Sunday, October 11, 2009

New Balance MT100 Rave

In the last year (give or take) there have been a few new Trail shoes introduced to us that I would find reason to be excited about. First there was the much-delayed (and highly anticipated by the author) La Sportiva Skylite. Following soon after were the INOV-8 X Talon 212. I Tried the Skylite’s and was happy to be done with them, and though I have not tried the 212, I lost interest in what INOV-8 is up to after I ran a total of two times in their F LITE 230s (turned out to be two times too many). The hyper aggressive outsole of the 212s is also more then just a slight turn off. Though still suffering from nagging shin splints this past June, I decided they were healed enough to the point I would start training again in earnest and I started logging miles exclusively in the NB 790s. The 790s could perhaps be best described as an excellent shoe, though host to some wacky design attributes that serve to take away from its strong foundation (low and light, flexible and not insanely narrow). The things that came to annoy me most about that shoe were, in order of relevance: The outsole/tread pattern. The forefoot tread left something to be desired, but the big drawback here was that they went with an overlay type outsole (I assume to cut weight). This outsole had a series of tread “bumps” across the forefoot. Once I would put anywhere from 90-120 miles on a pair of 790s, the thin forefoot cushion would be broken down enough to the point that as a mid-forefoot striker, I they would push through and it almost felt like you were wearing a worn out pair of cleats. Essentially, the bumps pushed into my feet in uncomfortable ways to the point of really aggravating the nerves up there. This problem lead to a very high shoe turnover, which is unfortunate in that it hits me in my very thin wallet, and that it creates more waste shoes. The next issues are rather trivial but still worth noting as this is an in depth critique of shoes I have become intimately familiar with. The toe-box was wide to the point of being sloppy. Not too sound like a complainer because it didn’t ever cause any real discomfort, but it was more than what is necessary (considering my wider than average foot). The upper was bulky and stiff, and didn’t mesh well (pun intended) with the minimalist midsole and outsole of the shoe.
That being said I love the 790s and was very concerned about my running shoe future since they stopped production many months ago. I knew the NB was building a new low profile trail racer and assumed that it would be under the guidance of their outdoor “ambassadors” Tony Krupicka and Kyle Skaggs, so the prospects for a great improvement were certainly exciting. I first heard about and saw (on the internet) the 790 replacement, the MT100 in the late spring. It was being advertised as even lighter than the 790. In Leadville this July, Tony was gracious enough to show me some of the preproduction MT100s. The extremely simplified design was cool, but my main excitement lay in the slightly built up forefoot protection plate and one-piece (non overlay) outsole. Finally, I got a pair from my New Balance rep Shane on my 22nd birthday. I have been blasting around my local trails and non-local mountains in them for about a month and a half now and have nothing but positive things to say about the shoe.
790 vs 100

The outsole/forefoot plate are delivering as expected, with the same amount of flexibility and surefootedness provided by their precursor, but in a more useful (grip on sand and it looks like they will tear through the mud as well) and protective package.
(Notice the orange outsole "bumps on the 790 as well as the midsole on the outer midfoot getting destroyed due to a lack of outsole and the corresponding "corrections" in the MT100 on the left)

The upper is about as simple as they could make it. Lightweight mesh, non-padded tongue (Yay!), and plastic and metal ornament free; it fits my foot snugly but is not too tight by any means, simply an elimination of the slop I cavalierly complained of earlier.

(which is more streamlined?)
So far it seems as if they simply straightened out the little hitches keeping the 790s from perfection. My pair of size tens (they fit a half size smaller than 790s) weigh exactly 8.5 ounces apiece, but on my feet they don’t feel like anything at all. Lastly, they come in three pretty nice looking colors, a light grey, my pair of dark grey, black, and red, and an awesome looking red-orange color that I hope to get my hands on after I go through my remaining pairs of 790s.


  1. Yo dude,

    Glad you like the shoe. I've been logging a bunch of miles in them lately as well since all of my 790s have worn out, and I'm most pleased with the fact that I can get more than two weeks of running out of a pair of shoes...

    Take it easy there in Auburn.


  2. cool shoes, man.

    do you run with socks? since you run in auburn, how have the shoes done with filling up with trail debris? what's the longest run you've done in the shoes. thanks.


  3. Thanks for the response guys, nice to know I get more than just my family and Derrick reading this.

    Tony- A lot of people owe you and NB a big thank you for the time you put into that shoe, its a cut above any shoe I have been in yet.

    Scott- The longest I have gone is about 2 1/2 hours in them with socks and just under 2 hours without socks. I am in the process of toughening up my feet to eliminate socks altogether. Poor omission on my part in the post. The upper is pretty smooth on the inside and the only spots I have had irritation are on the outside of my achilles and the the inside of my instep where the seams on the end of the tongue are under the upper and get a good rub going. It only took a couple runs to build a callous that took care of that annoyance, but my achilles will still end up tearing open around that two hour range (for me a common problem anytime I go sockless). As far as trail debris are concerned, I have only had a few runs where there was anything but thick dust on the trail and the MT100s performed well. I
    had one very hairy descent down a mountain with lots of loose scree yet didn't have anything to dump out at the end of the day, then this morning I was running in some thick sandy mud out in Cool, and though it was sticking in the treads a bit and therefore flying all over the place it didn't get in the shoes this time either.

  4. Thanks for the good info, Connor.

    Be Well

  5. I am a huge fan of the 790s and wear them in most of my races.

    Thanks for the post. I just ordered a pair of the MT100s.

  6. great review and comparison of the 790 and the 100! Thanks for the comments on my site. We've got one coming up about those 230's you mentioned. Make sure to comment on what you didn't like on those.