Our verdict

New Balance brings us back to basics with the Fresh Foam Arishi v4, a reliable and versatile daily trainer that goes seamlessly from work to play. Whether walking around town all day, hitting the gym, or out for an easy jog, we enjoyed almost unreasonable levels of comfort in this shoe. What’s more, at under £110 there really isn’t much to complain about with this shoe!

Pros

  • Cloud-like cushioning
  • Has a nice bounce
  • Extremely flexible
  • Lightweight
  • Great for easy/recovery runs
  • Comfy enough for all-day wear
  • Minimal break-in needed
  • Good traction

Cons

  • Lacks arch support
  • Heel rubs
  • Stiff upper
  • Not for wide feet

Audience verdict

78
Decent!

Who should buy

We recommend the New Balance FF Arishi v4 as a great choice for: 

  • Casual runners looking for a lightweight, neutral daily trainer for easy runs/jogs
  • Fitness enthusiasts and runners who prefer plush, cloud-like cushioning for comfort over performance
  • Those in the market for a versatile shoe that’s comfy enough for walks and all-day wear

New Balance Fresh Foam Arishi v4 1

Who should NOT buy

While the Arishi v4’s midsole delivers premium levels of comfort, it lacks the snappy responsiveness to facilitate speedier or longer runs. The similar-looking but less wallet-friendly New Balance FF X More v4 is a great alternative that can go the distance, while the New Balance FuelCell Rebel v3 is a true speed demon. 

Pronating runners won’t find the arch support they need in the Arishi v4. We suggest looking into the ASICS GT 1000 12; a similarly priced stability shoe, or the New Balance Fresh Foam X Kaiha Road as a neutral option that’s exceptionally stable. 

As opposed to the rest of the shoe, we found the Arishi v4’s upper to be rather stiff and unforgiving, especially during our initial test runs. The New Balance FF Roav v2 boasts higher-quality materials in its upper construction that feel much less stiff despite being similarly priced.

New Balance Fresh Foam Arishi v4 cut

Breathability

In order to assess the breathability of the shoe, we pumped the Arishi v4 full of smoke to see how easily it vents from the shoe. As the footage demonstrates, smoke escapes almost immediately through the shoe’s well-perforated tongue and upper. The only section not steadily churning out smoke is the front part of the toebox, making perfection just out of reach for the Arishi v4 but still earning it a still-respectable 4 out of 5 for breathability. As such, the Arishi v4 is a nice and airy training partner for those toasty summer runs. 

The Adidas Runfalcon, on the other hand, is a toaster of a shoe that earned a 1 out of 5 in the same test. 

Examining a backlit cross-section of the upper reveals that it has plenty of pores for heat to escape through except for certain reinforced sections; namely in the front end of the toebox. 

Under our microscope, we can see that this section of the upper still boasts some perforations for airflow, but the material in the layer underneath is rather dense. This explains the less-than-stellar ventilation in this part of the toebox.

New Balance Fresh Foam Arishi v4 cu1

New Balance Fresh Foam Arishi v4 Breathability
Test results
Fresh Foam Arishi v4 4
Average 3.8
Compared to 220 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Breathability
5

Durability

Toebox durability

Time to find out whether that little reinforced section does anything to increase the durability of the toebox. We fired up our Dremel and pressed its grinding element to the toebox with 3.2N of force spinning at 5K RPM. We were optimistic at first, but seeing the wisps of material being cast aside towards the end of the test didn’t bode well. 

As we can see from the aftermath of the four-second test, our tool blasted all the way through the upper material, leaving a gaping and unsightly hole at the point of contact. As such we give the Arishi v4 a toebox durability score of 1 out of 5.

New Balance Fresh Foam Arishi v4 toe

Test results
Fresh Foam Arishi v4 1
Average 2.3
Compared to 154 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Toebox durability
5

Heel padding durability

The shoe’s heel padding didn’t fare much better against our Dremel. The grinding element immediately minced its way through the heel collar lining and feasted upon the soft padding within. This lackluster performance also earns a score of 1 out of 5. 

While this shouldn’t present any issues over the normal lifetime of the shoe, we don’t recommend going for sockless runs as the repeated friction of heel rubs is likely to prematurely wear down the heel padding and compromise the shoe’s rearfoot lockdown.

New Balance Fresh Foam Arishi v4 Heel padding durability
Test results
Fresh Foam Arishi v4 1
Average 3.1
Compared to 150 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel padding durability
5

Outsole hardness

With a durometer reading of 81 HC, the Arishi v4’s outsole is ever-so-slightly harder than average for a road shoe. We’ve found that this level of hardness strikes a good balance between soft and grippy versus hard and durable, which in theory puts the shoe in good stead for our next test. 

New Balance Fresh Foam Arishi v4 Outsole hardness
Test results
Fresh Foam Arishi v4 81.0 HC
Average 80.4 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 271 running shoes
Number of shoes
54.9 HC
Outsole hardness
92.8 HC

Outsole durability

Testing the durability of the outsole marks the final appearance of our relentless Dremel. This time wielding it at 10K RPM, we set it upon the outsole with 3.2N of force for a gruelling twenty-seconds. 

While the test seems rather dramatic, assessing the damage left in its wake with our tire gauge reveals that only 0.8 mm of material was lost from the outsole. This puts the Arishi v4 on par with the average road shoe and means that the shoe should comfortably last 400 miles of use without any significant signs of wear.

New Balance Fresh Foam Arishi v4 Outsole durability
Test results
Fresh Foam Arishi v4 0.8 mm
Average 0.9 mm
Compared to 132 running shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole wear
2.0 mm

Outsole thickness

Using our caliper, we measured the outsole to be 3.6 mm thick, which is also within the average range for road shoes. As such, with less than a quarter of the outsole material lost in our durability test, there should be more than enough material left over even after facing extreme wear and tear. 

New Balance Fresh Foam Arishi v4 Outsole thickness
Test results
Fresh Foam Arishi v4 3.6 mm
Average 3.2 mm
Compared to 290 running shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole thickness
6.6 mm

Weight

Weighing in at only 8.55 oz (242g), the Arishi v4 is significantly lighter than the average road shoe. This lightweight nature combined with the shoe’s delightfully springy midsole makes the shoe feel great on our feet, even after moving around in them all day long. 

New Balance Fresh Foam Arishi v4 Weight
Test results
Fresh Foam Arishi v4 8.54 oz (242g)
Average 9.35 oz (265g)
Compared to 291 running shoes
Number of shoes
5.26 oz (149g)
Weight
12.56 oz (356g)

Cushioning

Heel stack

The Arishi v4 is a rather low-profile shoe, with its heel stack coming in at a below-average 28.1 mm according to our caliper measurements.

New Balance Fresh Foam Arishi v4 heel

Nevertheless, this is still more than enough foam underfoot to provide heel strikers with well-cushioned and protective landings. 

New Balance Fresh Foam Arishi v4 Heel stack
Test results
Fresh Foam Arishi v4 28.1 mm
Average 33.6 mm
Compared to 290 running shoes
Number of shoes
7.6 mm
Heel stack
42.7 mm

Forefoot stack

Measuring 20.4 mm thick, the shoe’s forefoot stack is also shorter than average. Again, however, this still provides forefoot strikers enough cushioning for solid impact dampening while also providing a certain level of ground feel underfoot.

New Balance Fresh Foam Arishi v4 forefoot

As such the shoe feels more natural than its more maximalist counterparts while still pampering our feet. 

Test results
Fresh Foam Arishi v4 20.4 mm
Average 24.9 mm
Compared to 290 running shoes
Number of shoes
7.6 mm
Forefoot stack
35.8 mm

Drop

The difference in our stack measurements leaves us with a drop height of 7.7 mm, making the 8 mm stated by New Balance commendably accurate. This level of accuracy isn’t always a given as this article explores. 

New Balance Fresh Foam Arishi v4 drop

This drop height classifies the Arishi v4 as a mid-drop shoe which is beneficial for a wide variety of runners whether midfoot/forefoot or heel strikers.

Test results
Fresh Foam Arishi v4 7.7 mm
Average 8.7 mm
Compared to 290 running shoes
Number of shoes
-0.8 mm
Drop
16.1 mm

Insole thickness

The Arishi v4’s insole is 3.9 mm thick according to our caliper, making it just shy of our current lab average. This isn’t noticeable, however, as we still enjoyed a nice and soft landing surface within the shoe that complements the midsole cushion. 

New Balance Fresh Foam Arishi v4 Insole thickness
Test results
Fresh Foam Arishi v4 3.9 mm
Average 4.4 mm
Compared to 286 running shoes
Number of shoes
1.5 mm
Insole thickness
7.3 mm

Midsole softness

Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.

We pressed our durometer against the shoe’s Fresh Foam midsole and got a deliciously plush reading of 14.5 HA which is much softer than our current lab average. This not only lends our landings a delightful pillowy sensation, but the energetic rebound of the midsole gives us a jolly spring in our step that feels fun and responsive during our test runs. 

New Balance Fresh Foam Arishi v4 durmid

While certainly responsive, the midsole lacks the energy return to efficiently facilitate speedy sessions. For a daily trainer that’s better suited to pushing the pace, we recommend checking out the similarly plush Hoka Mach X.

Test results
Fresh Foam Arishi v4 14.5 HA
Average 21.4 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 218 running shoes
Number of shoes
8.5 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
41.5 HA

Midsole softness in cold

Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.
New Balance Fresh Foam Arishi v4 Midsole softness in cold

Difference in midsole softness in cold

To see how the Fresh Foam midsole reacts to cold weather, we placed the Arishi v4 in the freezer for twenty minutes. Once appropriately chilled, we took another durometer reading of the midsole and got a reading of 20.6 HA. This isn’t only softer than the average road shoe under similar conditions, but at room temperature too! While not as plush as under normal conditions, the Arishi v4 will still feel soft and forgiving underfoot even during the most frigid winter runs. 

Becoming 42.3% firmer in the cold means that the Arishi v4 performs less consistently than average between warm and cold climates. As such the shoe will certainly feel different underfoot based on the surrounding temperature.

New Balance Fresh Foam Arishi v4 Midsole softness in cold
Test results
Fresh Foam Arishi v4 42.3%
Average 25.6%
Compared to 217 running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in midsole softness in cold
100%

Stability

Lateral stability test

Unsurprisingly for a shoe with such a plush midsole, the Arishi v4 doesn’t feel too stable underfoot; a fact that is immediately apparent when shifting our weight from side to side in the shoe. This makes the shoe a less-than-ideal choice for runners with pronounced pronation in their strides as it won’t mitigate the inward rolling of their feet as they run. 

Torsional rigidity

The shoe offered up almost no resistance as we bent and twisted it in our manual assessment, leading us to give it a score of 1 out of 5 for torsional rigidity. This means that the shoe is able to conform to the shape of the foot from landing to toe-off, making it feel extremely natural and comfortable underfoot. 

On the other hand, being this flexible adversely affects the shoe’s stability.  This is less-than-ideal for runners with pronating strides, for whom we recommend looking into more rigid shoes like the ASICS Gel Kayano 30.

Test results
Fresh Foam Arishi v4 1
Average 3.2
Compared to 269 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5

Heel counter stiffness

The heel counter has some structure to it but didn’t put up much of a fight as we squeezed and poked at it. This leads us to give the Arishi v4 a 2 out of 5 for heel counter stiffness. On the one hand, it feels comfortable as it holds our foot in place without putting too much pressure on the heel or tendons. On the other hand, it doesn’t do a good enough job at locking down the rearfoot, leading to our heels slipping and rubbing up against it

This doesn’t pose too much of an issue for easy runs or jogs, but it’s certainly a problem for tempo training and a blister magnet when it comes to long distances.

New Balance Fresh Foam Arishi v4 Heel counter stiffness
Test results
Fresh Foam Arishi v4 2
Average 2.8
Compared to 253 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

At 113.7 mm wide at the forefoot according to our caliper, the Arishi v4’s midsole is right on par with the average road shoe. While this provides us with a steady enough base for relatively steady landings and toe-offs, the plush midsole does make corners feel a little wobbly, especially at higher paces. 

New Balance Fresh Foam Arishi v4 Midsole width in the forefoot
Test results
Fresh Foam Arishi v4 113.7 mm
Average 113.6 mm
Compared to 291 running shoes
Number of shoes
100.5 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
126.5 mm

Midsole width in the heel

Moving down to the heel we found the Arishi v4’s midsole to be slightly narrower than average at only 88.8 mm wide. This isn’t incredibly narrow, but heel strikers might want a shoe with a broader base for more stable landings like the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 23 or the neutral New Balance FF X More v4

New Balance Fresh Foam Arishi v4 Midsole width in the heel
Test results
Fresh Foam Arishi v4 88.8 mm
Average 90.5 mm
Compared to 291 running shoes
Number of shoes
74.9 mm
Midsole width in the heel
106.6 mm

Flexibility

Stiffness

We secured the Arishi v4 to our workbench and measured the amount of force needed to flex it 90 degrees. With a mere 10.2N required to bend the shoe to the desired point, the Arishi v4 is among the most flexible shoes we’ve tested in the lab so far! This is great for a daily trainer as it means that the shoe is able to bend with our foot very easily, which translates to a ride that feels comfy and forgiving. This extreme flexibility also means that the shoe doesn’t need to be broken in and will feel great right out of the box. 

On the other hand, being this flexible means that the Arishi v4 is more of a creature of comfort than a performance-driven shoe as it doesn’t feel responsive enough for speedy runs. While not a hard-and-fast rule; stiffer shoes tend to provide more explosive energy return, with carbon-plated shoes being a case in point. For a more high-octane daily trainer, we recommend checking out the ASICS Novablast 3 or the plated Puma Deviate Nitro 2.

Test results
Fresh Foam Arishi v4 10.2N
Average 29.3N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 273 running shoes
Number of shoes
2.2N
Stiffness
94.4N

Difference in stiffness in cold

We also repeated our stiffness after letting the shoe chill in the freezer for twenty minutes and were amazed to find that only 13.1N of force was now required to bend the shoe! Not only is this significantly less stiff than the average shoe under similar conditions, but at room temperature too! This means that those living in cold climates will also enjoy a flexible and forgiving ride, even during the most frigid runs. 

Becoming only 29.4% stiffer in the cold makes the Arishi v4 much more consistent than the average road shoe. As such, it’s a great year-round shoe that will pamper the feet no matter how harsh the surrounding conditions are. 

Test results
Fresh Foam Arishi v4 29.4%
Average 36.4%
Compared to 273 running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in stiffness in cold
148%

Grip / Traction

The tread pattern on the outsole (which looks a little like melted trail lugs) provided us with great traction during our test runs. Even slick cobblestones gave us no cause for concern with the shoe’s grippy outsole. 

New Balance Fresh Foam Arishi v4 grip

Size and fit

Toebox width at the widest part

Using our caliper, we measured the toebox to be 96.3 mm wide at its widest point. This is narrower than the average road shoe which means that runners with broad feet will likely experience hotspots in this shoe. For those runners, we recommend looking into the other widths available or checking out a more accommodating shoe like the New Balance FF X Kaiha Road or the Brooks Launch 10 instead. 

New Balance Fresh Foam Arishi v4 Toebox width at the widest part
Test results
Fresh Foam Arishi v4 96.3 mm
Average 98.3 mm
Compared to 291 running shoes
Number of shoes
89.5 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
109.1 mm

Toebox width at the big toe

Moving up to the area around the big toe, we measured the Arishi v4’s toebox to be 78.2 mm wide. This is slightly wider than our current lab average and means that runners with narrow-to-normal-width feet will have plenty of room to splay out naturally within the shoe. 

New Balance Fresh Foam Arishi v4 Toebox width at the big toe
Test results
Fresh Foam Arishi v4 78.2 mm
Average 78.0 mm
Compared to 165 running shoes
Number of shoes
60.4 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
92.5 mm

Tongue: gusset type

The Arishi v4’s tongue is non-gusseted but we didn’t experience any slips to speak of. 

New Balance Fresh Foam Arishi v4 Tongue: gusset type
Test results
Fresh Foam Arishi v4 None

Comfort

Tongue padding

We measured the tongue to be 5.7 mm thick which is right within the average range for road shoes. This provides us with a secure and comfortable midfoot lockdown that also protects our instep from any trace of lace bite. 

New Balance Fresh Foam Arishi v4 Tongue padding
Test results
Fresh Foam Arishi v4 5.7 mm
Average 5.6 mm
Compared to 288 running shoes
Number of shoes
0.5 mm
Tongue padding
14.2 mm

Removable insole

The Arishi v4’s insole is fully removable, making it compatible with custom orthotics which, considering the shoe’s limited arch support, will come in handy for some runners. 

Test results
Fresh Foam Arishi v4 Yes

Misc

Reflective elements

The Arishi v4 doesn’t feature any reflective elements, so nocturnal runners will need to use additional high-visibility gear to stay safe on dimly-lit routes. 

New Balance Fresh Foam Arishi v4 Reflective elements
Test results
Fresh Foam Arishi v4 No