According to Da Vinci, “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication,” and if that’s true, then the New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon is an incredibly sophisticated shoe.
I’m sure that plenty of research and development has gone into the production of the Beacon, but the result is a simple, light, well-priced shoe that provides everything that I could ask of a road shoe: cushioning and comfort through long runs and responsiveness at faster paces.
- Lightweight (213g)
- Excellent cushioning
- Comfortable, breathable upper
- Versatile daily shoe
- Neutral runners only
- Durability not yet proven
In recent months, I’ve run a lot of miles in a New Balance Fresh Foam shoes, with mixed results. The Fresh Foam Zante is my road shoe for every occasion and has been my go-to shoe for fast running and races - everything from 5k to marathon.
By comparison, the 1080 v8 was reliable and durable but not particularly exciting. And despite being a road shoe, I’ve relegated it to runs on light trails.
The Fresh Foam Beacon promised to be every bit as exciting and responsive as the Zante while providing a little more cushioning underfoot, and an even lighter build. All this with a price tag of £90 amongst a range of running shoes priced at £120-150.
With a marathon coming up, I was really looking forward to trying this one out.
New Balance offers the men’s Fresh Foam Beacon in three colorways: essentially black, petrol and electric blue. It may not be a huge choice, but I really liked the petrol (with a hint of “flame” on the inside of the tongue and the rubber outsole).
It’s a great looking shoe which essentially comprises of a very simple knitted mesh upper glued onto a slab of New Balance’s new Ground Contact Foam. The upper feels extremely soft, with minimal overlays — almost the antithesis of some of today’s seemingly over-engineered shoes such as the 1080v8.
I was pleased to see that the “N” logo (the only overlay used) is very reflective – ideal for me as we approach winter and much of my running will be on dark, narrow country lanes in North Wales.
Visually, what strikes you most about the shoe when you first pick it up is the exposed foam midsole/outsole with its contrasting colored lugs.
This is one area in which the simple construction really shows. The Fresh Foam Beacon is listed as 213g (7.5oz), which despite all the cushioning provided is pretty close to the weight of New Balance’s 1400v6 racing shoe at 204g, and save a good chunk of weight off the Fresh Foam Zante v4 at 244g (8.6 oz).
As expected, my UK 13.5 (US14) shoe weighed in heavier than the standard shoe, at 267g, but the lightest shoe I have run in.
What is always more important than the numbers are how light the Beacon feels on the foot. It is barely noticeable when running despite the big chunk of foam underfoot that cushions every footfall.
Even towards the end of a marathon when everything else was hurting, the shoe still felt exceptionally light, and my footfalls didn’t feel as heavy as they often do when the finish line refuses to get any closer.
As with all New Balance shoes, I find that I need a ½ size larger (in UK size) than my normal size. The shoe then fit comfortably right out of the box.
In this case, I wear a UK 13.5 (US 14) which is the same size I’ve used in all other New Balance shoes, Hokas, and Salomon Trail. For comparison, I generally use a UK13 in Brooks, Inov-8, and Asics, though the last two can feel a little snug.
US readers, please note that despite the variation in sizing across manufacturers, I almost always require a US 14/EU 49. It’s quite possible that the differences in sizes, therefore, are due to conversions from US to UK sizing.
The foot slides into the shoe and feels comfortable right from the start. The upper is so simple that there isn’t anything for the foot to dislike. Just lace them up to your preference and hit the road.
My very first run in these shoes was a 16-mile marathon training run (at marathon pace), and I did exactly that; slipped on the shoe, laced it up and ran with no need to stop and adjust the shoe or lacing at any point.
Despite the simple upper, the foot seems well held throughout on either long runs or faster interval sessions.
Following a marathon race in these shoes, I found that the big toe and second toe had sustained some light bruising (and a blackened nail). I’m still not entirely sure whether this was due to some forward foot movement during the run (there were no steep descents, so that’s unlikely) or more likely. The shoe is slightly shorter than other NB shoes. If you have any doubt, I’d, therefore, suggest going up ½ a size
The toe box is also a little narrower than other New Balance shoes in which I’ve run to the extent that I experienced a mild flare-up of Morton’s Neuroma after each of the first few runs. The shoe did, however, seem to give a little in the toe box with use, and it was no longer an issue after the first 30 miles with the shoe.
The upper is made up of an incredibly simple “circular knit mesh” that wraps the foot with minimal overlays. The over-riding philosophy for the design of this shoe could be the age-old management adage “keep it simple, stupid.”
I’m still not entirely sure what type of mesh forms the upper. It feels more akin to fabric than an engineered mesh. It has very little elasticity which helps to maintain a comfortable fit around the foot once you’ve laced up and has a soft, comfortable feel which is at odds with most mesh uppers used elsewhere.
Despite this, it is a very breathable upper, and effectively wicks away moisture, seemingly managing to exhibit the attributes of both engineered mesh and fabric. Around the forefoot, the upper is comprised of a single layer of mesh, strengthened a little around the toe cap with a thin layer of foam.
Moving further back, the midfoot incorporates a bootie which holds the tongue in place, and which plays a part in wrapping the foot comfortably and securely. This is further supported by the only significant overlays, in the form of the “N” logo, and which are positioned to provide an element of support to the midfoot further.
The tongue is well cushioned, and is similar in feel and cushioning to the Zante v4. The lace holes are formed using a thin, flexible overlay for each hole. This is also used to provide a little detail around the laced section.
The cushioning around the ankle and heel is more than sufficient to hold the heel comfortably. If anything, the Beacon offers slightly more cushioning here than the Zante v4, with the cushioning extending a little further down towards the sole.
The heel cup doesn’t have the hard, plasticky feel that other shoes can exhibit, but feels as if the knit upper has been strengthened just enough to hold the heel in firmly, but comfortably.
The Fresh Foam Beacon is very much a neutral shoe while the simple knitted upper wraps the footwell. There is a minimal amount of support provided, and I’d suggest that it is therefore only suitable for runners who want a truly neutral shoe.
The midsole of the Beacon is formed of a single slab of New Balance’s “Ground Contact” Fresh Foam. The Ground Contact Fresh Foam is designed to be more durable than other versions while retaining cushioning. This eliminates the need for anything other than a very minimal element of a rubber outsole (more of that below).
The heel drop of 6mm is similar to the Fresh Foam Zante. So essentially, the Beacon has a very light and generous slice of foam glued onto a simple upper, with a few rubber lugs to limit wear on key areas of the sole. I hear echoes of the “keep it simple, stupid” mantra again.
There is, of course, a little more to it as with other Fresh Foam shoes, there are hexagonal patterns along the sides of the midsole. The concave hexagons on the outside allow the foam to compress more, providing greater cushioning, while the convex shapes on the inside cause the foam to compress less, offering greater support.
So how does it feel? In my experience, New Balance Fresh Foam seems to have the ability to change character depending upon the costume it wears. In the 1080v8, it cushions reasonably well but plays a dull, unresponsive role in the running experience.
In the Zante, it provides an impressive balance of cushioning and responsiveness. It may feel a little stiff to some, but I love the shoe, and a bit more cushion underfoot.
In the midsole of the Beacon, the Fresh Foam gives its best performance yet. It provides a level of cushioning consistent with a Hoka or a Brooks Ghost, delivering the flexibility and responsiveness required for tempo sessions and intervals in a package that could compete with a racing flat regarding weight.
New Balance development of their Ground Contact Fresh Foam has allowed them to join Adidas and Nike in presenting their “exposed foam” running shoe. In the case of the Beacon, the largely exposed foam sole is reinforced by 5 single rubber lugs located in the areas of highest wear: the heel and toe off.
The lugs are thick and durable, but also feel soft and cushioned to the touch. There’s little more to say about the outsole, but in the case of the Beacon, what’s more, important is what is not there.
I’m sure that it’s the absence of a full length blown rubber outsole in this shoe that allows the Fresh Foam to deliver its superior mix of cushioning, responsiveness and flexibility.
I’m sure that this is going to be a real concern for anyone considering the purchase of the Fresh Foam Beacon. I cannot honestly say how many miles I’ll get out of my Beacons. All I can do is report on my experience so far.
At the time these pictures were taken, I’d run approximately 70 miles in the shoe, including a full marathon race (I’m an 87kg/190lbs heel striker), and to be honest, there is very little wear showing to date. The lateral lug on the heel, as expected, shows the most wear (as shown below), whilst the rubber lugs at the front still show the light pattern which is part of the design.
Most importantly, the foam itself is barely worn other than a little sign of wear right at the front of the shoe from taking off. I will be wearing these shoes for a variety of runs in the weeks ahead and will update this review with my experience as I clock up the miles.
I would be surprised however if the shoe did not last to around at least 400km and longer for lighter runners. I feel that these shoes would not stand up well on hard packed or gravel trails.
Running shoes are highly personal, and so my experience of shoe performance should always be balanced against my own characteristics. I can’t speak for the front of a pack runner, but hope my views will be useful for both club runners and newer runners, as well as those on the heavier side.
To put my running in perspective, at the time of writing, I’m 47, about 6’2”, around 87kg (190lbs), running 50-60 miles pw. I tested the Beacons in a marathon race run in 3:13, and a recent Parkrun clocked me just under 19’ for the 5k.
You may have already guessed that I really liked these shoes. I’d hoped that they arrive in time for me to use them in the Chester Marathon, and they turned up on the day before my last long run. As mentioned above, I put them on and set off.
At that point in my marathon training cycle, there’s a lot of fatigue built up over some high mileage training weeks, and I was ready to ease off before the race. I’m sure you’ll appreciate the appeal of a highly cushioned, but light pair of shoes.
The Beacons didn’t disappoint. That first session involved one hour out, just a little outside marathon pace, followed by a faster return at sub-marathon pace. The cushioning was unbelievable in such a light shoe, and yet somehow I didn’t feel disconnected from the road, perhaps because of the lack of a traditional rubber outsole.
During the return leg, I felt fresher than I had any right to after an hour running and came back well inside my marathon pace. Over the last couple of years, my marathon training cycle has incorporated the Brooks Ghost for longer slower runs, and the Fresh Foam Zante for faster intervals and marathon paced runs. For those last few weeks, the Beacons replaced the Zante v4 for faster, and marathon paced sessions.
To cut a long story short, the Beacons did a great job for my marathon. They offered everything that the Zante had previously done, but the additional cushioning was very welcome in the later stages of the race, reducing fatigue caused by the pounding of the feet on the road for 26 miles. So far so good, but how about faster sessions?
This is where the Beacon really surprised me. It came alive for me when the speed increased. Just two days after the marathon I slipped them on for a recovery run, and feeling good after a couple of miles, decided to try some faster intervals.
Even on tired legs, I found it easy to ramp up to 5k pace and faster for half a dozen stretches. The response was far better than I expected from the chunk of foam that makes up the midsole, and the transitions from landing to take off were impressively fast.
Even at faster speeds, the Ground Contact Fresh Foam is effective at reducing the impact of each footfall to the extent that I felt surprisingly light on my feet in a way that I haven’t with other shoes. All this without feeling as if I’d lost contact with the ground.
Just a quick note about the sock liner, as this has been an issue in the last Zante v4 in which I eventually resorted to gluing down the liner to prevent it folding up underfoot during wet weather.
The Beacon seems to use the same sock liner as the Zante v3 which performed well and in which I didn’t experience any movement. For a brief moment at 8 miles in the marathon, I felt the front of the liner fold a little under my toes, but it moved back of its own accord after a mile or two, and I didn’t have any further movement.
But I needed to be sure, so I deliberately took the Beacons out in the worst weather we’ve had for several months, and ensured the shoes were thoroughly wet by running through a ford. A long ascent, and short, fast windy descent later I can confirm that the liner did not move at all in the shoe.
At its heart, running is an incredibly simple activity. In an era of technology and over-engineered shoes, the simplicity of the Fresh Foam Beacon provides a real breath of fresh air and makes it a real joy to run in.
In my opinion, Fresh Foam performs flawlessly in its Ground Contact guise. It offers a level of cushioning that can take you through a marathon while allowing you to turn up the pace for a faster interval session.
It offers a level of cushioning comparable to Brooks Ghost with the flexibility and responsiveness of a Zante that will deliver for those faster sessions, all in a package that could compete with a racing flat in terms of weight.
Up until now, the Zante has been my “all-around shoe of choice”. Now the Beacon and the Zante are very different shoes, but for me, they both fulfill a very similar role; that of a real all-around running shoe that can “turn on” to a faster pace as well as grind out the longer miles.
So whilst my hand may hover momentarily between the two shoes, the lightness and additional cushioning will now see me reach for the Beacon in preference to the Zante.
New Balance has always advertised Fresh Foam as super soft and cushioned. Before the Beacon, this advertisement was completely false.
Fresh Foam used to feel dull, lifeless, and firm. It was just another EVA foam, which any other brand could do.
Beacon uses a new type of Fresh Foam called GC (Ground Contact), and it is a game-changer. What makes the Beacon so special is that it is cushioned and extremely light at the same time.
If I could choose any one shoe to run in for the rest of my life, it would be the Beacon.
The first word that came to mind when I saw the Beacon was “lifestyle.” It looks more like a casual shoe than a performance running shoe.
It is thicker and closer to mesh than a traditional knit. It looks warm, but my feet did not get any hotter than usual—breathability is fine.
It has ample padding and ample space in the forefoot. The heel does not slip, and there are no uncomfortable seams inside.
The “N” and the logo on the tongue are reflective, making the shoe suitable for night runs.
The padded tongue has an attached gusset, which prevents it from sliding laterally. There are no overlays or a midfoot cage, which makes this one of the most comfortable uppers I have ever worn.
You just forget that you are wearing the shoe.
The Fresh Foam midsole is the star of the show and is really something special. It is the perfect balance of soft and responsive.
The foam is very dense and does not compress much. Thus, it suitable for faster runs.
Beacon is a very stable shoe. Even pronators can wear it due to the midsole not compressing much on the medial or lateral sides. The base is wide and perfect for runners with flat or high arches.
The foot sits inside the midsole due to the raised edges of the rearfoot cup, which enhances stability.
The midsole flexes at the right point (in the forefoot) and has a nice snap. These factors make the shoe perfect for forefoot or heel strikers.
The forefoot is as cushioned as the rearfoot. Hence, I found that the shoe encouraged me to get onto my forefoot because of the springy toe-off.
The outsole consists of only five strategically placed rubber lugs. Two on the heel and three in the forefoot. I found the two in the heel to be in the exact right position.
However, but I would like to have two more lugs next to the three in the forefoot where I found accelerated wear.
The lack of outsole rubber makes the landing so soft that is why they call the shoe, Ground Contact.
I do find that the lack of outsole rubber makes the bottom of the shoes look “uglier” than most running shoes. This is due to the wear and browning after 100 km of wear.
I bought the Fresh Foam Beacon at 50% off from a New Balance Outlet store, and I regret not buying another pair. This might just be my favourite running shoe of all time.
It is everything you want from a shoe: comfortable, supportive, cushioned, and lightweight.
The beacon can also be used casually for walking or standing. If you haven’t tried running in the Beacons, you are missing out big time.
If there was one thing I would change, it would be the colour of the midsole. You can only buy it in white, making dirt visible. A black or dark coloured midsole would better hide the wear and tear.
Advertised weight: 7.6 oz (size not specified)
Real weight: 7.5 oz (men’s 9.5)
Drop: 6 mm
Tagline: “Run and have fun in the uniquely cushioned feel of the Fresh Foam Beacon.”
There are many superlatives that could be used to describe the fit, but the one that feels most appropriate is “perfect”. By the time I’d finished tying the laces, I was in love.
Sizing is spot on. Aside from a too-wide forefoot (I’m patiently waiting for that trend to die), it felt like someone built the last with my feet specifically in mind. Physically, I have slightly low arches, but for one reason or another, I feel as if every pair of shoes needs higher arches.
These are among the few that feel supportive enough in that area. The shoe essentially cradles your foot but also gives you enough room to move around. It’s exactly what you’re looking for in an intimate partner: plenty of support, and also plenty of freedom.
The upper of the Beacon is the most minimalist I’ve used. Absolutely no overlays and only one seam. This is a good thing.
You might think this would result in a sloppy fit, but quite the opposite. The knit material gives it a stretchiness that holds your foot snug all-around without any tight spots. It’s also the most breathable running shoe I’ve ever had.
Even the shoelaces share a lot of the good qualities of the upper. When these shoes go into retirement, I’m keeping the shoelaces and using them on whatever shoes come with bad ones.
The tread pattern on the Beacon is a little unusual, almost more similar to what you might find on a trail runner.
I’ve only taken these off-road a couple of times, and while they do fine on maintained trails, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend them for trail running. There are other shoes for that.
On road, the tread performs well. A good tread is one you don’t have to think about. You don’t even notice these.
The overwhelming majority of the outsole is exposed foam, with only a few small panels of rubber covering key high-wear areas.
New Balance claims the new foam found in the Beacon is harder-wearing, so the exposed foam should last the lifetime of the shoe. I haven’t come close to wearing these shoes out yet, but so far, there’s no reason to doubt this claim.
This is perhaps where the Beacon shines brightest.
These are the lightest, fastest shoes I’ve ever had, as well as among the shoes that have provided the best support and cushion, and they’re the same shoe. It’s almost unfair how much cushion New Balance has gotten out of a shoe in this weight class.
A glance at the shoe makes it obvious there’s a high volume of foam involved, but somehow, it checks in at 7.5 oz. Its light weight is accomplished in large part by cutting down on overlays and outsole rubber, but...goodness. Before trying these on, I wouldn’t have thought a shoe like this was possible.
The Beacon manages to be both smooth and bouncy at the same time, in all the best ways.
The outsole has a convex shape to it that encourages rolling through the heel-toe transition, and the cushioning feels less like running in sand and more like jumping on a trampoline. Each step you take springs your forward into the next, while your brain goes, “How about another?”
The industry catch phrase these days is “Energy Return”, and while many manufacturers have made progress here, the Fresh Foam Beacon is the one that’s managed to accomplish what everyone is trying to do.
Overall, I like it. New Balance decided to (almost) stick to solids, and for that, I give a thumbs up. Also, the logos on both sides of the shoe are reflective, so they serve a practical purpose. From those of us that have 9-5 jobs and have to train in the dark, thank you.
A couple gripes: The outsole is white. *long sigh* That’s the worst possible color in the worst possible place. It’s not going to stay white.
I’m not a fan of the fish scale pattern. In low lighting, it doesn’t look bad, but that’s only because you can’t see it. When you can tell what it looks like, it looks bad. I chose black primarily so the fish scales would be less evident. A solid pattern, all one color, would be a huge improvement.
Also, there aren’t enough color options, and half the colors available look bad.
New Balance has found the Holy Grail.
Any runner knows when you get a shoe with good cushion, you sacrifice speed. When you get something supportive, you sacrifice flexibility. When you get something minimalist, you sacrifice support. And when you get something fast, you sacrifice comfort. The Fresh Foam Beacon has it all.
The Fresh Foam Beacon is appropriate for any distance from 5k to a marathon, and probably beyond. My fastest half marathon and second-fastest marathon were both run in this shoe. After the marathon, I felt so great, I went hiking later that day.
Get these if you want to run faster. Or more comfortably. Or (and this is my favorite) more effortlessly.
On the negative - the forefoot is too wide, the fish scale pattern looks bad, and the outsole is white. But I’m nitpicking, and two of those three are a matter of taste (white outsoles are an objectively dumb idea).
Give the Beacon 2 a new coat of paint and it’ll be perfect.
- Fast training
- General training
- Any distance 5-100 km
- Nearly everything
- White outsole
- Colorways available
- Design could be better
The New Balance Beacon is a highly cushioned shoe utilising a ‘new’ variant of the proprietary Fresh Foam midsole known as GC (ground contact).
Up until now, most with Fresh Foam shoes have left me and others rather nonplussed. Lacking responsiveness in contrast to the excellent but firmer Rev-lite midsole, this shoe changes things.
Out of the box, they look great. The midsole is thick but not quite as big as it appears in online pictures. The first thing that strikes you is how light these shoes are: my UK size 9 weighs in at 218g, and they feel just as light on your feet.
The ample stack height has a heel to toe drop of 6mm. The upper is an engineered mesh that looks good, I usually prefer an ‘old school’ look, but the pattern in the ‘Petrol’ colourway almost resembles fish scales.
The lacing is exceptionally comfortable, this is an area I often struggle with given a high cuneiform bone, but the tongue and laces sit perfectly without too much pressure on the top of the foot.
The laces are flat, a little stretchy and don’t need much adjustment at all, they are a real lace up and go shoe. Typical for New Balance they fit on the smaller side, I went half a size up, and that fitted comfortably.
Mid and outsole
The midsole is thick Fresh Foam GC; there is virtually no outsole, just a few strategically placed pieces of rubber and the heel and forefoot, reminiscent of the Nike Free 4.0. Images below show Beacon on the left and Nike Free 4.0 on the right.
Traction and grip is surprisingly good, and similarly, the expanse of exposed foam doesn’t seem to be showing any wear after 50km.
Despite the previous superlatives, the best part of these shoes is the ride. Normally I prefer a firmer midsole, but every so often it’s good to pamper your feet.
The Beacon gives a cushioned soft ride, you can feel the foam compressing gently, but the fantastic thing is it springs right back rebounding the energy to your legs. It’s not bouncy like Adidas Boost or squishy like Lunarlon, but just right. It feels great to walk on, but as you pick up the pace slowly, it comes to the fore, even at medium to faster paces it is very responsive.
The heel has a bit of a slant, and the sole is rocker shaped but very flexible in all planes, it encourages a midfoot landing and a quick transition to toe off. The closest shoe I’ve run in is Skechers GOrun Ride 7, the Beacon, however, feels more stable, in part due to a better structured upper.
Stability comes from the overlays in the upper; the arch support is reasonably low. I’d recommend the Beacon for longer mileage and recovery runs, and although I know some people who also rate it for speed work I prefer something with more ground feel.
Occasionally you come across a shoe that is a real treat to wear; the Beacon is that and more. I was trying out the New Balance Vongo immediately after running in the Beacon, and it felt like running with my feet in massive blocks of polystyrene.
This isn’t perhaps a fair comparison as the Vango is a stability shoe nonetheless it emphasized how light and fun it was to run in the Beacon. For me, this shoe is a steal even at the MRP, given that it can often be found cheaper online it’s a no-brainer.
I have run thousands of miles to date. I have also worn numerous brands and styles of running shoes. I have shoes for speed work and intervals, shoes for easy days and shoes for long runs.
A friend of mine suggested the Beacons - he raved about them. To be honest, with the millions upon millions of reviews out there, for every type of product that sculpts and control our lives, I’m a bit cautious when I hear or read someone’s reviews because, well, not everyone will have the same experience.
After all, everyone’s feet and body types vary, and we all rack up mileage differently. So when he told me about the NB Fresh Foam Beacon’s, I decided to give them a go, with just a tad bit of uncertainty. I’m on my third pair, and I gotta tell you, they are amazing! Best shoe I have worn in years!
For starters, they are a great looking shoe. Sleek, stylish and not overly funky looking like many shoes out there that just have way too much going on and resembling a sweater your grandmother would crochet.
The colors offered are limited, but clean and sharp. I started out with the “Petrol/Flame” and ended up buying the “Electric Blue” for my next two pairs. Great, vibrant color. Very appealing and match with anything you wear.
Comfort & durability
Wow, are they comfortable right out of the box! I did not even need to break these bad boys in like you have to do with many shoes. For such an incredibly light shoe, they have plenty of cushioning, made possible by the “Fresh Foam” midsole.
The outsole has plenty of traction as well, better than any other lightweight shoes. The upper is a knit mesh that offers breathability and a very comfortable fit — no issues with blister or rubbing of any kind.
I generally switch out my shoes after 400-500 miles, depending on the type of shoes of course. This shoe outlasts many other lightweight shoes and does not seem to wear down as quickly.
The outsole is pretty tough and is made with Ground Contact EVA offering extra traction. They use Blown Rubber in strategically placed areas on the forefoot and medial heel to provide durability in areas that normally have high wear and the modular geometric design adds to the great traction.
This is an extremely versatile shoe that can be used for speed work and your long runs! Yes, it's an all-around great shoe for any type of workout - from fast, slow and easy.
I have used these for my fast interval training workouts as well as my marathon racing. I even chose this shoe to run my 50 miles in, and let me tell you, my feet did not hurt afterward, nor did I get blisters - comfort all the way. It’s my go-to shoe when I just want a comfortable ride.
The New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon is a versatile, lightweight shoe that can be used for fast and furious interval training as well as slow and easy long runs. It’s incredibly comfortable in the midsole, outsole and upper.
I’m 5’9” and weigh 165 lbs. I’m lean with muscle, but not like a Kenyan (if only). I have a normal arch and have normal pronation, my heel strikes the ground first and my foot "rolls" inward. They may not be suitable for everyone, but these shoes are great for me.
I would suggest giving them a test run at your local running store or buying them online from a company that has a 30-90 day return policy, where, if you don’t like them, you can return them or exchange them for another pair.
That being said, I would recommend this shoe to anyone wanting a great running experience, from newbies to seasoned runners.
My running speciality is trail running. I bought the New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon so I can have a pair of road running shoes, one that I can use on the road and occasional races.
The Beacon is the first version of its line. Recently, in June 2019, New Balance released an upgrade of the shoes, which is the Beacon 2.
When I opened the box and pulled out my shoes, I instinctively kept looking in the box as if something was missing: where was the rest?
This feeling is due to the great lightness (only 23 grams in the male version) and simplicity that these shoes give when you take them in hand. I was therefore very keen to test it.
Packaging-wise, it was quite inadequate with just paper to keep the shoes in shape and keep them after a run. It was very delicate and has the same color options for its male and female version.
The upper is extraordinarily comfortable and does not present any structure or protection. The knit mesh is a sufficiently elastic and breathable material.
However, it certainly was not waterproof as it absorbs a lot of water and takes time to dry up, leaving the shoe wet for too long.
No tread, directly inserted in the sole, Only the rear part of the heel and the toe are softly reinforced to give some stability and perhaps greater durability.
It has a visible reflective logo. Meanwhile, I really appreciated the eyelet reinforcements where the strings pass. However, the elastic laces were not long enough to allow a double knot.
Now, we come to the strong point of the Beacon. The shoe gives its best in terms of responsiveness, lightness, and precision, all inserted in strategical point.
The technology in this model is also offered in the ground control version, which guarantees greater softness and cushioning. It also has a drop of 6mm.
The sole consists of a single block designed with purely aesthetic hexagons on the sides and functional ones below. Two groups of two and three hexagons of different coloring are positioned as reinforcements.
For the entire extension of the sole, there are hexagons of different sizes to guarantee uniformity of support and as much uniformity of response.
The energy response is always effective and would deliver excellent feedback whether you run from the forefoot or the midfoot. The convexity and relief of the hexagons add to the traction.
The shape immediately transfers with its proportions, which is an impression of great comfort.
Fit and durability
The fit of the Beacon is truly incredible, all thanks to the rigid rear shell I mentioned earlier. The shoes give you confidence right away.
They have a wider tip than usual, which can also be seen from the sole. It gives enough room for the toes to splay and remains soft but responsive everywhere.
We are not talking about maximalist shoes that make you run on clouds in virtual reality, but you always maintain an excellent feel of the ground without suffering the roughness.
Running with the beacons will be very easy with very smooth running phases.
In terms of durability, after 150/200 miles, the foam appears to be intact and the knit of the upper seems unexpectedly durable, too.
The New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon is a shoe suitable for many types of runners, both with light and medium-heavy built. These are fast for a competition but also excellent in training.
I tested the Beacon even in off-road vehicles knowing that it is not a trail shoe, but it fared well. It was absolutely predictable even on stones and rough and difficult terrain.
Even downhill, they won't betray you if the trajectories are precise and correct. It is much more honest than other shoe promises.
Once you wear them, especially once you also use them hard, you will love them and you will forgive its every shortcoming (but very few things)of the Beacon.
The New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon is a very comfortable, lightweight, neutral running shoe, which is fairly versatile and a pleasure to go fast in.
|Weight||213g (or 7.51oz)|
|Stack height||20mm (forefoot), 26mm (heel)|
What I Like
Overall, the shoe has a really nice feel to it, from the sock-like knit upper to the springy foam, a nicely flexible sole with a comfortable drop - things just work quite harmoniously in this shoe (given the right conditions).
The feeling of wearing a shoe that simply adds what is necessary for a good running experience, which is not as common as it should be, especially in this age of carbon plates, foam wars and gimmicks, makes the Beacon seems like something special.
The 6mm drop provides a nice balance, getting you to work a little bit for the pace, which makes this a good shoe for training sessions.
I really like the ‘look’ of this shoe, as I’m a big fan of simple design, as well as geometric two-tone patterning. The Beacon has these elements building what is for me a retro-future ‘personality’.
Despite the presence of the Hoka-esque bright white midsole, it doesn’t seem or feel quite as pronounced when on foot.
From a design perspective, the Beacon has a strong, yet sleek, identity and it’s hard to dislike, as it’s not too flashy or overdone.
Any problems I have with the upper, are simply performance-based, which I’ll get into later.
Lastly, I love the subtle pink highlights under the tongue and on the pieces of the rubber outsole. It’s always a big plus for me to feel like someone was paying attention to the details.
This has been my first full foray into the realm of that firm injection-molded EVA foam, or ‘responsive’ foam as some call it. It is truly a pleasure to run on, especially for pushing the pace, but it definitely takes some open-mindedness if you’re not used to it.
The Beacons did feel fine out of the box, so no points off there, but a little bit of ‘break-in’ time was definitely helpful. I haven’t run in many New Balance shoes before.
The best comparison I can draw from the feel of the shoe is from trying on the Hoka One One Mach’s, which had that lightweight and responsive feel. But to be honest, I wasn’t ready for that amount of firmness at that moment.
The Machs just felt too hard and almost as if the cushion was entirely lacking when I tried them on in the shop, especially compared to the shoes I was running in at the time (the Brooks Ghost 9s, Nike Zoom Elite 9s, and Adidas Supernova GTX).
Fast forward a bit, and after trying these on, I decided to take the plunge, and do not regret it at all.
Additionally, it seems that the ample cushioning level would apply across the spectrum of foot-strike styles - so a mid/forefoot striker like myself, or a heel striker would enjoy the ‘ride’ of these.
Considering the amount of Fresh Foam between one’s foot and the ground/road, there’s a surprising amount of feeling, which I definitely have been enjoying.
The flipside is that sometimes you can feel some twigs, bigger rocks or other hard objects, so one does need to be a little careful while running trails.
Things I don’t like
The traction, while not being awful, definitely had some distinct variation on surfaces - they felt better on pavement or ground, while on certain types of stone there was a bit of uncertainty.
More than slipperiness, the shoes do not provide the ‘grippy’ feeling that aids in propulsion, so I really hope they add a bit of rubber on future iterations, even if it would add a little weight.
It may not seem like much, but the lack of grip that I noticed in my stride, means a finite amount of extra effort, and therefore effectively prevents this shoe from working efficiently with the runner.
The upper is not the best in terms of moisture retention or breathability, which is great for Spring, Fall, and milder Winter runs, but I can imagine that these will become sweat boxes in the Summer.
Again, this depends on one's feet and how prone to sweating they are. I definitely need quite a breathable upper in the Summer months, and Berlin tends to be mild, so I can only imagine running in New York or Florida with these on muggy days probably wouldn’t work so well (but to be fair, I haven’t tried).
This isn’t a deal breaker, but it does limit the scope of the shoe, making it less of an all-rounder than say, the Nike Zoom Elite 9.
As for moisture retention, the upper feels like it soaks up water when it’s raining out, and instead of releasing it, it just holds onto it, kind of like a thin wet blanket.
Once again, just an area New Balance will hopefully work on with the next iteration, and something to consider for those living in fairly rainy climates, who don’t want to have too many shoes laying around for specific weather conditions.
This was the biggest issue I had with the shoes, and where they lost the most points for me, I had serious insole slippage in both shoes, which was solved easily enough, by purchasing some super glue and gluing them into the shoes.
However, I feel like that shouldn’t happen, especially in a shoe that retails for over one hundred Euros (or Dollars). I don’t believe that one should either have to purchase other companies' insoles or glue in the provided insole to make them usable because for me it was impossible to continue running with the ones provided.
The insoles are pretty thin and flimsy, and possibly due to the lack of structure they would continuously slide from under my feet and creep up the back of the shoe, to the point where I would have to stop and readjust them a few times a run, which becomes annoying fairly quickly.
I glued them in, knowing that doing so could limit some of the other insole options down the line, but it was simply impossible to keep on running with them as is.
Now, to be fair, I’m not sure if this was just a fluke, but it did happen in both of my shoes and I have heard of this happening in one other review. So, it may not be widespread, but given the flimsy nature of the insole, it seems like something for potential buyers to be aware of.
As you can see from this picture after a hundred and three kilometers (about sixty-four miles) of running primarily on the pavement, the Beacons are showing a bit of wear on both the rubber and the exposed foam.
Nothing to be alarmed over, but it does make me think that they will not last a full eight hundred kilometers (about five hundred miles). This is really a minor concern, but one worth mentioning.
This is definitely a solid performer and has the potential to fit in the line-up of someone serious enough about running to have a line-up, but with some glaring limitations, which could make the Beacons not worth it for runners in certain areas, or those who have particular uses or goals in mind.
I’d recommend them to the runners who don’t live in an overly moist or wet climate and those who are searching for a light daily trainer to keep in the cycle, possibly even for use on race day - for a 10k or a half-marathon.
Also, it has been possible to pick them up on sale, as I did, so if you’re able to get them for relatively cheap, it may not matter to you that you might need to purchase a set of insoles or glue in the provided ones, or that you’ll need another pair of weatherized shoes for rainy days.
At the moment, I’m trying not to accumulate too many running shoes, so as limitations pop up, an alarm goes off somewhere in my brain.
Therefore, if you want a lightweight but versatile all-around shoe, with fewer issues, or you want to limit the number of shoes in your closet, I’d say they're better shoes out there for less, like the Nike Zoom Elite 9 (the 10th iteration is supposed to be quite similar, but I haven’t tried them yet).
However, if you want a responsive, light shoe to go fast in, and don’t mind the drawbacks, then this is a pretty decent one. Underlying all of this, and whatever aspects are lacking in these shoes (no shoe is perfect), the bottom line is: the Fresh Foam Beacons are enjoyable to run in.
I find myself reaching for them fairly regularly, and am hopeful that New Balance will listen to some of the feedback on these and help them fulfill the potential that I and many others in the running community see in the Beacons.
After reading several good reviews, I decided to give the New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon a try.
Fast and with a lot of cushions—it is a perfect balance and combination that most of the runners need. The Beacon will be with you on those long runs.
And, at some point, it will help you pick up the pace on the 606 (an elevated park in Chicago) when another runner is trying to pass you.
This is your shoe for those training “races” that you can show off with your teammates—a proof that you have done your homework.
I have used several brands for running; Just name it! But, my better season was with New Balance. I am not saying that these shoes have magic, but I was a little more dedicated then than today.
In that season, I was, indeed, fast. Therefore, I pretend to associate the good times with objects, and New Balance was part of that.
In the Chicago Marathon 2016, I got my PR on a pair of 1080v6. For that reason, I decided to try this brand one more time.
These bad guys are 6mm heel drop, weigh around 213 grams, and are for all kind of runners. Most experienced runners would use this on the recovery runs or those easy days.
If you have run with higher or less drop, you will not feel the difference
The rest of the specs
Weight: 7.50 oz. (213 gr.)
Heel drop: 6 mm
Stack height: 26 mm (heel), 20 mm (forefoot)
After several long runs, I have noticed they wear easily, but this does not affect the cushion or comfort on running.
If you are planning to train or race with the Beacon on a hot day, think twice. I have noticed that on the humid and hot Chicago summer, my feet get sweaty than usual as compared with other shoes.
I am not an Instagram runner. These days, there are plenty of runners that just run for likes and acceptance from their peers. These runners look for good looking shoes.
However, this is not my case. I am a real runner. In fact, I am addicted to running. Yet, from my point of view, even I think New Balance could have created a better design or look for the Beacon.
Regardless, the Beacon's appearance does not match with how it feels when worn. They feel fast, light, and, responsive even if they look like the total opposite.
It is versatile. You can use these shoes for almost all of your runs. Use it on your easy runs, long runs, race day, speed work—just name it.
However, I would not use these for a 5k. There is nothing wrong with them, though. It is just my perspective, but for half and full marathon (or even beyond that), this is my choice.
It has impact absorption, so they will take care of your legs. Moreover, on your first run, you would wonder how it is possible to absorb impact when it's really light. Even a beer weighs more!
As for the price, you get what you get paid for. Nowadays, you can find very good deals on these.
One of the best version of Fresh Foam from New Balance is in these bad boys. They feel like a shoe with a premium tag and price.
I recommend you give it a try. You will not be disappointed. You would really have a good run for your money as you will get a reliable pair of shoes without breaking the bank.
The New balance Beacon is a shoe no one was expecting from. The Zante was positioned as an affordable everyday trainer, and the 1080v6 as a soft recovery shoe, as well as the excellent rc1400 as a speed shoe.
With the reveal of the Fresh Foam Beacon, New Balance created a highly versatile, lightweight, and well-designed shoe, all for the affordable price of $120. The Beacon is comprised of a simple knit upper, a thick slab of the new Fresh Foam Ground contact material and a few patches of a minimal outsole.
The Beacon quickly became my go-to everyday trainer, and also saw significant use for longer workouts on the road.
Recently, New Balance has focused more on updating existing running shoes and expanding their lifestyle line, rarely focusing on developing an entirely new shoe. The original Zante quickly became a fan favorite, but previous generations lacked the softness and ride of the original.
The Beacon manages to mimic some of the Zante’s amazing original features while still adding more cushion and reducing weight. In many ways, the Beacon feels like New Balance’s take on Hoka’s Clifton 1.
While it lacks Hoka’s meta-rockered design, it has a simpler, more modern knit upper, and a slightly snappier feel. The Beacon also sports one of the best cushions to weight ratios on the market, boasting 26mm and 20mm of stack height in the heel and forefoot respectively, while only weighing in at 7.5 oz.
The New Balance Beacon keeps it simple with a one-piece knit upper featuring minimal overlays and structure. The fit is true to size, but the toe box is fairly narrow, so if you are in between sizes, you probably will prefer the larger one.
There is padding around the heel collar and a simple thin inner sole. While it may have been nice to see a fancier inner insole, the cushion comes from the midsole, and it works fine.
For general mileage and tempo workouts, the hold from the upper is completely stable, and shouldn’t cause any issue. However, I did experience some minor issues at faster paces.
When dropping, the pace significantly below 6-minute miles, I noticed minor slippage in the shoe. This issue became particularly apparent when turning or sprinting.
On the track, I found that my feet would move in the shoe when rounding corners, even when they were properly tightened. The Beacon was not designed as a racing shoe; thus, the comfort and simplicity of the upper outweigh the lockdown issues.
The midsole is what sets the Beacon apart from the rest of the market. The Fresh Foam Ground Contact foam used in the shoe is new for New Balance and is one of my favorite midsole components on the market.
While it shares the Fresh Foam name with previous New Balance shoes, it is noticeably a new compound. The Ground Contact foam was designed to be durable enough to serve as both a midsole and an outsole, contributing to its excellent softness.
While previous Fresh Foam models felt a little dull and dead, this shoe is both plush and responsive, which is credited to the lack of a full-length outsole.
Much like the upper, the midsole is simple. It is comprised of a single density foam, compared to the complex TPU pellets, stiff shanks, and any number of other (often redundant) technologies used in some of its competitors.
The standout benefit of this simplicity is that it weighs between one and three ounces less than many of its ‘lightweight’ competitors, while still providing all the necessary features, and soft cushioning.
Like other Fresh Foam shoes, New Balance uses hexagonal geometry on the sides of the midsole. This is to adjust how the cushion compresses and to provide slightly more support on the medial side.
While it is maybe a touch firmer there, this is not a support shoe by any means, it does not provide enough support for moderate to severe under or over-pronators.
Frankly, there's not a whole lot to say here, as New Balance kept it very minimal in the outsole department. The majority of the outsole is comprised of the Ground Contact foam with a few blown rubber pods added on the lateral side in the rear, and towards the medial side in the toe.
The rubber pods are strategically placed in the natural landing and toe-off zones to add extra traction where it is necessary. I have found the traction to be fine, as long as you avoid mud or snow, and have even been able to use the shoe on smoother trails in dry weather.
The durability has also been surprisingly good considering how little rubber is on the bottom of the shoe. The Ground Contact foam is hardened on the outsole to increase durability.
As a forefoot striker, the foam wore down on the forefoot of my pair after more than 300 miles of running, but they are still completely usable. As long as you are not too hard on your shoes, the durability should be fine, and if you are hard on your shoes, this probably isn’t the right shoe anyway!
The Beacon was a surprise release and became one of my favorite shoes this year. I generally look for shoes with soft cushioning and low weight, often reaching for Hokas. While I do miss the stiffer shank and meta-rockers seen in Hokas, the Beacon is what I wish the Hoka Clifton became.
While the Clifton became heavier and more supportive, the Beacon filled the niche of soft and light shoes that the original Clifton occupied. The Beacon was my go-to road shoe this fall for most of my mileage as well as my longer workouts, such as mile repeats on the road or tempo runs.
While I did one road race and a couple of faster workouts (800s on the track) in the Beacons, I would recommend doing these in racing flats or spikes, depending on the surface.
While the Beacon is a soft and comfortable shoe, you still may want to rotate it with something heavier and more supportive for recovery runs or long runs over 10-12 miles, especially if you are injury prone.
Overall, the Beacon has been one of my favorite shoes recently. I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a light and cushioned daily trainer or up-tempo shoe.
Good to know
- The New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon is a neutral running shoe that’s made for the roads. It’s also meant for a variety of activities like speed training and racing. When it comes to design, it brings a smooth and simple look that’s popular with many contemporary options on the market. Bright colorways make up for the lack of substantial overlays and other add-ons.
- The upper unit features an engineered knit material. This material brings a lightweight yet secure coverage. It’s also breathable and flexible. A set of synthetic prints bolster the eyelets while the ‘N’ logo graces both sides of the façade.
- Underfoot cushioning is the responsibility of the Fresh Foam technology. This full-length unit carries the foot throughout the running session. The high-wear points of the outer sole are reinforced by rubber.
- For durability, the New Balance Beacon makes use of a blown rubber material. The rubber placements are strategically attached to high-wear areas for increased durability.
Blown rubber is the material that’s used in the outsole unit of the New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon. It’s only placed in areas that are most prone to wear, specifically the lateral side of the heel and the medial side of the forefoot. Its tasks are to protect against damage and to provide surface traction.
The rest of the outsole is comprised of ground-contact foam. The textured surface heightens grip while shallow grooves enable flexibility.
The Fresh Foam cushioning unit composes the midsole of the New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon. This full-length material offers a soft and springy ride. And though it looks like it has a substantial thickness, it doesn’t hold a lot of weight. This material is also present in the midsole of the NB Zante series and other popular New Balance running shoes.
This midsole foam offers featherweight feel while effectively disperses landing impact. This foam is lighter than the usual midsole foam and it aims to provide long-lasting cushioning throughout the run.
The engineered knit upper offers a soft and breathable wrap.This material is also lightweight. It’s capable of bending with the foot, thereby facilitating an in-shoe experience that adapts to the gait cycle.
The overlay system is made of synthetic prints that bolster some sections of the upper, namely the eyelets and the sides. These thin add-ons help in maintaining the structural integrity of the façade.
The tongue and collar of the New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon are padded. These parts of the shoe are responsible for holding the foot in place and preventing it from wobbling or exiting the foot-chamber accidentally. They also offer additional cushioning for comfort.
The shoe has a lace-up closure, which offers the foot a secure, comfortable lockdown. Runners can easily adjust the laces to achieve the right fit. There are extra eyelets to further secure the midfoot.