New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 v10 review

The 1080 v10 is a fantastic do-it-all shoe. The problem is that the 1080 is not supposed to be that.

The 1080 is supposed to be a max cushioned long-distance cruiser. New Balance has other do-it-all shoes such as the 880 and the Beacon.

Pros

  • Immaculate upper
  • Lightweight for such a thick midsole
  • Very stable
  • Thick Ortholite insole

Cons

  • Not super soft like it should be
  • The outsole is not very durable
  • Lumpy forefoot transitions

Unbelievable upper

The 1080 v10’s upper is a masterpiece. There is not one single thing I would change about it. It's hands down the best upper I've ever experienced on a shoe.

The upper is made of a soft, stretchy knit called Hypoknit that is better than both Adidas Primeknit and Nike Flyknit: smoother and thinner.

It has a structured heel counter that holds the heel in place without irritating the Achilles because it flares away from the foot, unlike on the New Balance Propel.

The toe box is roomy and will stretch if you have extra wide feet. For me, the fit is relaxed, but the upper still keeps my foot locked down, and I have very narrow feet.

The padded tongue is soft, filled with medium amounts of foam, and is partially gusseted.

Meaning, it is attached to the sides of the upper via a band on either side. This ensures that there is no tongue slide.

There is reflective Trace Fibre stitching on the midfoot to provide some lightweight structure. It kind of looks like a volcano.

There are double last row eyelets so that you can do heel lock lacing for a snugger fit, which is a must-have for a flagship shoe.

Looks-wise, the 1080 v10 is so good-looking that it could be a casual shoe. I love how the midsole goes gradually from dark grey at the top to light grey at the bottom and how the flared heel counter makes it look modern and sleek.

Some people have remarked that they look like elf shoes, but that's the trend these days. This shoe just looks impressive, and you will catch people staring.

Cushioning: not what you'd expect from a max shoe

I was a bit disappointed after my first run in the 1080 v10’s. The shoes felt a lot firmer than I expected them to feel.

They felt similar to New Balance’s Beacon but with rubber lugs on the outsole, making the overall ride firmer.

New Balance advertises the fact the Fresh Foam X midsole is data-driven. Meaning, that they design the midsole based on the data they get from the wear-testers who trial the shoe. Isn’t that what all running shoe companies do?

Fresh Foam X feels soft to the touch but isn't soft underfoot. New Balance still has some work to do because compared to Nike’s Zoom X and Reebok’s Floatride, it's not as soft or bouncy.

The one thing it does have going is that it's incredibly light for a shoe with such a large stack height.

For super long runs, I prefer New Balance’s Propel. The Fuelcell midsole is uber-soft and excuse the pun, feels like you're running on clouds.

The New Balance Beacon with its Fresh Foam GC midsole even feels softer than the 1080 v10 because it has no outsole rubber.

The ride of the 1080 v10 feels lively and responsive, unlike the Fresh Foams of old that made up the Boracays and the 1080 versions 6-9.

The 1080 v10 is a shoe that you can take on any type of run, but I prefer them for tempo or fartlek workouts under 20km. The Fresh Foam X midsole provides a firm platform for a toe off, which results in a snappy ride.

Transitions are smooth from the heel to the midfoot, but when you get up onto your forefoot, you can feel the segmented lug outsole. The ride is not as lumpy as the Hoka Rincon, but I can definitely feel it with every footstrike.

The 1080 v10 has a high toe spring, which is designed to rock and ease your foot through the gate cycle. The problem is that the forefoot is very flexible, so instead of a rocking action taking place like with the stiff Asics GlideRide, the 1080 v10 flexes, and the rocking action is muted.

It's a wide, steady trainer

The midsole bulges and flares out under the heel and forefoot to create a large base, making the 1080 v10 extremely stable. The firmness of the Fresh Foam X also results in no lateral bias.

The arch is not prominent-feeling, but the 1080 v10 is stable enough to not cause problems for pronators like me.

No complaints about the insole

The 1080 v10 has a thick Ortholite insole, which adds a layer of underfoot softness. Ortholite insoles compress less than 5% over the lifetime of the shoe so you won’t lose much cushioning due to the insole flattening over time.

The insole doesn't move around during runs, all thanks to the non-slip blue Strobel lining under the insole.

Outsole: full-length would be better

The blown rubber outsole is segmented. There are five separate lug sections.

It's not full contact because there's an area under the midfoot, which is not covered by rubber to save weight.

While the segmented outsole makes the forefoot more flexible, it also makes for a lumpy forefoot. The ride transitions suffer because I could feel the oval-shaped lugs under my forefoot upon loading.                           

The protruding blown rubber lugs are not very durable, and I could see abrasions on the outer heel area after just the first run.

The wear is not evenly spread because the outsole is not flat. The area in the middle that is not covered by rubber will show the most wear over time.

Comparison

New Balance 1080 v10 vs. New Balance Fuelcell Propel

The Propel excels at super long, slow runs, but the 1080 v10 excels at tempo and fartlek runs.

The Propel is much cheaper. The 1080 v10 is the better all-round shoe and has a more comfortable, more attractive upper. The 1080v10 wins.

New Balance 1080v 10 vs. New Balance Beacon

The 1080 v10 is much more durable due to the heel and forefoot rubber coverage, but the Beacon is lighter, softer, and cheaper. Both are do-it-all shoes. I choose the Beacon.

New Balance 1080 v10 vs. Hoka Clifton 6

The Clifton 6 is the most cushioned shoe I've ever worn and perfect for super long runs. The 1080v10 is more responsive and more comfortable. The Clifton 6 is cheaper and offers more deep cushioning. I prefer the Clifton 6.

New Balance 1080 v10 vs. ASICS Cumulus 21

Both shoes have amazing, flawless uppers. I prefer the looks of the 1080 v10 to the Cumulus 21.

The Cumulus 21 has more padding and offers more protection for marathon distances. The Cumulus is also $30 cheaper. The Cumulus 21 wins.

New Balance 1080 v10 vs. ASICS GlideRide

The GlideRide is much more fun and has a unique ride. Both shoes can do any distance well and are the same price.

The 1080 v10 has the better upper, but the GlideRide has a more sophisticated, padded ride. The GlideRide wins easily.

New Balance 1080 v10 vs. Nike Pegasus Turbo 2

The Pegasus Turbo 2 is softer, bouncier, and more fun to run in than the 1080 v10. Both shoes can do any distance.

The 1080 v10 has a more comfortable upper, but the Pegasus Turbo 2 has the better midsole. The 1080 v10 is cheaper, but I still vote for the Nike Pegasus Turbo 2.

New Balance 1080 v10 vs. Adidas Ultraboost 19

Both shoes have thick, chunky midsoles, but the Ultraboost 19’s Boost midsole is heavy, and as a result, it rides like a tank.

The Ultraboost’s insole also slides around in the shoe like a wet fish. The 1080 v10 has the superlative upper, unlike the Adidas knitted upper, which runs warm like a sweater for feet. The 1080 v10 wins.

A little background on the NB 1080

The 1080 is a juggernaut of the maximally cushioned running shoe universe. It's one of the most popular running shoes on the road and the flagship New Balance shoe, so it gets all the latest shiny bells and whistles.

This is my first 1080. All the previous versions were interesting, but when I tried them on in the store, it felt like walking on concrete. 

Versions 1-9 were all made from firm EVA midsoles, which didn't make sense to me because the 1080 was always supposed to be the most cushioned New Balance running shoe.

New Balance 1080 v10: the updates

Version 10 has been reworked from the ground up - new outsole, midsole and upper:

  • a new Fresh Foam called Fresh Foam X makes Version 10 the softest version to date while the knitted upper also makes a debut
  • the outsole gets softer landings with partial coverage
  • parts of the midsole make contact with the ground

The 1080 v10 is a great all-round shoe and is very well made. It feels like a premium flagship. You can take it on long weekend runs, short tempo or fartlek workouts.

However, the 1080 is supposed to be the softest, plushest shoe in the New Balance arsenal, but it is not. That honour goes to the New Balance Fuelcell Propel.

So what makes the Propel a softer shoe than the 1080v10? The Fuelcell midsole.

In an ideal world, the Propel would be called the 1080, and the 1080 would be called the Propel. Fuelcell is much softer than Fresh Foam X, while Fresh Foam X is much more propulsive than Fuelcell.

Final thoughts on the 1080 v10

Overall, the 1080 v10 is a solid trainer and, as a whole, is greater than the sum of its parts. One can’t help feeling that the 1080 v10’s superb upper is let down by its too-responsive midsole.

If I were responsible for designing the 1080 v10, I would have put the 1080 v10's upper on the Propel’s Fuelcell midsole. That would have been the perfect shoe.

If New Balance continues to use Fresh Foam X on the 1080 v11, they must make it softer and bouncier. The upper doesn't need any refinements. The outsole needs to be changed to a smoother, less lumpy and more durable rubber layout.

The 1080 v10’s biggest crime is that it doesn’t know what kind of running shoe category it falls into. I'm not quite sure where the1080 v10 will fit in my shoe rotation.

For tempo or fartlek workouts, I prefer the Pegasus Turbo 2 or the Floatride Run Fast. For super long distances, I prefer the Propel, Clifton 6, or Cumulus 21.

For daily training, I prefer the GlideRide or the Forever Floatride Energy. Perhaps I will wear them casually because they are hands down the best looking shoes I own.

Tip: see the best running shoes.

Rankings

How New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 v10 ranks compared to all other shoes
Top 10% road running shoes
All road running shoes
Top 4% New Balance running shoes
All New Balance running shoes
Top 9% neutral running shoes
All neutral running shoes

Popularity

The current trend of New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 v10.
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Author
Brandon Law
Brandon Law

Hi, I'm Brandon. I have a running shoe obsession and addiction. I spend hours a day on websites and on review sites reading about the latest tech and upcoming releases. I run +-50km per week, and one of my favourite past times is going into shoe stores and testing salesmen on their knowledge of running shoes.