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Friday, April 20th, 2012 at 12:35 pm  |  no responses

The FIT: New Balance 890v2

Light and strong, you can’t go wrong.

by Sandy Dover / @San_Dova

In the basketball world, athletes are subject to physical rigors that most other athletes cannot rival. For the elite basketball player of any level, his/her body is a literal temple and principal livelihood, and while the roughly 400 players in the NBA put their bodies and minds to the test daily and yearly, those outside of that realm also have become just as conscious about their fitness and health. The FIT is a series that will concentrate on the Fuel, Information and Training (F.I.T.) that it takes for both professional and amateur players to be at their very best in the world, as well as focusing on the literal Food, Intelligence and Technology that also comes into play in our physical fine-tuning—because after all, without having the vital sustenance, guidelines and tech advancements to feed our bodies, help us better absorb and process what’s necessary, and make the labor efficient and effective, we don’t have much to advance our collective health and performance. The FIT is here to bring to light what can make us all the best uniquely tuned creatures who we presently are and can continue or aspire to be.

Basketball as we all know it is a game of running, and basically, outside of the half-court nature of the game, it’s a game of sprints and jogs, literally. Basketball shoes as they are constructed are meant for protection of the body because of the game’s dynamic nature and drastic levels of force exerted and absorbed by the body…but the shoes are crucial in running; for that, the running part of basketball is why a running shoe for basketball players is relevant to the sport…

It’s not often that you find a running shoe that allows for ample cushioning and a light weight with the capacity for good support and flexibility, but that’s exactly what the New Balance 890v2 provides. I’ve ran in a lot of shoes and many of them regress to a standard mean soon after the initial break-in, when it comes to cushioning and support; New Balance has given another example of what has become the usual exception to footwear performance.

What follows is New Balance’s brief product description and additional specifications concerning the model:

In this inspired update to the wildly popular 890, the New Balance 890v2 takes “lightest” even lighter! Engineered from the ground up, this neutral trainer is a new kind of lightweight shoe, each part designed with purpose. The full ground contact outsole is just as compatible with midfoot and forefoot strikes as it is with a traditional heel strike. Innovative diamond shapes cut in relief from the extra-durable REVlite midsole provide as much function as fashion, and the coordinating diamond motif on the outsole helps with grip and transition.

- ABZORB® cushioning in the midfoot provides exceptional shock absorption

- Ndurance® rubber compound for maximum outsole durability

- Innovative REVlite midsole provides premium responsiveness and durability at a 30% lighter weight than other foams with comparable performance

- Flat, soft laces slide through uniquely flat lacing holes, locking them in place and preventing top-of-foot discomfort

- Created to meet the competitive requirements of world-class runner and Team New Balance member Andy Baddeley, whose name appears on the men’s 890

- Welded seams for no-sew material application

- The stated weight of the men’s 890 shoe (9 oz and 261g) applies to men’s size 9.5 D

- ABZORB® insert

- Synthetic/Mesh upper provides lightweight comfort and support

- Blown Rubber Outsole is extremely flexible, light, and helps provide cushioning

There’s a lot to like about the 890v2, and it’s not fluff. None of it is fluff—it’s pretty much all performance in this shoe. For me in my extensive training and evaluation of the shoe, there are three big things that stood out to me.

The first major attribute of the 890v2 is that it has an impressive foam composition. It rebounds so, so well on impact. This isn’t a shoe that has Air or any kind of Zig technology or anything like that, but the composition of the foam is wonderful. As referenced in the New Balance 997, the REVlite midsole rebounds particularly well and is resilient (with help from the ABZORB foam compound as well).

Secondly, the 890v2 is ultra-soft and smooth. The lining is kind of quilted and is satin-laden, giving the shoe a bit of a premium feel. It’s really comfortable just stepping into it, and the plush tongue makes for a great fit.

Thirdly, as prefaced, the ABZORB compound in the midsole gives the shoe its durably soft bounce-back. Laid underneath the REVlite foam in the midsole, ABZORB is stream from the rearfoot to the midfoot, giving runners of all strides the right kind of ride; heel strikers have ABZORB in the heel for the crash, and midfoot strikers have the compound underneath as well to give some much-needed comfort control as well. It’s simply a versatile cushioning unit that makes the 890v2 an all-inclusive running shoe.

What other good things are in the 890v2? Plenty! The toebox is impressive, as it’s just roomy enough for the toes to splay comfortably when the forefoot makes contact with the ground. Flexibility in the shoe, without being overly forgiving. The laces are great and flat, so that there’s no pressure over the bridge of the foot. It’s breathable, made possible by the 890v2’s all mesh upper (with synthetic suede overlays). The heel is stable, it molds to the foot with relative ease, the shoe has great strength and noteworthy durability (with a nod to the Ndurance rubber outsole).

I would change a couple of things in the 890v2, however.

Though the shoe is made to work for any kind of striker, it’s a bit bulky for midfoot and forefoot strikers, as the heel is just chunky enough (but not heavy) to make striding a little unusual at first; for me, a lower heel would be preferable, but I made the adjustment just fine after learning the shoe. Also, if you have sensitive arches and/or low arches, the stock insole may not be quite enough for a “just right” ride, but the beauty of the shoe is that the insole is removable, so putting in another set of sockliners is easy.

In all, if you want a great ride and want something that will help to guide you in your conditioning and endurance for the hardwood without suffering any kind of pain from the shoe in the process, the New Balance 890v2 runner is a very good choice (and likely underrated).

(For additional photos of the New Balance 890v2, go to Facebook.)

Sandy Dover is a published author, media consultant, and web & print magazine columnist in the world of publishing, while acting as a sports product evaluator and as a wellness & training consultant, advocate and journalist in the fitness industry (with the two worlds often colliding). You can find Sandy frequently here at SLAMonline, as well as at about.me, Facebook and Twitter.

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