New Balance 1500 T2

Price: $130

Specs: 6mm heel-toe offset; 23mm (heel), 17mm forefoot

Weight: 8.6 oz. (men’s size 9), 7.2 oz. (women’s size 7)

The Scoop: As simple as it might seem, this is one of the most innovative running shoes ever built. It’s very similar to the in-line model of the time-tested New Balance 1500 stability-enhancing training/racing flat (now available as the 1500v4), except that it has a BOA Technology closure system instead of traditional tie laces. This version of the shoe has a snug “bootie” design and three reinforced fabric fingers that create an athletic, wrap-like fit as the BOA ratchet dial and synthetic laces are tightened down. Does it work? Yes, extremely well. It’s an ingenious and effective system that creates a custom fit to match a runner’s foot shape and fit preferences, and, perhaps most importantly, can be easily adjusted on the fly. Those aren’t liberties you can take with the laced version of the shoe, or any other shoe, for that matter. There have been many running shoes with BOA lacing modules over the past decade or so, but this is one of the best ever produced. That’s partly because the running-specific BOA system was overhauled and improved last year and also because this is the first trainer/racer with the technology.

Who’s It Best For: Do you want to run fast? Then this shoe is for you. It has the same light-and-fast feel as the model with traditional laces, but it fits much better. The shoe was developed with triathlon in mind—and the name “T2” is a call-out to a triathlete leaving “transition area 2” and heading out on the run portion of the race—and it’s ideal for that scenario because sliding on and tightening a shoe has to be done as quickly as possible. But the shoe is also great as an up-tempo trainer for intervals on the track or fartlek workouts on the roads.

Plus: The outsole has an array of arrow-shaped lugs that provide good traction on wet and dry surfaces, including the notoriously slippery areas around aid stations in triathlons and road races, not to mention mild, non-technical trails and dirt roads.

Minus: The toe box is very, very snug, so much so that it might seem to limit natural foot flex and toe splay. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it definitely feels tighter than other performance trainer/racer models that offer slightly more wiggle room.

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