Here’s a picture of them fresh out of the box with zero miles.
Note how I’m effortlessly “rocking” the dual brand combo of inov 8 socks and NB shoes. How very cool, how very “bad-ass”
Firstly I really like this shoe, but I’m not sure if it’s partly because of the marketing, the fact that it is really cheap or if it is really a good shoe…
As you will probably know this shoe is the one that Anton Krupicka wears and is marketed thus. It has a cool picture of the Flatirons stamped inside the heel end of the shoe. The Flatirons, (which until recently I used to always read with my selective dyslexia as the Flat-i-trons) is where the aforementioned god of ultra mountains does a lot of his training.
Grrr, proper mountains, grrr.
Another cool marketing thing is the secret message stamped on the sole of the shoe, which reads “keep up” The idea is that as you lay down your tracks in the mud or the snow that this message is emblazoned upon the trail. That way all of those that follow your “bad ass” well be undermined and have their spirit crushed by your cock sure shoes and your rock-steady coolness and originality.
So the first thing that disappointed me was that I couldn’t get this message to stamp no matter what. Damn. The second big disappointment was that after their inaugural outing the cool picture of the Flatirons inside the shoe had rubbed off.
That, fortunately was where my disappointment ended (well for about 250 miles anyway). The shoes performed very well, both in training and racing. 2012 was all about building up my miles and my aerobic base, and I spent a long time going up and coming back down a lot of mountains. I worked out after a while that a bit more under foot protection is what I was lacking on the very difficult high mountain trails, and the MT110’s, with a 4mm drop are less like “barefoot” shoes and more like a really lightweight racing shoe. There’s enough protection without sacrificing feedback from the trail. The shoes fit like a glove, but of course they are more sock like than glove like (gloves are for hands – please note Merrell – socks are for feet). Like a lot of minimal shoes the MT110’s are snug around the foot, But with plenty of room to move – in other words, you can feel the upper material on your foot but it stretches and moves with you foot. I like this, I think. I did feel that my little toes were rubbing a bit, but not enough, as it turns out, to cause blisters. Perhaps another half size up would have suited, this leads me nicely to the next bit.
Sizing, and what are they smoking down at the New Balance factory?
So yes sizing, as with a lot of New Balance shoes the lasts were made by someone who prefers their shoes a half size too small. Let’s be blunt – this last maker has no idea of what a correct shoe size is and to be honest if he worked for me (I’m a joiner) he wouldn’t last the week (pun intended). So here’s a radical idea – why not just make them the right size. I had to go up a half size without a doubt, I almost went up a full size and to be honest if I was going to buy these again I think I would go up the full size. Like that I’d get a bit of extra space for those littlest piggies.
On the run. On the trail
Great all round performer, grip is okay and responsiveness is fine. Enough ground feel and at the same time a good amount of protection when you want to bomb down rough bits. I felt very secure in these shoes, like I could tackle anything really, like maybe I could even fly if I tried hard enough. I ran in these during the summer and autumn and they worked well. I really liked this shoe…
This is the problem, have a look at the next photo…
The uppers ripped on both shoes in roughly the same place. My repair with dental floss did the trick though and they did not split again. (You could colour the dental floss with a permanent marker pen if you wanted, I like the DIY look). The uppers are all plastic, which is a bit weird and modern but I think in general the shoe looks cool. Shame it ain’t that strong.
Now this would be a major beef if the shoe was expensive, but as it is dirt cheap I let it go (I got mine for about £42 including delivery to France).
I have one more gripe
And this is to do with the weird thing that New Balance have tried with the lateral (outside) edge of the sole. Obviously the guy that makes the lasts is a social kind of chap and doesn’t want to be indulging in what he’s smoking on his lonesome. No it’s quite clear that he’s been sharing his wares with the sole design team. (You’ll remember that these are the same guys that thought of putting the “Keep Up” stamp on the sole). Now they must be on some good shit, because for the life of me I can’t see why they suddenly came up with the idea to raise the lateral edge of the shoe…
Yes you heard right, the “little toe side” of the shoe is higher than the “Big toe side” of the shoe.
The excuse is that they designed the shoe in concurrence with Anton Krupicka’s wear pattern. Phaw phaw phaw. Please. Come on, we know better don’t we, leave the design guys alone with the last guys for too long and freaky things start happening, you can imagine them in the “coffee” room at break time…
Last guy: “I’ve got a freakin’ excellent idea dude…”
Design guy: “What’s that man?”
Last guy: “I’m gonna completely fuck with their minds, dude, I’m gonna make all the shoes frickin’ half a size too small” (laughter)
Design guy: “Wow man, that’s like totally monumental, you know what we should do too…?”
Last guy: “Nah man, tell me”
Design guy: “We should, like, make the shoe rock from side to side, dude…” (wide eyed bewilderment and smirking).
Last guy: “Yeah”
Design guy: “Listen, I’ve got it, we’ll make the one side of the shoe, bigger than the other side of the shoe – now that will really fuck their heads” (passes joint to Last guy)
Last guy: “Wow”
Design guy: “And you know what else?”
Last guy: “Nah man tell me”
Design guy: “We’ll like, make a secret stamp message, cut into the very fabric of the sole man. And no one person on the planet will ever be able to make it print (roaring with laughter). And I gotta ‘nuther one.. also whilst we’re at it we’ll have, like, a nice picture of mountains inside the shoe that disappears the first time you wear them…” (Laughs to convulsion, falls off chair).
Tshh, those cheeky Last guys.
Great shoe, with overwhelming positive attributes, but the uppers are weak and these things are touted as “mountain” trail shoes. Functional grip, good fit but weird lateral drop. I did start to have a few heel/ankle issues after wearing these puppies all summer so I wouldn’t be surprised if the lateral build up somehow pushes my feet through the pronation stage too quickly. Other folk on running blogs have posted similar stuff.
Anyway, reportedly the update version has since removed this problem, by reducing the lateral edge by 1 mm. As I have yet to try this update I cannot report as to weather the stamp is improved or if they’ve finally managed to build a shoe true to size.
The review in 5 words…
Good shoe, and it’s cheap.