Monday, December 9, 2013

Newton MV3 Review: Feel the Need for Speed

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When Newton sent us the Energy NR to review, they were kind enough to also send us the MV3 to review, too. This yellow racing flat with the red Newton logo is definitely eye candy, and we could not have been more excited to try this zero drop racer with Newton-unique specifications.

Jordan Describes the MV3

The MV3 is a difficult shoe to review for many reasons. It's not just any shoe, but it's a shoe from a specialty shoe company (with which we here at Vagabond Running have had good experiences) making what could broadly be called minimalist shoes. Further, this specialty shoe company is making a racing flat which is itself a specialty shoe but within the tradition of conventional shoes. Do you see where I'm going with this? It doesn't fall nicely into a single category of shoes which imply a certain criteria by which to judge it. There are so many nuances running around in my head, nevertheless I'll forsake them and dive in.
Image copyright Vagabondrunning Blog

As a racing flat this shoe departs from some of the qualities that Newton has made a priority in its other models, namely accessibility. The shoe has a super snug and narrow fit through the midfoot that runners accustomed to this niche market will find familiar, but nevertheless manages not to constrict the toes. However, for runners like myself who really enjoy the Newton approach, I was expecting something a little different, more in line with the Newton Energy NR, Distance or the SCOTT Race Rocker in terms of fit. The narrowness of the shoe even merited a comment or two from members of my local running group.

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What Newton Says About the MV3

Here is what Newton has to say about the MV3:

"At a mere 5.4 ounces, the MV3 is the lightest Newton Running shoe ever produced. Our Race line offers lightweight performance products crafted for fast-paced running. Ultra-lightweight and designed for speed, the MV3 is a racing shoe with a zero-drop profile. It’s designed for short- or mid-distance racing and weekly speed workouts.
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Note that the MV3 is designed for a race fit. If you are a Newton Running customer and are looking for a snug fit in both length and width, stay with your current size. If you are looking for a comfortable, everyday fit, you may want to go up a half size over your current Newton Running shoe size."
Weight • 5.4ozHeel-to-toe drop • 0mm


Jordan - Despite my expectations, I found the MV3 to be an exceptionally fast shoe. It is light weight and strikes a very nice balance between flexibility and responsiveness. The outsole rubber is strategically placed where you need it and features Newton's iconic forefoot lugs. The lugs functioned exactly as advertised and were consistent with my experience with the Energy NR i.e. I get a very good sense of the ground yet never feel unprotected. In fact, while running hard, outdoor track, mile repeats I found myself making tons of micro-adjustments to my form on the fly similarly to the way I would if I was running barefoot or in truly minimalist footwear. The upper is a two layer mesh and is feather light. Along with the rest of the upper construction, Newton managed to make shoe that was everything you need and nothing more.

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In the looks department, Newton scored huge with me. The aesthetic of the shoe is loud and proud (a Newton hallmark at this point), but maintains simplicity. Unlike the Distance or Gravity trainers the MV3 achieved a more cohesive, streamlined, and minimalist aesthetic that did not sacrifice pop. Overall they came out with a look that I really like.

Joshua - I'll admit it, I am a sucker for the design and colorway of the MV3. This shoe screams, STFU I'M RUNNING FAST! Like the Energy NR, the MV3 has a unique feel to it. In fact, I believe the MV3 has a negative heel-to-toe drop. It's supposed to be zero drop, but I'm pretty sure the five lugs up front make the front of the shoe a bit higher than the heel of the shoe. It's important to remember that Newton describes this as a "lightweight performance racer," so you will want to use this shoe primarily for tempo runs, intervals, and hard repeats. 

Compared to other racing flats that I've tried in the past, the MV3 has a true barefoot feel to it in my opinion. The ground feel on this shoe is pretty spectacular. It's so light, so snug (think slipper), and so comfortable that I forget I am even wearing a shoe when I'm running in it- which is an important characteristic for me. In terms of durability, I've only logged about 30-35 fast miles in these shoes, but they seem to be holding up well.

For my style of running, I would not run more than a half-marathon in these, but I've seen people run up to the marathon distance in them. For me, I use them in either a 5k or 10k for now. In fact, I'll be racing in them for my indoor track 10k on the 28th of December! I'll post an update on how they felt doing lots of laps on a 200m track :-).

Also note, this shoe grips really well on both the track and the road, especially wet road. I feel a bit more confident running fast in wet conditions in this shoe compared to the Energy NR. I've run a sub-6 min mile in these on the road, and it felt great.


Jordan - I originally got the MV3 in the same size as the Energy NR, but while the forefoot lugs were in the optimal place, I found the fit to be  too small and narrow. I was hoping that the sizing would be consistent across Newton's line. I am the same size in the Energy as I am in the Distance so I expected the same to be true for this shoe. It was not. The two shoes pictured below are the same size.

As you can see the MV3 runs shorter and more narrow. I sized up a half size and found the fit to be better over all except the forefoot lugs felt too far forward, more underneath my toes and less on my forefoot. So while I benefited from the snugness of the shoe and the openness of the toe box and all of the other great features, I never felt like I got the "ah-ha!" moment in the MV3 that I got in the Energy NR where everything clicked. Before my last 5K I had to decide which racing flat to wear and at the end of the day I could not bring myself to race in the MV3. 

Joshua - I had a similar experience to Jordan. The MV3 runs about a half-size small compared to the Energy NR. Nevertheless, I ran in the men's 8.5, but felt like my heel was constantly slipping out. Luckily, I got to use Jordan's, which is a half-size larger, and the fit was perfect! I'm struggling with a little bit of shin-splints at the moment as the weather begins to get fairly cold in Boston, so zero drop running I do for my easy runs, which makes logging miles in the MV3 not happening as often because this shoe is really only meant for fast running in my opinion. Also, I might not use this shoe on a super hilly 5k or 10k course. It might be a bit expensive at $125.00 for a speciality shoe.


Like the Energy NR, Newton did it again and produced another amazing shoe with the MV3 racer. This shoe should be durable, and it is pretty snug. If you only feel comfortable wearing shoes that are wide in the forefoot, then this shoe might not be for you. If you want the experience of a racing flat, which is usually a bit more narrow, then I recommend this shoe. Remember, shoes are tools, and each tool has a different function. In this regard, the MV3 should be used for days when you are running intervals, hard mile repeats, or heading to the track. Do your warmup in the Energy NR or some trainer, and then put on the MV3 to run FAST!! Well done, Newton!!!


  1. I didn't notice the size difference until I read this. Also I thought the inserts for the MV3 were a total afterthought. Mine were miscut and have only had one run with them in. I found that it's just better without them.

  2. The shoe does feel like it has a slight negative drop. I put in the inserts, and they feel fine. This shoe is a big improvement over the MV2. I like shoes with a wide forefoot, and these shoes do not disappoint. Just select the size that feels best, without insisting that you must be a 10, 11 or whatever you think you are.

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  5. i bought these a year ago and ran with the inserts in them (which came with them) and found it was like running on top of a platform and you felt as if you might fall off. i also noticed the rebound effect of the lugs was not as pronounced as in my earlier distance model newtons. NOW, after a couple of years in mizuno wave universe 5's, which i loved and which is a true minimalist shoe, i've put the mv3's back on. the mizuno's, as wonderful as they were, and with a remarkable resilient sole material, would lose resilience in the sole after 150 miles. admittedly i used them on concrete and asphalt, so the loss of resilience was expected. my solution is to take the inserts out of my mv3's to get rid of the 'falling off the platform' effect. i haven't run in them like that yet, but in putting them on i notice a wonderful fit and flat/ground feel that wasn't there with the inserts in. rereading the newton info i see the inserts were meant only as a transition device for runners not yet ready for zero using them was my bad. also, without the inserts, i notice more spring in the forefoot lugs. as great as the mizuno's were, the concrete crushed the life out of their soles way before they ever wore out...they really are a racer and not meant for concrete training, but did a good job if you only want 150 miles from a shoe. with inserts out of the mv3 they may give me the resilience of the mizuno wave 5 universe, but do so for two or three times as much mileage. last note: i love the newton's lug/rebound effect, but am a minimal runner and will not use 20mm stacked shoes or shoes without a zero or near zero if i am to enjoy the newton experience, they need to keep making low stack/zero drop shoes like the mv3...i hope they do (now reborn as the tri racer)...there are many minimalist runners such as myself who would love the newton spring and so i urge newton to keep making a low stack/zero drop shoe for both racing AND us minimalist runners.

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