In all walks of life it’s hard to overcome a bad first impression. This is true of running shoes as well, despite the fact that a pair can take a while to break in and hit their stride. The New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 v8 did not make a great first impression, and even though I warmed to it a little over time the problem remained – despite the substantial chunk of cushioning on the sole of the 1080, it just doesn’t run like the luxuriously soft shoe you’d expect it to be.
I also found the 1080 felt unexpectedly flat, especially odd because the New Balance Fresh Foam Zante contains the same foam and is a delightfully responsive shoe to run in. The 1080 is heavier than the Zante, and designed to provide more support and cushioning, but it feels firmer and lacks the same bounce.
For a shoe designed to be a long-lasting daily trainer, the 1080’s ride isn’t soft enough either. Compared with the plush and bouncy Brooks Glycerin, or Saucony’s Triumph ISOs, the New Balance just doesn’t match up.
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But that’s enough negativity, and there are a number of silver linings. The 1080’s upper is excellent – spacious, comfortable and breathable, with a pleasing amount of padding around the ankle.
The outsole is terrific too, with enough grip to take on light trails as well as icy roads. I tested the shoe when the Beast From The East turned London’s pavements into a slushy nightmare and the 1080s never let me down. There’s also enough rubber on the sole that it should last well beyond the 500 miles you expect from a running shoe.
That extra rubber is no doubt one of the reasons the 1080 clocks in at a substantial 314g, but it doesn’t feel like a clunker on the foot. The profile is reasonably svelte and while it might not provide a bouncy ride, it’s also not a heavy one.
The New Balance 1080v8 is a good running shoe, but it just doesn’t seem to have one standout quality, and for my money there are better Fresh Foam shoes and better daily training shoes out there in the form of the Zante and of the Glycerin or Triumph ISO. It’s comfortable and will last forever even if you rack up big distances every week, but I simply didn’t enjoy the ride as much as with other well-cushioned shoes.
£125, buy on newbalance.co.uk