Sneaky Minimalism: The New Balance 1400 Video Review

For some reason, I’ve never gotten along well with New Balance. 

My running shoes are usually ASICS, Nike, or Adidas. But something interesting has happened in the last ten years.

New Balance 1400

Small shoe manufacturers have exploded onto the running scene – companies that never before competed with the major brands – offering  shoe styles that were at first novel and now commonplace.

Newton makes the Gravity with actuator lugs that promote a midfoot strike.

Softstar makes the uber-minimalist Dash with a leather and suede upper.

Skora developed the zero-drop Phase with no midsole.

Because of this competition, the major manufacturers have been forced to innovate and make better shoes. And New Balance has revitalized their line of running shoes in recent years (most notably with the Minimus series).

And now I’m psyched to review the New Balance 1400 – what I think is a great introductory minimalist shoe – and a great example of a manufacturer I once would never wear to one that I now think is making great running shoes.

New Balance 1400 Video Review

I’m doing something different today and recorded a short video review of the NB 1400 so you can see how it looks in three dimensions. Plus, I show you how flexible the shoe is when you bend it in half (always a good thing to know).

The New Balance 1400 is labeled a “performance neutral” shoe by the manufacturer because it offers no substantial support in the form of a medial post.

Here are the specs for you number-crunchers:

  • 7.1 ounces
  • 11mm heel-toe drop
  • No medial post
  • Foam sole
  • Upper is soft and flexible
  • Slightly narrow toe box

What I love most about the 1400 is the 11mm heel-toe drop. This feature mimics the general feel of a more traditional running shoe. But the weight (7.1 ounces) and lack of support are more like a minimalist trainer.

The addition of a larger heel-toe drop allowed me to run up to ten miles at a stretch in the NB 1400, even though I typically limit my running to shorter distances in a shoe with such little support.

The tread provided very functional traction that worked well on the more technical trails in Rock Creek Park. I was able to climb steep, gravelly hills with absolutely no problems.

Grooves in the sole allow greater flexibility and shave a few ounces on the shoe’s total weight, though they allowed some debris to get stuck in the notches. A few times I had to stop and pick a small rock out of the sole of the shoe. But to me, that’s not a deal breaker.

Who should run in the New Balance 1400?

New Balance 1400 running shoes

Because of the shoe’s flexibility and weight, it allows the foot to move more than a sturdier, heavier shoe. This is a double-edged sword: it will mimic barefoot running and allow you a greater sense of groundfeel and foot and lower leg movement. That’s helpful in that you’ll use more stabilizing muscles and develop more strength.

But it’s an added stress and could result in an overuse injury if you’re not ready for this level of flexibility. I’d compare the feel of the NB 1400’s to the Minimus Road (except the 1400’s are an ounce lighter with a more substantial heel-toe drop).

Alright, now that I have the basics covered, let’s talk about who should wear this shoe and how it could be used in your training program. This shoe has many features of a minimalist running shoe except the heel-toe drop is more traditional. So it really helps bridge the gap between very minimalist shoes like the Skora Phase and normal trainers.

Runners who are comfortable with flexible, neutral shoes could use this shoe for faster workouts or races from 5k to marathon. If you’re already comfortable in lighter shoes with a more significant heel-toe drop, the NB 1400 could be your long run shoe. I wore it for runs up to 10 miles and had no problems, but I’m somewhere in the middle of the minimalist spectrum.

And that’s right where this shoe fits along the spectrum. Because of that versatility it can be used by almost any runner who’s ready for a lighter, more flexible, neutral running shoe.

But because of the significant heel-toe drop, the minimalism is sneaky: sometimes you don’t even know it’s there.

You can see more styles and colors of the New Balance 1400 here.

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Comments

  1. I’ve used the 1400s in the past and have also found them to be nice for lower distance runs. From what I’ve read of your posts, you seem to be in a situation similar to mine…too low of a drop AND too high of a drop both cause problems for you in one way or another. I seem to have Achilles soreness with too low of an offset and and IT band soreness with too high of a drop. I’m looking for my holy grail of shoes for longer distances, but still haven’t found it. I don’t want something too excessively supportive, but I still need decent support. What do you use for your longer runs? Just curious!

  2. thanks for this review, jason! i’ve just won a pair of the 1400 v2, and these will be my first new balance shoes ever, as well as my first ‘racing’ category shoe. i normally run in zero drop (e.g. merrell road glove, skora phase, skechers gobionic, inov-8 bare-x 180) or 4mm drop (saucony kinvara, skechers gorun 2) shoes, so this will be a bit of a departure for me in terms of the heel-to-toe differential. any words of caution here?

    hopefully these will find a place in my rotation!

  3. This is yet another model that doesn’t have anyting wider than a D width. I have a wide foot (2E) and have been searching for alternatives to break away from the motion control shoes but can’t find much better than a Brooks Adrenaline or Asics GT2000. How can someone with a wider foot move toward minimalist shoes? Thanks.

  4. Jeff Giedt says:

    I’m liking these! I felt the need for something more substantial as I neared my A marathon in four weeks. I’ve gone from Kinvara’s to zero drops like Altra and lately the Mizuno Cursoris. I had been considering this shoe, as Runblogger also recently raved on it. Seeing your advise put me to action. After a 7m and 20m run, they will be my race shoe. I feel they are comfortable for the distance and am not bothered by the drop. They are simple, light, have great grip and ventilation. Great shoe! Thanks for the advise.