Our verdict

A symbol of ingenuity, we found that the New Balance 574 has undergone countless spin-offs that can make a sneaker collection on their own. The shoe provided us with excellent support and comfort for day-long use. Not to mention its adaptable style that can go with almost any of our outfits. We are convinced, NB 574 is another street-savvy NB kick that will remain classic and in style for years to come.

Pros

  • Classic NB silhouette
  • Budget-friendly
  • Suitable for all-day wear
  • Real suede
  • Highly durable
  • Stable and supportive
  • Great for wide feet
  • Easy to style
  • Numerous color options

Cons

  • Lacks breathability
  • Stiff and firm platform
  • Tongue shifts a little

Audience verdict

89
Good!
  • Top 6% most popular sneakers

Who should buy

In our opinion, it's hard to go wrong with the New Balance 574 if you are after the following:

  • an affordable classic sneaker
  • a very comfortable pair that can get you through the day
  • a highly versatile kick that's available in numerous color combinations

New Balance 574 review

Who should NOT buy

The NB 574 comes with a thick wedge EVA midsole that feels rigid and inflexible. Thus, this kick might feel unforgiving for those who prefer soft and flexible sneakers. As an alternative, you may want to consider the 997H or the more expensive 2002R.

The 574 may also be a disappointment if you are looking for a summer kick. We recommend going for a more breathable option like the PUMA RS-X.

New Balance 574 lab test

Breathability

Donning the New Balance 574 on a hot summer day is a bad-bad idea.

Trying out the 574 in warm temperatures, we couldn't wait to get it off, to be honest. Back in the lab, our experience was confirmed in a breathability test where we pumped smoke through the shoe's upper to see how much of it passed through.

As you can see from the video, ZERO smoke is passing through the shoe's seemingly mesh toebox. Only a little is able to escape through the gaps between the tongue and the shoe quarters.

For that reason, we ended up giving the 574 a lower breathability score of 3 out of 5.

Oh, and never mind the "mesh" panels. These boys are so densely woven that they don't even let the light shine through!

Lookig at the toebox through our microscope...

New Balance 574 microscope

... there are no see-through perforations in sight.

New Balance 574 microscope mesh

Test results
574 3
Average 3.2
Compared to 35 sneakers
1
Breathability
5
Number of shoes

Durability

Leather/Suede quality

When we take a closer look at the quality of materials on the NB 574, it actually becomes easier to forgive the lack of breathability. For a $90 shoe, we were impressed!

Equipped with a butane torch and a leather scratch awl, we tested the genuineness of materials in various parts of the upper. Our main point of interest was of course the suede. And it turned out to be real! Unlike the synthetic heel panel and the "N" logo, the suede didn't catch fire and stood up to the awl too.

Test results
574 Real suede

Toebox durability

The 574 did its wearers a huge favor by adding a very wide suede overlay on the toebox. It does a fantastic job of protecting the mesh layer underneath.

We can easily prove it in our durability test that involves a Dremel. Holding the tool against the suede at a consistent speed (10K RPM) and force (3.2N), we only got a small dimple!

Such amazing wear resistance earned the 574 a high score for toebox durability. On a 1-5 scale, where 5 is the most durable, we gave it a 4.

New Balance 574 Toebox durability result

Test results
574 4
Average 3.6
Compared to 35 sneakers
1
Toebox durability
5
Number of shoes

Heel padding durability

Inside, the 574 is lined with a plush and comfy fabric lining. That one should be easy to tear, right? Right?

Well, apparently, our Dremel struggled with that! After 4 seconds of drilling the fabric, the damage was really minor compared to what we usually see in sneakers.

On a 1-5 scale, we rated the heel padding durability with a high score of 4.

New Balance 574 Heel padding durability test

Great news for those of us who often develop holes in this part of a shoe!

Test results
574 4
Average 3.2
Compared to 35 sneakers
1
Heel padding durability
5
Number of shoes

Outsole hardness

A rugged, massive outsole is 574's signature. But is it just as sturdy as it looks? Hell, yeah!

To begin with, we measured the hardness of that rubber at 83.1 HC. This is not much harder than the average of sneakers but it's a good start.

New Balance 574 Outsole hardness
Test results
574 83.1 HC
Average 84.9 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 35 sneakers
72.9 HC
Outsole hardness
90.3 HC
Number of shoes

Outsole durability

The shoe's outsole revealed its true nature in our demanding Dremel test. And it's a BEAST!

Drilling through the rubber for a good 22 seconds at a high speed of 10K RPM, it just couldn't be bothered!

According to our tread gauge, the depth of the dent is a mere 0.5 mm! For reference, most sneakers end up with 1 to 1.5 mm of damage (like the Adidas Gazelle below).

New Balance 574 Outsole durability test

New Balance 574

Adidas Gazelle Outsole durability

Adidas Gazelle

Test results
574 0.5 mm
Average 1.0 mm
Compared to 35 sneakers
0.0 mm
Outsole wear
2.0 mm
Number of shoes

Outsole thickness

But New Balance didn't stop there. The brand decided that a few millimeters of rubber was not convincing enough and packed as much as 8.2 mm into the 574!

This is one of the thickest rubber outsoles we've ever seen on a sneaker! It is also pretty aggressively lugged and is ready to outlast many other sneakers on the market. Especially, in its price range!

New Balance 574 Outsole thickness
Test results
574 8.2 mm
Average 5.5 mm
Compared to 35 sneakers
3.4 mm
Outsole thickness
8.2 mm
Number of shoes

Weight

From the look of it, it is only reasonable to think that the New Balance 574 is a chunky boy. And yet, and yet...

The sneaker surprises us once again, this time on a scale. We measured the shoe in a men's US size 9 and found that it weighs 13.9 oz (393g) which is within the average of low-top sneakers.

It exudes a bulky vibe on foot but never drags it down.

New Balance 574 Weight
Test results
574 13.86 oz (393g)
Average 13.97 oz (396g)
Compared to 35 sneakers
10.62 oz (301g)
Weight
22.61 oz (641g)
Number of shoes

Cushioning

Heel stack

Aside from platform sneakers, the New Balance 574 makes for one of the tallest stacks in our catalog.

New Balance 574 Heel stack

Using a caliper, we measured the shoe's heel height at an impressive 38.2 mm. This is taller than other popular kicks like the Reebok Classic Leather (35.7 mm) or the Adidas Superstar (26.8 mm).

Test results
574 38.2 mm
Average 31.4 mm
Compared to 35 sneakers
18.7 mm
Heel stack
41.8 mm
Number of shoes

Forefoot stack

In the forefoot, the 574 also proved to be taller than average. We measured the stack height here at 25.2 mm.

The funny thing is that this NB shoe is thicker in the forefoot than some sneakers are in the heel (like the Adidas Samba at 19.3 mm).

New Balance 574 Forefoot stack
Test results
574 25.2 mm
Average 20.2 mm
Compared to 35 sneakers
10.7 mm
Forefoot stack
28.3 mm
Number of shoes

Drop

Given the stack difference, we get a 13.0 mm drop in the 574. That's neither good nor bad as it is totally up to the wearer's preference. Some people like to feel their heels elevated while others prefer a more grounded, parallel-to-the-ground experience.

New Balance 574 Drop

New Balance 574

The NB 574 is going to feel slightly elevated in the heel but pretty balanced for most people.

Adidas Samba Drop

Adidas Samba

New Balance 574 Drop
Test results
574 13.0 mm
Average 11.2 mm
Compared to 35 sneakers
6.7 mm
Drop
17.2 mm
Number of shoes

Midsole softness

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

The 574 sneaker is a perfect example of a thick sole that does not equate to a cushioned sole.

We've got bad news for the fans of plush sneakers - this New Balance offering feels quite firm underfoot.

Using a durometer, we measured the primary foam of the 574 at 44.0 HA.

New Balance 574 Midsole softness

This is among the firmest we've seen in our lab so far. For comparison, the PUMA RS-X is a whopping 182% softer!

Test results
574 44.0 HA
Average 30.8 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 27 sneakers
15.6 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
70.4 HA
Number of shoes

Secondary foam softness

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

You probably noticed that the midsole of the 574 consists of two layers of foam. Thus, we also measured the softness of the top layer (the one closer to the foot).

This foam turned out to be slightly softer than the lower layer. At 29.5 HA, it is actually 49% softer! Although still firm, this top foam at least helps to make landings more pleasurable.

New Balance 574 Secondary foam softness
Test results
574 29.5 HA
Average 26.2 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.

Insole thickness

Completing the shoe's cushioning ensemble is a fairly padded insole. Being 4.7 mm thick, it is within the normal range for sneakers.

New Balance 574 Insole thickness
Test results
574 4.7 mm
Average 5.3 mm
Compared to 35 sneakers
3.1 mm
Insole thickness
13.3 mm
Number of shoes

Stability

Lateral stability test

New Balance was founded by an arch support specialist for a good reason. Stability or support is never an issue in sneakers from this brand.

As you can see in the video, our heel remains firmly planted on the ground as we attempt to shift the foot side-to-side. Let's have a look at the factors contributing to this in the sections below.

Torsional rigidity

First and foremost, there is a lot of stiffness in the shoe's platform. Twisting it sideways in our manual test, we could feel a great deal of resistance from the firm sole.

This led us to give this NB shoe a solid 4 out of 5 for torsional rigidity.

Stiffer shoes like this have a much smaller chance of letting your ankle roll over to the side. An extreme opposite case would be the Adidas 4DFWD 2.

Test results
574 4
Average 3.5
Compared to 35 sneakers
1
Torsional rigidity
5
Number of shoes

Heel counter stiffness

The NB 574 takes really good care of your ankles. With double overlays and a plastic ENCAP at the bottom of the heel, we felt very securely held at the rearfoot.

Between 1 and 5, we rated the 574's heel counter stiffness as 3. It is not the stiffest but structured enough for sure.

Test results
574 3
Average 3.2
Compared to 35 sneakers
1
Heel counter stiffness
5
Number of shoes

Midsole width in the forefoot

A stable platform wouldn't be complete without a nice and wide base. And the 574 scores high here too!

At the widest part of the forefoot, our caliper measured 114.3 mm, which is a whole centimeter wider than other classic sneakers like the Reebok Classic Leather (103.3 mm).

New Balance 574 Midsole width in the forefoot
Test results
574 114.3 mm
Average 109.1 mm
Compared to 35 sneakers
100.0 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
121.0 mm
Number of shoes

Midsole width in the heel

This NB shoe also proves to be fairly wide in the heel. We got 80.2 mm in the widest part of the sole, which is also on the wide side of the sneaker spectrum.

New Balance 574 Midsole width in the heel
Test results
574 80.2 mm
Average 83.9 mm
Compared to 35 sneakers
69.4 mm
Midsole width in the heel
103.1 mm
Number of shoes

Flexibility

Stiffness

The New Balance 574 is not the kind of sneaker that bends to your will so easily. The shoe feels notably stiffer than minimalist sneakers like the Adidas Gazelle.

To figure out exactly how much stiffer the 574 is, we used a force gauge to bend the shoe to a 90-degree angle. The tool showed that it took as much as 28.8N. This is almost 50% more than it takes an average sneaker!

Test results
574 28.8N
Average 23.2N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 35 sneakers
5.8N
Stiffness
51.8N
Number of shoes

Grip / Traction

As long as you don't try to conquer ice and slush in the NB 574, it should provide just enough grip for most occasions.

New Balance 574 Lug depth

Its lugs may seem aggressive but they are definitely not deep or sharp enough for slippery conditions.

Size and fit

Toebox width at the widest part

If your toes could dream, they would certainly have a little dream of the 574. Especially if you have wider feet.

Measuring the toebox at its widest part, near the ball of the foot, we got 97.7 mm. And while that's just an average width, the difference lies in the tip of the forefoot. 

New Balance 574 Toebox width at the widest part
Test results
574 97.7 mm
Average 99.3 mm
Compared to 35 sneakers
94.0 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
111.2 mm
Number of shoes

Toebox width at the big toe

Applying our caliper to the area around the big toe, we got a pretty impressive 82.7 mm of width! This is significantly wider than most sneakers.

This offers a significantly roomier fit, allowing toes to splay and preventing them from going numb by the end of the day.

Oh, and did we mention that the 574 is also available in wide and extra wide?

New Balance 574 Toebox width at the big toe
Test results
574 82.7 mm
Average 76.1 mm
Compared to 35 sneakers
65.7 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
101.3 mm
Number of shoes

Tongue: gusset type

The tongue doesn't have any gussets (attachments) on the sides. Unfortunately, this resulted in slight shifting of the tongue sideways in our case.

New Balance 574 Tongue: gusset type
Test results
574 None

Comfort

Tongue padding

Measuring the tongue padding, our caliper returned 4.6 mm.

New Balance 574 Tongue padding

Even though it is about the same as average, we felt a little bit of lace pressure through it, especially when cinched tightly.

New Balance 574 flex

Test results
574 4.6 mm
Average 8.6 mm
Compared to 35 sneakers
1.0 mm
Tongue padding
23.0 mm
Number of shoes

Heel tab

No heel tab at the back but we didn't find it a necessity in the 574.

New Balance 574 Heel tab
Test results
574 None

Removable insole

Because New Balance started out as an insole company, they know how to make these inserts right. We enjoyed the 574's stock insole but if you need your own orthotic, it can be swapped easily.

New Balance 574 Removable insole
Test results
574 Yes

Misc

Reflective elements

No shining in the dark.

New Balance 574 Reflective elements
Test results
574 No

Style

In 1988, New Balance released the 574 as an advanced running shoe with a notable design. This iteration was a hybrid that blended the best details of New Balance's well-known running kicks, namely the New Balance 575 and 576 models.

The shoe also carried the famous ENCAP cushioning system, responsible for comfort and protection.

New Balance 574 laces

Ever since then, the 574 has undoubtedly become one of the brand's most iconic pairs in sneaker history. And even though it can be lost in the shadow of much more hyped releases like NB 550, the 9060, and the 2002R, it still holds its place as a timeless silhouette on the shelves of New Balance.

Especially for its unbelievably affordable price tag!