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BMF Exclusive: The New Balance Fresh Foam 980

BMF Training: Being a baller isn’t just about what you do on the court – it’s about how you prepare to ball when you’re away from it. BMF Training is about bringing you the latest in training footwear and apparel that can help you raise your game and also give you insight into what the best players are wearing in preparation for their battles on the NBA stage.

One of the most anticipated runners of 2014 is the New Balance Fresh Foam 980. Incorporated within the new model’s name, Fresh Foam is New Balance’s newest chief innovation in cushioning technology. Assuredly, the Fresh Foam 980 delivers two major areas concerning ballers – looks and feel.

The appearance of the 980 is captured with its vibrant bright blue, light canary yellow, and bright orange combination, but is marked even more by the iconic hexagon. Adopted as a symbol of strength by New Balance, the honeycomb is a signature mark of the 980’s open-cell mesh upper, Fresh Foam midsole, and full-length rubber outsole, creating a sense of depth all along the shoe. It’s a classic running silhouette, neither too big nor too small, and full-formed, but not oversized – a perfect look for performance and casual wear.

However, the looks of the 980 aren’t really the big deal – it’s about what performance benefits that the 980 has to offer to you that most matter.

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As a training runner, the 980 is a shoe that is capable. With full-length Fresh Foam, the aforementioned outsole and mesh upper, it passes the spec test on the strength of those alone; the fit of the shoe is snug, but not tight. The fit is more ergonomic and curved, and shaped really well. The support from the upper comes largely from the tailor-like fit from the mesh and the Fantom Fit heat welding that makes the shoe virtually seamless – less friction and irritation! – but, what really makes the 980 special is not necessarily the Fresh Foam, but the heel fit.

The heel fit of the 980 is a high-quality fit and depending on how you strike when you run, it’s a golden sneaker. The internal heel counter of the 980 cups nicely and makes for a comfort so pleasant, you won’t even think about the fit – usually that’s a good sign. Accompanied by the plush collar along the ankle and in the tongue, there’s success there.

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As for the Fresh Foam, how you strike matters. The cushioning in the heel is particularly bouncy, but the farther up you strike in the shoe, the less dynamic the bounce – however, the main attribute of Fresh Foam may actually be that each step feels new (which for foam is a very big deal). Fresh Foam seems not to be a cushioning that is based in dynamism, but in its ‘like-new’ cushioning integrity. It’s a very competent medium for absorbing stress, but refreshes itself to a ‘like new’ state. New Balance has been promoting Fresh Foam as a cushioning compound that is best described as ‘soft support’, which makes a ton a sense. It is soft and it is supportive; the foam doesn’t give a lot, but you get a feel that’s akin to something that like memory foam that isn’t mushy — that’s major.

If you can appreciate a cushioning that stabilizes your stride, fits your arch, and can absorb impact well without necessarily giving you a moon boot bounce, you’ll really enjoy the 980.

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Photography by Sandy Dover for Baller Mind Frame

Special thanks to New Balance

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