New Balance Minimus Trail Zero and Road Zero Review

Back in February of 2011, I reviewed the first New Balance Minimus Trail and Minimus Road giving high marks to both shoes as being excellent and functional minimalist shoes.  New Balance has taken these successful designs a step further this time and released their first zero drop shoes in their line, the NB MT00 and MR00.  For those fans of the previous versions of the Minimus shoes with 4mm of heel drop, New Balance will continue to make those models.  The MT00 (aka the Minimus Trail Zero) and the MR00 (aka the Minimus Road Zero) are not merely zero dropped versions of the previous models, but different animals altogether. Both models will be available in February 2012.

As always, check out the comments for many more details about these shoes. We also included key images of the new Minimus Zero models in the following review. More images are available on Facebook.

NB MT00 (Minimus Trail Zero)

New Balance Minimus Trail Zero MT00

The Minimus Trail Zero ($100) is definitely the most minimal and lightweight upper of any trail shoe I have ever worn.  Similar to the upper material of many state of the art distance track spikes, the MT00 upper is made of a thin, but very durable, nylon with welded overlays which provided plenty of form but very little restriction throughout the upper.  This material does allow dirt and dust into the interior of the shoe, but seems more puncture resistant than mesh.  The old Minimus upper seems bulky and overbuilt by comparison.  Simply put, this upper looks and feels space age and hugged my foot throughout the heel and mid foot while providing a nice wide toe box.  The tongue is made of a thin synthetic leather and the laces are flat and fairly wide which didn’t put any uncomfortable pressure on the top of my foot.  The heel collar is flexible and low all around the ankle.  There is not an Achilles notch.

New Balance Minimus Trail Zero MT00 lateral upper

The NB Minimus Trail Zero's lateral upper.

I was able to put on the MT00 right out of the box and head out for a six mile trail run without any issues whatsoever.  They absolutely fit like a slipper and the pliability of the upper was accommodating whether I wore thicker wool socks or very thin socks.  I did not run in the  MT00 barefoot, but I did walk around outside for 3-4 hours in the shoe.  The inside of the shoe is essentially seamless apart from where the tongue stitches into the upper and I never felt rubbing on any part of my feet.  The barely-there insole is not removable, but is very soft.

After enjoying the original Minimus Trail (MT10) for shorter runs I found that it lacked the outsole protection needed from sharp rocks and I frequently ended a run with a bruised foot where a sharp rock had found it’s way between the lugs.  New Balance updated the outsole with larger, more cushioned lugs and reinforced the lugs in high wear area by adding more durable Vibram rubber.  Gaps still exist where a stone could get through, but with the outsole being deeper I didn’t have any problems.  The MT00 outsole also felt more protective on steep down hills where I couldn’t help but heel strike and the Vibram rubber is placed in all the right spots conducive to trail running.

New Balance Minimus Trail Zero MT00 outsole

The New Balance Minimus Trail Zero's outsole.

The midsole/outsole is also decoupled and the MT00 is very, very flexible.  I felt my foot working the shoe to dig into uphills in loose dirt or rocks, and, as a zero drop shoe, I was surprised with the ease of transition that I felt since I normally wear trail shoes with 4-to-10mm drops.  My calves where a little more worked than usual, but my feet didn’t feel battered by lack of protection.  As a non-minimalist runner, I could slip on the MT00 and run trails up to 10 miles without any after effects.

Overall Impression
Weighing just 4.4 ounces and being trail worthy is quite an accomplishment.  The MT00 may be the new benchmark for what minimalist trail running feels and performs like.  It is more protective than the original Minimus Trail and can actually handle some burly trails.  Overall, I didn’t notice my feet getting as beat up in the MT00 and the traction and bit of cushioning from the outsole lugs is impressive.

New Balance Minimus Trail Zero MT00 medial upper

The NB MT00's medial upper.

NB MR00 (Minimus Road Zero)

New Balance Minimus Road Zero MR00

Drumroll please…I’d like to introduce you to the best upper which has ever graced my feet.  The fit of the Minimus Road Zero ($110) is simply phenomenal!  With a very similar fit and last to the MT110, the MR00 incorporates an innovative tongue design which enhances comfort and decreases rubbing through the midfoot.  You could think of it as a mono-tongue which has been tried in the past by other shoe companies but never worked well.  The MR00 tongue is part of the upper and wraps over the top of the foot where it slides flush under the outside of the shoe.  New Balance used flat laces with flat oval shaped eyelets on the lateral side of the shoe and loops on the medial side to give a highly adjustable, snug lacing system.  The fit is perfect throughout the heel and midfoot before offering a splendidly wide forefoot which minimalist runners will love.  Like I stated before, I believe this is the exact same upper fit as the MT110, but I cannot be sure because I only tested the MT110 for two months and then had to send them back to New Balance.

New Balance Minimus Road Zero MR00 upper

The NB Minimus Road Zero's upper.

The upper material is a dual density mesh with a honeycomb pattern and overlays are welded on sparingly, keeping the upper pliable.  Barefooters will love the plush interior that lines the inside of the MR00 and I was able to do several runs without socks and had no issues.

The full-length midsole material is made of a durable EVA foam keep the shoe highly flexible.  The Vibram outsole is only found in the high wear areas of a neutral foot strike, which shouldn’t be a problem as the zero drop kept me on my midfoot and forefoot during each run.  When I first tried on the MR00 I noticed a feeling of less cushioning along the lateral edge of my feet where the Vibram outsole is most heavily distributed.  This was not noticeable while running and I was able to wear the MR00 on the road up to 6 miles without issues and longer on crushed gravel.

New Balance Minimus Road Zero MR00 outsole

The NB Minimus Road Zero's outsole.

For runners, like myself, with a less than perfect gait cycle/ foot strike there are some areas of the sole with exposed foam that could wear over time.  This foam is similar to the outsole of the Saucony Kinvara, so my best guess is that it will hold up fairly well.  It is important to point out that the MR00 platform is quite a bit different than the first Minimus Road.  The MR00 responds and rides more like a stripped down racing flat with greater durability than a stripped down road trainer.

Overall Impression
At only 6.4 ounces, minimalists are going to love the fit and feel of the MR00.  I can’t say enough good things about the upper and for those looking for proprioception on the roads with minimal cushioning this shoe is it.  I especially hope that New Balance incorporates upper akin to the MR00’s into some of their other road shoes.

New Balance Minimus Road Zero MR00 upper

Another shot of the MR00's upper.

Words of Caution

Transition slowly in any shoe with zero drop, but especially minimalist shoes such as the MR00 and MT00.  I am not a minimalist runner and I will continue to use both shoes as a training tool, but will probably not run longer than 6 miles in either due to my belief that I need a bit more shoe to sustain my training.  I have really enjoyed wearing both shoes casually as well because they look amazing and allow my feet to relax and function in between runs.

Call for Comments

  • Will you try either version of the Minimus Zero? If so, which model?
  • Which features are you most excited about?
Tom Caughlan

is iRunFar's Minimalist Gear Editor. Tom’s passion for trail running and specialty running retail experience shine through in all of his highly technical reviews, which do range outside minimalist shoes.

There are 70 comments

  1. Jerry Bailey

    My initial report for the zero goes like this: I've put the MT10 through several thousand miles of rocky/rooty trail, and have zero complaints. I tried the MT20 and the toe box is a bit too narrow for me, and I hated the plastic canvas material used for the upper. The 20 is a great shoe to wear around the office.

    I was disappointed when I discovered the zero has that same canvas material for the upper. The material refuses to form to my foot. On uphills the material bunches up and becomes oh so annoying after a few hours on the trail. The last thing I want on a 50K or 50 miler is another annoyance to send me mentally over the edge. If the zero sole wears out as fast as the 10 and 20 that thinner surface between lugs is going to be a problem. But fair is fair, I need to put in a few more miles before I decide their fate.

    The big question for me is, why can't we have the 10 with zero drop and no raised toe box?

  2. Anonymous

    Jerry Bailey: I couldn't agree more. You have hit the nail on the head.

    I have reviewed the MT00 ( and after many more miles the upper gives me blisters where it bends at the toe and refuses to give or soften at all. It bunches and 'pops' and 'clicks' on bending.

    I conclude that if I had my wish, it would be the MT10 with zero drop and yes, no toe spring. Please New Balance, bring out a MT10Z (zero drop)


    I say nonsense to your comment about about "my soles flattened to just about nothing within a few weeks".I product tested the MT00 for six weeks. I put over 210 miles with a 60/40 ratio of road (60) to trail (40). I also completed the North face endurance challenge marathon in Wisconsin wearing the MT00s. I'm a 5'9" triathlete/multi sport/runner who weighs in at a 175lbs. Plenty of tread/sole remaining. I could have put in another 200 plus miles, but my test was up.

  4. Bennie

    I got my first pair of MT00's in March after glaring them with a great deal of scepticism since Jan. While a very light shoe(kudos to that), impressive zero heel drop, and comfortably glove-like, whoever came up with the mesh top idea should be axed! The mesh top area tore around my small-toe within 30 days, and I did a combination of trail running (once a week, Lion's Head, Cape Town) and road running (Seapoint Promenade, Cape Town). Box in hand and full of fury, I returned it and got it replaced. But now, exactly the same thing happened to the new shoe! Am I doing something wrong? Does this mean my feet is just not suitable to this particular shoe? The shoe eased my transition to forefoot running, which I now love as it added more k's to my session. Could it be that the pressure of the forefoot, (and therefore the toes?) is too much and caused the mesh to tear?

  5. Scott

    I purchase a pair of R00 a couple of months ago. I have been transitioning into lighter and flatter shoes for a while now and was a huge fan of the Adi Zero Rocket. This NB shoe is my favorite road shoe. Fit and feel are outstanding! After I brief time of getting used to the shoe and the zero drop it is now my shoe of choice for all distances including marathon.

  6. Frank

    I've got about 200 miles on my MR00's. If I had to run out and get a new pair of shoes today, I wouldn't hesitate to buy another pair of them. I've gone from the Brooks Mach 12's, to the Saucony Shay's, to the Mizuno Wave Universe 4's to these. My favorite shoes by far. I can do about 15-20 miles in these before I still to feel worn down. In the Mizuno's, it was about 10-15.

  7. Liz

    Hi Tom

    Great review!!

    Today I just purchased the MT00, men's size 7 width D. I actually wanted the MR00 but my size wasn't available.

    As soon as I tried on the MT00 I knew it was 'the one', although I must admit this is the first time ive tried a minimalist shoe! What have i been missing???!! The space at the forefront is deluxe, and it fits like a glove.

    Now, apologiesif i sound like a spoilt child but I am now wondering if I'm missing out on something as the MR00 tends to receive rave reviews in comparison to the MT00.

    My training ground is a mix of grass, pavement and bitumen, and my workouts are a mix of speed work, hill reps and steady mid-distance runs (8km). I train 3x per week. Do you think I should have gone for the MR00??

    In any case, I'm sure these shoes will work a treat and maybe I can treat myself to a second pair for christmas! Hehe…anyhow I'd just be interested to hear your thoughts based on my recreational training needs.


  8. Dylan

    ? I own two pairs of the INVO8 Bare-X 180's and my first pair went 800 miles for me before finally getting a hole in part of the heel of the sole……

    And also currently have been trying out the New Balance Trail 00 and have only clocked in 100 miles so far (all trail) and already the soles of both shoes have started to fall apart.

  9. blasbike

    I have also felt "the one" for MR00 when I first try them and I still feel like that. Great shoes.

    Just did second road marathon this year in them. I don't run much on road, mostly trail, dirt road in MT10.

    About caution on 0mm heel drop mentioned in the review. This is not about heel drop!

    The caution is about heel strike vs forefoot strike. This shoes are for forefoot running form.

    In "traditional" "iron" shoes you can run both forms, in minimal/less heel drop/less support shoes you better go forefoot form.

  10. Corey

    I'm a big fan of the New Balance Minimus, I'd like to mention if you've been running in typical running shoes and are thinking about making the switch to a Minimal type running shoe, It's a good idea to pick a middle-of-the-road type running shoe. When I was at New Balance getting a fit for a minimal shoe (MR10), they actually set me up with the New balance 890's as a precursor. The 890's are an 8mm shoe that will allow your feet to get use to the smaller sizes (Before you move to the 4mm MR10 (… )/ MT10 (… )), thus reducing injuries.

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