New Balance Fresh Foam 880 v12 Review (2023)
The New Balance Fresh Foam 880 v12 is a versatile road shoe for daily training and recovery.
Discover the latest model in the series: New Balance 880 v13
The NB Fresh Foam X 880 v12 is a versatile and comfortable running shoe for easy-paced daily runs.
The dual-layer midsole construction is the most exciting part of this shoe. It consists of a two layers of complementary foams. The Fresh Foam X provides softness to the cushioning, while the denser FuelCell offers good responsiveness, but not too much. Runners are unanimous on the subject: the ride is smooth and comfortable, in line with expectations of such a shoe.
Runners were less unanimous about the double-mesh (knit) upper. While wide-footed testers were pleased to find an upper that fit, others were disappointed by the overly roomy fit, with their foot floating in the toe box. The fit was challenging to find for these runners, even when playing with the laces. For runners with wide feet, the lockdown is impeccable.
Finally, on the outsole side, there is so much rubber on it that it’s almost indecent! However, this contributes to the robustness and durability of this shoe intended to chain the kilometers on the asphalt.
In summary, the New Balance Fresh Foam X 880v12 is a good evolution of the model, despite some criticism of its upper. It will be suitable if you are looking for a more comfortable shoe than it is efficient.
Please read our full review of the New Balance Fresh Foam 880 v12 for more information.
- Soft cushioning with just the right amount of bounce for a carbon-free plate effect
- Versatile on a variety of surfaces
- Durable outsole
- Classy yet fun look
- Upper too bulky, making the adjustment complicated
- The shoe is a little too heavy
New Balance Fresh Foam 880 v12 Complete Review Analysis
In the New Balance family, the 880 model belongs to the versatile and neutral shoe category of the brand’s catalog. Therefore, it has had its loyal runners since the beginning, looking for a simple, versatile, and comfortable shoe for their daily outings.
Version 11 had undergone some transformations compared to the previous ones: revisiting the midsole with the integration of the Fresh Foam, a new upper in a jacquard mesh.
Reviewers tote this 12th version as the softest 880 shoes to date. What changes has the Boston-based brand made to its model? Will the fans find it again? That’s what we’ll check out below.
The dual-density midsole is the highlight and most major development of this New Balance FF 880 v12:
- Fresh Foam X in the heel and on the top layer of the forefoot for softness
- FuelCell on the lower forefoot layer for density
These two technologies are complementary. The Fresh Foam X provides soft cushioning, while the density of the FuelCell delivers the necessary firmness for energy return.
The runners reported a soft and responsive underfoot feel, a bit like the effect of a plate but without the carbon. However, some found the foam lacked pop on faster runs and felt like they were struggling to keep up.
The sole thickness remains consistent at 32 mm heel height and 22 mm forefoot height. The heel-to-toe drop of 10 mm is high enough to bring an extra responsive ride.
In addition, the extension of the foam behind the foot forms an excellent platform that gives the shoe good stability.
Finally, runners will notice a much softer heel cushion than the previous model, allowing for a softer ride and landing.
Foot lockdown (upper)
Reviews are mixed, to say the least, when it comes to the upper.
On the one hand, runners with wide feet have found all the comfort they need for their toes with this spacious upper without compromising the lockdown. On the other hand, runners with more narrow feet had trouble finding the right fit, even with the laces tightened to the max. It’s not the foot!
The top of the shoe remains simple and consists of a double jacquard mesh upper, identical to the previous version. Overlays are limited to a rubberized and reflective “N” on each side at midfoot. The mesh is soft and supple, durable, but still a bit thick. The heat can cause excessive sweating that is unpleasant, causing untimely slips inside the shoe.
With a weight of 294 g in the men’s version / 256 g in the women’s version, this shoe is heavier than the previous version (about 20 g). If this is not a problem for daily training, it can be a little more for more sustained paces or runs.
New Balance has padded some parts of its upper (tongue, ankle collar), which may partially explain the weight gain. Some runners found it unnecessary for the tongue because detrimental to the adjustment.
Let’s wrap up this section with a point on which all runners agreed: the look! We are dealing with a stunning and classy shoe with a dominant navy blue, fun colorful logos on the sides, and even a cute little yellow N at the bottom.
Grip and durability
The blown rubber coverage is almost complete on the entire outsole, including a good portion of the midfoot. This amount of sturdy material provides excellent grip and traction on a wide range of surfaces, except snow and slippery surfaces (this is still a road shoe). Although, a few runners have tested the Fresh Foam X 880v12 on snowy trails without causing any falls.
The runners enjoyed the depth and size of the grooves on the outsole that provide a lot of flexibility.
Finally, you can count on the durability of the NB 880, with runners not noticing any wear after 50 miles. Some testers even think that the rubber will outlast the rest of the shoe.
How does it feel on the pavement with the Fresh Foam v12 on your feet?
We’ve seen that reviews of this fairly classic New Balance road varied in the previous sections. Runners are unanimous in their praise for the comfortable, smooth ride and excellent traction. The smoothness is noticeable as soon as the shoe is put on and translates into a well-cushioned, soft landing. This keeps the legs from getting tired when increasing mileage.
Some runners have doubts about the cushioning, which is more effective at a leisurely pace and less so at higher speeds. For others, the underfoot feel is reminiscent of the Brooks Glycerin, a reference in its category.
To summarize, the new 880v12 is a great versatile pick suitable for intense daily runs, recovery, and easy long runs.
Many runners think this is the best iteration of the Fresh Foam 880, especially with its revamped midsole. The Fresh Foam 880 v12 does indeed have the essential qualities to make it a very good shoe: soft cushioning, decent bounce, and pleasant ride.
It may not be with this model that you set new PBs on Strava, but that’s not what it’s for. It will be quite suitable for beginners or occasional runners looking for fun and comfort over performance.
As for improvement (New Balance if you read this): a more breathable upper with a snugger and more precise fit would go a long way!
|Heel stack height
|Forefoot stack height
|294 g/10.4 oz
|256 g/9 oz
|3 – Moderate
|3 – Moderate
|Fresh Foam X, FuelCell
|Mid, long, 10k, half marathon, marathon
|Daily runs, recovery
New Balance Fresh Foam 880 v11
The revamped midsole remains the most notable improvement to the v12. While the Fresh Foam X was already present on the v11, adding a 2nd layer of FuelCell foam in the forefoot provides a greater energy return. The cushioning plays its full role with a soft landing followed by a smooth toe-off.
However, some changes are not for the better:
- Removing the plastic clip in the heel decreases stability at the rear. However, the wider platform compensates for this.
- The bulkier upper makes the lockdown imprecise and the fit complicated for runners with narrow feet.
- The shoe is about 0.7 oz/20 grams heavier.
As you can see from this complete analysis, there’s no revolution with this 12th version of the Fresh Foam 880, at most a shift in focus from the performance-oriented v11 to more comfort. So this shoe will win you over if you’re looking for a traditional road shoe with a softer and fairly bouncy ride for daily training.
New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 v13
The 1080 v13 is more cushioned with a softer underfoot feel. Check out our detailed comparison.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Yes. However, the fit is quite ample so you may want to try them out if you have narrow feet.
The cushion is protective enough for long distances like the marathon. However, some runners may prefer the 1080v12, which comes with a softer and higher stack.