Thursday, April 12, 2012

New Balance MR00 Review- Minimus Zero Road

I recently read a clinical study in which the subjects were brought into a room, and prior to being asked a barrage of questions, they were asked to put on one of two coats. One of the coats was a medical doctors lab coat, and the other was a painters smock. The subjects who wore the lab coat, consistently outscored the subjects wearing the painters smock. They were literally able to remember more and use their brain more effectively just because they felt they were smarter due to their lab coat. In the same vein, just wearing the freshly released Minimus Zero Roads might make you faster.

The minimal shoe movement has been around a while now, and most runners have taken their stance on minimal footwear. People defend their stance on minimal footwear whatever it is, usually with an almost religious fervor or zeal. I have seen people running 50 mile trail ultra marathons in Vibram 5 fingers, and people running road marathons barefoot. In response to the minimal footwear movement there is even shoe companies now releasing the antithesis of minimal, the HOKA; with sole thicknesses that can be measured in inches as opposed to mm. 

(As a sidenote, what I haven't seen is anyone on a podium wearing 5 fingers, offense barefooters, but seriously...Also as a sidenote, Ryan Hall wore the Asics Hyperspeed for some time, is it marketed as minimal? No. Is it "minimal"? Yes, with a drop of only 6mm and a weight of only 7 ounces...Most elites are wearing racing flats, which are basically, "minimal")

When New Balance released the original Minimus line of footwear last year, people scoffed at the road model and embraced the trail version. They considered the road model to be "too heavy to be minimal", and "not minimal enough". The trail version was lighter, and possessed a more flexible sole, and the road version was like the red headed step child of the minimal footwear army. they both presented the same heel to toe drop of 4mm, which in and of itself is not exactly minimal, but it is closer than the industry standard of 12mm.

Now, one year later, NB has released the Minimus Zero line, containing a 0 mm drop from heel to toe. Minimal footwear aficionados can wipe their teary eyes at the perceived beauty which lay before them in the new line.

Before I go any further, I am going to lay the model names out to prevent confusion in any further reading;

The Minimus Road which was released last year and had the 4 mm drop is called the MR10, and the trail version is called the MT10.

The Minimus Zero released this year is the MR00 and MT00, with the "R" and the "T" designating the road and trail versions.

The new zero line completes the line. It is NOT a redesign, as a lot people are calling it. There is a need for both models in the Zero series with the 0 mm drop, and also the 10 series with its 4 mm drop.

I was one of the few people who fell in love with the MR10 when it arrived last year. I was happy enough with the 4 mm of drop it contained, and pleased with the sole. It was a shoe that could handle high mileage runs. I often wore it on 20 mile days, and felt it was supportive enough to continuously handle those distances. It encouraged a midfoot-forefoot strike, and could be worn with or without socks. My favorite aspect of the shoe however is the sole, which is very similar in the new MR00 line.

The sole on the MR00 and the MR10 both contain a relatively flat surface. What I'm referring to, is the sole's surface near the arch. A lot of shoes have a heel on them which is pronounced, and I'm not talking about heel toe offset, but rather, the large cutout where the arch of the shoe is. When I lay a shoe flat, I don't want to see space where the arch is. 

To see the rise I am referring to, look at the Newton below;

In the middle of the sole, there is a HUGE cutout.

You can also notice the cutout at the arch in the Asics below;

Now, look at the MR10;

Another example of a shoe which doesn't have a large cutout at the arch, the Montrail Rogue Racer, (trails);

This whole cut-out thing isn't the meat and potatoes of all running footwear; but it IS something to notice and determine what you prefer. I know for me personally, my most economical stride occurs in shoes like the Rogue and the MR00 and MR10, but I am sure there are many sub-2:20 marathoners who could destroy me in a shoe with an arch cut-out, so figure out what YOU like! I will continue to run in both types of shoes, but prefer those without the arch cut...

The point is, The sole is flat on the Minimus lines. I find this enables a smoother stride and a faster cadence. I recently picked up a pair of Pearl Izumi Streak II's, and even after years of running high mileage, I couldn't believe how exaggerated this "arch cutout" felt after running in the MR10's for so long.

Regardless, let's dive into the MR00.

The stack height in the new MR00 is a minuscule 12 mm on the heel and the toe. The MR10 for comparison is 18mm in the heel and 14mm in the toe. The REVlite midsole in the MR00 is very flexible, and contains Vibram rubber in high abrasion areas to hopefully provide many miles of use even in minimal footwear. It's listed weight is 6.1 ounces.

The shoe contains a very wide toe box, and a narrow heel. The midfoot of the shoe is also very narrow. It is easy to have a little bit of spillage over the middle of the insole as the shoe is so narrow in the midfoot. The toebox however can accommodate even a wide foot.

The upper is constructed of a highly breathable mesh and it possesses some stretch for a very comfortable fit. The tongue is attached on only one side and lacing is innovative and secures the foot like a glove.

In terms of the ride of the shoe, it definitely feels more scant than the MR10. If I were a bit heavier, (I am 5'9" and weigh from 145 to 150), I might opt for the MR10 over the MR00 due to its more supportive and firm sole. The REVlite midsole on the MR00 is much more flexible than the MR10.  

Footwear is a science, and it's a very personal one at that. We all have different body types and foot shapes. For me, the minimus line is one which I prefer because it enables me to run injury free and it complements my gait. I love the sole and its narrow heel and wide toebox. It is meant to be worn with or without socks and I have done both, experiencing some blisters when I go without socks on speed workouts.

Other footwear that is similar which I would like to compare to the MR00 and the MR10 is the Pirhana model by Asics and the Grid A5 by Saucony. If you're looking at the minimus line, you should also check out these models. Both are considered "racing flats".

I was excited to try out the MR00. It's actually the first shoe I have paid almost full price for in a VERY long time.  When I laced them up, I headed out for a planned speed workout, and coincidentally ran my fastest tempo run to date...Maybe the sexy new shoes were my own version of a white lab coat from the clinical study. Regardless, the sole felt great, the weight was barely noticeable, and I'm excited to log a lot of miles in these when I'm not on the trails or in my MR10's on longer road runs over 20 miles.  

Just for giggles, here's Ryan Hall's Hyperspeed by Asics...



  1. Good informative post Troy. And very timely for me. I have been running nearly all my road miles in the MR10 and really like them. Since Feb. I've run my trail runs in the MT110. Did the 40 mi Mt. Mitchell Challenge in the MT110's with no problems. I have a road marathon on 5/6 and was about to purchase the MR00. Question- will I be able to tell the difference in the 0 drop compared to 4mm? I've had the same experience with no socks. I did a 22 miler w/ no socks in the MR10 w/ no issues... but sometimes doing tempos with no socks I get a little rubbing.

  2. Hey Rob!
    I'd probably stick with the MR10's for the marathon. I have the same concern as I have a marathon on 4/28 and I think I am going to wear the MR10's as they are tried and true!
    Good luck!

  3. Any update to these sneakers with a marathon distance run?

    1. Personally i think they are too minimal for a marathon but i suppose its a personal preference in relation to speed ambitions and recovery. i think they would cause microtrauma thus slowing the runner down in the closing miles and also create inflammation which would linger for weeks at the 26.2 distance.

  4. I'm training for my first marathon and have both the MR00 and Saucony Kinvara 2 (4 mil drop). If the MR00 is too minimal for the marathon, would the Kinvara be ok? What shoe do you favor for a marathon? Thanks for your advice.

    1. I'd recommend the Kinvara 2. Honestly for most people the MR00 is too minimal for a marathon, (myself included). The kinvara offers cushion and that equates to a smoother stride for most, and more RUNNING ECONOMY. A lot of elite sub 2:20 guys aren't even running in something as minimal as the MR00. There is philososphy and there is science. I think the science of running would favor something with a little cushion. It's a cool "idea" to run minimally, but really the foot can benefit from a shoe with a tiny bit of support like the Kinvara would offer...

  5. Hi

    Do you know if the model has been redesigned since this review? I checked the NB website and they have a lime version and a blue version, but no red so I wanted to check if you knew whether it was a colour change or a redesign which may be worse/better/same.



    1. The model number MR00 is still the same, just not available in red.