RoadShoe Reviews

New Balance Beacon 2 Performance Review

What You Need to Know

  • Only major update is to the upper
  • Flared Ultraheel assures no Achilles rubbing
  • Loved it for its versatility, but may be too firm for some
  • Pairs well with a McRib or Crystal Pepsi

Jarrett: It’s back, baby! No, I’m not talking about the McRib or Crystal Pepsi. Although those are also back and I support that, especially if they’re combo-ed up with some Taco Bell fries. That’s just a well-rounded meal. So anyway, shoes. I’m talking about the New Balance Beacon. A super light, cushioned shoe from New Balance that was a 2018 sleeper hit.

For the Beacon 2, New Balance took the “if it ain’t broken” mentality and kept the midsole and outsole the same. The focus this go-around was on a brand new upper. Needless to say, I was ready to dig in.

Dave: Beacon fanboy here. Huge supporter of the Beacon 1. Smooth, boasted some snappage and just a plain goddamn pleasure to run in. The B1 could do a lot of stuff and I dug that hard.

So here we are with the Beacon 2. From immediate box opening, to step in, I really liked the new upper. Just a simple engineered mesh, but gone is the yarn-type feel of the B1. It leaves you with more of an athletic, dialed-in fit. This shoe is ready to haul.

The Good

Jarrett: It’s incredibly deceptive how light the Beacon 2 is. Just looking at the B2, I see a heavily cushioned shoe, but it’s actually the second lightest pair I own (coming in at .1oz heavier than the Rebel). My 10.5 2E shoes weigh 8 oz. on the dot. New Balance, you spoil me. <3

As I stated, the midsole and outsole are the same as the previous version and it’s crazy how effective the simplistic design is. The shoe has a full-length slab of Ground Contact Fresh Foam with a 6mm drop. This foam is completely exposed as the outsole besides for five little pods of strategically placed light rubber. Unlike some other brands out there, New Balance understands the K.I.S.S. concept and it works.

The B2 provides a lively ride. For how much midsole there is, it’s not squishy or soul-sucking. I found it to have a bit of firmness which complimented the cushion nicely. Without even realizing it, I ran way faster than I intended to during a weekend 10-mile long run. I was also able to use it as a short recovery run shoe which felt just as good.

The new upper is made up of an engineered mesh with the forefoot double jacquard. I really like upper from the midfoot to the heel. I’ll explain my thoughts on the forefoot later. My wide foot had enough room but was kept snug through the midfoot.

The heel on the Beacon 2 is a work of art and the construction allows the shoe to mimic the shape of the foot. The Ultraheel, as New Balance calls it, is a nice middle ground between the crazy firm heel counters and the knit uppers that have no structure whatsoever. It’s neutral, kind of like Switzerland. Who could hate Switzerland?

The top of the heel flares out away from the foot. Some people complained that the Beacon 1 rubbed their Achilles. Well, now it’s physically impossible for that to happen. With the flare, it looks a little Nike-esque, but that doesn’t bother me because it works. Also, it makes the shoe look so much better.

Dave: The Ultraheel (not the most creative name) is meant to mimic the heel and ankle a bit more naturally and allow the upper to rest rather than firmly support. I was big-time skeptical of this when seeing photos some months ago, but honestly, the heel is actually a lot better now.

My foot feels much more locked and loaded and I do not get a calcaneal spur from a firm heel hold like I did in B1. That definitely flared my foot up. My only negative of that shoe.

If you liked the firm snappy ride of the Beacon 1, it didn’t disappear. In fact, so far (41 miles in) it’s riding a bit firmer than B1. I don’t like that. I think. More on that later. I’m a huge fan of firm shoes with some power.

Beacon 2 took a lot longer to break in than B1, but it’s now a quality reliable trainer for any type of day. It transitions just the same as it did before and easily can hammer out a long tempo sesh as well.

Looking for a shoe with a boatload of versatility? Here you go. I have a bunch of female athletes I coach who went well under 3 hours in the marathon in Beacon 1. It’s a rocket ship if your foot likes it. Beacon 2 just holds your foot better. Pretty much what I am summing up so far.

Meaghan: You know those people who were (weirdly) obsessed with the Saucony Kinvara? I think those same people found the Beacon. So I want to start out by saying– good news– your precious Beacon has not been ruined. If anything, it’s just a slightly better version of the original.

Everything under the foot is exactly the same: plenty of cushioning, same midsole (light and durable), and a little rubber in high wear areas. It’s a soft-but-not-squishy underfoot feel with just a wee bit of responsive pop. I’m into it.

What has changed is the upper. The Beacon 2 is now designed with a soft, engineered mesh that wraps around the foot. Taking a page out of Nike’s book, the heel collar tapers away from the Achilles. It’s meant to mimic the shape of the foot. Regardless, it’s super comfortable. The original Beacon just seems like the car without any of the upgrades now.

Shop Fresh Foam Beacon 2

The Bad

Jarrett: The upper in the front of the Beacon 2 is a bit sloppy on my wide shoe. When I tied the laces tight, it puckered the material where the front lace is. I was worried about it causing rubbing, but it seems to be purely cosmetic. I don’t even notice it while running. I also found the toe box to be way too big and loose. If the midfoot lock down wasn’t close to as good as it is, I’d be sliding all around in the shoe. Maybe it’s singular to the 2E width since nobody else had this problem.

The unattached tongue frustrates me. Every time I put the shoes on, I have to make sure the tongue is completely flat. I got super annoyed a few times because I needed to untie my shoes after realizing the sides of the tongue were slightly folded over. This might be a prime example of a first-world problem. I’ll probably Tweet about it later.

Dave: I’m a firm believer, literally. I believe that firmer shoes create better biomechanics over soft shoes (looking at you HOKA, except ya done good on the X). That said, I feel crazy for saying this, but– the Beacon 2 may be just a tad firm? I’m hoping after another week of running it will get a bit softer.

With the FuelCell Rebel and now Propel about to release (hands-down, two of the best running shoes New Balance has made at least in the last 15 years)—did Beacon 2 fall asleep at the wheel?

It’s not that the Beacon 2 is a bad shoe, but do I love them as much as Rebel and Propel? Because let me tell you, New Balance is on to something with that FuelCell midsole. After running in both of those, it blows Fresh Foam GC of Beacon 2 away.

New Balance may have just killed one of their top shoes by creating two others. Happens all the time in run. And it’s okay. But if you aren’t in the review game like some of us, running in New Balance just got a hell of a lot more expensive! Imagine a Beacon 2, Rebel, Propel lineup? Damn. Pretty solid.

Meaghan: My only complaint is that the Beacon 2 got heavier. The original Beacon was just under 6 oz and V2 is up to 6.5 oz for a W7.5. While I can’t really complain about a daily trainer under 7 oz, it is worth noting. I guess.

Shop Fresh Foam Beacon 2

New Balance Fresh Foam Beach 2 Conclusion

Dave: It’s there. It’s all there for the taking in Beacon 2. But man, I’m pretty geeked about this FuelCell stuff coming from New Balance right now. If you have boatloads of cash, grab the NB trifecta in Beacon 2, Rebel and Propel. Guarantee you’ll have some fun.

But if you’re trying to ball on a budget, I gotta tell you to go FuelCell over Beacon 2. I just think you’ll love this new FuelCell midsole. Any other questions, hit me up. I’d be more than happy to help your decisions on New Balance 2019. Like a champagne brunch, it’s gonna taste good at the time, but your wallet may take a dump.

Meaghan: The Beacon 2 is a comfortable daily trainer perfect for racking up lots of miles. I’ve put over 50 miles on mine and they look brand new. It’s a solid blend of durability and comfort wrapped up in a lightweight package.

When I got the original Beacon I said it’s a shoe I didn’t know I needed. Well, the Beacon 2 came with upgrades I didn’t know it needed. You can now snag a pair from Running Warehouse and I recommend you do.

Jarrett: The Beacon 2 is an awesome shoe. A light neutral trainer that has enough cushion for slower recovery or long runs, but also has a responsive pop that makes speeding up easy.

For me, the new upper was successful in some areas, but brought with it new issues. I enjoyed the flared heel and the lockdown on the midsole. The tongue and foot movement issues aren’t enough to keep me away though, and I’ll definitely be putting the Beacon 2s into my shoe rotation for quite awhile.

You can pick up the New Balance Beacon 2 for $119.95 at Running Warehouse by using the shop link below.

Shop Fresh Foam Beacon 2

 

As the wide-shoe reviewer for BITR, Jarrett is on a never-ending search for the Cinderella shoe to fit his Yeti feet. He currently lives in Baltimore where he enjoys running roads and trails with November Project and Faster Bastards. He also loves craft beer, donuts, and pretending to be elite in his NormaTec boots.

Dave Ames is the Owner and Founder of Ame For It Run Coaching, a worldwide run coaching service working with runners of all abilities one-on-one to help them achieve their goals and dreams. He currently coaches Believe in the Run founder, Thomas. Dave is originally from Central New York, worked and coached in the running mecca of Boston, Mass., and now lives with his beautiful wife, Gregoria in Long Beach, Calif.

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