A Glimpse into a Revolution: Minimus HI-REZ
A preliminary attempt at breaking apart components of the sole.
An early prototype of the sole demonstrates its flexibility.
A closer view of the upcoming Minimus HI-REZ.
Born of product development insights and feedback from barefoot runners, New Balance's latest addition to its Minimus line is ambitious in concept: provide more underfoot sensation than any shoe has before. We recently caught up with New Balance Lead Designer Chris Wawrousek to discuss the birth of the concept and get a first look at the upcoming Minimus HI-REZ.
Lightweight and incredibly flexible, HI-REZ is unique in appearance, construction and most importantly, feel. The difference is evident in the thoughtfully-constructed sole, which is broken into individual pieces — "zones of sensitivity" as Lead Designer Chris Wawrousek calls them — to let runners feel the surface texture of the ground while also providing an optimal level of comfort. And while there's nothing that can exactly replicate the feel of bare feet on the ground, there's a lot to be said for not feeling every rock and pebble. "There's a lot of sensation that not everybody wants to experience," says Chris. "Ultimately what we shot for was helpful [ground] feedback."
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Although Chris says the shoe undoubtedly offers a unique running experience, he isn't worried about it being too radical a shift from traditional footwear. "We always thought of it as another arrow in a runner's quiver. There will probably be people that have done a lot of minimal running that will use it as their go-to shoe day-in, day-out, but more likely it can be a two to three times a week mix-in for most people."
The appeal of being able to feel more underfoot sensation is also a key tenet of barefoot running. It's believed by many who practice this kind of running that the more sensation you get from the ground, the more your body can adjust itself naturally, which can be beneficial to running form and technique. "It's definitely a different running experience," adds Chris. "We thought this could be a really cool way to provide some protection but not totally dampen foot sensation. It could provide a lot of benefit."
Though HI-REZ won't be available until the spring, you'll want to keep an eye on this space as we'll be taking even more in-depth looks at the shoe's features in the months leading up to its release in April 2013.
Chris Wawrousek is the Truth--one of the best footwear designers ever.
I'm skeptical about the new design, honestly. From my experience, with pods that have gaps in between them as big as this, rock pebbles can lodge in there to cause injury. I had a pebble packed pretty tightly in a half I was doing a couple weeks ago, which forced me to land more favorably around my ankle... which lead to a sprain. Got rid of those shoes the next week. As well, what happened to the vibram soles? All the running shoes I possess have vibram soles now, including your MR00's. They've never failed me. Obviously these HI-REZ's can be completely different from what I'm predicting, and blow me out of the water, but I sure am skeptical of the model. I definitely hope they're an upgrade over the MR00, which I hold in really, really high esteem. I hope it works out!