Verdict from 42 experts and +100 user reviews

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.

Tip: see the best running shoes.

Good to know

  • 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.

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.

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.

The 980 is named after the midsole foam that New Balance is using for the first time—the Fresh Foam. This midsole technology is also used in the Fresh Foam Arishi v2 and other running shoes from New Balance. 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.

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.


How New Balance Fresh Foam 980 ranks compared to all other shoes
Top 37% road running shoes
All road running shoes
Top 40% New Balance running shoes
All New Balance running shoes
Top 36% neutral running shoes
All neutral running shoes


The current trend of New Balance Fresh Foam 980.
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Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob Andersen

Jens Jakob is a fan of short distances with a 5K PR at 15:58 minutes. Based on 35 million race results, he's among the fastest 0.2% runners. Jens Jakob previously owned a running store, when he was also a competitive runner. His work is regularly featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, BBC and the likes as well as peer-reviewed journals. Finally, he has been a guest on +30 podcasts on running.