New Balance vs. Nike Running Shoes – The Differences

Written By: Jeremy N

Nike and New Balance are two popular running shoe brands. Nike was started by Phil Knight and Asics was founded in 1906, New Balance has been manufacturing premium shoes for over 100 years.  

The biggest differences between Nike & New Balance is that New Balance offers a firm but cushioned ride. This is perfect for a runner who runs longer distance races. Nike is great for shorter distances as they are not designed for stability. In comparison, the cushioning of New Balance is significantly better than Nike. 

Depending on your running style, expect to get 200-400 miles out of each shoe. 

New Balance & Nike - Background

The aim of New Balance is to help you achieve your goals with the right shoes. The shoes integrate fashion and function to deliver performance in a style of your liking. 

The company’s focus is to help professional athletes in pursuit of excellence to set records and win medals. It also assists everyday athletes to achieve their first 5K, attain a new PR, or simply live an active, and healthier lifestyle.

The different creativity and high-level skills out there bring out the best in New Balance shoes in terms of performance. Apart from producing the best running shoes on the market, New Balance also strive to give back, promote a sustainable environment, and social responsibility. 

On the other hand, Nike is an innovative running shoe brand. The company has popular shoe models. It has been manufacturing for many years. For instance, the Nike Pegasus has been in use for over 30 years. 

The company consistently introduces new technologies accompanied by new classification and names. This article compares a shoe model from New Balance with another from Nike to help compare the two brands. 

For the in-depth comparison, we chose two of the more popular running shoes to detail the differences.  

The biggest differences between Nike vs New Balance is that New Balance offers a firm but cushioned ride. Nike running shoes are great for shorter distances....

The New Balance Fresh Foam More

The New Balance Fresh Foam More is a maximal shoe designed to offer extra cushioning without adding too much weight.

Designed to support maximal running, the shoe competes with Skechers GOrun Ultra, ASICS MetaRide, and the whole Hoka line.

New Balance Women's Fresh Foam More V2 Running Shoe, Light Cyclone/Lemon Slush, 5
  • Signature Fresh Foam midsole
  • Ultra Heel design adapts to your foot, providing seamless comfort and a modern look
  • Breathable lightweight mesh upper
  • Features a modern design for a sleek look

The running shoe has a 34mm heel drop and 30mm in the forefoot area. The stack height of the Fresh Foam More rivals the after-long run pancakes, but with a less soft underfoot feel. It comes with generous yet firm cushioning for a less energy-sapping and squishy midsole.

New Balance Men's More V1 Fresh Foam Running Shoe

It “rolls” your foot forward with every step, but offers less plushness. The cushioning is soft without being mushy to help you keep momentum on longer runs with an added boost.

Unlike its predecessors, the engineered mesh is clean and simple. No-sew overlays result in reduced weight and increased breathability, making the shoe ideal for running in warm weather. 

What makes its upper a selling point is the connected tongue and snug, bootie fit sandwiched between the spacious toe box and the gel-like collar cushion.

New Balance Men's More V1 Fresh Foam Running Shoe

The Sole Unit

The sole unit integrates substantial Fresh Foam More with a 30mm drop on the forefoot area and 34mm on the heel area. A firmer, responsive material is used on the topsole for faster runs and increased blood flow. 

A heel bevel on the outsole eases your heel strike. Together with flex groove and foam, the bevel fosters soft landing and transition.

The Midsole

The midsole are made up of thick and sturdy Fresh Foam for a single, seamless hunk. Although the shoe isn’t lightweight, the hollow side-wall laser-etchings reduce material used for reduced pressure on your foot

New Balance Men's More V1 Fresh Foam Running Shoe

Your foot sits deeper into the midsole instead of perching it right on top, thanks to the shoe design. This increases the stability of the shoe irrespective of its height. It also offers a great smooth roll forward from your heel to toes.

The rolling sensation benefits your heel strikes. However, some forefoot and midsole strikes may find the shoe bulky and sophisticated, preferring a better feel whenever your foot lands on the ground.

The Outsole

Unlike other New Balance running shoe models, the Fresh Foam More has a unique outsole. The Ground Contact EVA-based material used on the outsole features honeycomb tread for proper grip on snowy surfaces, wet pavements, and roads.

New Balance Men's More V1 Fresh Foam Running Shoe

Although the material wears out prematurely post running 50 miles, it doesn’t hamper its traction. For that reason, some runners prefer using the running shoe for treadmill runs only.

The Upper - Snug Fit and Breathable Mesh

True to size, the shoe’s fit offer solid hold on the heel area and enough room in the toe box area for foot movement during runs. The connected tongue and bootie-style provide a secure, close fit around the midfoot area. 

The breathable engineered mesh stretches to ensure the shoe wraps around your forefoot for a perfect fit. Both sides of the ankle joint features gel-like pods for increased stability and cushioning.

New Balance Men's More V1 Fresh Foam Running Shoe

However, a high fit around the ankle bone may cause friction. The upper is attractive in a clean, knit design. It comes in three different colorways to choose from.

The soft and seamless upper mesh supports movement with each stride. The rigid heel cup is supportive and locks your foot from the heel towards the toe area. The narrow-to-normal midfoot shape gives a supportive feeling.

Pros of the New Balance Fresh Foam More

  • Optimal cushioning at the midsole with Fresh Foam, but isn’t overly soft
  • Breathable upper mesh
  • Light and responsive for various runs
  • Gives a bouncy forward push for faster runs
  • Has a good first impression
  • Supports maximal training


  • Some users find the shoe bulky
  • May not suit runners with low arches or flat feet
  • May cause rubbing around the ankle bones if the fit is high
New Balance Women's Fresh Foam 1080 V10 Running Shoe, Jet Stream/Glacier, 5
  • Cushioned Running Shoes for Every Runner: Part of the Fresh Foam X collection, these shoes use our latest advancements in data to design to deliver precise plushness exactly where you need it
  • Support and Durability: This shoe features a Hypoknit upper designed to provide strategic areas of stretch and support, in addition to a blown rubber outsole for impressive durability
  • Perfect Fit: These comfortable running shoes include a bootie upper construction and an Ultra Heel design, both of which hug the back of the foot for a snug, supportive fit
  • Breathable and Lightweight Running Shoes: The supportive engineered knit upper includes synthetic and mesh materials for amazing breathability during runs of any distance
  • Keep Your Feet Comfortable: The Ortholite sockliner in these performance running shoes helps keep your feet feeling fresh as you power through your toughest runs

The Nike Zoom Fly 3

Nike Zoom Fly 3 is aesthetic and technologically innovative, with a denser midsole.

The spacious upper makes the running shoes versatile for everyday use. The midsole features a carbon fiber plate while the Vaporweave upper is water-resistant and sturdy.

Built with a mesh inner sleeve under the Vaporweave upper and dense React foam, the shoes give a bootie-like fit atop being responsive. The thick React midsole is extra cushioned for recovery runs at adept intervals on the track or road. 

However, React foam isn’t propulsive. The comfortable Vaporweave upper is form-fitting with bold colorways. It’s the ideal running shoes for aggressive training.

Nike Zoom Fly 3 Men's Running Shoe

React Foam-Carbon Fiber Plate Midsole

The carbon fiber plate is sandwiched between React foam on the midsole, featuring extra cushioning around the heel area than the forefoot. The carbon-filled sole is extremely stiff to deliver firmness in the shoes for a bouncy effect with each step.

The heel has about 1.5 inches of foam underneath while the forefoot area an inch of foam, resulting in a well-cushioned midsole. The versatile shoe also supports speed and long runs.

Nike Zoom Fly 3 Men's Running Shoe

With a narrow heel and wider forefoot, heel-strikers may not like the former’s unstable sensation. If you’re looking for shoes designed for wider heel areas and more stability, you may not like the Nike Zoom Fly 3. It lacks sufficient pronation-limiting or arch support features.

The Vaporweave Upper

Made from a combination of thermoplastic nylon and polymers, the Vaporweave above the midsole doesn’t retain water. It doesn’t stretch for a more secure fit. The inner mesh sleeve under the Vaporweave links to a no-bunch bootie-like tongue.

Tapering away from the Achilles, the ankle collar doesn’t irritate. However, the stitching on it can easily irritate your skin if you’re wearing the shoes with ankle socks.

Nike Zoom Fly 3 Men's Running Shoe

The lacing system also adds to the secure fit of the upper. Although it’s breathable, some users noted that tiny stones and dirt get stuck between the inner mesh sleeve and the Vaporweave material.

The Outsole

Just like the Vaporfly Next%, the outsole is made from a combination of rubber and foam. Blown rubber makes the upper forefoot area of the shoe. It features lattice-pattern grooves that enable water trapped beneath your foot to flow out.

The heel is made up of React foam and two rubber strips on both sides of the running shoes. With the on-road grip, you’re guaranteed good traction on roads. However, the shoes lack traction on trails with crushed gravel.

Nike Zoom Fly 3 Men's Running Shoe

Run Impressions

The Zoom Fly 3 has an audible sound whenever it hits the track. It may also feel less cushioned and stiff due to the carbon plate integration. 

The reactive React foam causes your foot to sink in during slow runs and firms up with a faster pace. Unlike the Next%, it’s less propulsive and lighter, but more responsive and firmer with better cushioning.

Pros of the Nike Zoom Fly 3

  • Responsive midsole
  • Breathable upper for increased breathability
  • Versatile for multiple runs
  • The upper has a secure fit for comfortable use


  • Tall and narrow heel profile offers insufficient stability for runners with wider feet

Conclusion: New Balance vs. Nike Shoes

The best New Balance running shoes integrate modern fabrics, art design, and manufacturing technologies to deliver optimal support, comfort, and performance in your choice of shoes. 

The running shoes from New Balance are popular for their durability and value for your money. The company doesn’t just put your needs for running shoes first but also uses consumer feedback to improve its products for better quality and value.

The New Balance Fresh Foam More is a high-stack shoe with a firm yet cushioned topsole. Opt for it if you want shoes designed for longer tempo runs. They’re also versatile for use in various races. They’re ideal for maximal training with a push on your pace.

On the other hand, the Nike Zoom Fly 3 is ideal for on-road use only for optimal performance. Although it’s supportive, it isn’t stable for stability runners. Although it has a secure fit, wrap-around upper, the shoes lack traction on off-road surfaces.

They wouldn’t be of much help to cross-country runners. This shoe is a specialized shoe for on-road speed or fast runs. Look elsewhere for a more stable shoe with forgiving underfoot.

Otherwise, the Zoom Fly 3 is ideal for aggressive, tall and up-tempo runs at all speeds. Order the New Balance Fresh Foam More or Nike Zoom Fly 3 today based on your unique running needs.


Hi, Jeremy Here, 

I am the the guy behind Train for a 5K. On this site, I share everything that learned along my running journey. The content I create is the running training I wish I had before we started this journeyAbout Me.

Last update on 2023-09-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Hi, Jeremy Here, 

I am the the guy behind Train for a 5K. On this site, I share everything that learned along my running journey. The content I create is the running training I wish I had before we started this journeyAbout Jeremy. 

I have run over 250 races including the California International Marathon, Clarksburg Country Run, and various other 5K & 10K races throughout the United States. I am a former Athletics department employee at University of the Pacific and Shoe Consultant with Dicks Sporting Goods

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