New Balance Minimus Zero First Look

As 2012 draws near, we get steps closer to the next wave of minimalist or "barefoot" shoes. It's been about a year since New Balance rolled out their first shoes under the "Minimus" line — minimally soled trail, road, and "wellness" or life shoes (we've reviewed them all, including the recent water/winter update called the "multisport" as well as the made-from-recycled-plastic newSKY).

The first generation of New Balance Minimus shoes lacked a neutral sole, meaning the first gen "Minimi" didn't have a "zero drop" sole (one where the sole is the same thickness at heel and forefoot). Rather, they had a heel that was about 4mm more thick than the forefoot. Why is that so important? Namely because an elevated heel impacts your biomechanics by making it harder to land midfoot or forefoot, and by extension, easier to heel strike (more on this via Lieberman).

What's 4mm? It's certainly not much, but still enough to notice if you've (re-)learned natural biomechanics/neutral shoe walking and running.

Thankfully, the 2nd generation Minimus shoes from New Balance are taking out the 4mm and going "full monty" — neutral from heel to toe, and as you've probably guessed, this is why they are dubbed the "Zero." Finally, "zero drop" minimalist footwear from New Balance! The wait was killing me!

Meanwhile, the Minimus Zeros also have a revamped, wider toe box to allow your toes to expand laterally on impact. The overall weight and stack height is also reduced compared to the original Minimus collection.

About two weeks ago the fine folks at New Balance kind enough to send a pair each of Minimus Zero Road and Minimus Zero Trail shoes to a few of us Birthday Shoes' bloggers — Tim Kelley, Leah Sakellarides, and me (Justin). What follows is something you won't find anywhere else on the web — a first look at both the Minimus Zero Road and Trail from three people in one place, plus video, plus over 50 photos.

Read on and see and hear our first take!

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