New Balance MT110 Preview

New Balance has had a string of hits with lightweight and minimalist trail shoes. From the MT100 to the MT101 and, most recently, the Minimus Trail. In January 2012, New Balance will release the MT110/WT110 ($85), its follow up to the popular MT101 that will include a number of features from NB’s Minimus line. We thought you’d like some preliminary info on the MT110.

[Here’s our full MT110 review as well as our in-depth Making of the MT110 article with Anton Krupicka and Erik Skaggs interviews. We highly recommend reading all three pieces.]

The New Balance MT110 (men's).

Minimalist Construction

With the MT110, New Balance has brought minimalist principles to its flagship line of lightweight trail shoes. First off, the MT110 will be made on the company’s natural running last, which debuted in this year’s Minimus line. The natural running last encourages a mid-foot strike while featuring a wide forefoot for natural toe splay. Second, New Balance has dropped the heel-toe drop from the MT101’s 10mm to a mere 4mm in the MT110. The shoes have a stack height 19mm at the heel and 15mm at the toe. In addition, both the men’s MT110 and women’s WT110 will be available in wide sizes from the outset! So while this is not a “barefoot shoe,” it’s sure to please many a minimalist shoe fan.

Weight
At least on the spec sheets, at 7.7 ounces for a US men’s 9, the MT110 are slightly heavier than the MT101’s 7.5 ounces. Still, that’s quite light for a “lightweight trail racer” that many folks will undoubtedly wear as an everyday trainer.

Upper
The MT110 features a two-piece upper. There’s a lightweight, synthetic, laser cut outer layer for support and a soft interior lining. The heel counter has been “redesigned,” which, considering the minimal counter on the MT101, could actually mean that one’s been added. Moving further away from the heel chafing issues of the MT100, the interior lining has been brought up and over the top of the heel for comfort. The tongue will essentially be the same as found in the MT101.

The New Balance WT110 (women's version).

Additional Construction Details

  • As with the Minimus line, the insole will be non-removable.
  • There’s a full forefoot rockplate albeit a thin one.
  • The outsole only has rubber applied to high wear areas as found with athlete testing of the MT101.

The New Balance WT110's outsole

Additional Notes
We’ve seen the MT110 out at the Hardrock 100 where a competitor wore them for the entire race as well as at another race this summer. Since full reviews will be going up so soon, we feel comfortable sharing that the MT110 held up well although, unsurprisingly, they may have been “a little thin” for 100 miles over incredibly difficult terrain.

The New Balance MT110 after completing the Hardrock 100.

Call for Comments
What do you think of the forthcoming New Balance MT110?

Bryon Powell: is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of iRunFar.com. Having spent nearly 20 years as an ultrarunner and three decades as a trail runner, he's also written Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons and co-wrote Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running. He calls Silverton, Colorado and Moab, Utah home.

View Comments (126)

  • Very excited about this shoe, as I was a fan of the MT101. Have to know though how much push-though protection does the rockplate provide, given the holes in the sole? Also, how about the upper? Is it monomesh or traditional? Wondering how much it would keep dirt and gravel out.

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  • I have really been looking forward to news about the MT110. In particular (and like Mary above), I am curious about the push-through protection offered by the rock plate. I love the Minimus Trail, but I sustained a nasty stone bruise while running on mere gravel. Once that healed, I gave them another try and it happened again. If that happens on gravel, I cannot imagine wearing them on real rocks and roots. So, is the MT110 a real trail shoe?

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  • Will they be releasing a europe version with a more aggressive sole, like the MT101?

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  • I'm glad to see they've improved the tread design. That has been my biggest complaint with the MT101s.

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  • All I really wanted was a more robust outsole with rock plate on the soon to come zero drop Minimus, a Minimus plus.

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  • This is all very exciting. I love the look of them. I know, that's a bit silly and vain but they really do look cool. There are some shoes (which I shouldn't mention lest I upset sponsors) which look like they're out of a 1980s hair band video - I just can't take them seriously. Maybe NB went overboard and is making them look too future-y but what the hell, I like it.

    More substantially, I also like that they're selling a slightly beefier trail shoe than the Minimus with all the bells (like a rock plate and bigger lugs) but with the very low heel drop. I've heard so many positive things about the MT100 and MT101, I'm confident that this could be a big winner for them.

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  • I am in love with the MT101 (european version), and i am really curious how much better a minimalistic trail shoe can be.

    But those holes in the outsole are not a good sign

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  • This is the shoe I have been waiting for. Low heel, lightweight, and has more cushioning than a barefoot type shoe. Can't wait to get some!

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  • If they've fixed the inward sweep at the little toes on their Minimus last, I'll be first in line for something like this. As it stands, though, they may define the forefoot as "wide", but it cramps my toes.

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  • I'm sure Bryon will be able to answer all of these questions after he picks up a pair at OR this week--and I obviously have a big bias towards this shoe--but my thoughts:

    The upper is a laser-cut synthetic leather; it keeps dirt/gravel out at least as well or better than your standard mesh upper w/ synthetic overlays. It is also very supportive and durable. It was basically untouched after 100+ uber-gnarly miles at Hardrock and I have put over 500 miles on a pair with zero breakdown in the upper.

    This shoe is really--again, in my biased opinion--a perfect mix of the positive elements from the 100/101 and Minimus series. The Minimus last means a 4mm drop, broad forefoot, and a sock-like fit through the mid foot and heel. The protection in the forefoot--because of the 100-style rock plate--is at least as good as in the 100/101 and to me it feels even better probably because of the increased rubber lug depth. The protection is not at all comparable to the Trail Minimus, which I would deem more of a "barefoot-simulation tool" than a shoe that I would be comfortable racing 100 miles in.

    The 101 simply didn't have deep enough lugs for optimal traction and this shoe corrects that. The 110 also uses a softer rubber compound for better sticky rubber traction on rock and wet surfaces, which the 101 was terrible at. Also, all the blister/achilles trouble (I had it too) with the 100/101 collar/heel counter is completely gone. This shoe has a more traditional but very minimal collar/heel counter.

    And, all this at 7oz and for only $85. Again--my bias--but it's the best mountain/trail shoe I've ever worn in terms of performance/function. My buddy who wore them at Hardrock is the only person I know who is as big of a shoe geek as me and while he could wear any shoe on the market to race in this summer he couldn't resist the opportunity to wear the 110 because he deemed it to be simply the best tool for the job. I think a lot of other people who are tuned in to their footstrike and what their bodies are doing while running will agree. While I've really liked the lightweight protection of the MT100/101, there were always a couple issues that prevented me from giving it a full-fledged endorsement of "best shoe I've worn". Those issues have largely been corrected (I'm a nit-picker, though, and there are always improvements to be had) and I am entirely comfortable assigning it that label.

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  • Doesn't take much digging to find out who those legs belong to!

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  • Slightly disappointed about the $10 price bump compared to the 101's but love the idea of a more durable upper. I've blown out the mesh on every pair of 100's/101's I have other than my new pairs.

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  • These do look mighty fine indeed!

    I'm in the UK running a mix of road, track, some field, bridlepaths to footpaths, then some road again.

    Would this be appropriate or is this more truly off-road? Would road running in trail shoes for the first/last 10 miles knacker the tread too much, or am I better off with simply making my routes more trail-y?

    Anyone care to chime in on this?

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  • Well Anton, I sure hope you like them since I'm sure you played a huge part in the design :-)

    Love the MT101 but the new tread pattern appears to a tad more aggressive, which I personally welcome. I had trouble up in Idaho during the Dry Creek 1/2 Marathon due to slippery conditions in the 101's and was thinking a bit more traction could make these perfect for occasional muddy encounters.

    I consider myself a bit of shoe geek as well so I raise my glass to others like me out there on the trails!

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  • Tony said they were thinner, but I do believe that toe looks a bit thicker that the 101. Maybe the 110 is little thinner in the heel. At any rate, I never felt that 10mm drop as being all that big of a deal because I usually put 1,000 miles or so on a pair and when you compress the sole down 50%, the drop also decreases 50% due to consistent compression rates. 20/10 at the start is a 10mm drop but it then goes to 10/5 which is a 5mm drop. At any rate, get these shoes out there! I think this will leave some peregrines on the shelf ;)

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    • My experience has always been that the forefoot takes on compression set at a much higher rate than the rearfoot, no matter the shoe.

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      • The terrain and distance I run through compresses just about every inch of that shoe, but I'll eventually get out some callipers one day and figure out an accurate answer.

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  • How do I get a pair early!? I'm not sure I can wait until 2012.

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    • I suggest flying out to Salt Lake City for the Outdoor Retailer show and then mugging a journalist during our run in the MT110s Friday morning. However, there may be better ways.

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      • If only....

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  • Can't wait for the release. Seems to be a great mix between the Minimus and the 101s. I've been anxiously awaiting these. Thanks Bryon for the preview. And Tony for the additional info.

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  • Nice, they needed to trade up the old tread pattern. They were not the best choice for this New Englander.

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  • I broke my second metatarsal after stepping on a rock with my forefoot in Trail Gloves. This cooled down my minimalist zeal a bit, but I haven't been afraid to run in MT101s (haven't tried the Minimus yet) since then as the rockplate is pretty good, though fairly light. Hope this is not changing.

    Lowering the heel is very much the right step:) as it felt high and I hope the toe area gets a bit wider. If the padding stays about the same as in 101s, this could be my dream shoe.

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  • I'm stoked! These sound great, but am I the only person who thinks that these look horrible? What's up with the silver bling crap?

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    • No. I'm with you. I'll try 'em, but Joe Grant's pair of blue/black ones look shiny even after Hardrock.

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