Februrary 2, 2012
by John Schrup
Yep. New Balance. Whoda thought that your uncle’s go-to barbeque shoe also made legit running shoes. Well, for years they have, though always just under the radar as notable; and their marketing was for the most part non-existent, so you likely saw them only at the backyard barbeque or at a fraternity party, where the national shoe of Greek life is the 990 series, the ubiquitous grey leather clunker.
Anyway, the 1400 is technically a racing flat. A marathon racer. It is as simple and functional as a running shoe should be and nothing more. Except it the fit is aaaalllmost perfect and it looks really cool, is super light and the perfect blend of the soft cushioning and firm responsiveness that you need in a running shoe. Well fitting, lightweight upper that hugs the foot; a complete ground contact midsole with no drop-in cushioning pieces, and a cushioned but responsively smooth midsole. We put the 1400 on people and the almost universal response is that they can’t believe how good it feels—for a New Balance! The next almost universal response is that they buy it. New Balance has recently refocused their design efforts (Trail Minimus, anyone?) and marketing efforts, and the resulting products are as good as they get. I’d almost have to add parenthetically the updated 890 V2 here, but the overly padded heel collar is counter what they ought to have done with that—great shoe nonetheless. The 1400 reminds me of some of my favorite shoes from the mid 80’s, well before running shoes became victims of the fashion market. This shoe (and the big brother 890) is one of the best shoes on the wall. Period.