Barefoot Shoes

New Balance Minimus Zero Has Got No Sole

A look at the outsole design of the New Balance NB Minimus Zero – the first zero-dropped New Balances that cater to the trail and road barefoot/minimilist/natural running communities!

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!

By Justin

Justin Owings is a deadlifting dad of three, working from Atlanta. When he's not chasing his three kids around, you'll find him trying to understand systems, risk, and human behavior.

10 replies on “New Balance Minimus Zero Has Got No Sole”

I just ordered the Inov-8 Bare x-200 to hold me over until these get released. I loved the NB trail but was unsatisfied with the NB road. I hope these are better.

I love the concept and how they’ve developed it. I’ve been messing with rubber dust from industrial tire recycling centers, mixed with glue to prototype our next winter running shoe. I wish I had the money New Balance has to make my own Vibram soles. That’s pretty cool.

My dad shared a similar story about sidewalks at an east coast college someplace. Instead of installing sidewalks, they let students walk across the grass to get to classes. Eventually paths were formed enough in the grass to indicate where sidewalks should be installed.

I have beeen lucky enough to have been wearing the basic strapped style vibrams since I had chemo for test. cancer over a year ago which allowed my feet to get infected and I almost lost them to staph infection but the 5 finger basic w/ straps was all I could wear that didn’t hurt my feet and since then it’s been love! However,I recently bought the new Minimus my NewBalance and I love how they allow me to do sprints and run over harder surfaces than my soft soled vibrams, they are the perfect in-between shoe! Now, I plan on getting the new Komodos since my feet are healed but I would suggest the 5 finger Vibrams to Anyone and Everyone they helped me feel my legs and feet again and opened my mind in the process but the NB Minimus are a great mid step for those who still need a traditional shoe but with the amazing Vibram sole feel yet allow one to run like a gazelle! Anyway I’m so glad to see more and more people embracing the barefoot revolution! Just beware of fake mock-up shoes if they aren’t Vibram they aren’t true at least in my humble opinion! But, from a major 5 finger enthusiast try the NB Minimus ,you’ll love them I promise!


In the first paragraph it is mentioned that the Zero line is being released currently. Is this correct or are they being released in the spring?

Great info, just as a side note I was talking to a New Balance rep at a natural running seminar and I was able to handle the new minimus road and trail, they are great looking shoes. They are coming out at the beginning of march and will be $110 a pair, a bit more than the current model

I like how they’re using the wear pattern to inform future designs, but surely it would make sense to make separate models for heel strikers and mid-foot strikers?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *