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Introduction to New Balance

New Balance a Boston-based company in the United States with a long history of making footwear for various sports. The company is privately held and was founded in 1906, about 106 years ago.  New Balance has about 5,500 employees worldwide in 2019 and recorded a revenue of US$4.4 billion in 2021. One unique aspect of the company is it maintains manufacturing presence in the United States and the United Kingdom.

New Balance - Wikipedia
Figure 1: New Balance Logo (Credit: New Balance)

New Balance’s Midsole Technologies

The current midsole technologies which New Balance has in their running shoes are the Fresh Foam and the Fuelcell. Of the two, Fresh Foam has been around in New Balance’s line up since the early 2010s with the Fresh Foam 980. The series gained greater traction with the launch of Boracay, the update to Fresh Foam 980, and the Zante series in 2015. Fuelcell made its debut with the Fuelcell Impulse in the 2018, making it the younger of the two midsoles.

Fresh Foam is a type of EVA based midsole technology with a couple of twinks to make it softer. Fresh Foam is widely used in the New Balance line up as the go-to technology for cushioning such as in the Vongo or the 1080 series.

On the other hand, Fuelcell is a nitrogen infused TPU blend midsole technology. There are reports which suggest the TPU blend is a mixture of EVA with TPU, however, we are unable to confirm if it is the case. Fuelcell midsole is marketed as the super cushion and performance technology. It is used in New Balance’s carbon-plated racers such as the RC Elite and TC but also Lerato.

There are other foams like the Dynasoft and the ABZORB but not commonly seen in the performance running shoes product line-up. Therefore, we have excluded it from this article.

New Balance Running Shoes Map

There are variations in the product line between regions and countries. Our article takes on the product line primarily from the United States. Additionally, we only cover the two mainstream midsole technologies which New Balance uses: (i) Fresh Foam series and (ii) Fuelcell. From these two, there are a total of 14 models in the current line-up.

The median price for the 14 models is US$135 with an average of US$144.30 across the 14 models. The inclusion of the racing shoes (e.g., RC Elite v2) brought up the average price. The prices spread across a range of US$155 starting from US$70 to the most expensive at US$225.

[Red line is the median price]

Chart 1: Pricing of New Balance Running Shoes (Credit: Daily Running Co)

Fresh Foam Series

Fresh Foam being a more matured technology has more models using its technology. The product line up also caters to the different workouts a runner does a daily basis. In total there are 8 models utilizing the Fresh Foam technology. The Tempo v2 is the lower stack height option, the 880 is the daily trainer option, while the 1080/More/Vongo are the max cushioned options. For the FF series, price starts from US$70 with the Arishi v3 and goes up till US$165 with the FF More v3. The average price for the Fresh Foam series is about US$126 while the median price is US$135. This implies that most of the Fresh Foam models are lesser than US$135.

Fuelcell Series

In total, there are 6 models utilizing the Fuelcell technology. For the Fuelcell series, price starts from US$100 with the Fuelcell Propel v3 and goes up till US$225 with the Fuelcell Lerato. While the RC Elite v2, New Balance’s carbon-plated racer, comes in at US$220 which is cheaper by US$5 than previous iteration. The Fuelcell series lacks a similarity to the Fresh Foam Tempo v2’s in terms of product line. The FC Rebel v2 and FC Prism v2 can be considered to be their daily trainer options. The average price for the Fuelcell series is about US$167.5 while its median price is US$165. This implies that the Fuelcell series has a balanced number of more expensive and less expensive models in its line-up.

Chart 2: New Balance Product Mapping by Price (Daily Running Co)

Most Affordable Range

The most affordable in the Fresh Foam series is the Arishi v3 which comes in at US$70. This is a no frill basic pair of running shoes which has the parts you need. A full-length Fresh Foam midsole, an engineered mesh upper and a sleek profile. At the same time, for those looking for multiple width and affordable options, the 680v7 is a good choice. The 680 is only slightly more expensive, by US$10, than the Arishi v3.

In the Fuelcell series, the Propel v3 priced at US$100 is the most affordable option for any runner looking to test the Fuelcell midsole technology. It has been known in the industry that the Fuelcell midsole has different characteristics for different models.

Daily Trainer Options

For the New Balance daily trainer options, runners are treated to an array of options for both neutral and stability choices. In the Fresh Foam series, there are the 880v12 for neutral runners and the 860v12 for those needing the stability. Both are US$135 matching the median price for the Fresh Foam series.

In the Fuelcell series, options such as the Rebel V2 and Prism V2 caters to the need of neutral runners and stability runners respectively. The Rebel V2 and Prism V2 comes in at US$130, slightly cheaper than the Fresh Foam options.

Long Run Options/Max Cushion Options

For runners going the distance, the Fresh Foam series has been well known with the 1080 and the Vongo for those looking for stability needs. Additionally, New Balance has also recently introduced the More which has stack height taller than 1080 as the band’s max cushioned running shoes.

For the Fuelcell series, runners would be looking at the Fuelcell TC coming in at US$200 and features a full-length carbon fiber plate. Do note that the Fuelcell TC is expected to update in 2022 with the Fuelcell SC Trainer which has an increased stack height. In terms of known price point, it is likely to be around the US$200 to US$205 range.  

Race Day Options

For Race Day option, we assume it to be the half marathon or full marathon. In our view, any running shoes could serve as your race day shoes as long as you are comfortable and confident with it. For example, I did my full marathon in the Fresh Foam 1080v9.

During the Race Day, runners would be looking at the Fuelcell RC Elite 2 which comes in at US$220. Do note that the Fuelcell RC Elite 2 is expected to be updated with the Fuelcell SC Elite v3 in 2022. For those looking for stability option, New Balance has the Lerato although we are not sure if it was truly successful in gaining traction with runners. Upcoming launches include the Fuelcell SC Pacer for the shorter distance races.

For now, there is no option for race day in the Fresh Foam series. However, runners can always choose any of the Fresh Foam running shoes to do their race day. Additionally, the RC Elite might not be the choice for runners when doing a 5K or 10K race.

Summary & Conclusions

New Balance utilize the Fresh Foam and Fuelcell primarily for its performance running shoes today. The Fresh Foam has been around in New Balance’s line-up since 2014 while the Fuelcell since 2019. In this article we examined the spread of the brand’s products line-up for both the Fresh Foam and Fuelcell series. Here are the key pointers to take away for the New Balance’s Product Map.

  1. New Balance utilize primarily two types of midsole technologies:
    • Fresh Foam and Fresh Foam X – an EVA blend midsole.
    • Fuelcell – A nitrogen infused TPU midsole.
  2. The median price for New Balance’s product line-up is US$135 and has a range of US$155. Entry starts from US$70 with the Fresh Foam Arishi v3 and goes all the way to US$225 with the Fuelcell Lerato.
  3. The Fresh Foam series which is more established has more variety runners and an entry of sub US$100.
  4. The Fuelcell series has gained recognition for its bouncy soft cushioning in the market and utilize in New Balance’s elite performance range. At the same time, the Fuelcell series has affordable option coming in at US$100 with its Propel v3.

We hope that this article has helped you to understand the New Balance’s running shoes better and make an informed choice about which pair is for you. If you like what we are doing here, please do not forget to subscribe to our newsletter for notification of our latest post. Or you can follow us on social media channels such as Twitter and Instagram. Till next time, just keep running.

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