Our verdict

New Balance 1906R makes its comeback whipped up with running-inspired technologies in a stylish athleisure package. Though it isn't designed as a performance running shoe, we discovered that it's ready to cushion your feet for daily hustles. Like most dad shoes with a blast-from-the-past appeal, this kick will grow on you if you have a big love for sneaks with a retro aesthetic and bang-up quality.

Pros

  • Fabulous comfort for all-day wear
  • Exceptionally breathable
  • Appealing throwback style
  • Premium quality and real suede
  • Highly durable upper and outsole
  • Very comfortable in-shoe feel
  • True to size and fit

Cons

  • A bit heavier than average
  • Pricier than average

Audience verdict

96
Superb!

Who should buy

We are convinced that the New Balance deserves a spot in your sneaker stack if:

  • you love the old-school dad sneakers from New Balance
  • you opt for running-inspired kicks for their impeccable comfort
  • you expect premium quality and higher durability from an expensive shoe

New Balance 1906R review

Who should NOT buy

If you are in love with the 1906R style but wonder if there is a cheaper alternative, there are a couple of other NB sneakers to consider. The NB 2002R has a very similar vibe and retails for $140. Another alternative, the NB 530, is even cheaper at $100.

Some people find sneakers over 14 oz a bit clunky. If you enjoy lighter footwear, have a look at the 2002R or the 990 v6.

New Balance 1906R lab test

Breathability

"Summer breeze makes you feel fine" and so does the breathable upper of the NB 1906R. With mesh being one of its staple features, we can wholeheartedly recommend this sneaker for summertime.

Filling the shoe's upper with smoke in our lab, we were once again convinced of its excellent ventilation capacity. The shoe's innumerable pores allowed the heat to escape rather quickly.

As you can see in our transparency test below, these pores are not very large but they work together like a sieve.

Zooming in on the shoe's mesh through our microscope, we can see how fairly loose chain links are responsible for the airflow.

New Balance 1906R microscope

Rating the 1906R's breathability on a 1-5 scale, we confidently gave it a high score of 4. It is more ready for summer than the average sneaker.

New Balance 1906R microscope upper

Test results
1906R 4
Average 3.1
Compared to 36 sneakers
Number of shoes
1
Breathability
5

Durability

Leather/Suede quality

Asking an above-average price for this retro sneak, New Balance fully justifies its MSRP with superbly executed craftsmanship and premium materials.

To check if the shoe's upper overlays are made of real suede, we attempted to set it on fire with our butane torch. Luckily, it was to no avail. The 1906R is the real deal.

The tongue, on the other hand, is made of synthetic leather. You can see how easily it caught fire and melted in our fire test.

Test results
1906R Real suede

Toebox durability

The 1906R's commitment to quality is one of the reasons why we adore this NB kick.

It is a stellar (and rare) example of a sneaker that manages to combine breathability and wear resistance in one upper.

But let our Dremel do the speaking (drilling) now. Having set the speed to 5K RPM and pressure to 3.2N, we held its sandpaper tip against the shoe's toebox for 12 seconds.

And the result was astounding! The suede took all the beating, while the mesh beneath it was practically intact. Where many sneakers end up with a large ugly tear, the 1906R got away with barely seen damage.

New Balance 1906R Toebox durability

On a scale from 1 to 5, where 5 is the most durable, we readily rated this kick's toebox durability as 4.

Test results
1906R 4
Average 3.6
Compared to 36 sneakers
Number of shoes
1
Toebox durability
5

Heel padding durability

We weren't as impressed with the shoe's heel padding though. Lined with super soft fabric, it was easily torn by the Dremel.

After a mere 4 seconds of drilling at the speed of 5K RPM, this area got damaged more severely than the average sneaker.

New Balance 1906R Heel padding durability

Thus, we couldn't rate the shoe's heel padding durability any higher than the lowest score. But the good news is that this is the only frail area of this sturdy NB sneaker. Let's have a look at its nightly outsole now.

Test results
1906R 1
Average 3.3
Compared to 36 sneakers
Number of shoes
1
Heel padding durability
5

Outsole hardness

To us, reading "Ndurance" on the shoe's rubber automatically translates to exceptional durability.

New Balance 1906R outsole

First of all, this rubber is very hard. And that is nearly always an indication of higher abrasion resistance. Pressing our durometer against it returned 90.3 HC which is 6% harder than the average sneaker rubber.

New Balance 1906R Outsole hardness
Test results
1906R 90.3 HC
Average 85.0 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 36 sneakers
Number of shoes
72.9 HC
Outsole hardness
90.3 HC

Outsole durability

But let's put assumptions aside and test the limits of this rubber with our trusty Dremel.

For the outsole, we turn up the speed to 10K RPM and increase the drilling time to 22 seconds.

Can you even spot the damage in the photo below? It is nothing more than a scuff! Measuring it with a tread gauge showed a dent of only 0.9 mm which is within the average of sneakers. Fantastic durability!

New Balance 1906R Outsole durability
Test results
1906R 0.9 mm
Average 1.0 mm
Compared to 36 sneakers
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole wear
2.0 mm

Outsole thickness

New Balance also made sure that you can enjoy a pair of 1906R for more than a season or two.

In addition to choosing its most hard-wearing rubber, the brand also made it 6.0 mm thick for the outsole. A little thicker than average, it further boosted our confidence in the shoe's longevity.

New Balance 1906R Outsole thickness
Test results
1906R 6.0 mm
Average 5.5 mm
Compared to 36 sneakers
Number of shoes
3.4 mm
Outsole thickness
8.2 mm

Weight

New Balance packs a lot of good stuff into the 1906R but it does so with a little weight penalty.

New Balance 1906R on feet

Our scale shows 14.1 oz (401g) in a men's US size 9 which is slightly heavier than average. But to ease your mind with a reference, this NB sneaker weighs exactly the same as the Adidas Superstar.

New Balance 1906R Weight

The sturdy upper overlays and multiple cushioning technologies add a little extra heft to this shoe for a good reason but if you need a lighter alternative, the NB 2002R at 13.5 oz (383g) is your best bet.

New Balance 1906R technologies

Test results
1906R 14.14 oz (401g)
Average 14.04 oz (398g)
Compared to 36 sneakers
Number of shoes
10.62 oz (301g)
Weight
22.61 oz (641g)

Cushioning

Heel stack

New Balance loves them big platforms. Based on our lab measurements, the brand's kicks are on average 3 mm taller than other sneakers. So is the NB 1906R.

Our caliper shows 37.1 mm of stack in the shoe's heel which is on par with the chunky NB CT302. It wouldn't be a proper dad shoe without all that sole, right?

New Balance 1906R Heel stack
Test results
1906R 37.1 mm
Average 31.3 mm
Compared to 36 sneakers
Number of shoes
18.7 mm
Heel stack
41.8 mm

Forefoot stack

The 1906R also has plenty of foam under the ball of the foot. At 25.6 mm, it rises above many other sneakers.

So if you are used to low-stack sneakers, be prepared to feel a little disconnected from the ground in this NB shoe.

New Balance 1906R Forefoot stack
Test results
1906R 25.6 mm
Average 20.1 mm
Compared to 36 sneakers
Number of shoes
10.7 mm
Forefoot stack
28.3 mm

Drop

The difference in height between the heel and the toes is rather moderate in the New Balance 1906R.

At 11.5 mm, it sits right at the average of lifestyle sneakers and doesn't cause any forward sliding or discomfort of the foot.

New Balance 1906R Drop
Test results
1906R 11.5 mm
Average 11.2 mm
Compared to 36 sneakers
Number of shoes
6.7 mm
Drop
17.2 mm

Midsole softness

Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.

Trying the 1906R on for the first time, we instantly knew that it would become a mainstay in our sneaker rotation. Insanely comfortable right off the bat, we found it to be amazing for all-day wear and everyday use.

As comfortable as it feels on foot, the NB 1906R doesn't have the softest cushioning though. Measuring its primary foam with a durometer, we got a reading of 32.0 HA which indicates a moderately firm compound.

New Balance 1906R Midsole softness

We believe that it's the shoe's ABZORB SBS units in the heel that make the 1906R feel so cozy upon landings. Reminiscent of the ASICS GEL, they exude a perfectly nostalgic vibe of the '00s running shoes.

New Balance 1906R ABZORB SBS

Test results
1906R 32.0 HA
Average 30.6 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 28 sneakers
Number of shoes
15.6 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
70.4 HA

Insole thickness

To our feet's delight, the 1906R features a contoured and well-padded Ortholite insole. Its thickness of 5.4 mm is similar to that of most sneaker insoles.

New Balance 1906R Insole thickness
Test results
1906R 5.4 mm
Average 5.3 mm
Compared to 36 sneakers
Number of shoes
3.1 mm
Insole thickness
13.3 mm

Stability

Lateral stability test

As a manufacturer of arch support in the past, New Balance knows a thing or two about stability.

Testing lateral support of the 1906R confirmed yet again that people with flat feet and overpronation can fully trust the brand's footwear.

As you can see in the video above, our feet remain planted like trees even as we actively shift our ankles side-to-side.

Torsional rigidity

The 1906R design was largely inspired by the brand's stability running shoe. That's why it inherited several stabilizing components to prevent the wearer's foot from awkwardly rolling inwards.

New Balance 1906R WEB stability

One of these components is the stiff WEB stability shank. Embedded into the midfoot, it contributes to the shoe's torsional rigidity which holds the foot firmly in place.

In our manual test, we twisted the 1906R sideways, rating its torsional stiffness with a high score of 4.

Test results
1906R 4
Average 3.5
Compared to 36 sneakers
Number of shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5

Heel counter stiffness

Another stabilizing feature that doesn't let the heel slide inwards is the shoe's heel counter. In the 1906R, it is wrapped in a plastic cage which adds structure to an otherwise flexible structure.

It is not the stiffest we've seen but does the trick just fine. On a 1-5 scale, where 5 is the stiffest, we rated it as only 2.

If you prefer firmer heel cups around the rearfoot, check out the NB 990 v6.

Test results
1906R 2
Average 3.3
Compared to 36 sneakers
Number of shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

Last but not least, the 1906R has got a broad steady base.

Measuring its widest area with a caliper, it returned 113.3 mm which is notably wider than the average sneaker.

New Balance 1906R Midsole width in the forefoot
Test results
1906R 113.3 mm
Average 109.1 mm
Compared to 36 sneakers
Number of shoes
100.0 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
121.0 mm

Midsole width in the heel

Repeating the measurement in the widest part of the heel, our caliper showed 87.6 mm which is nearly 5 mm wider than average.

With flanges this wide, we believe that it is nearly impossible to roll the ankle in the NB1906R.

New Balance 1906R Midsole width in the heel
Test results
1906R 87.6 mm
Average 83.9 mm
Compared to 36 sneakers
Number of shoes
69.4 mm
Midsole width in the heel
103.1 mm

Flexibility

Stiffness

Despite its taller-than-average platform, the NB 1906R has a good amount of flex in the forefoot to stay comfortable all day.

Measuring how much force it takes to bend this sneaker to a 90-degree angle (23.0N), we found that it flexes just as well as the average.

Test results
1906R 23.0N
Average 23.4N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 36 sneakers
Number of shoes
5.8N
Stiffness
51.8N

Size and fit

Toebox width at the widest part

Based on personal experience and caliper measurements, we can confirm that the New Balance 1906R has a perfect medium fit.

New Balance 1906R fit

We got 101.4 mm in the widest part of its forefoot which is on par with the other medium-width sneakers we've got in a men's US size 9.

New Balance 1906R Toebox width at the widest part
Test results
1906R 101.4 mm
Average 99.4 mm
Compared to 36 sneakers
Number of shoes
94.0 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
111.2 mm

Toebox width at the big toe

There is no aggressive tapering of the toebox either. Measuring 74.7 mm near the big toe confirmed the shoe's medium fit.

On the downside, this silhouette is not available in wide widths. So, we recommend that folks with wide feet check out the NB 990 v6 which even comes in extra wide options.

New Balance 1906R Toebox width at the big toe
Test results
1906R 74.7 mm
Average 76.1 mm
Compared to 36 sneakers
Number of shoes
65.7 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
101.3 mm

Tongue: gusset type

Even though there are no gussets on the sides, we had zero issues with the shoe's tongue sliding or bunching. Very wide and well-padded, it stayed ergonomically wrapped around our insteps.

New Balance 1906R Tongue: gusset type
Test results
1906R None

Lockdown

Depending on the colorway, the 1906R features flat or rounded laces. We have no complaints about the flat ones we got in our pair but if you happen to get the rounded curvy ones, you won't be disappointed either. Their unusual shape helps them stay tied better.

New Balance 1906R laces

Another unique component of the 1906R is the functional N logo. The brand surprised us by running two straps right through it! The ends of these straps make up two lace loops on both sides of the shoe.

New Balance 1906R logo

Not only does it look cool but it actually works! We could feel the added hold around the midfoot courtesy of the added straps. It adds a nice touch of structure to the shoe's mesh upper.

Comfort

Tongue padding

The tongue of the NB 1906R is very generously padded and feels like a soft pillow on top of the foot.

New Balance 1906R tongue

Using a caliper, we measured it at 10.5 mm which is notably thicker than average.

New Balance 1906R Tongue padding
Test results
1906R 10.5 mm
Average 8.7 mm
Compared to 36 sneakers
Number of shoes
1.0 mm
Tongue padding
23.0 mm

Heel tab

The are no pull tabs or loops at the back of the 1906R but it's easy to grab the extended heel collar when getting the shoe on.

New Balance 1906R Heel tab
Test results
1906R Extended heel collar

Removable insole

If you need even more support than provided by the shoe's default Ortholite insole, you can easily remove and replace it with a custom orthotic.

New Balance 1906R Removable insole
Test results
1906R Yes

Misc

Reflective elements

The NB 1906R pops even at night! There are reflective elements on both the heel collar and the tongue, so visibility is a given, even as you walk along dark trails. 

Test results
1906R Yes

1906: the beginning of New Balance

New Balance puts meaning behind every number in their sneaker names. And in the case of the 1906R, it stands for the brand's founding year.

New Balance 1906R inner side

The original 1906 was released back in 2009 and was designed as a performance running shoe. But why the "R?" The letter was added to differentiate the trainer's updated version as a lifestyle sneaker which was released a decade later.

Fun fact: the original 1906 came out with an MSRP of $250 which, adjusted for inflation, would cost $360 today!

New Balance 1906R shoe parts

The popularity of the 1906R was boosted by collaborations with the Korean streetwear brand thisisneverthat and the British size?, among others.