New Balance 1040 £84.99

Weight 368g
Evaluation Once known purely as a big-guy company, New Balance is now making more shoes for lighter and faster runners. Like its decent 730 and 830, the all-new 1040 is built for responsiveness, with a low-profile midsole and a very smooth-riding forefoot. Like the 2000, the 1040 is also a showcase for New Balance’s N-ergy rearfoot cushioning cartridge, which has only been seen so far in one of its racing shoes.
The hollow cartridge sits below the entire heel area and consists of a firm tubular outer rim, which guides the foot onto a softer ‘sweet spot’ in the middle on heelstrike. It should add durability to the shoe, and it absorbs shock well, though the fact that it feels firm to the touch may turn off potential buyers.
Like the cheaper 1021, the whole shoe feels faster than its weight suggests, because the forefoot is divided into three separate sections for flexibility. It fits nicely and rides smoothly (despite an occasional clip-clop sound from the cartridge).While it has good midfoot stability from an effective shank, its soft heel-counter means that it’s definitely a model for runners without pronation problems.
It’s a nice shoe, even if it’s not quite perfect. The N-Ergy cartridge doesn’t obviously enhance the ride; if you run over stones and gratings you can feel them through the big forefoot flex grooves; and you need to check whether you suffer from irritation from the unpadded part of the ankle collar (apparently an individual issue).
In short The good bits of the 1040 are very good – a super-smooth forefoot ride, and a potentially very durable rearfoot cushioning system. It should go down best with faster, forefoot-oriented runners who want a responsive but protective shoe for high mileage (even though they’ll wear out the forefoot cushioning while there’s still plenty of life in the rearfoot).
Try it if you liked Brooks Adrenaline GTS (£70); Adidas Gazelle Chartbreaker (£80); New Balance RC-1 (now RC-1001, £70)