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The New Balance 1080 is a juggernaut of the max-cushioned running shoe universe. It’s immensely popular on the road and as one of New Balance’s premium flagships, it gets equipped with all the latest and greatest technology that New Balance has to offer.
Versions 7, 8, 9 and 10 of the 1080 were all very different shoes from each other. New Balance made sweeping changes on each one while they searched for their winning formula. However, on version 11, we now see some consistency.
This can only mean one thing: New Balance has finally found perfection.
The 1080v11 is only a minor update and New Balance states no changes made to the midsole and outsole of the 1080v11. It has a slightly different knitted upper, a softer, more padded heel counter and a slightly different fit.
Version 11 is also slightly lighter than version 10 (6g) which is always good to see when it comes to version updates.
The 1080 sits in between the 880 and the Fresh Foam More in terms of cushioning and softness in New Balance’s daily neutral training range.
So have the subtle changes that New Balance has made improved an already good shoe or have they tinkered with a winning formula that didn't need any tinkering?
263g (men), 230g (women)
The Fresh Foam X midsole of the 1080v11 feels slightly softer than the midsole of the 1080v10, even though New Balance doesn’t doesn’t say that they made any changes to the midsole. If I have to put it into quantitative terms, it’s about 10% softer than in the previous version.
Fresh Foam X is a regular EVA foam so it doesn’t have the bouncy or springy properties of TPU or Pebax foams. New Balance has been tinkering with Fresh Foam for a while now but with the Fresh Foam X in the 1080v11, they have hit the nail on the head. This is the softest version of Fresh Foam they’ve ever used in a shoe.
The Fresh Foam X midsole of the 1080v11 feels a lot “fluffier” than traditional EVA foam- like New Balance injected more air into it so that it feels less dense. The result is a lively underfoot feel that isn’t at all mushy.
When compared to other max-cushioned trainers, the 1080v11 is definitely on the softer side of the spectrum. It’s softer than the Ultraboost 21 and the Triumph 18 but isn’t as soft as the Nimbus 23.
On the surface of the midsole, the tiny holes or pores that were seen on version 10 have been filled and replaced with laser engraved patterns but these are merely cosmetic changes and don’t affect the ride of the shoe.
The midsole is designed so that the medial side is more built up than the lateral side which makes the inner side more supportive than the lateral side. The sidewalls of the midsole on the midfoot and heel are also raised like barriers or rails to help to keep your foot centred while running.
The forefoot and heel also bulge out so that there is a wide, stable midsole base which makes foot strikes feel very planted.
These features make the 1080v11 a very stable shoe, even though it’s classified as a neutral shoe.
The heel to toe offset of 8mm is perfect for runners who want to spend more time on the midfoot/forefoot and it makes it easier to pick up the pace and go faster.
The insole inside the 1080v11 is a thick, Ortholite insole which gives the shoe a really plush, sink-in feel when walking around or running in the shoe.
The biggest change to the upper of the 1080v11 is the Ultra Heel counter. It is now toned down and the flare isn’t as prominent. The material is also softer and more pliable which results in a more comfortable fit.
The inside lining is softer than version 10 and the heel counter is overall not as rigid. Heel lockdown was better on version 10 because the harder Ultra Heel gripped the achilles better but when doing heel lock lacing, there is no heel slippage in version 11 and foot lockdown is good.
There is plenty of toe box room in the 1080v11 and this makes the shoe suitable for runners who have high volume foot and who need the extra toe box height. Runners with narrow, flat feet will also find the upper of the 1080v11 comfortable because of the conforming knitted upper.
The knit that is used on the upper of the v11 differs slightly to the knit on the v10 but it is still stretchy and foot-conforming although a bit thinner and more breathable. There are now more porous holes on the top of the toe box which result in a cooler ride.
The internal toe bumper reinforcement doesn’t come up as high over the toes as in the previous version so there is less pressure over the toes and the fit is more comfortable.
There are still useful double last row eyelets to do heel lock lacing which you have to use in order to get a secure lockdown with no heel slippage.
The tongue of the 1080v11 is unchanged. It is still lightly padded and semi-gusseted so that no lateral tongue slide occurs but it does slide downwards a small amount during runs.
Lastly, the outline of the N logos on the sides of the upper are reflective which are great for runs in the dark.
The outsole of the 1080v11 is identical to the outsole of the 1080v10. It has soft, blown rubber in the forefoot which extends down into the midfoot and harder, more durable rubber on the heel and the toe areas. The two types of rubber used are very similar in density so that ride transitions remain smooth as you transition from the heel to the midfoot and forefoot.
There is a non high-wear area on the midfoot which is not covered with rubber. This setup allows the shoe to shed some weight and also increases ground feel because the uncovered foam is so soft.
This uncovered area is where you see the most significant wear but it doesn’t affect the ride in any way- it’s purely cosmetic.
The durability of the rubber used on the 1080v11 isn’t as high as super tough outsole rubbers like Continental or Nike’s high abrasion carbon rubber but it also doesn’t wear down as fast as the rubber that the Brooks shoes use.
There are three lateral flex grooves and one vertical flex groove on the forefoot of the 1080v11. These grooves allow the shoe to have a high degree of flexibility. The 1080v11 flexes in the forefoot of the shoe.
If you only had one shoe in your shoe rotation, the 1080v11 is a great choice. It makes a great daily trainer because its deep cushioning and soft ride are perfect for easy or recovery runs while it can also handle faster paces.
It has a high toe spring and a rocker-shaped midsole which allows for fast transitions during tempo runs.
Even though the 1080v11 is really versatile, it feels most at home on easy and steady runs between 5 and 6 minutes per kilometre.
Compared to version 10, version 11 feels very similar but with a slightly softer forefoot and smoother ride transitions. In the previous version, you could feel the lugs through the soft midsole when forefoot striking but in version 11, you don’t feel the lugs.
The softer forefoot of version 11 means that it is better suited to longer, slower runs compared to version 10 which was better for shorter, faster workouts.
The minor tweaks that New Balance has made to the 1080v11 have most definitely improved it. The 1080v10 was already a solid, cushioned daily trainer but the 1080v11 feels more refined and more premium.
The softer forefoot of the 1080v11 gives it more long-distance comfort while the smoother ride makes runs more enjoyable.
Version 10 didn't really feel like the max-cushioned, super soft riding trainer that it was supposed to be but version 11 is a slam dunk.
On the upper, the thinner, more breathable upper offers a better fit with a softer heel counter. Heel lockdown isn't as good as the 1080v10 but with heel lock lacing, heel slippage is completely eliminated.
What sets the 1080v11 apart from the other maximum cushioned trainers is that its upper is not as padded and puffy which makes it more suitable for tropical conditions like in Singapore where shoes can easily pick up 30 grams of sweat during a long run.
When it comes to running shoe updates, sometimes less is more; and the 1080v11 is definitely proof of that
Reviewed by Brandon Law