Newton Momentum Product Review: Wicked Green Coolness

Posted: December 17, 2010 in Product Reviews

My new Newton Momentum shoes rock for off road running.  Newton describes this model as the Trail Guidance Trainer.

However, the coolest part of ownership is the many looks and comments, such as, “Wow, those are green!”

The majority of my running is on a combination of asphalt, dirt road, bridle path and single track. The Momentum is designed exactly for this. I have tried quite a few different types of shoes in the past five years.  Typically, they were built with mild stability and wide toe boxes. However, this is my first attempt with “minimal” running shoes. Newton’s run a bit small, I selected a 1/2 size larger than normal. I tested this shoe over a wide variety of terrain for a six week period.

The Momentum is Newton’s first trail running shoe combining their Action/Reaction lug technology to help runners perform with a more natural gait and foot placement with the rugged necessities of a trail shoe.  With these there is also less “Heel-Toe Drop” than the standard Newton shoes.   This makes it a good choice as your first “natural running” shoe to try.

Newton states that the “Momentum is an off-road guidance trainer designed for runners committed to a more efficient natural running style. It provides intelligent control for all foot types on all types of terrain, from groomed bridle paths to technical mountain trails.”

First Impressions

I want my shoes to look fast and these look like my Junior High School track shoes (not that they ever went fast). The green and lemon really work for me.  Interesting comments come from every type of person. They really attract attention.

Sliding on the shoes I was impressed by the snug and secure fit of the heel cup through the mid-foot and the shoe widens towards the toe box to allow or the wiggle room I crave. Standing and walking in the Newton’s are a bit strange, comparable to walking around in track spikes, due to the protruding Activator lugs on the outsole of the forefoot. It will quickly strike you how much lower the heel is compared to any other running shoe.  Clearly the calf and Achilles tendon are stretching more. The shoes felt like they had plenty of cushion, and as a mid-foot striker, I could tell that I would not be lacking protection in these shoes. Walking around, the flexibility in the ball of the foot was almost unnerving. My foot roamed into positions that are only reached when barefoot.

The First Runs

I first ventured out with the Newton’s on a smooth, flat, crushed gravel trail for a two mile run. Newton recommends easing into wearing their shoes and starting with as little as 10 minutes at a time. Newton cautions that the new wearer may experience excessive calf soreness from the new experience of forefoot striking. I think it is more due to how much lower the heel is compared to typical running shoes.  They wisely close in the area in the center of the heel – I hate having to stop for trapped rocks.

The recommended Newton adjustment period

Immediately, I felt that I was running 15 seconds per mile faster.  The feedback received as to my running form was immediate and continual.  The bounce felt appears to be more than a gimmick.  The Actuator Lugs clearly compress and seem to effectively transfer that energy forward as you roll onto your toes.  This combination of improved form, flexibility and efficiency, go figure, translates to speed.

Instead of building up the medial side of the shoe with motion control devices as most road shoes do, Newton built in a rear-foot chassis that acts as a stable platform. This provides ample pronation support. Beyond this, toes and forefoot are allowed a significant amount of movement – very similar to barefoot running.  This is actually a bit unnerving.  I was very conscious of how my foot was moving.

The Momentum is not as effective with more technical terrain. The mid-foot and rear-foot chassis in the mid-sole had difficulty adjusting to the varying surface of a single-track trail. Extended running on side-sloped hills also seemed to put undo stress on my knees, feet and ankles.

Within a couple of weeks, I had ramped up my mileage in the Momentum’s to six. During the first two or three attempts the ligaments and tendons in my feet were clearly unable to handle the new flexibility and hurt during and after. This quickly passed, I assume as they were strengthened.  However, Achilles tendon and calf pain continued, post-run, for several weeks.  All of this seems to be common, given the significant position and flexibility change.  I see this as a clear result of a lifetime of running and walking in stiffer shoes with heels above the ball of the foot.  Over time, stretching out my calf and improving foot tendon/ligament strength, are clearly advantageous and should help reduce injuries

Pros

Given that the Momentum is their first trail shoe, Newton got a lot right. The fit was excellent out of the box. I wear a size 12.5 US in most trail shoes. The Newton’s I received were a size 13 and fit well throughout the foot with maybe a bit more toe room than I’m used to. The weight of the shoe is just over 11 ounces; this is on the light side for a trail shoe.

Besides looking seriously cool, the upper felt supportive and protective from rocks and roots. They dry quickly and don’t get that Squidward-sounding water logged feeling. The tongue stays in place – which makes me crazy when it doesn’t.

The shoes offer great cushioning and support for pronation.  On relatively tame trails the perform very well.

Cons

The momentum mid-sole is very stiff and does not perform as well on severe terrain. The Activator Lugs provide superior cushioning, but their protrusion can get in the way when running over loose rocks, descending or ascending more severe terrain. The risk worsens as you tire.

Summary

These shoes are FAST.  Shoe quality is superior and they look great. The low heel-toe ratio clearly facilitates forefoot/midfoot striking. This makes sense to be helpful for injury prevention; however, the adaptation period is weeks – not days.  The Momentum is a very good choice for entry into “minimal” or “barefoot running.”  For the vast majority of territory you will encounter, the Newton Momentum is a shoe you should consider.

The Momentum (Terra Momentus) is available at Inside-Out Sports with an MSRP of $139.

Todd Spain, todd@deltatriathlon.com

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Comments
  1. […] tried valiantly to love my Newton Momentum running shoes. (Product Review Here) Here is the deal, the Newton’s are built with a very low heal relative to the ball of the […]

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