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New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v11 Review: A Workhorse Trainer That’s Great For New Runners

The 1080v11 is well cushioned but firm enough to be more versatile, and would be a top pick for a beginner runner

running
(Image: © unknown)

Our Verdict

The New Balance 1080v11 is a great jack-of-all-trades shoe, with a firm but comfortable ride that works for a variety of runs, and a durable design that will see you through many hundreds of kilometres happily.

For

  • Versatile and comfortable
  • Durable
  • Stable

Against

  • Not the lightest
  • Heel design can rub

In the crowded world of running shoes, it takes something pretty special for a shoe to truly stand out. However, there isn’t one thing that makes the New Balance 1080v11 a great shoe – it’s the sum of all the small things it does well.

The ride is cushioned and protective, but it’s not so soft that the shoe is useful only for easy runs. The stack is high and there’s plenty of rubber on the outsole to increase its durability, but the shoe is still light at 269g in my UK size 9. The result is a versatile workhorse of a shoe that can handle most of an experienced runner’s training runs, and is an excellent all-round option for new runners. It made our best running shoes list and best marathon running shoes list.

New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v11

(Image credit: New Balance)

I’ve run 80km in the 1080v11, primarily easy and steady sessions. While the high stack and soft-to-the-prod Fresh Foam midsole suggests it’ll have a squishy feel underfoot, it firms up just the right amount for your base training efforts. The result is a welcome amount of protection from the pavement pounding as well as a stable, firm base that allows you to pick up the pace. There’s a mild rocker effect too, which helps to move you through your foot strike smoothly, though I found it less pronounced than the rocker on the Nike Infinity Run 2 or Saucony Endorphin Shift.

It’s not an out-and-out quick shoe and I found it felt a little cumbersome when pushing towards my race pace. Experienced runners who are used to having a couple of pairs in rotation and racing in a shoe tailored to PB-chasing will probably reserve the 1080v11 for easy and tempo training runs.

However, I think beginner runners could get a lot more use from the 1080v11, especially if training for a first half marathon or marathon. It is versatile enough to use for all your training and the race itself. While it’s not going to be as speedy as a carbon plate racer, there’s enough bounce in the 1080v11 for you to do yourself justice at a long-distance event, especially if you’re fairly new to the sport.

The upper of the shoe has a snug but comfortable fit around the toe box; I used my normal size and had no problems with rubbing or a lack of space. The Ultra Heel design is strange, consisting of a moulded “cup” that doesn’t have padding around the collar. Some runners have reported that it irritates the achilles on the run and/or doesn’t hold the heel tightly enough. For my part I didn’t notice the heel at all when running in the shoe, although it could just be luck that my foot fits the moulded rigid section at the back of it well.

New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v11

(Image credit: New Balance)

The only other area where I’d mark the 1080v11 down is that it’s a little firmer than I generally like on pure recovery runs. When I used it the day after a particularly hard session it wasn’t as plush as the Brooks Glycerin or Nike Invincible. However, I’d say its firmer, snappier feel does help with standard base training or tempo runs, so it’s a worthwhile trade-off.

I was impressed with the running performance of the 1080v11, and as an added bonus it’s a good-looking shoe as well. If you have more than one pair of running shoes on the go, it’s worth considering as a durable, comfortable but responsive everyday trainer, while newer runners might find it the perfect do-it-all shoe.

Buy men’s from New Balance (opens in new tab) | Buy women’s from New Balance (opens in new tab) | £135

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.