Cushion and comfort, but not much else. That is what the Beacon will offer and not much more. But honestly, do you need a lot more?
Comfort was the primary reason I wanted to pick up the Beacon V2. I was a fan of the simple, comfortable, and cushioning of the previous version, and it also ended up being New Balance’s breakout shoe of the year.
When I saw that the V2 was basically the same shoe (mid and outsole), and only changed the upper, I had to get it.
Spoiler alert: it’s not the same shoe because the change to the upper was so drastic. But the Beacon V2 still a great shoe and comfortable for your easy miles, tempo runs, and long runs alike.
The V2 is in black and V1 in baby/Carolina/light/sky blue.
Construction & design
Looking at the Beacon from the ground up, you will notice that there is minimal outsole. There are small rubber pods in the high wear areas around the heel and the bottom of the big toe.
Other than those rubber pods, the entire bottom is exposed to Fresh Foam material.
When I got the first version of the Beacon, I was really worried that the midsole would breakdown and start to wear really fast. That breakdown happened when I ran in the Nike Epic React.
However, after months running on the streets in these shoes, the midsole is still in good shape, other than the accumulated dirt. I have put over 100+ miles in the first version, and it is in similar shape.
The upper on the V2 Beacon is drastically different than the original version. The V2 has a highly breathable mesh in the forefoot area and a stiffer heel cup area that wraps around to the laces area and flares around the Achilles.
There isn’t any significant padding around the heel cup, and there isn’t much support, stability there either.
Even though the heel is a different material than the forefoot, it is still rather flexible. The laces do a good job of securing your foot to the shoe without being rough.
They actually feel like they have a little bit of stretch to them, and they also weren’t too long either. Compared to the first version that had light padding around the ankle collar and more stability in the heel counter.
The entire upper of the first version made of the same knit stretchy material and kept your foot secure and is quite comfortable.
Given that the flare/heel on the V2 didn’t provide a lot of support, and actually irritated my skin, I definitely prefer the first version because of the overall comfort of the upper.
The V2 is still comfortable, and I still run in it, but I definitely prefer the first version.
Performance & durability
The step-in comfort of the shoe when I first put it on was nice. Running in the Beacon V2, the cushion felt as comfortable as the first version, but maybe a tad bit on the stiff side.
The midsole did break in after a little while, but out of the box, it was not as comfortable as the first. The difference in the feel of the midsole is negligible when compared to how the upper felt.
As mentioned, the heel in the V2 was not that supportive, but if you don’t need a lot of structure/cushion in the heel cup area, you should be fine.
I found that running in the shoe caused some irritation to my Achilles area, but that wasn’t the case if I was wearing socks that went a little higher. I also found that the V2 forefoot material became loose and a little sloppy.
How that felt when I was running could be best analogized as running in sandals. My toes were able to move freely, but it felt too sloppy and unsecured.
Given the limitations of the upper, I wouldn’t run hills in the V2 since the downhills may make you distrust your gear (like I did). I would say that this shoe performed best on roads that are flat and already have good traction.
Given the lack of outsole, I also would be included to take these out on a super rainy day. In short, there are a few things that I don’t like about the update and a few things that I do in terms of design and performance.
From a durability perspective, these shoes have been great (other than the sloppy upper). I think I can and will get a lot more miles after this one.
- Outsole didn’t wear out prematurely
- Good cushion in the midsole to take you through a variety of runs
- Responsive and comfortable midsole that didn’t sink in
- Lacing and tongue allowed you to feel secure to the shoe without cutting off circulation
- Forefoot upper is sloppy
- Heel flare rubbed my Achilles
- Sizing is not like prior versions, go with your true foot size
- Cushioning felt stiffer than the previous version
Overall, I am a fan of the Beacon, but I definitely think that the change to the upper made me long for the original.
The midsole is still comfortable and springy, but the sloppiness of the upper is distracting. If you could find the first version, I would give that version an additional 10 points.
So if you google “best running shoes,” the New Balance Beacon keeps finding its way onto a pretty solid list of running shoe powerhouses. I couldn’t resist the urge... with a little hesitation, I eventually hit “add to cart”.
All aboard the Beacon Train to see what all the fuss was about.
Reading a few online reviews, they described it as a lightweight daily trainer. It definitely didn’t look lightweight or look like a running shoe, so I was actually very curious of what was going to come out of the box.
When the shoes arrived, I was amazed at how light they were. Unbelievably light, so light they felt cheap. The design of the shoe is far from what you would expect a running shoe to look like, but I think it’s sexy.
The upper is a knitted mesh over the forefoot and midfoot, while the heel counter is like no other. Aesthetically it resembles sculptured tiles covered in a satin-like material.
The heel is flared and firm compared to the rest of the knitted upper. There is no padding in the heel, but Achilles pads to hold the ankle, pretty similar to the Nike Pegasus Turbo 2.
My first impression trying on the shoe was that it felt thin and again, cheap. It was comfortable and unbelievably light.
It fits true to size with a roomy toe box allowing my toes to splay naturally. The midsole felt nothing like I had imagined. It was very stiff.
Lastly, the tongue is padded, and the laces provided a great lockdown.
Fresh Foam technology
The Beacon 2 is my first New Balance in a very long time (way before Fresh Foam). By the name and look of the midsole, I assumed I was in for a soft ride and a somewhat plush experience.
My experience was exactly the opposite. Walking around the house and jogging a little, I was perplexed in what everyone was thinking when raving about this shoe. I wasn’t convinced and was prepared for a hard, uncomfortable run.
After a few blocks, I started settling into my rhythm, and then... oooooh this is smooth! Really smooth.
Gone were the feelings of the stiff ride I anticipated and come the wonderful feeling of gliding effortlessly through the transition and push off.
Complementing the smooth ride is the lack of rubber on the outsole. Its outsole is primarily exposed foam with minimal rubber on the high wear areas. A 6mm drop sits in the sweet spot for me.
After impressing me on a small 5 km run around the neighborhood, it was time to put the Beacon to the test.
I gave it a crack at crushing all my weekly runs, which include recovery, easy, tempo, fartlek, and long runs. The Beacon 2 certainly ticked the box for my easy efforts due to the shoe being so light.
It enables the legs tick over with minimal effort. The impact is again what I describe as ‘smooth.’ However, the Fresh Foam is actually firm. The more miles I clock up, the better the Beacon is feeling.
Due to the foam being on the stiffer side and the shoe being so light, it can do the job for your faster days.
I wouldn’t describe the ride as responsive. It’s a dull kind of feedback that gives no pop, but still feels quick and accommodates those the higher paces.
I feel the stiffness eventually catches up with you in the long run. They felt great up to 15 km, then the feet quickly tell you they have had enough and beg for something a little more forgiving.
The feel of these shoes is best suited for those easy/steady efforts from 5 -15 km. Very versatile, but in my opinion, the Beacon 2 sits in with the daily trainers.
So far, so good. I am currently edging up to 120 miles. The exposed foam has a little wear but nothing significant.
The upper is holding up well with no signs of stitching of the knitting coming apart. As I mentioned before, the more I run in this shoe, the more it is coming alive, and the more I am reaching for it over the other shoes in my rotation.
I can see the shoe holding up for at least another 250 miles. Time will tell.
I have encountered a little heel slippage with certain socks, but not enough to bother me on the run.
My biggest gripe with the Beacon 2 is the innersole or sole insert. It’s as thin as paper and gives barely any protection from the midsole.
This bothered me so much that I swapped out the original and put in an innersole from a pair of old Pegasus. That change instantly took the bite out of the stiff midsole, resulting in a pleasurable experience I could walk around in all day.
A bumpy relationship is what I would describe my experience with the Beacon 2. Not too impressed with the initial feeling. However, I was quickly won over by the ride. So smooth, so light, so sexy. One of the best out there.
It’s a shame the innersole is so thin. It’s such a small detail that was unfortunately overlooked.
Would I buy this shoe again? Hell yes, however, I’d also invest in some different innersoles. It’s my go-to-daily trainer at the moment. Can’t wait for the Beacon 3.
- One of the newly added features in the New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon v2 is its engineered mesh upper that allows sufficient airflow into the shoe, making it more breathable. This also helps the foot move more freely with the flexibility it promotes. In comparison, the shoe’s predecessor featured an engineered knit.
- There have been some elements retained in the shoe’s composition. Some of these include the blown rubber outsole the shoe employs, the Fresh Foam midsole to ensure cushioning and comfort when running, and the Ground Contact ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) which helps the shoe in terms of versatility for different ground traction and grip.
The New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon v2 is available standard sizing scheme for both men and women. Thus, users can still fit the shoe with their usual size preferences. However, it is still highly advised that one should try on the actual fit of the shoe first before proceeding to purchase. It is also best to go through several reviews first to ensure an accurate fit.
This lightweight running shoe's toe box height is medium, while its arch height ranges from medium to high.
Blown rubber is the material employed in the outsole of the Fresh Foam Beacon v2. This is strategically placed on the lateral foot and medial heel. This provides protection and durability to the high-wear areas of the shoe.
Ground Contact EVA allows the shoe to have good ground traction while providing a lightweight feel. This technology also features durability properties that help preserve the shoe.
Rubber pods are strategically placed in the Fresh Foam Beacon v2’s high-abrasion heel and toe-off areas for targeted durability.
The midsole of the New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon v2 is composed of Fresh Foam which is created from a single piece of foam that provides a plush cushioning and a more natural ride.
A VL-6 lasting is employed by the Fresh Foam Beacon v2. This is a running-specific last with a standard heel, forefoot, and toe-box height.
The shoe also features an Ultra Heel that helps minimize the irritation in the Achilles. This also contributes to the overall comfort provided by the shoe.
Size and fit
How Fresh Foam Beacon v2 compares
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