New Balance RC1600 V2 Review

From Fellrnr.com, Running tips
Jump to: navigation, search

Not surprisingly, the New Balance RC1600 V2 is selected by a good number of marathon runners I know. The RC1600 is nearly as good as my favorite in this class, the Asics Gel Hyper Speed. While New Balance market the RC1600 as a 'racing flat', I consider it to be a great all round running shoe. The RC1600 provides ample cushioning and it's only significant flaw is that the toe box is not designed for the human foot, a failing shared by most running shoes. (I use The Science of Running Shoes as the basis of how I test running shoes and what you should look for in a running shoe.)

New Balance RC1600V2 top
New Balance RC1600V2 bottom
New Balance RC1600V2 inside
New Balance RC1600V2 outside

1 Characteristics

  • Why you’d buy it. The RC1600 is a great choice for a lightweight, nicely cushioned and comfortable shoe. While the placement of the high grip outsole is rather bizarre, it doesn't cause any problems.
  • Cushioning . The RC1600 has excellent cushioning for its weight, with a cushioning-to-weight ratio that is up there with the likes of the Asics Gel Hyper Speed or the Nike Zoom Streak LT. There is a gap in the midsole under the heel, which tends to center the foot slightly, but without being in any way intrusive.
  • Drop. The RC1600 has 5mm of drop when loaded, which is a tad more than I'd like, but similar to other shoes in this category and it shouldn't cause any problems.
  • Structure. The RC1600 doesn't struggle to control your stride with a medial post. As noted above, there is a gap in the midsole, but I found this just made the shoe feel secure underfoot. There is no intrusion to cause pressure on the arch of the foot.
  • Flexibility. The RC1600 has good flexibility to allow the foot to bend naturally.
  • Outsole. Sometimes it seems like every shoe has to have at least one mistake in the design. For the RC1600 is the placement of the outsole, which thankfully is not a major problem. The RC1600 has some nice, high grip outsole that NB call DynaRide, but they don't place it under the pressure areas of the foot. Instead, it's behind the ball of the foot and under the toes. The area you'd expect to have the high traction material has normal outsole rubber; under the heel and the forefoot. There is some exposed foam under parts of the heel, but I haven't seen any undue wear. The gap under the heel is a stone trap, and I've had the occasional problem with this.
  • Shape. The RC1600 is not designed to fit a human foot, so I cut open the toe box to allow my toes room and my foot to move naturally. (I recommend cutting open the toe box of virtually all running shoes, with the exception of a few shoes like some Altra shoes. When you have some worn out shoes, you should try cutting open the toe box. I've found that it's a big improvement, allowing my toes to move naturally and engage for toe off, as well as reducing the possibility of blisters.)
  • Upper. The upper is inflexible and a little thicker than I'd like for non-winter use. The upper is largely seamless, with no padding except a little around the ankle opening. It's not perfect, but it works fine.
  • Tongue. The RC1600 has a traditional tongue design that is has a tab to attach it to the laces. However, the tongue material is rather unusual. Instead of being softly padded to protect the top of the foot from the pressure of the laces, the thin tongue is quite stiff. I found this worked nicely, and is probably a better solution than the normal padding.
  • Lacing. The RC1600 has thin flat laces that never come undone on me.
  • Heel Counter. The RC1600 has almost no heel counter, which is nice.
helping-hand.jpg

2 How Far Can I Run in the RC1600?

Different runners want different levels of cushioning, so this shoe may not suit everyone. Some runners want a Maximalist shoe when they run a 5K, while others will run a 100 mile race barefoot. Most people find that as the distance increases, they want a little more cushioning to protect their feet from the pounding and to offset a little of the fatigue that sets in over time. You can see from the charts below how the cushioning compares with other shoes I've tested for some comparisons. Remember that a thicker, firmer shoe would have the same cushioning rating as a thinner, softer shoe, but would feel rather different. I'm quite happy in the RC1600 for at least the marathon distance, and I know other runners who've done well in it at that distance.

3 Comparisons

Here are some direct comparisons with its potential competition.

3.1 New Balance RC1600 and Asics Gel Hyper Speed

The RC1600 and the Asics Gel Hyper Speed are quite close, and while the Hyper Speed is better, it's only by a narrow margin. The Hyper Speed has a slightly better shape and a slightly more comfortable upper. More importantly the Hyper Speed offers better cushioning for only a slight increase in weight.

New Balance RC1600V2 top
New Balance RC1600V2 bottom
New Balance RC1600V2 inside
New Balance RC1600V2 outside
Asics Gel Hyper Speed 6 top
Asics Gel Hyper Speed 6 bottom
Asics Gel Hyper Speed 6 inside
Asics Gel Hyper Speed 6 outside
helping-hand.jpg

3.2 New Balance RC1600 and Nike Zoom Streak LT

The Nike Zoom Streak LT is another similar shoe. The Streak is more flexible, and I find the upper is a little more comfortable, though you're unlikely to notice unless you run in them back to back. Both shoes are excellent, and I'd recommend choosing between them based more on price and fit than anything else.

New Balance RC1600V2 top
New Balance RC1600V2 bottom
New Balance RC1600V2 inside
New Balance RC1600V2 outside
Nike Zoom Streak LT 2 top
Nike Zoom Streak LT 2 bottom
Nike Zoom Streak LT 2 inside
Nike Zoom Streak LT 2 outside
helping-hand.jpg

3.3 New Balance RC1600 and New Balance RC5000

While the RC1600 is lightweight the New Balance RC5000 is 40% lighter. If you're happy with the limited cushioning the RC5000 provides, then it's a better shoe, but most runners will welcome the additional cushioning of the RC1600.

New Balance RC1600V2 top
New Balance RC1600V2 bottom
New Balance RC1600V2 inside
New Balance RC1600V2 outside
New Balance MRC 5000 top
New Balance MRC 5000 bottom
New Balance MRC 5000 inside
New Balance MRC 5000 outside
helping-hand.jpg

3.4 New Balance RC1600 and Asics GT 2000

I tend to compare shoes against my benchmark "normal running shoe", the Asics GT 2000. The GT 2000 is over engineered and these features go against The Science of Running Shoes, causing more problems than they solve. Moving from a GT 2000 type shoe to the RC1600 is a big change, and would take a little time to adapt. The RC1600 is not as well padded, but that's quick to get used to. After running in high heels, the RC1600 will be more natural, but it will also stretch the calf a little more. The level of padding is nearly the same, but the RC1600 is less than half the weight of the GT 2000. I believe the RC1600 is a far better shoe, but you may need a transitional shoe like the Saucony Kinvara as a half-way house.

New Balance RC1600V2 top
New Balance RC1600V2 bottom
New Balance RC1600V2 inside
New Balance RC1600V2 outside
Asics GT2000 top
Asics GT2000 bottom
Asics GT2000 inside
Asics GT2000 outside

4 Cushioning and Shoes

It's intuitively obvious that the cushioning in a shoe will reduce the impact on your body when running. However, The Science of Running Shoes indicates that the reality is rather more complex. While slight cushioning may reduce the effort needed to run by improving your Running Economy, most scientific research indicates that more cushioning does further improve Running Economy. In addition, cushioning does not generally reduce impact and may actually increase it. This is counterintuitive, but is likely to be due to the way a runners mind and body adapts to softer cushioning. Unfortunately, the scientific evidence is far from complete and it's hard to give clear recommendations. I believe that some runners will prefer more cushioning, while others prefer less, and typically those running further have a fondness for greater cushioning. I also believe that a shoe should be as light as possible, and a shoe should justify its weight with the cushioning it provides. My advice is to decide what level of cushioning you're looking for, and then find the lightest shoes that also fit well and are comfortable.

5 Visualizing the Attributes of the New Balance RC1600

How New Balance RC1600 compares showing rearfoot cushioning against the performance penalty of its weight. Upper right is better.
How New Balance RC1600 compares showing forefoot cushioning against the performance penalty of its weight. Upper right is better.
How New Balance RC1600 compares showing the price against the benefit (cushioning/performance penalty). Upper left is better.
How New Balance RC1600 compares showing the loaded drop against the benefit (cushioning/performance penalty). Upper left is better.

6 A Comparison with other Recommended Shoes

For a more detailed comparison of these shoes see the Recommendations for Best Running Shoes. This table lists the key attributes of What to Look for in Running Shoes. For more detailed information, on the shoes see detailed shoe comparison.

Full Review Name Rating Recommended
price
Benefit Weight
(oz)
Penalty
(sec/mile)
Forefoot
Thickness
Heel
Thickness
Loaded Drop
mm
Cushioning Flexibility
Asics 33-DFA Review 33-DFA Worth considering $90 5.7 10.6 16.5 27 27 0 6.1 6
Saucony Type A6 Review A6 Highly Recommended $100 8.2 6.1 9.5 17 21 4 5.0 8
Adidas Adios Boost 2 Review Adios Worth considering $140 4.7 8.6 13.4 17 27 11 4.0 7
Hoka Bondi Review Bondi Highly Recommended $150 8.0 10.9 17.0 41 45 5 8.8 0
Hoka Bondi 5 Review Bondi Review Pending $150 6.1 11.6 18.1 38 42 5 7.1 4
Hoka Clayton Review Clayton Best of the Best $150 8.8 8.3 12.9 26 30 3 7.3 5
Hoka Clifton 3 Review Clifton3 Best of the Best $130 9.1 9.8 15.3 34 38 3 8.9 6
On Cloudracer Review Cloudracer Worth considering $130 5.7 8.2 12.8 19 27 5 4.7 8
Hoka Conquest Review Conquest Worth considering $170 5.0 11.9 18.5 28 34 5 6.0 3
Saucony Cortana 4 Review Cortana Worth considering $150 4.4 9.9 18.7 22 28 5 4.3 5
Mizuno Wave Cruise Review Cruise Worth considering $120 6.6 5.9 12.5 17 20 7 3.9 7
Newton Distance IV Review Distance Worth considering $155 7.5 9.1 14.2 26 31 3 6.8 6
Asics Gel DS Racer 10 Review DS Racer Worth considering $110 8.2 7.0 10.9 21 26 6 5.8 6
Mizuno Wave Ekiden 8 Review Ekiden Worth considering $115 5.7 5.7 14.6 13 18 6 3.2 8
Saucony Endorphin Review Endorphin Highly Recommended $125 11.1 4.1 6.4 14 13 -1 4.5 9
Adidas Energy Boost Review Energy Worth considering $160 7.2 10.0 15.6 20 30 7 7.2 6
Altra Escalante Review Escalante Review Pending $130 9.1 8.7 13.5 28 25 -1 7.9 7
Puma Faas 100 R Review Faas 100 Highly Recommended $90 8.4 6.1 9.4 15 20 1 5.1 9
Saucony Fastwitch Review Fastwitch Highly Recommended $90 9.5 7.1 11.1 20 22 4 6.8 8
Topo Fli-Lyte Review Fli-Lyte Highly Recommended $100 6.0 9.4 14.6 23 24 4 5.6 6
Nike Free 4.0 Review Free Recommended $120 5.3 8.2 13.6 24 30 6 4.4 6
Saucony Freedom Review Freedom Recommended $160 5.4 10.7 16.6 25 29 3 5.8 7
Asics Gel Lyte 33 3 Review Gel Lyte Not recommended $90 8.0 7.3 11.4 17 24 4 5.8 9
Skechers GOmeb Speed 3 Review GOmeb 3 Worth considering $120 6.9 8.1 12.6 20 24 4 5.5 8
Skechers GORun 4 Review GORun Not recommended $100 6.1 7.5 11.7 15 23 3 4.5 7
Skechers GOrun Ultra 2 Review GRU Worth considering $90 7.5 10.0 15.6 28 34 8 7.5 5
Skechers GOrun Ultra Road Review GRU-R Worth considering $105 6.5 11.3 17.6 30 40 6 7.4 7
Asics GT 2000 Review GT 2000 Not recommended $120 4.8 11.2 17.4 28 35 5 5.4 4
Hoka Hupana Review Hupana Recommended $115 6.1 8.9 13.9 31 36 7 5.4 5
Asics Gel Hyper Speed 7 Review Hyper Speed Highly Recommended $75 10.9 6.3 9.8 22 26 5 6.8 7
Altra Instinct 3.5 Review Instinct 3.5 Recommended $115 4.9 9.3 15.2 24 23 0 4.5 6
Altra Instinct 4.0 Review Instinct 4.0 Review Pending $120 6.0 9.8 15.3 29 25 -1 5.9 6
Asics Tarther Kainos 3 Review Kainos Worth considering $130 10.0 6.9 10.7 17 27 9 6.8 7
Saucony Kinvara 7 Review Kinvara Best of the Best $110 7.4 8.2 12.8 23 27 3 6.1 6
Nike LunaRacer 4 Review LunaRacer Recommended $90 9.9 7.0 10.9 22 30 7 6.9 6
Nike LunarSpider R5 Review LunarSpider Recommended $125 6.9 6.7 10.4 17 21 3 4.6 7
Hoka Mafate Speed Review Mafate Best of the Best $170 7.6 11.9 18.5 39 40 4 9.0 3
Pearl Izumi EM Road N0 v2 Review N0 Highly Recommended $100 7.9 6.5 10.1 14 20 4 5.2 8
Saucony Nomad Review Nomad Review Pending $110 4.3 10.5 17.2 25 27 2 4.5 5
Hoka Odyssey Review Odyssey Highly Recommended $130 8.5 9.4 14.6 37 45 5 8.0 4
Altra Olympus Review Olympus Highly Recommended $130 5.4 11.8 18.4 27 27 3 6.4 4
Altra One 2.5 Review One Highly Recommended $100 8.5 7.1 11.1 22 25 2 6.0 8
Altra Paradigm Review Paradigm Highly Recommended $130 6.4 9.9 15.4 25 25 1 6.4 4
Asics Piranha SP 5 Review Piranha Recommended $100 10.1 4.2 6.5 11 15 3 4.2 9
Brooks PureFlow 5 Review PureFlow Worth considering $110 6.0 9.7 15.1 26 29 5 5.8 8
Salming Race Review Race Worth considering $130 6.9 6.5 10.1 16 19 4 4.5 7
New Balance RC1600 v2 Review RC1600 Highly Recommended $110 8.8 5.6 8.7 15 21 5 4.9 8
New Balance RC5000 Review RC5000 Best of the Best $125 12.2 3.4 5.3 13 17 3 4.2 8
New Balance RC5000v2 Review RC5000v2 Best of the Best $125 14.2 4.0 6.2 13 21 6 5.7 8
Skechers GoRun Ride 3 Review Ride Worth considering $85 5.9 8.5 13.2 18 28 6 5.0 9
Inov-8 RoadXTreme 220 Review RXT-220 Worth considering $120 5.2 8.0 18.2 14 17 3 4.2 9
Topo ST-2 ST-2 Highly Recommended $90 8.2 7.3 11.4 20 18 0 6.0 8
Hoka Stinson Lite Review Stinson Highly Recommended $160 7.3 11.6 18.1 35 40 6 8.5 2
Nike Zoom Streak LT 3 Review Streak LT Best of the Best $80 8.8 5.4 8.4 16 21 4 4.8 6
Adidas Takumi Sen 3 Review Takumi Sen 3 Highly Recommended $160 7.7 6.6 10.2 17 21 4 5.1 6
Altra Torin 2.0 Review Torin Worth considering $125 5.8 9.6 14.9 28 25 -1 5.5 5
Hoka Tracer Review Tracer Recommended $130 7.2 7.4 11.5 21 24 2 5.3 6
Merrell Trail Glove 3 Review Trail Glove Best of the Best $100 2.9 6.9 24.7 11 11 0 2.0 9
Topo Tribute Review Tribute Recommended $100 5.9 7.3 11.4 20 18 -1 4.3 7
Mizuno Wave Universe 5 Review Universe Highly Recommended $125 10.7 3.1 10.6 9 12 1 3.3 9
Merrell Vapor Glove 2 Review Vapor Glove Highly Recommended $85 2.1 6.1 27.6 6 5 0 1.3 10
New Balance Vazee Pace Review Vazee Pace Worth considering $110 6.0 8.6 13.4 18 24 6 5.2 6
Asics TartherZeal 3 Review Zeal Worth considering $140 10.9 6.3 9.8 17 27 9 6.8 7

It's not a running shoe, but I love the Hoka Tor Ultra hiking boot and I've tested the Altra Lone Peak Boot.
Older shoe reviews: Saucony Hattori Review, Mizuno Cursoris Review, Skechers GO Bionic 2 Review, Hoka Clifton Review, Saucony Virrata 2 Review, Brooks PureCadence 3 Review, Brooks PureConnect 3 Review, Brooks PureFlow 3 Review, Skechers GO Bionic 2 Review, New Balance 980 Review, Brooks Transcend 2 Review.
Reviews of shoes that are not worth including on the table: Hoka Huaka Review, Patagonia EVERlong Review.