by John Schrup
If you are a regular around these parts, I’m not going to hold it against you. And I won’t tell anyone either. But if you are, perhaps you’ll remember my love affair with the New Balance 1400. Indeed, we think it is one of the best shoes on the wall, which means that they have what a shoe needs, and nothing more. The 1400 are such impressive shoes—clean, snug fitting upper atop a simple EVA midsole with complete ground contact at the outsole—I think there are few shoes better, period. (Maybe I haven’t gone over how important it is that a shoe has complete ground contact. It’s real, real, real, real important. Having that makes the shoe smoother, more stable. Indeed it is one of the first things I look for on a shoe. All the pods and trusses and whatever that you see on the underside of your shoes are completely unnecessary. Completely.)
My 1400s and I, we’ve been through some stuff. One night, we were at Vespaio, kinda late. It was dark anyway. I had the osso buco, of course. And we’re eating, having some really good laughs, people watching. You know. Real talk. And then the Kinvaras came in. There was risotto everywhere! And when I got home, someone’s carbonara was in my fanny pack. I don’t know how that got there.
The 1400 is such a good shoe that New Balance really should consider making a daily trainer version, so that those who are still a little iffy about wearing such a light shoe can experience the yummy goodness. Oh wait. They do. The 890. Also some of the best shoes. Nevermind.
(My very, very first pair of running shoes was the New Balance 420. Fo twenny! Sheet EVA was awesome. They were two sizes too big, but I didn’t care, because they were New Balance and they were the shit. The guy at the running store told me to get some other shoes, the ones that actually fit, but I would have none of it. I was nine, what can I say? And, all the really old dudes at The Aerobics Center had them, so you know they were cool.)
So you’ve got the 890, superlight daily trainer and awesome shoe. Then you’ve got the 1400, marathon racer and daily trainer and awesomer shoe. Two of the best shoes you can buy, period. And now, you’ve got (cue pyrotechnics!) the 1600. If the 1400 are the lightweight version of the 890, then the 1600 is the lightweight version of the 1400. Holy shitballs!
The first thing you’ll notice when you put them on is that they are maybe a smidge snugger than the 1400, but not so that it would be an issue. The upper is mostly free from traditional overlays, so the feel is closer to sock-like than the 1400. You lace them up and vwooooop, it is on your foot and gone. Which is to say that it is pretty close to disappeared. Which is a good thing. The only downside to the 1600, or the 1400 for that matter, is that they are not going to fit the Flintstone foot, which is too bad, because Fred was the Big Engine before that Mosop guy was even a glimmer in his daddy’s eye.
Underneath the foot, the 1600’s midsoles are more responsive than the 1400’s, giving you more ground feel, though still nowhere near lacking in protection. I was told by the fine folks at New Balance that the offset is 8mm in both shoes, but I don’t know. The 1600 is lower to the ground overall, but it does feel as if the heel is lower too. I don’t know. It just does. Research (I looked online) also confirms this, so maybe I’m not completely off my rocker? Don’t answer that. They are an ounce and a half lighter, so there’s that, which is nice.
So, complete ground contact, lightweight and vwooooop. Three thumbs up. What that means for you is that you get a super light shoe that fits like the proverbial pancakes. This shoe, much like the Adios, makes you want to run. Like right now! Fast! Even if you’ve just polished off a nine pound salad. So you might want to hold off on that. Whatever you decide, let it be known that New Balance has three of the very best running shoes available. So get yourself down to the Rogue and check out the holy trinity of footwear. 890, 1400, 1600. Amen.