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October 5, 2011

New Balance Minimus Zero Sneak Peek; New Balance Good Form Running Video

I’m a little bit late in arriving to the latest New Balance party … but then again, we’ve all still got a lot of time to get there.

During the week I was camping on top of a volcano, I received an e-mail preview from my New Balance contact, directing me to a new photo essay on the upcoming Minimus Zero shoe. Just as they did last year, New Balance is doing a long, slow promotional build to this one, releasing information and photos in carefully measured doses in advance of the official launch next February. I finally got around to checking out the site this week, and when I got there, I stumbled across something else kind of cool, which follows at the end of this post.

Photos courtesy NewBalance.com

The photo essay features Chris Wawrousek, one of the lead New Balance engineers responsible for designing the outsole on Minimus footwear – in particular, how the outsole on the upcoming Minimus Zero line will differ from the (already pretty awesome) outsoles on the current Minimus collection. It’s an interesting glimpse of how research, imagination, and real-world feedback combine to produce a finished product that looks to be one of the coolest innovations in next season’s minimalist offerings.

Coincidentally, the essay also emphasizes something I touched on in my Vibram FiveFingers Trek LS review this week; namely, that Vibram seems overdue to upgrade the trail outsole on their FiveFingers models. Considering that the company makes the outsoles for both New Balance and Merrell’s minimalist trail shoes, it isn’t too much of a stretch to think they could “knob up” their own trail models. After all, the evolution of the Minimus outsole is as much a story about Vibram as it is about New Balance.

Vibram + New Balance = Awesome

Anyway, the essay is definitely worth a look if you have any interest in the Minimus Zero line this spring. Check it out at the following link:

Evolution of the New Balance Minimus Zero Sole

The other item that caught my eye on the NB site was video from a subsection of the NB website called Good Form Running, featuring former NCAA 1500m champion Grant Robison. The film itself isn’t anything remarkable: it’s a brief overview of proper natural running technique, which I confess is something that I still need reminders about. More importantly, it represents an important confirmation from a major shoe manufacturer that running is more dependent on what you do with your body than it is on the gadgets and technology underfoot.

(It also marks the second significant minimalist player – Merrell is the other one – to employ a high-profile amateur runner for a natural running video series. Needless to say, I like this development; keep this in mind if you ever see me in an instructional film for Soft Star someday.)

The clip is short and sweet – all of one minute long – but it’s a nice refresher for anyone who sometimes overlooks the basics of proper minimalist form. And knowing that New Balance is fully onboard the natural running train makes me quite eager to test the Minimus Zero line in the near future.

“Good Form Running” by New Balance (click to play):

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Anonymous,  10/6/11, 5:38 AM  

I'm a little sorry to see the solid arch protector block from the original Minimus Trails is no longer included. That little slab of rubber has saved me from a bruised instep more times than I care to admit.

Jonathan,  10/6/11, 7:37 PM  

Vibram is coming out with a dedicated trail running version called the Spiridon LS. It was unveiled at the Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake.


Anonymous,  10/8/11, 11:06 AM  

I want to love the Minimus, but the front of the shoe curves inward....and my feet don't! Aaaargh. I even tried sizing way up, and I end up with a gap by my big toe, and the outside still rubbing. Very frustrating.

Stuart 10/17/11, 12:32 PM  

No claims about tightening you buns with these shoes then? ;-)

secretsquirrel 1/2/12, 5:20 PM  

I have had the Nike free 3.0 v1 and the Nike free run+2 and now run in the new balance minimus trail 20 shoes and I like both the free and new balance. I run 12-15 miles a week and I've fallen in love with both, but I think Nike needs to team up with vibram and make a super flexable shoe like the free but with barefoot characteristics such as lower heels like the vibrams, I don't see why Nike doesn't do this, Nike is my favorite brand but I'm forced to go with new balance if I want bare foot running shoes. What do you all think?

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