Or at least, it only has rubber sole where it counts. Or it's got a holy sole.
That's the messaging coming from New Balance regarding their upcoming NB Minimus Zero barefoot/minimalist running shoe slated for release in 2012. The latest official news (You can spy some images of the NB Minimus Zero Trail and Road in this previous post) the NB Minimus Zero line is being released today from New Balance, and the subject is sole patterns from wear tested pairs of their Minimus line — and how those wear patterns were the basis behind the podded placement of the Vibram rubber on the Minimus Zero outsole.
Video and more after the jump!
Photoed above is
Perhaps the big takeaway from New Balance on how they designed the outsole of the Minimus Zero line is this:
To capture and compare the wear patterns of a range of runners — not just ultramarathoners with a midfoot strike — Chris' team examined more than 40 'wear-tested' pair of NB Minimus Trail in a similar fashion, noting the pods on the sole that were most worn. The video above shows a composite of those wear samples, with the most-worn pods on each shoe marked in green. As more shoes are introduced, a clear pattern of consistent wear is revealed.
Check out the video of just how that sole comparative process worked here:
This strikes me as a novel approach to designing a sole. I was already a fan of the multi-piece approach New Balance took with the original NB Minimus Trail (best seen by noting the black rubber pieces overlaid on yellow foam in this picture) and I'm happy to see that the Minimus Zero has not only evolved this approach further with the Minimus Zero Trail but also applied it to the Minimus Zero Road (the original NB Minimus Road just had a fully connected single piece rubbber sole).
I can't help but note that the rubber pod placement on the Minimus Zero Trail is reminiscent of the black rubber sole bits on the original NB Minimus Life (still a favorite shoe of mine that I wear all the time).
I think this is another step in the right (design) direction for New Balance on the Minimus line. That said, I can't help but think that the approach (sole wear as a basis for rubber placement) may not be exactly "right" in the sense that soles obviously impact biomechanics. It's the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle as applied to footwear — can't test function of a design without impacting it (in a way, the HUP is why in a nutshell barefoot running is the best trainer - best testing/feedback you can get!)
Anyway, exciting news from New Balance and I look forward to checking out the new Zero offerings! Go read the full blog post at NewBalance!