Thursday, August 22, 2013

New Balance MT110 NBX Trail (Review)

New Balance's MT110 NBX Trail is a minor update to the original release model MT110, the trail shoe famously designed based on the input of Ultra Runner Anton (Tony) Krupicka. Aside from its availability in a range of new colors, the only difference between this shoe and the original is a slight tweaking of the lateral forefoot area of the foot bed, which was previously slightly raised. On the NBX the foot bed is completely neutral, not that any but the pickiest of minimalist runners will have noticed to begin with.

With a full update of the shoe, which will presumably be called the MT110v2, on the horizon (2014), both the MT110 and the MT110 NBX can currently be found heavily discounted while supplies last.

As complete detailed specs for these lightweight, though surprisingly protective trail shoes, is readily available across the net, I won’t bore you with the fancy marketing lingo found elsewhere.

I've had a long love affair with New Balance's line of minimal trail shoes. One of the first trail shoes I ever bought were the paper-thin NB790’s. Later came the Minimus line and the 100 series (100, 101, 110). I blew through three pairs of MT110’s in 2012, including the pair I wore at The Green Monster Trail Challenge 25k (race report) in October 2012.

While New Balance continues to make a comfortable line of minimal shoes some durability issues (particularly in the synthetic upper of the 110) have crept in. After popping my toes through a couple pairs of 110’s, and then watching the Minimus 1010 disintegrate practically before my eyes over the winter, I began to move away from the brand in the spring of 2012. In April I ran the Hyner View Trail Challenge 25k (race report) in a pricey pair of Inov-8 TrailRoc 245’s.  To my dismay, the $120 Inov-8 TrailRoc’s didn’t hold up much better, as holes repeatedly developed in the uppers long before the rest of the shoe was worn down.

After a summer of trying out various other shoes (Columbia Ravenous, Brooks PureGrit, Pearl Izumi N1 to name a few) I find myself back in a fresh pair of NB110’s for the fall. The uppers have not changed, but discounted to 50 dollars (or less) the price is right.

The NB110 remains a light, comfortable, “locked in,” trail shoe. The upper hugs the mid-foot to keep the shoe in place, while the toe box is wide, (compared to many shoes) allowing the toes to splay. The rock-plate is reasonably functional, dulling the blow of missteps over sharp rocks and roots, while still allowing the runner to feel in touch with the trail. That connection to the trail is very important to me.


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