Gear Review – Training shoes – New Balance 890 REVlite

New Balance introduced another awesome running shoe in its expanding lineup of lightweight and minimalist running shoes that support good running form. The New Balance 890 REVlite is a light, neutral training shoe that lives up to New Balance’s claim: it dramatically improved my running form in less than a year (if this sounds like a weight-loss commercial, it’s not, so please continue reading and look at the photos). The New Balance 890 is an excellent everyday training shoe for youth and adults (for youth who wear smaller than men’s size 7.5 or women’s size 5, I recommend the New Balance 790 Youth). Update: Read my review of the updated New Balance 890 v2 here.

What differentiates this training shoe from others is the ingenious design that results in a light, neutral trainer that can be used every day and which continues to perform (meaning it is durable and responsive) well past its expiration date (about 500 miles for most running shoes, actual mileage may vary depending on runner and shoe). I have run about 700 miles in my 1st pair (I just replaced them with a 2nd pair) on different surfaces and terrain, and worn them for various types of workouts, ranging from tempo runs and easy, longer runs on the road, intervals on the track, and cross country runs on trails and grass (although I prefer to run cross country in my New Balance Minimus trail shoes that I reviewed here).

Continue reading my review below the photos.

New Balance 890 REVlite is a light, neutral trainer that can improve running form

REVlite midsole is lightweight, responsive and doesn’t break down from everyday use

Forefoot and heel of New Balance 890

Mesh uppers, integrated webbing and flat lacing provides lightweight comfort and fit

Sole designed to help with forefoot and midfoot striking and transition from initial ground contact

The improvement in my running form over the past year has been dramatic, which means easier training, faster racing, and greater enjoyment (and, oh yeah, NO injuries). Throughout my running years, I considered myself a slightly-pronating heel-striker, and therefore am very excited about the recent introduction of lightweight and minimalist running shoes with their potential to improve my running form. In Fall 2010, I started with a pair of New Balance 100 minimalist shoes (which I alternated with my New Balance 850), and later progressed to a combination of the NB 890 and NB Minimus. Today, I run about 80% of my weekly mileage (40-50 miles) with the NB 890 and the remaining 20% with the NB Minimus. Previously a slightly-pronating heel striker, I am now able to run in neutral, minimalist shoes and make initial ground contact with my fore/midfoot and my transition through the full stride has become natural and effortless. I like the NB 890 so much that I recommended them to my older son, a high school sophomore who runs about 45 – 60 miles per week as a member of the cross country and track teams, and he now trains exclusively in the NB 890.

The above photos show the New Balance 890 REVlite in blue/yellow that has not been worn, and the photos below show the same shoe in gray/green that I have worn for 700 miles. On the worn shoe, I have marked the areas that show striking/contact with ground, and therefore wear, to illustrate my fore/midfoot strike and the transition through the full stride (with plenty of tread in the rear heel area, which would not be the case if I struck the ground first with my heel).

Forefoot of worn New Balance 890, red circle highlights area of striking and wear

Heel of worn New Balance 890, red circle shows area of striking and wear

Heel of worn New Balance 890, red circle shows area of striking and wear, blue circle shows good tread

Outside of midsole, red circle highlights minor compacting of midsole

New Balance designed the NB 890 with several key goals in mind and applied what it calls “purposeful design” to ensure that these goals were met.

  • New Balance wanted to design a simpler, lighter, neutral trainer without sacrificing performance.
    • Each piece was evaluated – is it needed, does it serve an essential purpose, can it be done with fewer pieces, can it be done with less weight, all without sacrificing fit, support, comfort, quality.
    • Very durable and responsive, this shoe is not going to break down like a shoe of that weight normally would, because it’s designed as an everyday training shoe.
    • The result is a running shoe that has all of the above characteristics and can improve a runner’s form.
      • Sole and arch: New Balance improved the design of the arch and sole to help with forefoot and midfoot striking and transition from initial contact with the ground through the full stride, which should improve running form.
      • Midsole: New Balance worked with several materials vendor and compounds to develop a lightweight, responsive midsole that doesn’t break down, from a new material REVLite.
      • Tongue and laces: By reducing foam across the tongue and redesigning laces to be flat and softer (borrowed from racing flats), New Balance further reduced weight without affecting comfort. Going one step further, New Balance made holes flat to lock in the laces (so they don’t twist), the shoes are fast, easy and comfortable to lace up.
      • Aesthetics and materials: New Balance achieved a clean, lean, uncluttered look because the number of visible technical elements and surfaces were reduced to an absolute minimum, and New Balance chose soft yet durable materials.

    $100 at New Balance New Canaan.



  1. New Balance wanted to align the NB 890 with its initiative to focus on minimalist running shoes??

    1. New Balance has launched an initiative to focus on minimalist shoes with the NB 100 and NB Minimus series (trail and road versions). It has also announced a Minimus with zero drop that I believe has an early 2012 release date. In addition, NB has rolled out several shoes that are aligned with the minimalist initiative, such as the NB 890, NB 790 Youth, and others.

      As far as the NB 890 is concerned, yes, I do think this shoe is aligned with NB’s overall initiative on minimalist shoes, although it is not a minimalist shoe (it is a lighweight, neutral trainer).

      Light (9.5 ounces for men’s size 9), which is 2-3 ounces lighter than most trainers
      Neutral (no built in stability device)
      Remove what is not necessary (e.g. foam under tongue)
      Better road feel (thinner midsole/outersole, running closer to the ground)
      Good running form (outersole design promotes better strike/stride)

      Let me know if I misunderstood your question, haven’t answered it, or if you have any other feedback. I would love to hear what you think. Thanks.

  2. […] part one to confirm what I really like about the 890 that New Balance has continued with the v2 (read my review of the original New Balance 890 here) and what New Balance has changed in the v2 and unfortunately I prefer they didn’t change […]

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