Our verdict

Having experienced the goodness of the New Balance Kawhi 2, we have high expectations for what NB releases. Fortunately, the New Balance Fresh Foam BB comes out satisfactory in many respects. This shoe makes us happy even when we play and practice for long hours because of its capacity to cushion impact and protect us from pain. Sure, it's not fancy, but it surely gets the job done; no cent gets wasted here.

Pros

  • Great traction on clean courts
  • Amazing cushioning in the heel
  • Feels lightweight
  • Comfortable next-to-skin feel
  • Effective foot containment
  • Dependable stability
  • Very smooth heel-to-toe transitions

Cons

  • Not for wide-footers
  • Ventilation issues

Audience verdict

76
Decent!

Who should buy

We played ball while wearing the New Balance Fresh Foam BB. We also subjected it to numerous tests in our lab. Based on our experience with this shoe, we conclude that it's suitable for the following:

  • players and buyers who want basketball shoes that last long
  • athletes who have narrow feet
  • ballers whose gigs and games are mostly indoors
  • basketball players who do not mind shoes that have slightly taller platforms

New Balance Fresh Foam BB

Who should NOT buy

Players with sweaty feet should stay away from the Fresh Foam BB. Unfortunately, it's not as fresh as its name promises. We would recommend the Under Armour Curry Flow 10, but if this pick's a bit too pricey, the PUMA All Pro Nitro is a good alternative, too.

We also believe that wide-footers are not the targets of this shoe from New Balance. It has a narrow toebox based on our calliper measurements. We think wide-footers are better off with shoes like the PUMA MB.02.

New Balance Fresh Foam BB spread out

Breathability

We are going to be blunt here; the heat inside the New Balance Fresh Foam BB is not bearable. AT ALL! We were always looking forward to taking it off, especially after long games.

We did the smoke test, and we were so disappointed to see the lack of breathability in the toebox area. Smoke just couldn't get through the material there! If not for the tongue area, there wouldn't have been any air that got inside the shoe. We only gave this shoe a 2 over 5 because of the tongue, which in all fairness still somehow made the shoe work.

Needless to say, the New Balance Fresh Foam BB is far from the performance of the Under Armour Curry Flow 10 when it comes to ventilation. This shoe from UA got a perfect 5 because of how easy it was for smoke to pass through the upper during our tests.

During the light test, we saw that the upper of this New Balance shoe is one opaque mess. Light barely passed through, so it's clear that the upper doesn't have holes sizeable enough to allow proper ventilation.

New Balance Fresh Foam BB microscope upper

Examing the upper material under the microscope only confirmed our initial observations. The material is pretty closed off and very closely knit. There is absolutely no space for air to pass through. Again, good thing the tongue area was there to save the day. Otherwise, we would have experienced hell right here on earth!

New Balance Fresh Foam BB Breathability
Test results
Fresh Foam BB 2
Average 2.5
Compared to 36 basketball shoes
1
Breathability
5
Number of shoes

Durability

Toebox durability

To be quite honest, the upper of the NB Fresh Foam BB felt sturdy to the touch. We thought, "Normal toe-dragging won't make a dent on this one." We're so glad we were not wrong to make such a statement!

We subjected the toebox to high-pressure Dremel drilling and we were pleasantly surprised by the results. That much assault left almost nothing. Nothing. Nada. Zero. That's how sturdy this shoe is. It's truly deserving of the perfect 5 that we ultimately gave it.

This NB shoe is way better than the Precision 6 from Nike, which only got a 1 over 5 in the same test.

New Balance Fresh Foam BB Toebox durability
Test results
Fresh Foam BB 5
Average 3.8
Compared to 27 basketball shoes
1
Toebox durability
5
Number of shoes

Heel padding durability

Just like the toebox, the heel padding displayed impressive durability in the face of our merciless Dremel test.

As can be seen in the side-by-side comparison below, the Fresh Foam BB did a lot better than the Answer DMX from Reebok, which only got a 1 out of 5 for heel padding durability. The New Balance show amazingly maintained the it-barely-ruffled-my-hair look, a testament to its resistance even to the most intense rubbing during games. It ultimately got a solid 4.

New Balance Fresh Foam BB Heel padding durability
Test results
Fresh Foam BB 4
Average 3.5
Compared to 24 basketball shoes
1
Heel padding durability
5
Number of shoes

Outsole hardness

Generally speaking, the outsole of the New Balance Fresh Foam BB did not feel extraordinary. But are we here to rant about it? Of course not! Even with its average appearance and feel, it worked as it should.

Our HC durometer gave it a hardness rating of 83.5, and it was fairly effective in resisting abrasion, even on rough concrete and asphalt. Using this shoe occasionally outdoors wouldn't hurt.

New Balance Fresh Foam BB Outsole hardness
Test results
Fresh Foam BB 83.5 HC
Average 81.8 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 36 basketball shoes
59.5 HC
Outsole hardness
91.0 HC
Number of shoes

Outsole durability

We also subjected the outsole to our merciless Dremel drilling, and it blissfully met our expectations.

The dent that our assault left was only 0.9 mm deep. This number is just around the average based on the data that our lab accumulated.

New Balance Fresh Foam BB Outsole durability
Test results
Fresh Foam BB 0.9 mm
Average 1.0 mm
Compared to 15 basketball shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole wear
2.0 mm
Number of shoes

Outsole thickness

Using a caliper, we measured the thickness of the outsole. We found that it's just as thick as the average at 4.1 mm.

We used this outdoors, and it held up well. Occasional outdoor usage should be fine. But if you frequently take your game to the streets, you might want to get a sturdier basketball shoe. We would recommend the TWO WXY V4 from New Balance.

New Balance Fresh Foam BB Outsole thickness
Test results
Fresh Foam BB 4.1 mm
Average 4.0 mm
Compared to 36 basketball shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole thickness
6.9 mm
Number of shoes

Weight

We dare say that the weight of the NB Fresh Foam BB is pretty well distributed. While we were testing it, not one part felt heavier or lighter than others. We were also able to jump and run without any issues, making our games a lot more focused and exciting.

New Balance Fresh Foam BB jump

Because of our good experience with it, it came as a surprise to us when our scale in the lab reported the weight of this NB shoe to be just around the average at 13.9 ounces or 394 grams. We swear; it definitely felt lighter than that!

New Balance Fresh Foam BB Weight
Test results
Fresh Foam BB 13.90 oz (394g)
Average 14.18 oz (402g)
Compared to 36 basketball shoes
11.29 oz (320g)
Weight
17.46 oz (495g)
Number of shoes

Cushioning

Heel stack

The moment we put this shoe on, we already felt that the midsole had more material than usual. True enough, our caliper measured the heel to be 33.3 mm thick, making it slightly thicker than average.

New Balance Fresh Foam BB Heel stack
Test results
Fresh Foam BB 33.3 mm
Average 30.1 mm
Compared to 36 basketball shoes
25.2 mm
Heel stack
38.4 mm
Number of shoes

Forefoot stack

Just like the heel, the forefoot is also thicker than the average at 25.0 mm. 

Now, what benefit did the thicker midsole bring? Aside from making us feel taller, the thick cushioning also helped us feel consistent comfort throughout our games. It diffused the impact of our landings.

New Balance Fresh Foam BB Forefoot stack
Test results
Fresh Foam BB 25.0 mm
Average 21.7 mm
Compared to 36 basketball shoes
18.2 mm
Forefoot stack
25.2 mm
Number of shoes

Drop

Our calculations pegged the heel-to-toe drop at 8.3 mm. This number is just around the average, and we wouldn't have it any other way. 

The current setup allowed us to enjoy smooth transitions and efficient steps. We did not feel any clunkiness whatsoever.

New Balance Fresh Foam BB Drop
Test results
Fresh Foam BB 8.3 mm
Average 8.4 mm
Compared to 36 basketball shoes
4.4 mm
Drop
14.8 mm
Number of shoes

Midsole softness

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

We are happy to share that the midsole was not only thick, it was really soft as well. Our HA durometer gave it a softness rating of 22.0, a number that's significantly lower than average. 

We just loved how our feet would sink into it a little every time we put it on. The slight sinking into the midsole not only made us feel more comfort but it also enhanced the clasp of the shoe on our feet.

New Balance Fresh Foam BB Midsole softness
Test results
Fresh Foam BB 22.0 HA
Average 26.2 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 36 basketball shoes
11.0 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
35.9 HA
Number of shoes

Insole thickness

The New Balance Fresh Foam BB comes with an insole that's 4.5 mm thick and is removable.

New Balance Fresh Foam BB Insole thickness
Test results
Fresh Foam BB 4.5 mm
Average 4.4 mm
Compared to 36 basketball shoes
0.0 mm
Insole thickness
8.6 mm
Number of shoes

Stability

Lateral stability test

Even if the midsole was a bit higher than usual, we never felt unstable in any way because the side walls and the heel counter did a very good job of keeping the foot in place.

As can be seen in the video above, the side walls are pretty much able to counter the force being put on it from the inside. The video below also shows the the foot being kept in place even if the wearer was motioning or sliding sharply sideways.

Torsional rigidity

We never had to worry about foot twists because the base of the NB Fresh Foam BB was firm and pretty much resistant to force. Clearly illustrated below is the ability of the shoe to resist twisting even if the foot is already in such an awkward angle.

To assess the shoe's torsional rigidity in the lab, we gave it a pretty good manual twist and bend. We still had to exert our full effort before the shoe's structure started to give in. We had no other choice but to give this shoe a perfect 5.

Test results
Fresh Foam BB 5
Average 4.5
Compared to 36 basketball shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5
Number of shoes

Heel counter stiffness

As mentioned, the heel counter was not something that we had to worry or even think about. It was pretty successful in clasping the foot and keeping it in place even if we were already frantically running toward the basket. 

It's clear in the video below how resistant the heel counter was to our squeezes. We gave it a solid 4 out of 5 for stiffness.

Test results
Fresh Foam BB 4
Average 3.5
Compared to 36 basketball shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5
Number of shoes

Midsole width in the forefoot

What we found quite fascinating was the fact that the New Balance Fresh Foam BB left quite narrow footprints. Indeed, our caliper measured the forefoot part of the platform to be only 110.9 mm wide, a number that is slightly lower than average.

New Balance Fresh Foam BB Midsole width in the forefoot
Test results
Fresh Foam BB 110.9 mm
Average 113.9 mm
Compared to 36 basketball shoes
106.2 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
122.2 mm
Number of shoes

Midsole width in the heel

The heel part is even narrower. Our caliper gave out a reading of only 85.9 mm.

Had we not worn this shoe, these numbers would have led us to conclude that stability is going to be an issue. Fortunately, this was not the case. Other features such as the rigid base and stiff heel counter worked extra well to ensure stability despite the narrow platform.

New Balance Fresh Foam BB Midsole width in the heel
Test results
Fresh Foam BB 85.9 mm
Average 91.6 mm
Compared to 36 basketball shoes
82.4 mm
Midsole width in the heel
105.1 mm
Number of shoes

Flexibility

Stiffness

The whole shoe felt less flexible than average, and we credit this inflexibility as the other good reason stability and lockdown were still dependable despite the high midsole and narrow platform. It was just so effective in keeping the foot well-mounted on the footbed.

The inflexibility of the New Balance Fresh Foam BB was confirmed when we did our flexibility test in the lab. Our digital gauge reported that this shoe needed as much as  47.9N of force so that it could bend at a 90-degree angle. 

Test results
Fresh Foam BB 47.9N
Average 40.8N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 36 basketball shoes
29.9N
Stiffness
67.2N
Number of shoes

Grip / Traction

We don't remember ever having problems with the shoe's bite on the courts. We felt its coral pattern acting like small suctions to give us the grip that we needed to stabilise our stances and runs.

New Balance Fresh Foam BB grip

We felt covered wherever direction we go. Forward. Backward. Sideways. When we say that the bite was multidirectional, we mean it.

Size and fit

Toebox width at the widest part

The narrow platform was already indicative that the footbed was also going to be on the narrow wide. We were not wrong. Our in-lab caliper measured the widest part of the toebox to be only 96.7 mm wide, making it less spacious than average. 

Hence, we do not recommend the New Balance Fresh Foam BB to wearers who have unusually wide feet, unless they want something with a super snug, blood-draining fit!

New Balance Fresh Foam BB Toebox width at the widest part
Test results
Fresh Foam BB 96.7 mm
Average 100.9 mm
Compared to 36 basketball shoes
92.6 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
108.2 mm
Number of shoes

Toebox width at the big toe

Toward the big toe, the width is just around the average at 79.1 mm.

New Balance Fresh Foam BB Toebox width at the big toe
Test results
Fresh Foam BB 79.1 mm
Average 76.8 mm
Compared to 30 basketball shoes
71.2 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
85.1 mm
Number of shoes

Tongue: gusset type

The tongue is fully gusseted, and we felt that this design enhanced the shoe's overall fit. It also stopped the tongue from moving unnecessarily when we were running up and down the court.

New Balance Fresh Foam BB Tongue: gusset type
Test results
Fresh Foam BB Both sides (full)

Comfort

Tongue padding

Surprisingly, the tongue had less padding than usual. Our caliper measured it to be 34% thinner than average. While it did affect the feeling of fullness that we would have wanted on top of the foot, the thinner tongue did not meddle with the shoe's fit.

New Balance Fresh Foam BB Tongue padding
Test results
Fresh Foam BB 6.1 mm
Average 9.2 mm
Compared to 36 basketball shoes
1.3 mm
Tongue padding
14.9 mm
Number of shoes

Heel tab

The Fresh Foam BB from New Balance doesn't have a heel tab.

New Balance Fresh Foam BB Heel tab
Test results
Fresh Foam BB None

Removable insole

The insole that comes with this  New Balance shoe is removable. Taking it out of the shoe was easy whenever we needed to add inserts or just wanted more wiggle room inside the shoe.

New Balance Fresh Foam BB Removable insole
Test results
Fresh Foam BB Yes

Misc

Reflective elements

The upper has reflective elements that make this shoe such a scene-stealer in situations with less-than-ideal illumination.

Test results
Fresh Foam BB Yes