Perfect timing! A couple of hours before I am due to leave for the airport in Wellington, bound for the Australian Sports Medicine Conference in Perth, the courier arrives with a brand, spanking new pair of New Balance Rubix running shoes – so in the suitcase they went! The shoes were about to be tested under pressure in Western Australia and Melbourne over the next two weeks.The New Balance Rubix is an interesting shoe, with much chat about its specifications and technical features.
New Balance say this shoe’s technical design was inspired by the way banked surfaces of the cycle velodrome, bobsled track and road racing track guide the athlete around corners at high speed. New Balance were looking to ‘push the envelope’ in terms of innovation for managing excessive pronation in runners by providing a series of independent midsole ramps, designed to keep the foot on a consistent path.
Alongside the configuration of banked midsole cubes, New Balance have used a dual density configuration with more of the higher density foam on the medial side of the shoe, which in itself is pretty standard stuff. The interesting part is the way they have used foot pressure and force data to determine the ramp angle, size and distribution.
As a neutral foot type, the Rubix was expected to be ‘overkill’ in terms of support for me, and traditionally ‘support or motion control’ shoes have felt stiff and hard. So, how did the Rubix fare?
Slipping the Rubix on for the first time, the immediate feel was comfort-plus! The midsole underfoot feels plush, the upper has plenty of toe-wriggle room, is seamless, and there are no annoying overlays. The heel counter material is smooth and doesn’t grab my sock as I push my heel into the shoe. As I have a small, relatively narrow foot, I have typically found New Balance shoes to be on the roomy side across the forefoot, sometimes even baggy. The single piece upper in the Rubix conforms nicely however, and I suspect that if you happened to have a bunion, the Rubix upper would snuggle its way comfortably around the bump.
New Balance describe their upper mesh as engineered, where the wider the weave the more flex and breathability, and the tighter weave gives strength, support and durability. There is a ‘ribbed’ PU overlay through the midfoot designed to give 4-way stretch while still offering support.
The lacing system is easy, utilising what feels like a thinner lace that I am used to in a running shoe (due to the fact it is stretchy) but being totally comfortable over the top of the lightly padded tongue. The tongue is cleverly attached at either side by elastic stitched into the slip lasting of the midsole. This reduces the risk of the tongue from sliding sideways during activity.
As mentioned the laces have a reasonable amount of stretch and as I prefer a tighter lacing fit I was concerned that I might not be able tighten them securely, but this was not the case. There was no heel slip, and I found that I did not need to use the additional ‘lace lock’ holes at the very top, even after adding my orthotics.
The clutch collar at the back of the heel was super comfy, with the Rubix having a pretty rigid internal heel counter.
The midsole and outsole unit is nothing short of interesting with its individual ‘pillars’ of midsole materials around the borders and various ‘cutouts’ in both the outsole and midsole. If they weren’t so comfortable I would have been tempted to run it through a bandsaw a few times to figure exactly what is where!
None the less the sole unit is essentially full ground contact which gives an added feeling of security both medially and laterally. There appears to be more ‘medial flare’ in the midsole material and I did feel the shoe producing a supination (rolling out) force to my foot, even when standing still. It will be interesting to see how the shoe behaves with different foot types and running techniques.
Weighing in at 255 g, with a pitch (heel drop) of 8 mm, and its comfortable construction both in the upper and soling, I was happy to make this shoe my go-to over the past couple of weeks.
So, what did we get up to, and how did the Rubix perform in the land of Oz?
Perth saw temperatures pushing 30°C so the first job of the Rubix was to carry me around Kings Park. This park covers 400 hectares and is one of the worlds largest inner city parks and home to the Western Australia Botanical Gardens, which displays over 3000 species of the State’s unique flora.
Rubix and my feet continued their journey around the streets of central Perth, to the streets and restaurants of Freemantle and the gallows of the Freemantle Prison without a blister, chaff, or injury in sight.
“The Prison was built by convicts in the 1850s and was used as a place of incarceration for almost 140 years. With solitary cells and gallows Fremantle Prison is a monument to a system of punishment that is uncomfortably recent.”
The trip concluded in Melbourne with significant kilometres covered through the Royal Botanical Gardens 38 hectares, only missing the royal visit of Harry and Meagan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, by a couple of hours.
Now back home in New Zealand with my New Balance Rubix well bedded in, I feel inspired to see how they perform under some hilly Wellington, fine weather jogging. This shoe has proved itself to be a valuable travel partner and I will let you know how it fares on the next leg of its journey.