The New Balance Minimus 20v3 Cross-Training shoes appear to be winners. Boasting a barefoot-friendly 4mm heel to toe drop, a sturdy build and good looks, it's hard to go wrong with New Balance's minimalist cross-trainer.
My introduction to the
New Balance Minimus 20v3 Cross-Training shoes occurred during a search to find a minimalist cross-training and basketball shoe. The transition to minimalist running shoes took some time and effort. Lacing up stiff, over-cushioned boats to play basketball stands in contrast to these efforts and I’ve often ended up playing hoops in running shoes, inevitably, blowing out the side of the shoes from all of the lateral movement.
Enter the New Balance Minimus 20v3 Cross-Training shoe, built on a minimalist platform with versatility in mind. Most running shoes aren’t built to withstand lateral movement, cross-trainers are. I was intrigued by the specs and the product description.
Minimus 20v3 Cross-Training Shoe Specs
- Synthetic/mesh upper provides lightweight comfort and support
- 4mm drop from heel to toe
- Helpful for those seeking to conquer gait issues
- Barefoot and neutral runner oriented
- Odor resistant
- Welded seams, a no-sew material application, reduce weight and prevent chafing
- 4mm drop heel to toe
- 188 grams (6.5 oz)
- Vibram Outsole
- REVlite midsole
New Balance Product Description
The Minimus 20v3 offers a barefoot workout experience with the protection of a lightweight trainer. It’s stable, low-profile platform aid in efficiency in the gym and is versatile enough for a run.
Testing the Minimus 20v3
For a guy with size 14 wide feet, any available shoe mentioning the features barefoot workout experience, lightweight, stable, low-profile, and versatile will grab my attention. Not wanting to stick out, I ordered the subtle black version with the primary goal of finding a good gym shoe and the secondary goal of playing basketball in them. (Digression: big people already stick out, most of us don’t need the assistance of florescent color schemes.)
Performance After a few weeks of testing indoors, the Minimus 20v3’s have proven up to the challenge of various activities (treadmills, spin class, stair machines, weights, and basketball). Once the shoes are laced up snugly, zipping around a gym floor or exercise class is no problem. New Balance doesn’t seem to advertise these as a true running shoe, but I find running to be enjoyable. Perhaps not into double digit mileage, but definitely for an hour or so.
As a basketball shoe, these shoes work for me, but I’m used to playing hoops in running shoes. Most coaches would short circuit at the sight of a player wearing so little shoe, but I’m not playing for a coach these days and rather enjoy the incredulous looks from other players. Those with ankle and knee troubles will probably want more padding since running and jumping on a hard gym floor can be rough. They are worth trying if you are willing to downgrade them from hoops if things don’t work out on the hardwood. One final thought on this note: basketball shoes are overbuilt thus weakening the arch, ankle, achilles and calf. Transitioning to less shoe may actually strengthen up these areas and help prevent injury. Plus, a low-profile shoe is hard to roll – your foot is already flat on the ground.
Straight out of the box, these shoes were comfortable for me producing no hot spots and feeling very neutral and flat. Some of my favorite shoes haven’t felt this good out of the box. The 20v3’s can definitely be worn barefoot. Besides being comfortable at the gym, the Minimus 20v3’s are good everyday shoes for walking around. I wandered around the zoo all day with our kids wearing these and enjoyed the experience.
It remains to be seen if the transparent mesh will tear. So far, so good. The components of the shoe seem light, yet durable. The “Beta Support” across the forefoot seems to be in a good spot, preventing lateral blowouts without causing discomfort on the outside of the foot.
Structurally, these shoes deserve a 100. Visually I’m not as enthused about the color options though they aren’t bad. Color choice is a matter of personal taste, pulling in a secondary muted color on the black shoes and toning down the other shoes would be my preference. This is coming from a 6’7″ guy who’d prefer to be invisible and wore a white t-shirt everyday for much of high school and college. Take my color preferences with a grain of salt. The shoe itself is stellar from the Vibram sole to the thin side mesh and well-placed supports.
Minimalist shoes are peculiar because there is much less shoe but the prices remain comparable to traditional running shoes with the odd exception of the MT110’s which can be found, currently, for about $60-$90. $70-$80 makes more sense for less shoe, but manufacturers willing to sink extra research and risk into unorthodox shoes may merit the extra cash for their willingness to push the envelope.
If you are hunting for the elusive minimalist cross-trainer, look no further than the New Balance 20v3 Cross-Training shoe. Finding anything wrong with the shoe is difficult, and Ruin Your Knees enthusiastically gives this shoe the Serious Gear Award.
If you are looking to purchase the Minimus 20v3, consider shopping at New Balance. Doing so via the link or ad below will help support our work at Ruin Your Knees. Thanks!
Sidenote: Transitioning to Minimalist Running Shoes
It is recommended to transition into minimalist shoes gradually. My own transition has happened over months, even years. A visual timeline of this transition looks like this (with plenty of overlap between shoes and hundreds of miles in each shoe):
The Minimus 20v3 shoes have a heel to toe drop roughly 1/3rd the height of the average shoe. Phasing them into your workout routine is a good idea. I used the 904TRs as a midway point when switching to minimalist running. They provided a nice bridge into barefoot-style shoes. These days there are many more “bridge crossing” shoes to choose from.
Update: April 30, 2013
A few weeks after purchasing the Minimus 20v3, part of the sole ripped off while playing basketball. Half of a lug tore off, revealing a possible flaw with the shoe and putting the Ruin Your Knees Serious Gear Award in serious jeopardy. I contacted New Balance about the problem and they immediately shipped out a replacement pair. Wanting to be sure this was a fluke, I’ve used the new pair heavily for basketball and other gym workouts ( treadmill, weights, volleyball ). Good news, no lugs have ripped off. So the initial pair seemed to be “fluke-y”. Still, the hexagonal lugs wrapped around the circular bumps seems like a durability risk. I’ll be sure to post another update if there is a problem.
As far as basketball is concerned, I’m on the fence recommending the Minimus 20v3 for hoops. If you are used to playing in very little shoe, sure, give these a try. However, be warned, they have a tendency to loosen after running around and the minimal cushioning can put the heels and back at a disadvantage. I’ve lightly bruised my heel twice out of 40 or 50 games played and had a couple uncomfortable “landings” which sent a shock into my lower back.
The experiment is worth continuing. Minimal shoes are light, responsive and fun to play in. Plus, it’s easier to dunk on people who make fun of them.
What do you think of the New Balance Minimus 20v3 Cross-Training shoes? Can you recommend a good “bridge crossing” shoe to those looking to transition to minimalist shoes? Please share in the comments below!