This review is coming a little late since the New Balance 730 has been out for awhile, but I’ve seen several stores put these shoes on sale recently so it might be a good time to pick them up at a great price. I first took notice of the 730′s after reading about their similarities to the Minimus Road on Runblogger.com. I wanted to buy a slightly cushioned minimalist shoe for road running and these fit that description nicely.
The 730 is listed as having a 4 mm heel-to-toe drop. I’d always prefer a perfectly flat shoe, but this shoe gets pretty close and 4 mm of heel raise is a fair trade-off for all the other great minimalist features in the shoe. I’ve seen these compared to the Nike Free 3.0 but the main differences are that the 730 has a much wider forefoot and feels firmer and less cushioned. There is no built-in arch support or heel counter which is great. The size 12 weighs in at 7.75 oz which makes them the lightest shoes I run in currently, even lighter than the Merrell Trail Glove.
The shape of the last is the same as the semi-curved appearance of the Minimus Road. I’m still not sure if a curved vs. straight last is a big deal or not. Conventional thinking is that a straight last is better for a low-arched foot, curved is better for high arches, and semi-curved is sort of the middle ground. Of course we know there is hardly any science behind choosing shoes based on arch height so I’m inclined to think that some curvature is better in most cases the same way I think that a shoe without arch support is better in most cases. Length feels true to size and plenty of width in the forefoot.
The shoes feel well made although I’ve only run in them twice so far. The shoe laces feel noticeably cheaper than a lot of other shoes I’ve worn and I’ve also noticed that the tongue has a tendency to slide out of place. At this price point I would expect the construction and materials to be slightly cheaper than what you find in the higher-end molels, but I still feel that the 730′s are a great deal, especially at the sale prices. I might invest another $2 to get some higher quality laces if I continue to have problems with the current ones coming untied. Hopefully the next version of 730′s will come with better laces and a sewn-in tongue as well. These can now be found at Sports Authority in the clearance racks and online at places like Running Warehouse for around $60.