A few months back, I was in the market for a road shoe with zero drop and plenty of room for the toes. There are not too many brands/shoes that fit this bill, but one brand kept showing up in my searches: Gravity from Newton Running.
They are not an exact match with all my requirements, but close enough to warrant a bit of research.
I scoured the web for reviews—also of earlier (no longer available) versions of the Gravity. During my research, I found nothing that deterred my interest.
On the contrary, most reviews spoke favorably and positively of the Gravity. Hence, when I found a pair of Gravity 8 on sale, I decided to give them a try.
This review was written after running some 100+ kilometers in Newton Gravity 8. Please note that I bought my shoes with my own money, and I’m not in any way affiliated with Newton Running. The contents of this review reflect my experiences and opinions only.
Shoes from Newton running are generally built on a level platform, i.e. low or zero heel-to-toe drop, and has ample yet responsive cushioning. What sets Newton apart from other similar brands is their trademark Action/Reaction™ technology.
Basically, it is a series of individual lugs that are allowed to push upwards into a flexible air pocket—all underneath the ball of the foot.
When you land, the lugs/air pocket will absorb some of the energy, which is then rereleased at toe-off. This has colloquially been termed “the Newton pop”. The entire Newton setup encourages mid/forefoot strike and a “natural running form”.
The Gravity 8 is reasonably true to size, perhaps a bit on the long side. When it comes to the toe box I find the Gravity 8 okay, but certainly not as wide as expected.
They are not as narrow as many mainstream shoes, but they still have that strangely elongated pointy form that I still fail to understand.
What might save the day for wide-footed runners—and what most reviewers consider a proxy for a wide toe box—is the uppers ability to stretch horizontally allowing your toes to push out in a wider form. I find this kind of wide toe box a poor substitute for a truly wide toe box.
In my opinion, the Gravity 8 does not have a toe box that allows your toes to splay. It has an upper that given enough outwards force will give way—partly at the expense of reducing space over your toes.
The Gravity 8 will, however, not allow much space between your toes, and your toes might even push outside the midsole in best Will E. Coyote style!
This stretch-effect is at its maximum when you land, but as soon as your feet are in the air, the upper will force your toes together again. This constant shifting between stretch and squeeze has, in my case lead to bunions and hotspots.
If I keep the runs reasonably short, it is okay, but I find that the Gravity 8 is no good for runs longer than about an hour and a half.
Apart from the not-so-wide toe box, the fit of the Gravity is quite nice. The heel cup and ankle collar are fine, structurally supportive and sit nice and tight.
The tongue is perfect in texture and size (for a road shoe) and offers the right mix of softness and firmness. The laces are flat and at the perfect length. They can be done up easily and tend to hold.
Overall, the Gravity 8 is easy to put on, easy to secure and generally provide a comfortable fit.
My pair of Gravity 8 currently weighs in at 242 grams per shoe in size UK 7 (EU 41). This is fairly light for a rather amply cushioned trainer. Not only are they light, whatever weight there is seems well distributed. This makes for a nimble and fast feel.
The Newton “pop” and the rolling toe-off helps propel you forward and encourages speedy runs. In other words, the Gravity 8 is light and fast for a regular trainer.
The Gravity 8 is clearly a road shoe and at its very best going full steam straight ahead on flat tarmac. Of you go!
But as soon as you need to do sharp turns, or the tarmac turns to gravel (or light trails) you’ll notice that the Gravity 8 is mostly suited for straight road type conditions.
First, the “Newton lugs” inevitably pick up small objects such as branches, gravel, seeds etc.
Second, because of the flexible upper, you forefoot will splay or push outside the midsole giving poor control on turns and side steps.
Third, the relatively high stack makes the shoe feel unstable (see stack height comparison with Vibram FiveFinger V-Alpha below).
Last but not least, the grip on the Gravity 8 is useless on anything but dry tarmac. Even on wet tarmac, the Gravity 8 is slippery.
The Gravity 8 requires a substantial break-in period. At first, the Action/Reaction lugs were completely inactive. They felt like running with blocks of wood under the ball of your feet. In effect, a negative drop and not comfortable at all.
After some 50 km, I noticed the first “Newton pop”, and after that, the Gravity 8 became increasingly comfortable. Actually, comfort has risen to a level where I will deliberately pick Gravity 8 going for shorter easy road runs, whereas up to the first 50-75 km, I had to force myself to put in the milage.
After some 100+ km, I still occasionally get that “new-shoe-numbness” feeling where circulation is cut due to the rather soft materials (insole and tongue mainly) and a too-tight fit. This is easily remedied by loosening the laces though.
Shoes from Newton running are high-end quality shoes, and this is reflected in the price. Solid choice of materials combined with reliable workmanship and excellent quality control.
They are holding up nicely and have that solid feel about them that makes me expect them to hold up for many miles to come.
One issue worth mentioning is visible wear on the Action/Reaction lugs (see image below). There is still plenty of material left, but the wear is obviously uneven, with the foremost part grating away the fastest (I must toe-off very aggressively!).
The lugs will, in time, take on a more rounded shape, which may cause a change in the way they run. I’m not entirely sure how this will manifest itself.
Intuitively, one should think the “Newton pop” gradually will diminish, and the “rocker” effect becomes less pronounced.
Looking at the images above (Background section) you’ll also notice that some sections of midsole not covered by outsole also show visible damage.
This is not of any structural significance—it is just the softer exposed midsole material showing normal wear and tear.
The Gravity 8 has been replaced by version 9. You may at the writing of this review find Gravity 8 on sale for around $100 (according to RunRepeat).
At this price, you’ll get yourself a reliable and solid trainer well worth the money. Version 9 is a different story at a whopping US$ 175, which I find too expensive.
I think the RRP of Newtons reflect that they are not mainstream shoes. Newton running deliberately maintain a high price point as an integral part of their “high-end image”.
This may maximise profit in an economic sense. Still, Newtons will IMHO never become, quote: “The world’s leader in natural running shoe technology”—simply because there are cheaper and equally good alternatives out there, e.g. Topo Magnifly 3 and Altra Escalante.
- Good ventilation
- Weight (or lack thereof)
- Poor grip (especially when wet)
- Long break-in period
- Lodges gravel/rocks between the lugs
- Not suitable for off-road conditions
- Narrow-ish toe box
Despite my long list of cons I really like the Newton Gravity 8. They offer a fast, comfortable, well-ventilated ride for easy summertime runs on dry roads. It is a mildly cushioned yet responsive alternative to natural runners.
They might also come in handy for barefoot runners who need the occasional break from barefoot shoes while still maintaining their mid/forefoot strike.
The Gravity 8 is also suitable for runners who want to transition to low drop shoes. They are quite expensive, but as mentioned, you may find last season’s model on sale.
A warning to prospective buyers:
- Don’t expect a super wide toe box!
- Don’t expect a barefoot-like experience.
- If you normally run in high drop shoes, please take it slow transitioning into Newtons—your Achilles will thank you later.
Good to know
- In the eighth version of the Gravity series, Newton offers a running shoe that is lighter and more nimble than the previous one. The Gravity 8 is built with a springy midsole and a snappy forefoot design that enables a fast and responsive ride for neutral pronators.
- The upper introduces the new Adaptive Fit Mesh, a seamless engineered material that provides optimum breathability. A few structural components have been updated as well: The metatarsal stretch panel that was present in the Gravity 7 has been replaced with seamless construction for a more comfortable fit.
- Meanwhile, the rest of the shoe remains similar to the previous version. The midsole still features the proprietary Action/Reaction technology and the outsole has the super high-abrasion rubber compound (SHARC).
The Newton Gravity 8 is designed to fit true to size; thus, runners can wear their usual size preferences without problems. Although the forefoot is roomy enough for an adequate toe splay, the heel area is slightly narrow to promote a tight, secure fit. The Gravity 8 comes in Medium width for both the men’s and women’s versions.
The outsole of the Newton Gravity 8 is comprised of two types of rubber. The forefoot is made up of a high-density rubber that offers durability, which is essential for consistent quality of toe-offs. The durable build of the high-density rubber enables a long-lasting performance for the runner.
Meanwhile, the rearfoot area is comprised of Newton’s own outsole material called the SHARC, short for “super high-abrasion rubber compound.” The SHARC material gives the outsole of the Gravity 8 enhanced traction, allowing for a problem-free run in both wet and dry conditions. The SHARC outsole, because of its abrasion-resistant quality, also heightens the durability of the outsole of the Gravity 8.
The P.O.P.1 (Point of Power) platform houses the lugs that come in an air-filled chamber. The lugs compress on footstrike and expand on toe-off, thus employing the Action/Reaction technique, which is further explained in the Midsole section.
The tread pattern and overall outsole design of the Gravity 8 do not differ much from that of its predecessor, a package that includes tactical flex grooves that mirror foot motion.
The main midsole component of the Newton Gravity 8 is the Newtonium foam, a cushioning system that provides the necessary comfort and responsiveness for the optimal running experience. The Newtonium foam employs a full-foot cushioning, which means that the benefits received by the forefoot are also the same in the heel area. This design ensures uniform coverage and protection throughout the foot. In comparison, the midsole material utilized in the Nike Epic React Flyknit 2 is lightweight, resilient, and durable all at the same time.
Adding to the features of the Newtonium foam is the Action/Reaction Technology, which is activated by the lugs in the P.O.P.1 platform in the outsole of the Gravity 8. The Action/Reaction Technology affects the run by creating a responsive midsole that is similar to the workings of a trampoline. The result is more bounce but with less energy loss compared to the traditional foam of other running shoes.
A biomechanical sensor plate covers the metatarsals for improved proprioception. This means the runner is more aware of their position and body movements, resulting in increased and more flexible mobility of the foot.
The new Adaptive Fit Mesh of the Newton Gravity 8 works by molding to the contours of the foot, ensuring a snug, customized fit, and improved running experience. The seamless structure provided by the Adaptive Fit Mesh creates a soft and breathable chamber for the foot.
Assisting the Adaptive Fit Mesh is the anatomically-designed skeletal tongue, the build of which wraps around the foot for an even more streamlined fit.
The Gravity 8 features an advanced lacing system that involves the use of semi-flat laces, which guarantee a versatile fit that is consistent throughout the running activity. It is aided by the pre-molded heel counter for additional support in the rearfoot area.
Lastly, the reflective details all around the shoe give the Newton Gravity 8 a 360-degree visibility, so that runners can still do their activities even in low-light conditions.
How Gravity 8 compares
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