Experts and owners agree that the New Balance 890v2 offers a near-perfect blend of cushioning and responsiveness. With an 8 mm heel-toe drop, and weighing just over 9 ounces for a men's shoe and less than 8 ounces for women, this shoe is an excellent bridge between conventional and minimalist running shoes.
Fits true to length, but not width. Although a few scattered user reviews praise the New Balance 890v2 for a flexible sole, editors of the Runner's World shoe finder score it at just 21 percent (out of 100) for flexibility, and other experts tend to agree; they say the shoe is responsive and reasonably flexible, but definitely not the most supple option out there. The good news is that flexible welds (instead of stitches) on the upper help eliminate any chafing or pinch points.
Writing for Triathlete magazine, Aaron Hersh says the 890v2 fits low-volume feet the best. Users with low-volume feet tend to agree, saying the 890v2 fits true to length but narrow throughout, especially in the toebox. One woman posting to Amazon.com describes this shoe's "overly pointy" toebox as its only flaw: "I have a wide forefoot and short toes, which the shoe width accommodates just fine, but it has some unnecessary empty space where the toe box comes to a point."
An impressive blend of cushioning and responsiveness. Testers with Fitness magazine choose the 890v2 as the best neutral running shoe. The short review brims over with enthusiasm for the shoe's light weight (9.2 ounces for men, 7.9 ounces for women) and bouncy cushioning. In his Triathlete review, Hersh says "the cushioning gently gives underfoot." Reviewers with Runner's World say the New Balance 890v2 offers "cushioning-shoe protection in a build so light you could mistake it for a racing flat."
"It's comfortable, lightweight and has just enough cushioning to keep my old knees from crumbling as I run across pavement and sidewalks," writes one runner at Amazon.com. Most of the credit for this goes to New Balance's proprietary RevLite midsole, which users say provides responsive, lightweight cushioning. They also like the 890v2's mesh uppers for their comfort and breathability.
Some of the biggest changes between the first and second editions of the New Balance 890 include lowering the heel-to-toe drop (it's now 8 mm) and dropping the entire shoe a few millimeters closer to the ground. Reviewers say the 890v2 is well designed to suit both a forefoot strike and midfoot strike, and is a stellar choice for high-arched runners interested in the minimalist trend.
Built for a neutral stride. The New Balance 890v2 is not built with the stability features -- like medial posts and roll bars -- you'll find on some corrective shoes. Rather, it is intended for runners with a neutral stride, and its well-cushioned ride may be helpful for runners with high arches who tend to run on the outside of their feet. "You will enjoy the great cushion on these shoes," swears one Amazon.com reviewer.
Reviewers with Fitness magazine say the 890v2's "shorter-than-usual" drop from heel to forefoot encourages an " 'effortless' and more natural stride." A few users say they think the 890v2 gives a more stable ride than other neutral-stride shoes, but for a forefoot and midfoot striker where stability is a priority, a more structured shoe like the Saucony Hurricane 14 (Est. $140) is a better choice.
Mixed feedback. Lightweight shoes don't typically last as long as beefier models, but in a video review for the Runner's World Shoe Lab, Warren Greene says the New Balance 890v2 "holds up to everyday training miles." Testers with Women's Running also say the original New Balance 890, which is very similar in construction to the 890v2 and shares similar running characteristics, is surprisingly durable.
Despite testers' opinions, we did find a few owner complaints about durability. One woman posting to Amazon.com says she runs 25 miles per week on asphalt and wore through her first pair of 890v2s in less than a month. She used Shoe Goo (Est. $3) to repair the soles, though, and says they've been "fantastic ever since."
Although the New Balance 890v2 hasn't won any of the hotly contested top-rated spots in the Runner's World shoe lineups yet, it does draw a positive review for its combination of cushioning and low-profile performance.
Review: Shoe Finder - New Balance 890 v2, Editors of Runner's World, As of October 2013
2. Fitness Magazine
More than 130 testers evaluate shoes for various fitness applications, including running. Although there is no detail about how testing was conducted or which shoes didn't make the grade, they choose the New Balance 890v2 as the best neutral running shoe. The very short review is peppered with comments from testers sharing what they love about the shoes, although they don't balance this commentary with any constructive criticism.
Review: The Fitness 2012 Sneaker Guide, Lindsey Emery, As of October 2013
The author explains that new hybrid shoes may be the solution for a midfoot striker who once had to choose between poorly cushioned shoes or comfortably cushioned shoes that forced them intro a heel-strike gait. Hersh then briefly mentions some of the best hybrid shoes that offer good cushioning for midfoot strikers, including the New Balance 890v2.
Review: Sole Decision: Hybrid Run Shoes, Aaron Hersh, Sept. 14, 2012
4. Women's Running Magazine
Testers with Women's Running magazine say that the relatively flat New Balance 890 took some getting used to, but they select it as the best neutral running shoe and have mostly good things to say about its feel. Although this review addresses the original New Balance 890, we've included it because other review sources indicate that, despite a slight difference in heel-toe offset, the New Balance 890 and 890v2 basically run like the same shoe.
Review: Spring 2011 Shoe Review, Jessica Sebor, Updated Aug. 19, 2012
More than 150 women review the New Balance 890v2 on Amazon.com, giving it an average rating of 4.4 stars. It's fairly easy to pick the reviews left by runners out of the reviews from walkers; the general consensus is that these shoes are comfortable straight out of the box, but reviewers sometimes complain about the narrow toebox.
Review: New Balance Women's W890v2 Neutral Running Shoe, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of October 2013
Over 200 users leave feedback for the men's version of the New Balance 890v2 on Amazon.com. They generally love this shoe's combination of light weight, cushioning and stability, and suitably award it an average score of 4.3 stars.
Review: New Balance Men's M890v2 Neutral Running Shoe, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of October 2013