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Footwear, New Balance

NB# 272

If there’s one thing New Balance Numeric has been profoundly consistent with since the start of their skate program, it’s that they continue to develop new technology for their footwear line designed specifically for skateboarding. That, combined with their awesome short ad commercials, has been keeping skaters on their toes, anticipating the newest model release. Well, earlier in September, New Balance Numeric released the NB# 272, a seemingly simple low profile vulcanized silhouette, packed with new technology. The ad for it featured Ronnie Kessner back smithing an almost-nipple high flatbar, and then some crazy 3-D animations of the shoe’s hidden technology, which included vaulted heel design, rubber heel overlay and re-inforced toe. After this 272 teaser, New Balance Numeric also dropped a full 272 video of fire footage in the 272 “Orb” colorway, featuring Chris Colbourn, Tre Williams, Tom Karangelov, Jordan Taylor and Ronnie Kessner. If this wasn’t enough hype to lock down 272’s entrance into skateboarding, New Balance Numeric then followed up a month later with a colorway designed by long time New Balance Numeric Asia ripper filipino skater Margielyn Didal; if you haven’t heard of her, check out here footage here, she was turning heads even before she became an olympic skater. With this much heat built around pushing the 272’s new technology and backed by a team of rippers, we knew we had to get our hands on a pair and put this new “vulcanized” shoe to the test. Read on below to see how New Balance Numeric’s 272 model paved way for a new vulcanized approach in skateboarding footwear. 

Sizing

The shoe fits slightly big so we recommend going a half size down.

Durability

The clean-cut design of the 272 is the true highlight for the overall shoe’s durability, but don’t mistake simplicity as a weakness, NB Numeric has added some hidden technical features to further improve the shoe’s performance and lifespan. The most notable feature of the shoe is the one piece vamp in the forefoot area, which features a classic New Balance Design and is well constructed with the panels stretching far back to the midfoot. This helps protect the seams that connect the suede forefoot and canvas midfoot panel. The seams showed some signs of wear but far less if they would be more in the forefoot area. Therefore, most abuse from skating happened in the forefoot suede area, specifically in the Ollie area. NB Numeric took matters into their own hands, and added an additional thin rubber underlay beneath the suede to increase durability. In our 10-hour test, the suede did not rip severely, so the inlay didn’t show (you can see it in the half cut picture). The addition of this element not only provides more rigidity and structure to the toe cap area, but also serves as a second layer of defense and definitely prolongs the lifespan of the shoe once the suede is ripped. Also, the shoe features a high foxing tape and has a second rubber layer in the forefoot, which made the shoe’s outsole much thicker and helped withstand all 10 hours of skating, with minimal wear on the suede. Overall the durability of the 272 is very good, showing small signs of wear in the suede Ollie zone and some seams were slightly worn down.

Cushioning

The New Balance Numeric 272 features a very thin vulcanized construction, which maximizes boardfeel and flexibility of the sole, leaving impact protection to the insole. This is a rather typical construction for vulc shoes. However, New Balance Numeric puts a lot of focus on the heel and midfoot sole construction, which has a vaulted heel design. The stability of these areas  not only helps create a stable and secure feeling, but also increases the cushioning, with impacts dispersing through the midsole a bit, before ultimately hitting directly to the feet through the Ortholite insole. All in all, the cushioning was fair for the 272, but exceeded expectations for a vulcanized model.

Shape

The shape of the 272 is a feature that’s well appreciated in a time when skate shoes are often bulked up with visible technical design features. The 272 is slim around the heel and midfoot area but then increases its width with the suede toepiece. The shape is definitely better for those with wider feet in the toe area. The toe piece tapers off a bit, but rounds out well. Moreover, the vulcanized construction is double layered so even when the first layer starts losing structure from griptape wear, there’s another layer there to maintain the shape of the shoe.

Board Feel & Grip

As with most vulcanized models, boardfeel and grip are the highlights of the shoe. This was definitely the case with the 272, which proved to have amazing grip throughout the 10 hour weartest, and had a lot of life in them for future sessions. The main technical feature of the shoe in terms of grip was the vulcanized construction. As can be seen in the pictures, the forefoot thread pattern is wide and deep which increases the flexibility of the sole. This helped the shoe mold into the concave of the board and form to the griptape very well. The fine heel area thread pattern had less flexibility, but helped in terms of stability. Boardfeel of the shoe was good; the sole flattens out much more in the first third of the shoe and the midsole itself is fairly thin, which provided for responsive board feel for the feet.

Comfort and Stability

The comfort of a skateboard shoe is mainly influenced by its inner construction, weight and breathability. The inner construction of the 272 is well designed for a comfortable fit; it has very limited seams inside which decreased the chance of pressure points but one flaw was the lack of tongue centering straps. This is usually a simple way to increase comfort and without tongue centering straps, the tongue needed to be repositioned a couple times during the session. Moreover, the weight and breathability aspects of the shoe could have more thought put into. The shoe felt more on the heavy side and did not leave much room for moisture to ventilate out of the shoe. When it comes to stability, how the shoe is keeping its shape and how the shoe hugs the foot are both important aspects, and both were extremely positive features of the 272, which had great stability. The heel area has the rubber heel overlay which increases the stability, and there was no slipping-out feeling when skating and pushing. Also the midfoot shape was very so close to the foot, which helped increase that secure and lock-in feeling. The rubber layer under the suede also the toe area felt thick and kept its shape the whole time during skating. The stability of the shoe was exceptional and felt almost like a cupsole stability, mainly due to the sole construction and New Balance Numeric’s new vaulted heel design.

Summary

The NB Numeric 272 stands out due its great stability, durability, boardfeel and grip, solidifying its status as one of the top vulcanized skateboard shoes on the market. The shoe could use tongue centering straps, and more detail in minimizing the shoe’s weight and maximizing the breathability.

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