I replace my running shoes every 6 months with two pairs of shoes. One of the pairs that just retired as of December 31, 2016 was New Balance 490v3. It’s the first pair of budget running shoes that I got.
Up until 2015, I have been a staunch fan of Asics running shoes, and have been shopping my running shoes exclusively from Asics. On average, I was spending about $100 per a pair of Asics, and was replacing them every year or so. But since last year when I switched to four-pairs-of-running-shoes-a-year plan, I started to experiment with other brands and also budget shoes.
When I think of budget running shoes, I am thinking about a pair of shoes under $50 including tax. That means the shoes cannot be any more than $45 or so before tax.
Until I looked for budget running shoes, I didn’t even realize there were shoes available under $45. But surprisingly there were number of running shoes available from many well-known manufacturers.
New Balance 490v3 is one of such budget running shoes. I bought a pair from Amazon at $37.99 before tax on June of 2016. (My other pair for the second half of 2016 was Asics Gel-Nimbus 17, which retailed at about $100, which I wrote a review earlier here.)
Honestly I did not expect much from New Balance 490v3. It did not look to have much cushion even from the look of it. It had single rubber sole cushion that seemed like it will wear out after a few runs on asphalt. So I was thinking of 490v3 as my treadmill running shoes. My plan was to use Asics Gel-Nimbus 17 for all my outdoor running on hard surfaces, which looked to be much more durable and springier.
After putting on about 300 miles on both New Balance 490v3 and Asics Gel-Nimbus 17, I am not sure if I enjoyed running on Asics twice more than New Balance. If pricing is all the indicator, I should be feeling better after running on Asics. But I can tell you that it was not the case.
First, New Balance 490v3 proved to be quite stable on all kinds of surfaces. Even though it had single white rubber sole, it provided adequate and stable cushion. It felt light on my feet, yet gave me assurance that it would bounce back with predictable stability and quickness. Even after running on hard asphalt surface for miles and taking them out on easy trails, the cushions held up quite well.
Even on my right feet, which tend to underpronate, New Balance 490v3 bottom sole was showing a reasonable wear compared to Asics, as shown above.
Budget construction shows, of course. Shoe laces look rather flimsy to hold the shuffling feet in their places. Heel supportive grip was not noticeable when you put on the shoes. Cushion is not much to write about when compared to Asics. But hey, at half the price I think New Balance 490v3 was great training shoes whether you train indoor or outdoor.
One thing I must mention on 490v3: When I ordered my usual size of 10 4E (extra wide), I noticed that it was a bit too tight for my feet. I ordered size 10 thinking that New Balance will have uniform sizing (earlier I ran on New Balance 780 V5 size 10 4E, and felt that it was the right size), but I think 490v3 ran about half size smaller. I wish New Balance would be consistent with their sizing.
Overall, my first budget running shoes experience was positive. I would recommend New Balance 490v3 to anyone looking for budget running shoes. Just remember to order a half size larger pair.