The folks over at New Balance have started leaking out information about their next entry into the minimalist footwear/barefoot shoes category — the New Balance NB Minimus Zero,or the NB Minimus Zero for short. The NB Minimus Zero line will, as the name suggests, bring a zero-drop heel to toe option to the NB Minimus line (We've previously reviewed the NB Minimus Road, NB Minimus Trail [more photos and video | user review], and NB Minimus Life). As you might recall, the previous installations in the NB Minimus line all featured a 4mm heel-to-toe drop, much to the chagrin of the minimalist footwear community. Sure, while 4mm is ... minimal, it was a cognitive disconnect from the characteristics "barefoot running shoes" should have.
Echoing New Balance's approach from 2010, they are only leaking out a tiny bit of information about the NB Minimus Zero, giving us only a glimpse of the product via some super close-up photos and some tantalizingly ambiguous commentary via the New Balance" SBU Manager for Performance Running and Outdoor," Katherine Petrecca. More specifically, New Balance will be releasing "9 Things You Should Know" about the NB Minimus Zero by Katherine Petrecca at 4pm Eastern.
New Balance gave me early access to the Petrecca piece so I could whet your appetite and fulfill my duty to bring the BirthdayShoes community all the barefoot shoes news fit to print.
So read on after the jump!
The first zero-dropped shoe from New Balance
Based on Katherine Petrecca's comments, here's what we know about the NB Minimus Zero:
- It's coming in Spring 2012
- New Balance intends to support the "spectrum" of minimalist runners by offering a line of shoes, not all of which are zero-drop. My take, that's why they started with a 4mm drop and are now offering a zero-dropped NB Minimus Zero.
- Petrecca: "We define our NB Minimus collection by 3 measures: weight, stack height and the heel-to-toe drop. Those are the levers that we can pull to create different levels of minimal product. In addition to the reduced drop, NB Minimus Zero products also feature lower stack heights and weights than the 10 series - 6.4 oz for NB Minimus Zero Road and 4.4 oz for NB Minimus Zero Trail." Justin: I like the use of the word "levers" here — minimalist footwear requires compromise across numerous attributes. A more flexible sole, for example, has consequences down the function chain, including durability, protection, and ability to flex with the foot. Meanwhile, a 4.4 oz Nb Minimus Zero Trail? That is light!
- Speaking of light, the NB Minimus Zero has a "cored" midsole to reduce weight. This was an idea they had wanted to implement for the original MT10 line (Gen 1 NB Minimus), but weren't able to execute at the time. Meanwhile, they've got even more ideas brewing for 2013 (which is an eternity from now).
- Petrecca notes that the NB Minimus Trail will really "make you work for it ... It will really force the runner to pay attention to how they are running because the shoe won't be doing any of the work." Good!
"We have significantly reduced the amount of foam and rubber underfoot."
- The NB Minimus efforts are going to be changing other New Balance shoes: "We have taken this thinking into other areas of our Running line and have expanded our use of non-traditional off-sets. In Spring 2012, we'll launch 2 key performance updates that will move from a 12mm to an 8mm drop.”
- There will be new iterations of the NB Minimus Life and a NB Minimus Training (??? this a new model?)
That's it — told you it was tantalizingly ambiguous. Now, aside from the commentary, we get a pittance of photos, all of which I'm almost 100% sure are from the NB Minimus Trail. Why do I think that? Well, three reasons:
- that's what they did last year,
- the profile shot shows "Vibram," and the only NB Minimus shoe from the MT10 line that had a Vibram sole was the NB Minimus Trail (pic), and
- the sole shot looks reminiscent of the NB Minimus Trail's hybrid, multi-part rubber overlaid on foam as with the NB Minimus Trail (the yellow is the foam). Note: the arch on the NB Minimus Trail Zero doesn't have any rubber on it per the close-up photo! Weight reduction move by New Balance that also exposes your foot to more "danger" if you step on an errant rock or root.
So there you have it!
New Balance's teaser of the 2012 NB Minimus Zero Trail zero-dropped shoes. What do you think?