New Balance NB Minimus
As Spring 2011 comes closer, New Balance continues to leak information and photos of up their upcoming entries into the minimalist footwear market, including two "barefoot running shoes", the NB Minimus Trail and the NB Minimus Road, as well as one casual-wear shoe, the NB Minimus Wellness.
Below you'll find photos and video of these shoes — basically everything we've been able to put together on them so far. And if you're wanting to stay on top of their release, take a moment to subscribe to BirthdayShoes by email to get notified as we learn more.
The 2011 NB Minimus from New Balance
The New Balance NB Minimus line has three separate shoes — Trail, Road, and Wellness. Each features a wider toe box to allow toes to splay naturally, a reduced heel-to-toe drop (4mm), and a sole that is reduced in thickness to increase ground feel. Here are some specific details of the NB Minimus line pulled from an interview with Katherine Petrecca:
NB Minimus is a barefoot-inspired line of shoes created specifically for runners seeking a truly minimalist experience. It’s a cross-category collection, including road running, trail running, and wellness shoes ...
With NB Minimus, the idea is to balance this desire to deliver a "closer to barefoot" experience with the realities of the terrain on which people are running today, and the fact that most of us have been raised in shoes. With that in mind, for NB Minimus we developed a new, more anatomically-correct last, along with midsole heights specifically-engineered to deliver more natural movement, and better form. People will also notice that the uppers are a lot thinner, which helps reduce weight. The increased ground feel was accomplished by employing thin, flexible midsoles, and eliminating the inserts ...
To us, a meaningful 'closer to barefoot' experience is something very specific: a shoe with a neutral foot position, meaning that it has a minimal drop from heel to forefoot. It's certainly lightweight - under 8.5 ounces - although we're not content to make another lightweight shoe and call it 'minimal'. Also, and this is really important, it has to deliver a great minimal running experience - enhanced ground feel and a barefoot-compatible interior. That, of course, means reducing the number of seams, and making the shoe highly-breathable.
We specifically asked New Balance why they went with any heel-to-toe drop with the NB Minimus line and they said told BirthdayShoes, "We decided to go with a 4 mm heel-toe drop because we really wanted to make these shoes very "run-able." The reality being that most of us were raised wearing shoes, so we didn’t want to go from a 12 mm drop to totally neutral for fear of injury — the transition from 12 mm to 4 mm will still take some time. We believe we serve as a nice midpoint between truly barefoot and some of our other competitors on the market."
Below are individual details about each style of the 2011 New Balance NB Minimus.
NB Minimus Trail
The NB Minimus Trail is the New Balance shoe folks can't wait to get their hands on. It has a low 4mm heel-to-forefoot drop, a rugged Vibram sole, and a great off road look. Pictured here are a yellow for men and a blue for women. There has been an orange version in previous photos, so we are hoping they will come in many colors.
A promotional video featuring ultramarathon runner Anton Krupicka in the NB Minimus Trail running shoes was leaked on YouTube. You can watch it here:
See our collage of screencaps (pic) and thoughts on this video in this post — New Balance Minimus Running Shoes Marketing Videos.
NB Minimus Road
The NB Minimus Road is New Balance's minimalist-minded running shoe that is geared towards your every day road, concrete, and asphalt runner. Pictured here in blue and yellow for men and white and orange for women, has a bit of a retro feel. Its design is reminiscent of Nike and Onitsuka running shoes from the 1970s. Yet, it has updated colors and a minimal 4mm drop. The NB Minimus Road does not appear to have a Vibram sole but this is just speculation on our part.
A promotional video of the NB Minimus Road was also leaked on YouTube — however that video is no longer available. For now, check out this screencap of photos of the NB Minimus Road:'
NB Minimus Wellness
The New Balance NB Minimus Wellness shoe appears to be a unisex model with just one set of pictures being released by New Balance. In basic black and white, it looks a little like a cross between a nursing shoe and a moccasin. It also doesn't seem to feature a Vibram sole.
The NB Minimus Wellness seams geared towards casual wear for walking, everyday use. Though I'm sure the NB Minimus Road and NB Minimus Trail could also be used for casual wear, perhaps the NB Minimus Wellness brings some additional "barefooted-ness" to the game since it won't be used under as stressful conditions as the other varietals of NB Minimus shoes.
Note: The pictures above were added to the New Balance Flickr page on October 15, 2010.
The New Balance NB Minimus coming in Spring 2011 — what do you thinK?
Is the New Balance NB Minimus going to be a major contender in the minimalist footwear world? It's hard to see how it couldn't be. The list of barefoot running shoes just isn't that long (yet) and New Balance is certainly known for making a quality product. With the backing of runners like Anton Krupicka, I'm sure the line will be very popular with Vibram Five Fingers fans who want a mono-toed option that still affords some "barefoot feel." Of course, with others like Merrell coming out with Merrell Barefoot and Vivo Barefoot, New Balance will have it's work cut out for them.
Let us know what you think about the NB Minimus in the comments here!