New Balance Hanzo S

The New Balance Hanzo S is an homage to Japan's road running culture and is constructed to replicate the design of Japanese-style racing shoes. The fit may not be for everyone but there's still plenty to like about the New Balance Hanzo S. The competition racing flat is a low to the ground shoe made to go fast and grip the ground like nobody's business. Although it's on the pricier end of the cost spectrum, it offers a ton of features for the right runner. It's a great choice for anyone doing the bulk of their racing or speedwork in steamier weather because of the ultra-breathable upper. A few issues keep it from being the perfect racer, but that's largely due to fit problems. For the right foot, it's an excellent performance footwear option.

Join our private, growing community of passionate runners.

Where to Buy
Where to Buy
Pros & Cons
  • Great fit
  • Lightweight
  • Feels fast
  • Superb traction, even on wet surfaces
  • Extremely responsive
  • Stylish
  • Very breathable
  • Snug, supportive upper
  • Fairly well-cushioned midsole
  • Cons
    • Expensive
    • Wears easily
    • Not suitable for sockless running
    • Narrow fit
    • Key Features
      The outsole of the New Balance Hanzo S is made of a special material called Dynaride. It provides excellent traction underfoot. The shoe also features spike-like lugs that cover the forefoot area and some of the midfoot region. They're not spikes, however, just really aggressive lugs. This allows the shoe to tackle almost everything. Racers won't have to worry at all about traction thanks to the outsole's rugged construction. The outsole does tend to wear out easily, though. That's to be expected, though. The shoe isn't meant to be a daily trainer. It's strictly a performance racer, so those who choose to wear it for regular speedwork may be disappointed by its durability.
      The midsole of the New Balance Hanzo S is made of REVlite cushioning with Rapid Rebound technology. What does that mean for wearers? You guessed it. This makes for a super responsive midsole. There's also enough cushioning in this lightweight racer to offer some degree of protection underfoot. The cushioning itself is very lightweight without sacrificing impact protection or comfort. This midsole construction makes the New Balance Hanzo S a perfect choice for longer racing distances.
      The upper of the New Balance Hanzo S is made of mesh and features Fantom Fit technology. This results in ultra-lightweight support. The upper also features a padded tongue and ankle collar. Reviewers loved the great fit of the New Balance Hanzo S but some complained that the tongue had a tendency to rub against the skin (this is because it's not sewn into the shoe, so it's able to move freely). Going sockless is a bit risky, too, since the design is not completely seamless and blisters can definitely form because of this. It should be noted that because the New Balance Hanzo S is modeled after Japanese-style racing flats, it features a very narrow design. It's not suitable at all for wide footed runners and it makes the toe box area a little squishy even for narrow footed runners.
      The New Balance Hanzo S is quite lightweight considering the fact that it also features plenty of protective cushioning in its midsole. It's not the lightest racing flat out there but it provides more support and cushioning than your traditional racing shoe. The women's version weighs a nice light 5.5 oz and the men's weighs in at 6.5 oz. Overall, reviewers found the shoe felt fast.
      The New Balance Hanzo S offers excellent breathability thanks to the lightweight mesh upper and Fantom Fit technology. The upper is supportive, without being restrictive and the shoe's ability to circulate air is superb. Reviewers liked that the shoe was plenty breathable and felt it was a great choice for running in hot weather. The toe box is pretty narrow, however, even for narrow footed runners, so that's a spot that tends to heat up significantly, even with mesh for ventilation.
      Reviewers appreciate the great fit of the New Balance Hanzo S. The shoe doesn't just feel fast, there's also plenty of REVlite cushioning in the midsole (also paired with bouncy Rapid Rebound technology) to protect and offer comfort underfoot. A few runners had issues with the tongue rubbing against the skin on the front of the ankle. Some also found the shoe to be very narrow (true to Japanese racing shoes) and wide footed runners should probably stay away. Going sockless may also be a challenge since the interior is not as seamless as one might expect. However, overall, those who found the fit to suit their foot shape were very pleased with how comfortable the New Balance Hanzo S felt. The racer provides a lot more support and cushioning than other similar shoes on the market.
      The New Balance Hanzo S is a flashy looking racer with dual-color upper design in either red and black or neon green and black. The backside of the shoe features detailing with a ninja character for added interest. The look matches the shoe's ability to perform. The New Balance Hanzo S looks as if it means business and it's certainly made to run fast.
      The New Balance Hanzo S wears fairly easily, but that's to be expected with this type of shoe. A lighter weight means that nearly every area is a paired down version of itself. The outsole is tough but thinner than your average sole. The midsole is well-padded for a performance shoe but after a few races will feel compressed and flattened. The upper is thin to maximize breathability and keep the overall weight of the shoe down but it's also thin enough to tear. No reviewers had issues with the upper tearing but the point is that a racing flat is not meant to last the same amount of miles as a comparably priced everyday trainer.
      The New Balance Hanzo S offers a lot more protection than you might expect for a racing flat. The outsole is extremely tough and protects against slips and falls thanks to the very aggressive forefoot spike-like lugs. The midsole features a nice amount of cushioning for such a lightweight racer and does a great job in offering comfort and protection from impact. The upper is thin and breathable so that air can circulate to prevent heat build-up but it also offers a supportive hold on the wearer's foot.
      The New Balance Hanzo S is extremely responsive thanks to the shoe's REVlite cushioning and Rapid Rebound technology. Reviewers were very impressed with the shoe's ability to provide energy-return, an important factor when attempting to go fast. The faster you go, the faster the shoe feels, according to reviewers. The bouncy cushioning is even appropriate for longer distances and the Rapid Rebond technology provides 17% more responsiveness than other New Balance cushioning technologies. It's definitely an impressive degree of energy-return.
      The New Balance Hanzo S provides support thanks to the shoe's tight-fitting upper. Reviewers were impressed by the shoe's supportive nature which is mostly provided thanks to a snug fit. The narrow fit may not work for wide footed runners or those who want a bit of extra breathing room, but it certainly helps keep wearers secure. The New Balance Hanzo S is not a good choice, however, for runners lacking efficient biomechanics. Sure, there's some support, for a racing shoe it's a lot more than you might get, but it's nothing compared to the amount of support you might receive with a traditional daily running shoe.
      The New Balance Hanzo S is able to handle quite a bit underfoot thanks to the aggressive forefoot's spiky lugs. The shoe provides excellent grip that's suitable for wet or dry surfaces. The grip is plentiful and racers won't have to worry very much about what's underfoot so that they can focus entirely on their performance and moving forward. The New Balance Hanzo S can handle racing in rain or shine. It's not a good choice for off-road racing, though.
      The Hanzo S is quite expensive considering its main purpose is to be used for racing and not training. But, racers will find they get a lot out of the New Balance Hanzo S. The shoe features a great fit, a lightweight design, is perfect for racing short or long, can grip on wet or dry ground, and is super stylish. It's also very well-cushioned considering it's a racing flat. It's somewhat supportive, too, thanks to a well-fitted upper. It's extra breathable, too. It's definitely built with quality in mind. It won't last as long as a regular trainer, but it does the job when it comes to racing.
      The trainer provides superb traction underfoot for wearers. The forefoot features super grippy lugs that look very much like spikes. They provide the bulk of the grip for the New Balance Hanzo S. They are capable of handling runs on wet or dry pavement and are sticky enough to keep wearers upright during road races. Runners were impressed with the shoe's ability to grip underfoot and liked that they weren't worried about getting appropriate traction as they attempting to pick up speed.
      The shoe is somewhat flexible. A few reviewers said they would have liked the shoe to offer a bit more flexibility but the lack of Flex Grooves or other such outsole technologies doesn't reduce the shoe's ability to perform or negatively impact comfort very much.
      The runner is a racing shoe for neutral runners so you're not going to get a ton of stability out of it. Still, a few components of the shoe are there to ensure you don't fall over or feel unsteady as you race. The forefoot lugs in the outsole provide outstanding traction so racers don't have to look down and worry about wet roads ahead as they attempt to pick up speed. The upper fits extremely snug (just like a traditional Japanese road racing shoe) so movement is minimal to none. The result? No slipping and sliding inside the shoe. The ride is thus super steady and stable. The low drop height also contributes to a steady ride.
      The New Balance features a low drop of 4mm. So, not technically a racing flat, but pretty close. Reviewers, after all, did say that the drop actually felt lower than the advertised 4mm. The closer to the ground design helps produce a smooth, surefire ride that feels stable and in tune with the ground.
      Key Features
      - Dynaride outsole construction provides excellent traction
      - Spike-like lugs in forefoot offer outstanding grip
      - REVlite midsole cushion for comfort and protection
      - Rapid Rebound midsole technology is 17% more responsive than other New Balance cushioning materials
      - Mesh upper features Fantom Fit technology
      - Padded tongue and collar

      Bottom Line
      Overall, the New Balance Hanzo S is a fierce competition racing shoe with a sleek design. It offers outstanding traction and responsiveness with one goal in mind: speed. A narrow construction is true to the Japanese-style of racing shoe and leaves out wide footed runners but it also provides great support for faster running in a shoe that otherwise isn't super supportive. Those looking for a race day flat with pizzaz, comfort, and a fast feel need look no further. The Hanzo S is a great option that works for long or short racing distances thanks to its bouncy cushioned midsole.
      Where to Buy
      By Steph Coelho
      Last updated:
      Where to buy
      Best offer on: Aug. 04. 2021

      Join our private, growing community of passionate runners

      Inside RunnerClick Pro, runners of all strengths come together to meet and support one another, get answers to burning questions, learn from experts, participate in personal challenges, and more.