Newton recently launched two new models, the Fate (pictured just below) and the Kismet (image further down). These two new shoes, along with the new 5-lug models launched earlier this year, show the distance Newton Running has come as a company. Remember, it was only seven years ago these folks released their first running shoe, elbowing into the running market with an idea very different than anything previously seen. The difference in between those original shoes and these today is greater than today's Asics and Brooks models versus their shoes from 7 years ago. Newton has really matured in manufacturing and materials.
I admire the ability of this brand to stay true to its original premise while adapting to market requests. There is without doubt a recent shift in how running shoes are designed. With the barefoot running hype on the decline and a growing demand for more cushioned, but more level, shoes Newton doesn't want to miss out – a wise decision. You can doggedly hold onto something you thought was the ideal, but if the market shifts and you want to survive as a company you need to find a way to adapt to the market, or recede into a niche company for a small group of enthusiasts. That said, Newton hasn't just moved toward the market – the market moved toward themes Newton had already staked out when it moved toward low-drop.
While its first iteration of the 4-lug shoes were pretty firm in their midsoles and had not too much cushioning except a bit under the forefoot, the newer models are not like that. With the release of their new 5-lug platform this year – the Mileage and Speed models – they already felt more cushioned than their predecessors, but they were built on the same drop: 2mm for the Distance models and 3mm on the Motus and Gravity.
The new Fate and Kismet are built with 4.5mm of drop, only 1.5mm more than the Motus and Gravity, but it feels like Newton put a lot of extra cushioning in that additional 1.5mm. Should we compare them to the Mileage models you could call the Fate the higher-heeled Gravity and the Kismet likewise per the Motus, that is to say, Newton positions the Fate as the abjectly neutral shoe and the Kismet the shoe with some extra stability features. More on this later.
Both shoes are built on what Newton calls their P.O.P 2 platform. P.O.P stands for Point of Power (remember the discussion on Slowtwitch earlier this year about fulcrums as a shoe maker theme? Follow the link at the terminus of this article). P.O.P 1 shoes contain 5 relatively firm lugs and you can tell they're under you. P.O.P 2 shoes, which include the Fate and the Kismet, also have 5 lugs and are built with the similar open chamber technology, but the lugs are beveled to promote a smoother transition; they feel softer and they seem to protrude a little less. But they are still there and you'll absolutely know it if you are not an experienced Newton runner and experience lugs for the first time.
As I wrote above the Fate is the neutral shoe and the Kismet has stability features, the most notable the Extended Medial Bridge. The Kismet's last does have more material on its medial side, right under the arch of the foot. You can see this extra material, compared to the Fate (look at the image just below), as well as an extra bit of rubber to support the midfoot. The Kismet also has more of an obvious heel support than does the Fate. The Kismet's upper is also more supportive, with overlays extending from the legs of the Newton ‘N' logo. These overlays seamlessly bond to the mesh on the upper.
Let's talk about the upper and when I wrote about the difference in appearance between the 2014 Newton models versus what it brought seven years ago here is the biggest upgrade. The uppers are very nice in design. There is a marked reduction in seams, specifically where logos, stripes and bands adhere to the upper. Very smooth. This construction method is risky, it needs to be done properly, otherwise they will come apart. I've seen this happening with several other brands that attempted this type of construction.
How do they run? They run great. No, they run awesome. I have been running in Newton's since 2009 and own almost every model built. Newton positions these two new shoes as entry level shoes to their open chamber technology. For those who've never run in Newton that might be a good shoe to start with. But that's certainly not the only consumer group that might appreciate this shoe. I like the cushioning of this shoe so much that I might even prefer them over my other 5-lug shoes.
I'm currently increasing my mileage in preparation for longer races and I can imagine racing 26 miles in this shoe rather than in the 2mm- or 3mm-drop models. But I have developed a fondness for shoes that have a drop of around 4mm to 5mm. I'm not sure if there is a sweet spot for every runner based on weight, morphology or technique, and I'm not having any trouble running in zero-drop shoes, but after running in several other shoes with 4mm to 5mm of drop they just feel balanced.
The amount of extra cushioning compared to the Distance models and the Gravity and Motus is very noticeable and more forgiving when your legs get tired during on a long run, or not fully recovered from the long bike training the day before. But it doesn't feel soft. It is more like a springy feeling; it's a very nice lively bounce that you feel in this shoe.
The fit is about the same as the Mileage and Speed models far as well as I can tell.
If you tried Newton shoes in the past and found them too firm or too stressful on your Achilles tendon or your calves, but you liked the idea or feel of the lugs, this could be a reintroduction to Newtons. If you like the new 5-lug performance models, but like me you don't mind on having something more cushioned on those longer runs or hard days, this is also one to be tried.
There is no difference in forefoot height in the midsole compared to the Mileage and Speed models, just a slight bit of extra height in the heel. The Fate and Kismet in men's size-9 are measured respectively at 9.4 and 9.7oz. That still makes them fairly light on your feet and just a half-ounce heavier than the Newton Motus or Gravity.
They are both available in men's and women's specific design and colors and at a far more appealing price level than their performance shoes with a price tag of $129. I predict these will be Newton's best selling models.