Back in November 2010 I bought on clearance a pair of New Balance MT910 trail-runner shoes. I don’t run much, but take frequent long walks and my gaudy pair of Addidas trail-runners no longer provided adequate support and cushioning. Some years ago I had a pair of 800 series New Balance trail shoes, and the first weekend I had them, I got lost in the mountains of West Virginia (a 40 minute ridge-hike turned into a 10 – 15 mile endurance test when I took a wrong turn; I followed the power lines out). Not a blister on either foot did I get. It was a great shoe. I recently had another pair I threw out (at least I think I threw them out) after eight or nine years. So I was pleased to find the 910 trail shoe on clearance at www.shopnewbalance.com.
The pair the company sent out had an orange trim (although the company call’s it a “yellow” as opposed to the more “tangerine” color it calls orange), and I’d expected yellow. I also expected these shoes to have a Gore-Tex lining (based on a couple of reviews at that product page that mentioned a Gore-Tex lining – what happens is that the customer reviews both the water-proof and basic versions of the shoe cross-post). I was disappointed, but quickly adjusted to the orange trim and the fact that I’d been mistaken in my expectation of waterproofness.
To the good, however, this narrow-fitting shoe provided the best support and sure-footed grip of any non-boot shoe I’ve ever owned. I absolutely loved the shoe. Back during the winter, I even ran on trails wearing these shoes, although running hasn’t really been my thing. On the other hand, why not run a bit? Also, the shoe is a bit long in the toe. The extra space in the toe felt odd at first, then I got used to not having my toes bashed by the end of a casual office Friday or a long, long walk.
Finally about three, four weeks ago now, I realized when I’d gotten home from a shorter neighborhood walk that the left shoe felt odd when I reached down to untie it. Only after I took it off did I see that the top right eyelet ribbon had pulled loose. At first I thought some stitching had come loose, but only after I reflected on the length of the ribbon did I realize it must have been poorly secured at probably the point where the sole attaches to the upper, maybe just with glue as opposed to any stitching at all.
Here’s a copy of the online review I posted at ShopNewBalance – yes, as I revisit it, it does strike me as lamentably, um, whiny, and for that I feel a little ashamed. However, in the interest of telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth even if it makes me look more than a little foolish, it appears below. I had it formatted with paragraphs before pasting it into an online textbox, but the SNB comment software removed the graphs leaving one unwieldy block of text; I have restored the gripe’s formatting below:
Christov10 2 out of 5
Although I marked above that I’ve run 0 – 5 miles in these shoes, I’ve walked probably upwards of 60 miles in them (Editorial comment – more like 125 or so miles). My intent in purchasing the shoe was to begin running on dirt trails near my house, building up some running strength and stamina during my regular four to five mile fast walks. I purchased them in November 2010 on sale through ShopNewBalance.Com thinking (because I misunderstood a review on this site for this shoe) they were Gore-Tex lined, and experienced some dissatisfaction during the first couple of weeks when I found I’d been mistaken in my assumption.
On the other hand, my satisfaction with this shoe’s comfort and total foot – not just arch – support was at an all time high for any shoe I’ve owned until one of the lace eyes on the left shoe pulled completely loose during use on a three to four mile fast walk in dry weather about three weeks ago. The loss of the eye significantly reduces the shoe’s ability to support the foot during a long walk, and, although I haven’t tried it so don’t know for sure, probably renders it well-nigh useless on a run, as well.
New Balance boasts in its online sales copy about computer-designed laces with special twisting surface to prevent them from coming untied during use, but that feature is of no use if the lace isn’t properly anchored at all necessary point. I’m very disappointed in this quality failure – it’s the sort of thing I’d expect from a Nike shoe – looks and feels great for a couple of months until real use destroys the shoe.
I’m left with that nasty, ripped-off feeling that comes of spending money on a product I had every reason to expect to be of high quality only to find that it has quickly failed and become unserviceable, but only after the exchange period has expired.
I’m also left wondering where to look for a quality shoe that fits and supports as well as this one did up until the point it disastrously and annoying failed. Nike? Be real. Addidas? Yeah, maybe. New Balance again? Yeah, maybe, but my expectations are going to be a lot lower.
The caption on the photo above doesn’t mention the “N-LOCK (R)” print, but I think that refers to the “computer designed” laces that are designed never to come untied during ordinary use. Of course, the N-LOCK(R) is of limited value if the eyelets through which the laces have been, well, laced should fail catastrophically.
I was left with a nasty, ripped-off feeling. Best shoe ever became a great annoyance because, while still wearable on a casual office Friday (like today) the pair is ruined for serious long walking and running is definitely out of the question. I’ve been able to wear them for easy two-mile walks in the neighborhood, but I could probably walk two miles in flip-flops.
When I tried to find an alternative pair of shoes in the town where I live, I could find nothing that suited. Finally, although I thought there was not much point in it, I telephoned the customer service line at ShopNewBalance and explained what had happened. The woman, named Molly, who took my call was extremely helpful and, in spite of the fact that I bought the shoe on clearance, agreed pleasantly to ship me a new pair at no cost and arrange free return shipping of the defective pair. This is the kind of customer service that, in conjunction with good products, will hopefully keep New Balance in business for many years to come.