I went into this review knowing that these shoes were not the ideal minimal shoe however I wanted to have a baseline of comparison for the Spring 2012 Minimus Zero of which I am really hopeful for.
This is not a positive review in that the Minimus Road is a traditional trainer with the name Minimus on the side of the shoe. I imagine, and from what I have heard, this is a common opinion among those that love minimal shoes.
This is fantastic as it spurred them to try again with the Zero!
The NB Minimus roads would fit more in the category of a "transition shoe" and not a "minimal shoe". Where as the Zero looks and sounds to be a true minimal shoe that meet the qualifications I have listed here.
I can see why people would want a transition shoe however it is not necessary for moving in the minimal direction. Time and patience is what you need for that.
My first impression is that I really dislike the colors. The upside of this particular color scheme is that they are not pink or purple! I do want a fun, funky, happy looking shoe and the way they look does matter to me and its not just about the function but the fashion too. (The Zeros look to have some much better color options)
These are quite substantial. Often times minimal shoes look heaftier in photos then they actually are when you get to see them in person but unfortunately these are in fact as substantial as the look.
They weigh in at 8 ounces each. That is getting on the heavy side.
I want my shoes to have a zero drop or at least be as close as possible and an acceptable drop would be 1.5mm or less. The 4mm drop of the Minimus Roads ,and I believe the Trails are the same, is a third less than traditional 12.5 mm heel to toe differentials but that just doesn't cut it.
These would be considered by some to be a Transition Shoe. A transition shoe is one that has a lower although not zero drop as well as moving more in the minimal direction. It's the middle ground shoe. In theory this sounds reasonable yet in practice it means spending more money on another pair of shoes. Great for the shoe company, not so great for the runner.
People are nervous about just kicking off their shoes. They should be nervous. That nervousness will keep them cautious in their excitement to try something new and hopefully keep them from doing too much too soon.
Transition shoes give a false sense of security in that they let you think the cushioning is going to keep you from getting hurt because the cushioning masks the pain you would feel warning you of injury if you were able to feel said pain.
When you transition to a true minimal shoe or to barefoot it takes time for your feet and legs to adapt. It takes time and there is no way around it. If you take off with a new form and try and maintain the same level of running as your old form running in padded conventional trainers you will stress parts of your body that have been weakened over time from shoes that provide cushioning, and motion control. This is asking for injury.
It is not the Minimus shoe in particular that I don't think are a good idea as far as being a transition shoe and I don't think that NB is even marketing them that way however any kind of transition shoe just like any kind of padded shoes will mask your bodies ability to feel what it is doing.
If you already have a short quick stride with a forefoot landing this may work for you. The fact that it does have a lower drop is a positive aspect however not ideal.
These have a comfortable heel seat. It cups the heel but does not rub or restrict. Too much stack height though. It feels a bit like wearing stilts, from a barefooters perspective anyway! (The Minimus Zero is much lower to the ground which will be a great improvement.)
The padding of the "lightweight blown rubber for added bounce" does not maximize the natural elastic recoil of the foot. It actually takes away from the natural action of the foot by defusing the movement. When your foot lands your arch collapses and then springs back up. In a padded shoe this is inhibited throwing off the rest of the bodies movement and making more work for your muscles.
The ground feel is non existent. The theme to being minimal is centered around being able to feel the ground and let your body move and feel the way it is made to and yet have a bit of protection from the terrain and weather. These offer protection but miss the mark on ground feel. Its not just about the heel height but how much material is between your proprioceptive feedback sensors and the ground.
This seam made it very uncomfortable to run without socks as it rubbed the back of my ankles. I think the seam should be on the outside wrapped around the back of the heel and not at the top.
I have not heard of this being a problem for anyone else though and with many shoes it would be something that might go away after the shoes are broken in. I am not very patient with shoes that need to be broken in!
The upside it that I know what I like!!
A shoe should move with your foot. The movement of your foot should not be inhibited or dictated by your shoe.
As you can see from the above photo these are Not very flexible. This should be rolling up into a ball to of which is a great indication of how well the shoe will move with your foot. If a shoe is not flexible it won't allow your foot to move the way it is meant to.
The width as fine for me. I have longer skinnier feet. I do have a nice splay at the toes and Metatarsals that has spread out over the years of barefoot running that require a shoe with a wide toe box and adjust-ability for the rest of the foot. The NB Minimus Roads fit well in the toe box.
The Traction is great for roads. The traction seemed grippy and unobtrusive. I think this pattern would be great for future versions. I have no idea what the denser black section is for on the heel.
Nicely done upper in that it is a thin mesh that breathes well and there is no issue for me with the seam going across the top of the toes when the shoe flexes. The inside of the shoe is the best part with an awesome sock liner. Very soft and no issues at all wearing them without socks!! So if the Zero has the same sock liner and the minimal specs they sound like they will be great.
If you couldn't tell, I am excited to check out the Minimus Zero collection that will be out in Spring 2012 which has minimized my dislike of the current Minimus version. Its been interesting to see where they have been and to see where they are now going.
Unlike the current Minimus Road with a 4mm heel to toe differential the Zero will be a zero drop so no difference in height of the heel and toe.
They will have a reduce weight, reduced stack height, and some fun new color options.
Its great to see a company listen to the testers and reviews and keep moving forward towards supporting the bodies own ability to run instead of inhibiting it.
These are true to size and run $99. The price is pretty middle of the road for trainers from my experience. I would wait however until some of the reviews for the spring 2012 line start coming out as people start wear testing them.