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Shoe review: New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon

A new sister to the Zante and the 1080, the Fresh Foam Beacon offers lightness, great looks, and insane comfort

Photo: Matt Stetson

New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon

Weight: men’s 7.5 oz. (213 g), women’s 6.2 oz. (177 g)
Offset: 6 mm
MSRP: $159.95
Buy Women’s Buy Men’s

The Beacon is New Balance’s latest addition to the Fresh Foam stable, which are fully in line with the global trend towards maximum cushioning and comfort.

A new sister to the previous Zante and the 1080, the Beacon is a neutral cushioning shoe that will make you feel right at home on any road run, and dare we say it could even be an option for the track, despite its unconventional look and generous stack height (26 mm in the heel, 20 mm in the toe). It is comparable in lightness to the NB 1400 racing flat.

Elite runner Rachel Hannah test-drives the Fresh Foam Beacon at New Balance’s launch event in Toronto on June 22. Photo: Mike Lin

As with any cushioning shoe, it’s all about the midsole, and the Beacon is the first New Balance shoe to be engineered with the lightweight Fresh Foam GC (Ground Contact), which means there is no separate outsole. Thanks to this “ground” breaking material, the shoe manages to achieve the perfect blend of soft cushioning and lightness.

Photo: Mike Lin

Here’s what elite marathoner and New Balance athlete Rachel Hannah had to say about the Fresh Foam Beacon:

“I love the Beacons! They are very light and springy, but still well cushioned. With my high mileage and recent stress fractures in 2017, I need a shoe that is well cushioned for impact protection but also one that I can move quickly in. I felt like I could toe off well and my stride pace was the same as other lightweight trainers from New Balance, such as the 1500’s. Who thought that a shoe as light as a race day shoe would still give protection like a daily trainer?”

The hexagonal pod pattern of the outsole provides traction on the ground and a very pleasing degree of spring at toe-off. Also on the outsole, the inside forefoot and outside heel (areas of maximum wear for most runners) are reinforced with small, full-on rubber lugs to provide some durability in those vulnerable places where most of us wear down our outsoles. This innovation avoids the added weight of a full rubber outsole.

Photo: Matt Stetson

The knitted mesh upper is soft, breathable, relatively unstructured, with a snug and extremely comfortable fit. The shoe somehow manages to feel both substantial (thanks to the generous stack height) and as light as air. And you won’t experience any “slop” in the heel, thanks to the shoe’s soft but snugly fitted heel collar and padded tongue.

Photo: Matt Stetson

Heel-strikers accustomed to a cushioning shoe with a bigger drop between heel and toe may find the Beacon a bit flat at first, but we found that a small price to pay for its astonishing comfort and lightness.

Photo: Matt Stetson

Rachel Hannah: “I plan on running in these shoes several times per week to help with cushion, protection and health, but in a super light shoe. Having a varied set of training shoes can help a runner stay healthy and use new muscles.”

The modern aesthetic of this shoe is very much in keeping with New Balance’s latest designs. The knitted upper is very distinctive-looking, and the hexagonal beehive pattern in the midsole complements the smaller pattern in the upper.

Photo: Mike Lin

It’s so pretty, you definitely won’t want to change out of it for brunch or the bar after your run. The blue colourways (light for women, a darker blue-grey for guys) make it perfect for wearing with jeans or other casual wear. Comfort and style make a heady combo, and the Fresh Foam Beacon is one highly versatile shoe.

Buy Women’s Buy Men’s