New Balance 1187 Men's Shoe Review
- Durability guaranteed
- Aggressive cosmetics available
- Conservative cosmetics available
- Lack of ventilation
- D width may fit too wide for some
- Outsoles not especially durable
Being atypical of a New Balance tennis shoe, the 1187 offers technically styled cosmetics with performance features. The more aggressive look was a surprise and a hit with our team. While the shoe is also available in a more conservative white/navy cosmetic, our team wore the silver/black version. Even in the traditional white/navy, the 1187 is a technical looking shoe. On the first few wears our team found the styling to be backed up with instant comfort. The initial glove-like fit opened up to a fairly wide fit, even in the D width we tested. Though the wider forefoot fit wasn't accommodating to all, it was appreciated by those with medium to wide feet. Our playtesters found the outsole material and tread pattern to combine for top-notch tack on the hard court. If there were any weak points for the 1187, it would be ventilation and durability. However, the testers minds were more at ease knowing that New Balance backs this shoe with its NDurance outsole durability guarantee. All in all, the 1187 offered performance attributes with a comfortable feel, allowing our testers to perform at a high level.
Comfort - Score: 4.1
With a soft upper and wider forefoot fit, the 1187s proved to be comfortable straight out of the box. Granville enjoyed the fit, saying, "The 1187 fits my foot as well or better than any previous New Balance shoe I've worn. No pinching and no blisters. I chose this shoe for my last tournament (that should tell you something!). There's just enough cushioning for comfort and padded landings. A new style of performance shoe for New Balance and a very nice addition to their line."
Jason enjoyed the immediate comfort of a wider toe box. He said, "The cushioning was great from the get-go. The uppers were supple enough that I was able to feel 100% comfortable playing in these shoes from day one. What was great about this shoe was the wider toe box. I didnÕt feel as if my toes were being squished and pinched together. It was much appreciated!"
Enjoying the no break-in comfort was Spencer. He said, "There was immediate comfort as soon as I cinched them up on my feet. That doesn't always translate to comfort on the court, but I soon found out that it did in this case. Though I didn't experience any discomfort, I did notice the upper was shallow in the forefoot, lying right on top of my toes. I liked the midsole cushioning, as it gave me soft landings without giving up that court feel I really like."
Chris found the wider fit eventually hindered his comfort. He said, "I enjoyed the level of cushioning I found in these shoes. There was enough cushioning in the heel to make hard landings comfortable. The forefoot offered a lower to the ground and more responsive feel, but I still found enough cushioning for comfort. At first the shoes offered a very comfortable fit. However, after break-in the fit became too loose for me, no matter how tightly I laced them. With my feet sliding around inside the shoes, the bottom of my feet would get sore during a long match."
Ventilation - Score: 2.5
With limited mesh and perforations in the upper, our team was split when it came to judging breathability. The ventilation was a non-issue with Granville. He said, "I didn't notice too much ventilation, but I didn't notice my feet getting too hot, either."
Spencer didn't notice any extra heat. He said, "With a mesh tongue and mesh in certain other areas of the upper, ventilation was satisfactory. Not great, not bad, but enough. Again, there was a nice balance of upper support while keeping the shoes from getting hot."
Jason felt the ventilation could be improved. He said, "Even during indoor play, where it never got past 80 degrees, these shoes felt hot. It didnÕt matter what type of socks I was wearing, whether it was full polyester, full cotton or a blend of both, my feet were still sweating more than usual. There wasnÕt enough perforations or mesh for proper ventilation. "
Chris agreed, saying, "I found these shoes to run pretty hot. I usually don't mind some heat build up during play, but combined with my feet sliding around inside the shoes, it lead to more discomfort than usual. When wearing the shoes casually, the heat build up inside them was pretty annoying. I'm not sure if the shoes just needed more perforations or were too heavily layered in the uppers, but they ran hot."
Arch Support - Score: 4.0
Though the arch support was lower than medium, it didn't seem to have any effect on our crew. Jason was thrilled with the low height of these arches. He said, "There arenÕt too many tennis shoes that feature a low arch, so when I get to playtest one, IÕm quite grateful. I thought it was great and I experienced no soreness. IÕm sure Chris 'High Arch' Edwards didn't share my jubilance. "
The support got better as the shoes molded, according to Chris. He said, "The arch support was a tad low at first, but as the insoles molded to the shape of my feet, the fit became better. As far as rigidity went, the shoes offered the stiffness required to protect my arches. Both when moving laterally and when sprinting forward, my arches felt good. Thanks for the concern, Jason, but I had no issues here."
Spencer was happy with the amount of support. "Though the arch support was slightly lower than medium, it did the job. I didn't notice any lack of support in the arch area. Like other New Balance shoes I've worn, I felt good support in this area."
Finding minimal support from the arches was Granville. He said, "As with most tennis shoes, the insole and arch support were mostly useless for actual support. These are no exception. I use aftermarket insoles or orthotics for true support."
Foot Support/Stability - Score: 3.8
With a low to the ground feel and a wider forefoot base, the stability was very good. Liking the light weight, stable feel was Granville. He said, "While the 1187s are light weight, they are remarkably stable and fit my foot very well. The solid and stable upper materials wrapped my feet nicely. I just finished a match playing in 100 degree heat and the shoes help up to the heat, and to the the lateral sliding on the baseline."
Jason found good support when moving laterally. He said, "For the most part, I thought the shoe did a good job supporting my feet during play. Lateral movements felt very stable thanks to the S-Curve stability system in the midsole. What I had to dock points for was the support during forward movement. Specifically, pushing off. The foot opening felt either too low or too wide, because I could feel heel slippage when I would start moving."
Spencer was pleased with the support, saying, "With a low to the ground ride and a wide base in the forefoot, the lateral stability was great. I never had to worry about the shoes not holding the court, or my body weight for that matter, when it came to lateral changes of direction. This is one of the most important categories for me and the 1187 did a very good job. They were a little roomy in the forefoot, but with the lacing system I was able to cinch them in the needed places, locking my feet in."
Finding the support to wane as the playtest wore on was Chris. He said, "For the first week I thought the level of support was great. However, with continued wear the shoes opened up and the fit became sloppy. My feet were not only sliding around inside the shoes, they were able to rotate off the footbed when the shoe twisted during lateral moves. All the twisting and sliding I experienced inside the shoes put a major knock on my scores in this section. If the shoes came in a narrower width I'd definitely be moving down to a B for more support after break-in. Stability wise, the shoes seemed to flex and remain rigid in all the right areas, but support became a major issue for me."
Overall Sole Durability - Score: 3.5
Compared to the level of wear of other durability guaranteed tennis shoes, the 1187 was sub-par. Jason felt there was room for improvement when it came to durability. He said, "As a player who doesnÕt put that much wear and tear on my shoes, I was amazed at how much tread I wore away during the playtest. I noticed significant balding on the front medial sides of both shoes, but on my left foot I wore the outsole all the way down to the midsole. The saving grace would be the N-Durance Durability Guarantee."
Having similar sentiments to Jason was Spencer. He added, "I put a good amount of court time on these and I thought they wore quicker than a durability guaranteed shoe should. I tend to wear my soles on the medial side of the forefoot, under my big toe, and there was no exception here. The compound used for the outsole was good for traction but not ideal for durability, and because of that it eventually affected the traction. From the onset the traction was excellent. However, toward the end of the test period, because of the tread balding, I experienced a decrease in traction."
Chris felt the durability was adequate. He said, "Durability was decent for me. I found the shoes to wear the most in the usual areas (under my big toes), with pretty even wear everywhere else. While not the most durable shoe out there, durability was good enough that I would be tempted to get another pair if the fit was narrower."
Granville was pleased with the wear. He said, "The shoes held up well in all areas. The medial edges to the toe were first to show wear, as alway. This outsole is soft and sticky, and is very tough as well. I was very pleased and will continue wearing them."
Toe Durability - Score: 4.3
The design of the 1187s and the materials used combined for an effective toe bumper. Chris was impressed with the toe durability. He said, "The shoes were built up well around the toe and offered durability to match their looks. Despite all the toe dragging I did in them, the shoes held up very well in this area. I was impressed."
Granville was also happy with the toe protection, saying, "I'm not a big toe dragger, but the 1187s scored very well in toe durability. They should hold up well except in the most extreme cases."
Traction - Score: 4.2
The soft rubber outsole allowed excellent tack on hard courts, though some of the testers felt traction decrease as the outsole began to wear. Granville was thrilled with the traction, saying, "This is why I chose these shoes - excellent traction! The heat has been so high that I expected these shoes to get too soft, but they held up very well. Excellent side to side traction, and yes, I was sliding, I was skidding to a stop! High marks for this shoe."
Chris was happy with the grip on court. He said, "I was impressed with the traction. The shoes continued to grip the court even when the outsoles started to wear down, and I was able to push off and stop aggressively. I found the outsoles to offer adequate grip both when moving laterally and when sprinting up to net. Considering the durability I found in these shoes, the level of traction was especially impressive. To me, it seemed New Balance got the rubber compound just right."
Feeling the shoe maintained great traction was Jason. He said, "For a shoe that lacked in durability, it made up for it in traction. I thought the shoe did an excellent job gripping the hard court. I donÕt know if it was because the toe box was wider and there was more surface area contacting the ground, but the shoe maintained great traction during play. I did have a few minor slips while trying to stop, but it was toward the end of the playtest when the tread was already worn down."
Spencer felt the traction depended a lot on the durability. He said, "I liked the performance feel of the 1187 outsole. I liked stopping and starting, and quick changes of direction, because this shoe responded beautifully. I was able to trust this shoe to correspond with my movement. The traction is excellent only as far as the durability will take it, however. Once the tread wears, and I feel it wears a bit prematurely, the traction waned."
Weight - Score: 4.0
Considering this is a durability guaranteed shoe, our team felt the weight to be a non-hindrance. Chris felt the weight to be average. He said, "I didn't find the shoes to feel especially heavy, but they were far from feeling ultra light and fast like a New Balance 820. Weight wise, I would consider them just better than average. As the test wore on I became more aware of the mass of the shoes, but that was due more to the ill fit than the actual weight."
Feeling the weight gave a performance feel was Granville. He said, "These weigh in a full ounce under my cut off of a pound per foot. Nice. A truly lightweight performance shoe!"
Jason didn't notice the weight, saying, "The weight was a non-issue for me. It was light enough that I was able to put them on and forget about them. The weight of the shoe was distributed well enough that it didnÕt feel clunky, even though itÕs not the lightest shoe out there."
Liking the distribution of weight was Spencer. He said, "It's not so heavy that it slows down movement and it's not so light that it sacrifices stability. I felt the weight worked well, making it a well-rounded shoe that performs. I moved well in it, and I had plenty of confidence going full speed."
Overall - Score: 3.8
Chris - "I liked the looks, cushioning and traction, and the durability was pretty good."
Granville - "Good fit, light weight."
Jason - "The wide fit, traction and comfort were the stand out features for me."
Spencer - "The comfort and traction."
Chris - "The fit after break-in was just too wide and the lack of ventilation bothered me."
Granville - "I'm not crazy about the silver cosmetic."
Jason - "Lack of ventilation and durability, and heel slippage."
Spencer - "Though I applaud the aggressiveness of the cosmetic, I wasn't thrilled with how they looked when wearing them."
Comparing the fit and performance of the New Balance 1187 to other shoes they've worn, our testers said:
Chris - "I think New Balance has a shoe that can really appeal to the hard court player. It has comfort, traction and good durability. Those performance features would set it on track to compete with the likes of Barricades and Gel Resolutions, but the fit and ventilation drop it out of contention for me. All in all, definitely a step in the right direction for New Balance, and I look forward to trying future versions."
Granville - "While not as contoured as the upper end -- popular logo -- brands, this shoe offers great fit and function, and a durability guarantee at a fair price."
Jason - "This felt to me like a heavier, less ventilated version of the New Balance 900, but with a wider toe box."
Spencer - "I liked the New Balance 900 for its comfort, but it essentially had zero durability. The 1187 feels like an improved version. It is like a 900 with a little more muscle. It's more performance oriented and holds up much better."
Playtester Foot Types:
Chris - Narrow width / Medium arch
Granville - Narrow width / Low arch
Jason - Wide width / Low arch
Spencer - Medium width / Medium arch
Review date: January 2012. If you found this review interesting or have further questions or comments please contact us.
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