Facts

Discontinued
Terrain

Road

Shoes best for road, track and light gravel. See the best road shoes.

Trail

Shoes best for trail, off road, mountains and other unstable surfaces. See the best trail shoes.

Good to know

As long as you stick to the road or path, and if you want just one running shoe, buy a road running shoe.

Arch support

Neutral / cushion / high arch

Shoes for runners who do not need any additional arch support (Around 50% of runners). Best for people with high or medium high arches. See the best neutral shoes.

Stability / overpronation / normal arch

Shoes for runners who need arch support (Around 45% of runners). Best for runners with a normal arch. See the best stability shoes.

Motion control / severe overpronation / flat feet

Shoes for runners who needs a lot of arch support. Best for runners with flat feet. See the best motion control shoes.

Good to know

- Rule of thumb: If in doubt, buy neutral shoes to avoid injuries.
- More about arch support in this video.
- Find your arch type by following steps from this video.

Daily running

Cushioned shoes for your daily easy running. Great comfort. See best shoes for daily running.

Competition

Lightweight shoes good for races, interval training, tempo runs and fartlek. Here are the best competition running shoes.

Good to know

If you want just one pair of shoes, buy a shoe for daily running.

Price
$110
Show more facts

Road

Shoes best for road, track and light gravel. See the best road shoes.

Trail

Shoes best for trail, off road, mountains and other unstable surfaces. See the best trail shoes.

Good to know

As long as you stick to the road or path, and if you want just one running shoe, buy a road running shoe.

Neutral / cushion / high arch

Shoes for runners who does not need any additional arch support (Around 50% of runners). Best for people with high or medium high arches. See the best neutral shoes.

Stability / overpronation / normal arch

Shoes for runners who needs arch support (Around 45% of runners). Best for runners with a normal arch. See the best stability shoes.

Motion control / severe overproanation / flat feet

Shoes for runners who needs a lot of arch support. Best for runners with flat feet. See the best motion control shoes.

Good to know

- Rule of thumb: If in doubt, buy neutral shoes to avoid injuries.
- More about arch support in this video.
- Find your arch type by following steps from this video.

Daily running

Cushioned shoes for your daily easy running. Great comfort. See best shoes for daily running.

Competition

Lightweight shoes good for races, interval training, tempo runs and fartlek. Here are the best competition running shoes.

Good to know

If you want just one pair of shoes, buy a shoe for daily running.

The height difference from the heel to the forefoot, also known as heel drop, toe spring, heel to toe spring or simply drop.

There are many opinions about what a good heel drop is. We do not recommend any in particular. Lean more in this video.

Summary

We spent 6.1 hours reading reviews from experts and users. In summary, this is what runners think:

7 reasons to buy

  • Most runners believe that the comfort of the Fresh Foam 980 is simply one of the best in the business.
  • Most runners loved the comfortable fit right from the get go.
  • The transition from landing to take-off is effortless, based on the observations of several testers and runners.
  • It is quite flexible.
  • A significant number of runners raved about its versatility.
  • Consistent and responsive cushioning excels in the New Balance Fresh Foam 980.
  • It has an affordable price.

3 reasons not to buy

  • Some runners hoped for more room in the toe box.
  • The upper material came apart after a few months for some users.
  • Others noted that the forefoot platform was a bit thin.

Bottom line

The New Balance Fresh Foam 980 ranks high in the list of neutral runners, according to experts and countless runners. This really shines when used for long distance runs or speed trainings because of its great arch support and responsive cushioning. It is a running shoe that deserves a place in the shoe rack of runners.


Rankings

Best rated New Balance running shoes: Add to compare

Ratings

4.2 / 5 based on 296 ratings

5 star
56%
4 star
23%
3 star
9%
2 star
9%
1 star
3%

My Rating

Expert Reviews

Experts are running shoe geeks, who post reviews at youtube, directly at RunRepeat or at their own websites. Each expert is categorized from level 1 to level 5 based on expertise. See stats on expert reviews and how we calculate scores here.

Are you an expert? Apply to contribute here.

80 / 100 based on 33 expert reviews

  • 60 / 100 by TheGingerRunner • Ethan Newberry • Level 5 expert

    I was really bummed. I had high expectations and they kinda came in just below that.

  • 82 / 100 by GEARIST • Brandon • Level 3 expert

    Get a pair of these on your feet, actually try 'em out. This is a really pretty sweet shoe, but it's not what you think it is.

  • 90 / 100 by Road Trail Run • Sam Winebaum • Level 5 expert

    The 980 is a well cushioned and light trainer for those seeking a smooth, supportive ride.

  • 84 / 100 by Solereview • Solereview • Level 5 expert

    The New Balance Fresh Foam 980 comes attached with connotations of extreme softness, but the reality is a sharp disconnect.

  • 82 / 100 by Gearist • Brandon Wood • Level 5 expert

    While its marketing seems to be a tad off, I don’t think that there’s a lot to change with it except the messaging (and ditching the excess foam and rounding out the toe box).

  • 78 / 100 by Running Times • Running Times • Level 5 expert

    A few testers reported negatives on heel fit and the lacing, most comments raved about the no-sew upper, the flexibility, and the tread pattern that worked well on- and off-road.

  • 75 / 100 by Runblogger • Peter Larson • Level 5 expert

    The New Balance Fresh Foam is not a maximal shoe. It’s not a particularly soft shoe. Rather, it’s a 4mm drop lightweight trainer that offers a responsive ride and a smooth transition. If it fit my foot better I’d definitely consider it as an option for marathons, but the pointy toebox creates a bit too much of a toe blistering risk for me over long distance.

  • 75 / 100 by Fellrnr • Fellrnr • Level 5 expert

    I've rated the 980 as "worth considering."

  • 70 / 100 by Believe in the Run • Thomas • Level 5 expert

    The issue I have with the Fresh Foam 980 is that it doesn’t separate itself from the traditional trainers enough. I wanted a softer feel to the cushioning.

  • 100 / 100 by Running Shoes Guru • Thomas Caughlan • Level 4 expert

    The New Balance Fresh Foam 980 uses a new foam technology to produce excellent cushioning, protective enough for all types of running, in a lightweight package.

  • 94 / 100 by Men's Health • Men's Health • Level 4 expert

    You’ll love the superb New Balance Fresh Foam 980 less for its cushioning and more for its impressive stability.

  • 55 / 100 by Minimalist Running Shoes • Nicholas Pang • Level 4 expert

    I felt more tired after running in all these cushioned shoes a few hours later. I should beless tired. Maybe it’s the holidays and I’ve been eating too much. Nothing changed except the shoes so I cannot explain that.

  • 93 / 100 by Active Gear Review • Zachary Rodasti • Level 3 expert

    Foam construction brings longevity into question.

  • 85 / 100 by Running Magazine • Running Magazine • Level 3 expert

    The foam is definitely a great product and it’s exciting to think about where else they may use it.

  • 80 / 100 by Runner Choice • Mike Hout • Level 3 expert

    Whether you are a seasoned runner or you just got into this sport, this shoe is sure to make your running more enjoyable.

  • 65 / 100 by Ginger Runner • Ethan Newberry • Level 3 expert

    The midsole material in this shoe is it’s biggest selling point, but unfortunately is it’s biggest flaw. Advertised as “soft, pillowy, marshmallow” goodness, the shoe feels more “brick-like, dense, dead” than anything.

  • 90 / 100 by A Triathletes Diary • Hilary Topper • Level 2 expert

    They are a little firmer and sturdier than I’m used to but with my heavy strike, I think these are ideal for me and I look forward to continuing my training in them.

  • 87 / 100 by Marathon Sports • Stride Longley • Level 2 expert

    Soft but not flimsy. The hug your foot might need on an easy run day when you leave your watch behind and enjoy yourself.

  • 86 / 100 by Get Out There Gear • Craig • Level 2 expert

    The Fresh Foam 980 is a fantastic and innovative shoe with a superior cushioned ride. It certainly is something that could energize the New Balance brand if it catches on.

  • 85 / 100 by Running Warehouse • Taro • Level 2 expert

    The New Balance 980 is great choice for you if you wanna experience maximum cushioning without running on a marshmallow.

  • 85 / 100 by Ultra Leap • Ultra Leap • Level 2 expert

    It's a great shoe if you want to run on the ball of your foot and [if] you want to be protected. That's a great choice.

  • 80 / 100 by The Fat Panther • Mark • Level 2 expert

    Solidly reliable trainer, light

  • 100 / 100 by Detroit Runner • Jeff • Level 1 expert

    New Balance hit a home run with these.

  • 89 / 100 by Dr. Nick's Running Blog • Nick Campitelli • Level 1 expert

    One thing I wish this shoe had would be more room in the forefoot. Again, it’s roomier then most but I think we need to see some changes in the last development which molds for a wider forefoot.

  • 88 / 100 by Ruin Your Knees • Robb Erickson • Level 1 expert

    Cushioning isn’t necessarily as soft as some other running options out there.

  • 86 / 100 by Chris Gower • Chris Gower • Level 1 expert

    Really enjoyed it. They felt very responsive, very light and cushioned at the same time, which is pretty much what I'm looking for in a shoe.

  • 85 / 100 by Men's Journal • Jason Diamond • Level 1 expert

    This pair is a smart blend of inner and outer technology melded together into one stylish shoe — the kind people notice even in the dark.

  • 83 / 100 by Runner's High • Runner's High • Level 1 expert

    Plush is actually gonna be a key word as we describe the New Balance Fresh Foam 980.

  • 81 / 100 by GUD Reviews • GUD Reviews • Level 1 expert

    For the experienced runner who is looking for a [really] lightweight shoe, natural offset, and extremely supportive cushioning, this is something I'd recommend you try.

  • 81 / 100 by Charlotte Running • Todd • Level 1 expert

    If you're neutral, you can run in it. If you need a little bit of stability, you can run in it, as well.

  • 80 / 100 by Elverys Sports Ireland • Shane Califf • Level 1 expert

    Lovely piece of kicks. Well done to New Balance.

  • 80 / 100 by Teton Running Company • John • Level 1 expert

    Overall, the shoe looks great, the shoe feels great. I'd say New Balance did an excellent job with it. They really hit their mark on what they were trying to do with this shoe and bring a new foam into a, sort of, lightweight trainer.

  • 75 / 100 by Runner's World South Africa • Jay Barry • Level 1 expert

    I didn’t like the lacing system—the tongue rode up too high relative to the fit for the shoe.

Show moreless reviews
Apply to become an expert

These are visual presentations, not reviews


Updates to New Balance Fresh Foam 980

  • New Balance builds up the anticipation of runners by introducing the Fresh Foam 980 with a new midsole that is quite plush and comfortable, but with bouncy resilience. Although most runners expect the shoe to have oversized and soft cushioning, New Balance offers a padding with just enough firmness that runners will not be sinking into the cushioning.
  • The Fresh Foam 980 delivers a comfortable hug in the form-molding upper. New Balance designs an upper that moves well with the foot and with good stretch in the forefoot for those with slightly more volume and width in this area.
  • New Balance placed a lot of research and time in the new midsole geometry to enhance the stability of the shoe without the traditional midfoot insert. By creating a new mix of convex and concave designs, the shoe effectively helps slight overpronators with the kind of gradient support that makes the run smooth and stable. Without a PU insert or other traditional medial post, the Fresh Foam 980 keeps its weight down that it becomes an excellent option for ultra-long runs or speed trainings.

New Balance Fresh Foam 980 size and fit

The fit of the Fresh Foam 980 should make most runners comfortable as it is fairly average in the heel, the midfoot, and the forefoot. As mentioned, the upper has decent stretch in the forefoot, which should help runners with more volume or width. Medium, wide, and extra wide are the available widths of this shoe. The sizing is also standard with options 7 to 15 for the men’s and 4 to 12 for the women’s.


Outsole

The outsole is full-contact with just enough rubber patterns for decent traction on light trails. Like most outsoles with an almost flat underfoot, it helps with the stability of the shoe as there is a consistent platform for the runner to use. New Balance uses blown rubber for enhanced traction. The concave and convex rubber pattern on the outsole coincides with the midsole design for the right blend of stability and flexibility.


Midsole

The 980 is named after the midsole foam that New Balance is using for the first time—the Fresh Foam. It is made with the help of 3D printing, which is one of the reasons for its very light nature. Together with proprietary materials and other technologies, this one-piece foam has excellent durability and delivers plush cushioning with dynamic responsiveness. Sophisticated technology is not just limited to the new foam, but also includes the whole midsole. New Balance uses a convex design in the midsole near the midfoot for more support to the arch. This helps runners who love to pile on the miles or do ultra-long runs. The stability will help them with their form as the distance lengthens. Going to the forefoot, New Balance changes the design into concaves for better flexibility and a more natural feel.


Upper

The main upper material is the Air Mesh, blanketing a large part of the shoe in breathable fabric. With a nice touch of flexibility, the mesh allows natural movement and a foot-wrapping fit. It has synthetic overlays for structural control and a seamless construction for irritation-free and superb interior comfort. A traditional sock liner increases underfoot cushioning and fit. The tongue and heel collar are well-padded.