New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 v11 review and lab test

Flexible uppers are great, they form to your foot’s shape, they move with you, not against you, and they tend to be light and breathable - all good things. The New Balance 1080v11 went too far though. This shoe looks cool, feels light in your hands, and seeing it on the wall at the store made me really want it, but the upper is just way too flexible, and the heel counter has slip issues that to me were unsolvable. 

This shoe will be appreciated by runners who: 

  • Run slowly and straight 
  • Need an easy day or a recovery shoe 
  • Are really into flexible uppers and soft bouncy midsoles. 

Pieces of New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 v11

Look away if you run on uneven terrain and turn quickly on your turns. In the realm of daily trainers, the New Balance FuelCell family has more lower-to-the-ground and agile shoes. And if you want something aggressive and fast, look no further than New Balance 1400 v6

Comfort first, performance later

The shoe is extremely comfortable, unfortunately in this case that comfort comes with a penalty: 

  • the upper is just too flexible, 
  • the soft material on the ankle doesn’t lock down your heel, and 
  • the springy midsole is a bit too unstable. 

If this shoe was designed for just comfort it would be 5 stars, but it’s designed for running and it misses the mark here. 

Superb comfort 

FreshFoam 1080v11 feels amazing on your foot thanks to the stretch upper. It hugs and forms right where you want it. 

It has a very stretchy mesh above the toe box, but the rest of the upper is actually really stiff thanks to good use of welded overlays and the logo. After cutting this apart, I am actually surprised this shoe feels so sloppy since it’s just the mesh toe box that is overly flexible. 

The area around the toe where the upper connects to the midsole and all the way through the midfoot and up into the logo is not stretchy at all. 

Too flexible on all fronts

It’s amazing that this shoe feels too flexible, just like the Ultraboost 21 when overall this upper is much stiffer than the Adidas. 

I guess it goes to show, if you have the wrong material in just the wrong place it can ruin the whole shoe. 

The heel measured in as the most flexible heel out of any shoe we’ve so far tested at just 13.3n, where the average we’ve seen is 56.6n. 

Sock liner needs better QA

The sock liner is not glued in to the midsole well, this is a bit odd and possibly a QA issue.

Sock liner issue on 1080v11

Wobbly overall and horrible on turns

It runs straight well. But, on turns, I felt like I was going to fall out of the shoes if I turned too hard or wasn’t on flat ground. 

At 34mm of stack in the heel, this shoe could benefit from being a bit closer to the ground since it feels a bit wobbly, but that’s more due to the midsole than the height.

The midsole is too soft, and because of it, it feels slightly unstable. Between the forefoot and the heel, the foam underfoot averaged over 31% softer foam than other shoes in our test group (18.8ha on our durometer, compared to the average of 27.4ha). 

This soft material made my foot work extra hard to balance which led to a bit of cramping at first. I settled into them and they got better over time but they remain a touch wobbly because of the bouncy, soft springy midsole.

Heel slipping in New Balance Fresh Froam 1080v11

Normally I really like a softer heel counter, but this absence of one completely leads to significant heel slip issues. 

There’s no real padding in the ankle collar, just some stretchy fabric. The thickness ranged from a minimal 2.5mm near the front of the ankle collar to a still thin 7.2mm at the thickest point in the back. 

The heel counter is very odd, it dips in the middle and the upper portion is just foam and this stretchy neoprene-like material. It’s more designed to act as a low heel cup to keep your heel from moving laterally, which it does, but you sure do get a ton of heel slip vertically.

Heel counter design on New Balance 1080v11

To play devil's advocate here though, the heel slip issues were a much bigger concern just walking around in them where the slip is most pronounced. While running, it’s not as bad, but it's still slipping and annoying when it’s all you can think about every step. 

Heel tab doesn’t work 

There is a heel tab on this shoe, but it’s more like an elf tab, there’s no finger loop, and this tab is not all that easy to grasp. 

Heel tab on 1080v11

I’ve seen this on a few shoes this year, and I am not a fan, just sew in a simple finger loop, how hard is it?

Fresh Foam 1080v11 is extremely breathable

Breathability to wish for - all thanks to a partially gusseted tongue and a good choice of materials. 

Transparency test on 1080v11

A partially gusseted tongue keeps the weight down and the toe box more breathable. 

Fresh Foam 1080v11 cut in half

Tongue stays put 

The tongue on the 1080v11 is a short, lightly-padded mesh that's partially gusseted. It’s comfortable but its length (how far down the upper it goes) does make it a bit more challenging to put on than a shoe with a longer tongue that allows the upper to open up more when unlaced.

New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v11 tongue closeup

Once on though, the tongue stays put and is comfy.

New Balance 1080v11 tongue cut in half

One thing I found while cutting this shoe apart that was a little odd, was a small strip of padding in the middle of the tongue under the name/logo. Not sure why they would put that there or what it does, but must add a tiny bit of unneeded weight. 

Lacing system makes no sense

The lacing structure features oval lace holes, which fit the flat laces well, but the holes are vertical and on odd angles. 

Lacing system on 1080v11

I’m not totally sure why this is, maybe it’s designed to keep the laces from slipping, but the laces don’t sit flat in them because of this and I didn’t notice any superior lockdown because of the design. 

Not for cold days!

This shoe is not ideal on cold days. The foam in the midsole is extremely temperature intolerant. 

New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v11 in the freezer

We put this in the freezer at 0 degrees F for 60 minutes and the shoe is 92.48% stiffer when cold. 

Flawless grip 

The outsole is pretty cool on the 1080v11. It’s almost a lugged design rather than a flat road trainer, and I dig this.

Fresh Foam 1080v11 outsole design

The grip was great on cement, and I ran through a few wet and icy spots and had no issues. 

Outsole rubber softness

The forefoot rubber on the outsole itself is a bit harder durometer (85.2hc) than average (77.4) and should add some longevity to these shoes if you’re interested in running in them for hundreds of miles.

Surprisingly lightweight 

Very lightweight, especially compared to the Ultraboost 21 which we just reviewed. At 261g, or 9.2 ounces it was a pleasant surprise. It could still be lighter though with plenty of shoes in this category coming in under 9 ounces. 

Another oddity I’ve found while testing shoes is some shoes come in at a different weight for the left vs right shoes. This has an 8g difference, which is a large enough difference to mention. 


I Love how the New Balance 1080v11 looks. It drew me right in, and the second I had it in my hand I just wanted to run in it. NB has great marketing and designers, I just wish they had tried the shoe on before they stocked it in every running store across the country. 

At $150 I think there are other shoes out there that get higher marks. I didn’t shed a tear sending v11 to the saw!

Complete lab-specs overview 

New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 v11
Weight - Left 261g
Weight - Right 269g
Weight - Insole 26g
Weight - Lace 4g
Length - Overall 291mm
Length - Insole 271mm
Width Midsole - Forefoot  114.9mm
Width Midsole - Heel 90.3mm
Width Midsole - Middle  73.5mm
Width Upper - Forefoot 96.6mm
Width Upper - Heel 80.3mm
Width Upper - Middle 78.2mm
Stack - Forefoot with insole 26.2mm
Stack - Heel with insole 34.2mm
Stack - Forefoot without insole 20.7mm
Stack - Heel without insole 29.4mm
Drop 8mm
Outsole thickness (Forefoot) 5mm
Outsole thickness (Heel) 5mm
Lugs Depth NA
Insole Thickness 5mm
Laces (without stretch) 45.5inches
Laces (with stretch) 57.5inches
Lace Stretch  26.37%
Laces - Thickness (Height) 1.2mm
Laces - Width 6mm
Durometer Outsole Forefoot (Room Temp) 85.2HC
Durometer Outsole Heel (Room Temp) 79.5HC
Durometer Midsole Forefoot (Room Temp) 20.0HA
Durometer Midsole Forefoot 2nd layer (Room Temp) N/A
Durometer Midsole Heel (Room Temp) 17.5HA
Durometer Insole (Room Temp) 20.2HA
Flexibility of the shoe (Room Temp 25.3N
Durometer Outsole Forefoot (Freezer 1 hour) 87.5HC
Durometer Outsole Heel (Freezer 1 hour) 84.2HC
Durometer Midsole Forefoot (Freezer 1 hour) 24.2HA
Durometer Midsole Forefoot 2nd layer (Freezer 1 hour) N/A
Durometer Midsole Heel (Freezer 1 hour) 21.7HA
Durometer Insole (Freezer 1 hour) 26.8HA
Flexibility of the shoe (Freezer 1 hour) 48.7N
Durometer Outsole Forefoot (% change with temperature) 2.74
Durometer Outsole Heel (% change with temperature) 5.87
Durometer Midsole Forefoot (% change with temperature) 20.83
Durometer Midsole Heel (% change with temperature) 23.81
Durometer Insole (% change with temperature) 33.06
Flexibility of the shoe (% change with temperature) 92.48
Thickness - Heel Counter/Insert 3.2mm
Thickness - Ankle Collar (Front) 2.5mm
Thickness - Ankle Collar (Middle) 4.6mm
Thickness - Ankle Collar (Back) 7.2mm
Heel counter material plastic
Thickness - Tongue 4.5mm
Flexibility of the heel counter  13.3N
Light test (transparence) 103.3LUX
Lace slip test with the knot 14.0N
Longitudinal flexibility (0-5) 3
Torsional flexibility (0-5) 3
Tongue: gusset type Gusseted (both sides)
Laces: profile  Flat
Laces: extra hole  no
Laces: are they long enough to use the extra hole  -
Heel tab type Pool tab
Insole: removable yes
Control devices:
Multi-density midsole
Rigid heel counter
Elevated medial insole under arch
Supportive tensioned medial upper
Medial flare
Thermoplastic medial post
Longitudinal flexibility (on a 1-6 scale) 3
Torsional flexibility (on a 1-6 scale) 3
How minimalist the shoe is in % 28

Note: all the tests were done on a men's shoe US size 9. 

Facts / Specs

Terrain: Road
Weight: Men 285g / Women 227g
Drop: 8mm
Arch support: Neutral
Forefoot height: Men 22mm / Women 19mm
Heel height: Men 30mm / Women 27mm
Collection: New Balance Fresh Foam, New Balance Fresh Foam 1080

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Paul Ronto
Paul Ronto

Over the past 20 years, Paul has climbed, hiked, and ran all over the world. He has summited peaks throughout the Americas, trekked through Africa, and tested his endurance in 24-hour trail races as well as 6 marathons. On average, he runs 30-50 miles a week in the foothills of Northern Colorado. His research is regularly cited in The New York Times, Washington Post, National Geographic, etc. On top of this, Paul is leading the running shoe lab where he cuts shoes apart and analyses every detail of the shoes that you might buy.