting some miles on. There’s quite a contrast between the overall midsole softness and the medial post density, so the sensation of a harder material comes through quickly and unfiltered. The medial post gets activated early during the gait cycle; it would be fair to classify the 1500 V1 as a shoe with an early stage motion control character.
Whether runners find this to their liking or not depends entirely on individual preferences and needs, and we’re not going to take a stand on that. But most people who’ll buy the 1500 v1 will know what they’re paying for, so it is very likely that the medial post will be appreciated for what it does.
What we will point out though, is that the medial post does not feel invasive, neither does it poke underfoot. Unlike the hard rim of something like the Adios Boost, the foot does not load squarely on the edge of 1500 v1’s medial post. There’s also this layer of foam insole cupping your foot, which blunts the firmness. One thing which we haven’t done is to take the 1500 v1 on a 20 mile+ run, so we can’t say whether the hard medial post will be a bother (or not) during long continuous runs. Till 10 miles, it is a non-issue.
Stack heights aren’t huge (F 18:R 24 mm approx) here, and the midsole is single density for the most part with a 6 mm drop – so transitions feel great and distraction free. The wide groove which splits the lateral and medial creates a gap running along the centerline, and that helps keep the foot planted and low profile.
The medial post occasionally reminds you that the 1500 v1 is a mild motion control shoe, but other than that, there’s no bias or leaning. Yet, we still feel that people seeking a pure ’neutral’ running shoe experience will do well to cross the 1500 off their list and go for single midsole density models instead.
Transitions are assisted by the outsole design, which makes use of flex grooves placed at regular intervals. This articulation smoothens the ride, additionally aided by blown rubber softness. Traction is another plus on the 1500, the small micro outsole lugs providing stellar grip on road and synthetic track. The tips see some degree of wear initially (picture above is after 20 miles), but the level of shredding should tone down once the lug corners are rounded off.
The ride has no drama, no fuss, just great for running a variety of workouts, be it shorter 5k bursts or longish 10 mile+ runs. This holds true whether you’re road running or simply making a few quick laps of a 400 meter track; just enough cushioning to take you where you want to go. The 1500 v1 sends up enough ground feedback too, so it’s a win-win.
And we’ve just finished talking about the lower part of the 1500 v1, which brings us to the second half of the story. How does the upper do?
That’s another happy tale. The 1500 upper is a delight with faults being impressively elusive to find. Everything is very well put and finished together, with no excesses or compromises as far as material or features are concerned.
It’s not all just form and pleasing aesthetics; the amalgamation of appropriate materials and clever design yields a superior fit experience as well. If there was a time and place to use the term ‘sweet spot’, this is very much it.
The 1500 v1 completely eschews the use of stitched-on overlays, and opts for a fused-on Fantom fit design over a breathable and supple mesh base.
This helps the 1500 lose a considerable amount of physical bulk without the trade-off of structural integrity. Areas like the toe bumper, midfoot and heel are reinforced with additional components.
Toe bumper has an internal toe-puff beneath a fused synthetic sheath, which prevents the toe box from collapsing on the forefoot. There is some paucity of space just above the big toe, but rest of the forefoot gets adequate ceiling. Sides are snug fitting, yet can’t be called narrow – and in case you feel that, there always the optional 2E to come to your rescue. The absence of overlays gives the mesh freedom to splay, and not fetter the foot in anyway. We’d categorize the 1500 v1’s fit as being true to size.
The lacing system is also pretty straight forward. Eyelets are cut into the welded panels, and spacing between lacing rows is uniform. So the pressure spreads evenly over the foot, and you don’t get a localized cinch sensation which is typical of upper designs (not the 1500) using semi-independent eyelets in the midfoot panel.
We’re assuming that the Fresh Foam Zante and 1500 v1 share the same last, because both feature identical insoles and last markings.
They fit similar except that the use of relatively thick forefoot overlays and independent first row eyelets on the Zante, which increases upper pressure. The 1500 v1 feels more relaxed, though the key word to describe the fit quality would be consistency.
The upper is well fitting throughout and the interior is bump free. There’s a medial seam inside, and the lower tongue has open edged linings, and we had our apprehensions initially.
But that proved to be unfounded. The 1500 feels smooth with or without socks, and no part of the upper irritates or chafes.
Midfoot is beefed up by double layering of fused panels. A set of triangular panels wraps up medially and laterally, and ‘N’ side logos add form and structure.
These are completely integrated with the upper, so again, no feel of higher cinch pressure.
The tongue is stitched only to the front, with no gusset unlike the Zante. However the narrow lacing and the center loop keeps the tongue locked down, and away from lateral slide.
Heel area looks like it is collapsible, but no, it isn’t. It hides a medium sized internal stiffener, even larger than the Zante’s. It is of a non-interfering nature, with its stiff walls stopping well short of the collar edges.
The portion which goes around the Achilles is free of overlays, making it conform to the foot without rubbing.
The collar is soft to the touch, coupled with a little padding and a cotton slub like design, which is a nice element of detail. It provides the right amount of grip, in line with the overall ethos of the 1500 v1.
Reflectivity is another area not ignored; a small strip lies welded on lateral toe box, and the heel has a pull tab with shiny elements woven into it.
The running shoe market is crammed with examples of mediocrity, and the 1500 v1 refreshingly rises far above the noise. It’s great for short and long runs alike. Slow or fast. Great ride and upper fit. It shines on track or road. Doesn’t break your bank balance. Comes in D and 2E widths.
The $110 lightweight brings together all the right ingredients which make a shoe great, and New Balance seems to be doing a lot of that lately. And we have a feeling there’s a lot more of that coming over the next few months.
Tester note: While the NB1500 v1 has one of the highest scores on solereview, please understand that it is contextual – meaning that the 1500 V1 gets the score within its category (lightweight, supportive pace shoe), and should not be compared – scorewise – to other cushioned trainers. Please feel free to ask questions in the comments section below.
(Disclaimer: For this review, Solereview.com bought the shoe at full US retail price.)