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.
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
NB Beacon v2 is not as good as the v1
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.
Upper is a total revamp
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.
I'm a running nerd. I watch running/endurance events in my free time and spend hours reading gear reviews. I have completed over 2 dozen running and triathlons. I am solidly in the “mid-pack” group. I enjoy lacing up the shoes and getting a run in whenever I can whether on the road, trail or even the treadmill.