Our review: The New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon v2 is a delightfully light runner that delivers spring and speed to short workouts, But in doing so, the design sacrifices durability.
- Stack Height:
The second iteration of the New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon pushes the limits of how light a road shoe can be while also providing cushion and structure. The minimal weight, shock-absorbent midsole and fitted upper make it an easy choice for tempo, progression, and speed sessions.
- 6.6 oz. (W), 7.7 oz. (M)
- Fresh Foam
- Fresh Foam and blown rubber
- Engineered mesh
100 Miles In: The Review
It’s all about the weight with this shoe. New Balance ditched anything that could add unnecessary ounces to the Beacon v2—including an outsole. As with its predecesor, the outsole consists of five small pieces of rubber to reinforce high-contact areas: two in the heel, three in the forefoot. Beyond that, it’s foam on pavement.
The upper is thin and designed to provide some structure without requiring excess material. It’s mesh throughout, until it meets the sturdy, yet flexible, heel counter. This is really where the shoe deviates from its predecessor. The Fresh Foam Beacon v1 had an entirely mesh upper, married with a traditional heel collar that resulted in a somewhat sloppy fit and a relatively thick heel counter.
Given how thin the heel counter is on the new model, this is likely where the shoe dropped about a half ounce from v1 to v2. It also is the most obvious change in this update, and it, along with the improved midfoot wrap, holds the foot more securely.
Speaking of the heel counter: It comes up a bit high. Even ankle socks with pull tabs didn’t protect my Achilles from a little unwanted friction, so I recommend wearing crew socks with these shoes. Other than that, the Fresh Foam Beacon v2 is a delightfully light, comfortable shoe.
Because of the design prioritizes weight over stability, you won’t get much support from the Beacon v2. I found that foot fatigue set in a little sooner than usual when running in this model—after 6-8 miles—but the tradeoff for fewer ounces is well worth it for faster sessions.
The Beacon v2 is particularly enjoyable on the treadmill, where anything that makes your legs feel a little lighter is a big plus.
There’s The Rub
At first glance, the $120 price seems reasonable, but that impression lasts about as long as the outsole—which isn’t very long at all. The forefoot outsole pads didn’t cover all the areas where my stride wears out soles, and after 30 miles, the exterior foam had visibly worn down. About 40 miles into my test, I really started to feel it. The midsole significantly compressed in the forefoot, and I started experiencing hot spots on runs as short as 6 miles.
I may have made a mistake in wearing the Beacon v2 for long runs. After a 19-mile run in them, I decided to take a break from the shoes for a while. When I worked them back into my rotation, I did so only for workouts with single-digit mileage. That was the sweet spot for this shoe for me.
With the exception of one 14-mile run, I stuck to relatively short distances for the rest of my 100 miles in the Beacon v2. After that initial wear, I didn’t notice any drastic deterioration in the second half of my test, though the upper did stretch a bit from beginning to end.
The New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon v2 improves the fit while retaining the responsive ride of the popular original Beacon. The light, springy foam performs best in relatively short sessions. Make the most of the Beacon v2s by lacing them up for tempo runs or speed work.