New Balance Tempo Review

The New Balance Tempo is the replacement for the beloved New Balance Zante. However, the Tempo is not just the Zante under a new name. As the name suggests, the New Balance Tempo is a shoe made for running at a faster pace. Compared with something max. cushioned like the 1080, if you prefer a firmer, less cushioned ride and naturally faster tempo in all your training, then the Tempo could even be your everyday trainer. For most people though, this will be a shoe for your tempo runs, steady runs, intervals, time trials, repetitions or hill reps. It’s the perfect partner to the softer more heavily cushioned New Balance 1080 for this reason.

The Tempo has a FreshFoam midsole. All running shoe midsoles are in effect rubber with little bubbles inside. These bubbles compress on impact and reshape when the pressure is taken off them. FreshFoam has larger bubbles within the heel and the bubbles get gradually smaller as you go forward, to give a firmer, more positive toe off. I found the firmness between the heel and the forefoot quite distinct. Despite the midsole being 2mm thicker than in the New Balance Zante that the Tempo replaces, the Tempo has a much more minimal and flexible forefoot. I found that this helped me maintain a high cadence and reduced the inclination to over-stride. This stops you from leaning forward at the waist or dropping your pelvis, which we all tend to do as we get tired. This makes us heavier on our feet as we slowdown. Instead of the midsole gradually reducing in thickness from the heel to the toe so you are running on a wedge, the tempo drops the height down quicker so that the midsole is flatter and flexible in the forefoot.

The heel to forefoot drop is 6mm, making these suitable for a heel striker or midfoot striker. The ride is firmer and more responsive for those who really like to put the hammer down.

The width slightly narrower than a lot of newer running shoes but there is a wider width available too. I am a diehard rounded toe box fan but surprisingly didn’t have any issues running in the Tempo after a few miles of getting used to them and the more I used them, the happier I was with the fit.

All the running I have done in these shoes has been quick. They are noticeable firm during the warm ups to hill reps or intervals but, then feel perfect once the session begins. This is a bit like the New Balance Impulse which until it was worn in was almost uncomfortable during slower runs like you would do when warming up for a session but, then fast and responsive once you upped the pace. The Tempo is much more comfortable than the Impulse was during these slower runs. It doesn’t have quite the same push as the Impulse but, is very close.

Due to the flexible forefoot of the New Balance Tempo they have “not really there” light feel. This is a complete contrast to the thicker soled, squishy shoes that I use for my recovery runs. In those I am aware of the midsole compression every time my foot touches the floor. The Tempo feels much lighter and easier to run in at pace, which I’m happy to do in more cushioned shoes at times, but these runs feel much harder work in the softer shoes!

The Tempo gives a really smooth, ‘zipping along’ sort of feel.

Quite often racer/trainer type shoes like the Tempo are recommended for racing Marathons in, as they are lightweight shoes with a bit more cushioning than an out an out ‘racing shoe’. I think it would depend on how good your posture was and how quick you where intending to run as to whether the New Balance Tempo would be the right choice for you.

Get in touch with me and we can discuss these and shoes like the Hoka Rincon, Altra Escalante or Topo Fli-Lyte 3 for your marathon.

Charlie @ Northern Runner Newcastle

Other Considerations

Hoka Rincon. These are 4mm heel to forefoot with Hoka’s rocker system and soft cushioning. There is a lot less feel for the floor in these than there is in the New Balance Tempo and in my view it doesn’t feel as fast a shoe. However, if you like the help you get from the rocker and prefer a softer feel then these would be an option:

Altra Escalante 2. These are zero drop with a broad rounded toe box and  smooth cushioned ride. The version  is a bit more firm and responsive than the 1.5 version. This made the Escalante 2 more of a fast shoe for me. This shoe offers a good balance between cushioning and responsiveness.:

Topo Fli-Lyte 3: These are 3mm heel to forefoot with a broad rounded toe box and smooth cushioned ride.  A similar ride to the Escalante but, with a firmer fit around the heel and midfoot.

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