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Weartested is an amazing website that has been running for a good few years now. It offers independent, open and honest reviews of skateboard shoes - something that is rare despite the sheer amount of product-focused content available online today. With so many 'unboxing', 'first-looks', 'in-depths' and other tags associated with showing new product in an online environment, it’s refreshing to see a site such as Weartested.
Given there's so much emphasis on the style and looks of any new skate shoe, often the actual performance capabilities can easily get forgotten. The skate shoe companies offer various new technologies and reasons as to why a certain skate shoe is better than the last, but what does this really mean when you're weighing up your next shoe purchase?
Run by Christoph Dyckmans and Edan Qian, Weartested brings an almost nerdy amount of detail and information around all the things that matter - comfort, fit, durability, grip and boardfeel. Each of these categories are considered for the shoe under review, then presented to you in an easily understandable way - there's less focus on abstract stats such as 20% better grip, or strange terminology like GPZ Impact Resistance Technology! This information is vital given many skateboard shoes don't come cheap, it’s a big purchase that you want to get right. Just like buying a new skateboard deck or any other skate equipment, it’s the worst feeling when you set-up a new deck and the first skate is a bit of a let-down.
The latest shoe that the Weartested guys put under the microscope is the New Balance Numeric 913 Brandon Westgate. Brandon's skateboarding is a great mix of impact, technicality and speed. Basically, his skateboarding pushes a skate shoe to it's limits, if this New Balance 913 skate shoe is to his requirements then we're sure it will prove durable and lasting. But read on as the Weartested guy's breakdown the different area's of the skate shoe for review
Firstly, skate shoes coming from different skateboard brands can all fit differently in size. For example - Vans skateboard shoes coming in a size 9 might be slightly different in size and fit to an adidas Skateboarding shoe also in size 9. Similarly many skate shoes differ in the conversion from US to UK sizes. Nike SB skate shoes are a whole one size difference, so a size US9 is a UK8, whereas adidas shoes coming in a US9 are marked as UK.8.5.
The New Balance Numeric 913 fits true to the size stated, so if you are normally a UK9 this will be the size you need.
There are three main areas to look at when assessing a skateboard shoes durability - the toe box, the mid-sole area and the outsole. The outsole being the area which largely comes into contact with the deck and griptape.
Starting with the toe-box area, the New Balance Numeric 913 skate shoe is made with an abrasion resistant suede. This is a treatment, which tightly compresses regular suede in order to make it tougher. Beneath this suede is a thin layer of TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) to offer increased protection and wear. After the Weartested 10-hour test there was little sign of any major wear in this area.
Moving to the middle of the shoe, around your midfoot, there was also little sign of wear. The New Balance 913 comes with a design feature to protect your shoelaces from getting worn out by contact with the griptape, this feature worked well and the laces didn’t show any form of griptape rub.
The outsole showed some signs of wear and abrasion, which is totally normal given this is the most contacted area, plus it all depends on your skate style as to how the shoe wears out. Some skateboarders will wear out the area up around your big toe, others will wear out further down near your little toe. This comes down to the tricks you most perform, ollies or kickflips?
All these areas marked out the durability of the New Balance Numeric 913 as excellent.
The New Balance 913 comes with REVlite, which is New Balance’s own technology in the mid-sole area. This material is extremely light and gives great support upon impact. Also featured is an N2 heel cushioning system, and an exterior heel clip which gives better stabilisation in the heel.
The sole was a little stiff to start with, but it softened slightly up during the 10-hour test and crucially it retained its strength. This adds up to making the NB 913 better suited to impact-oriented skateboarding, as you do lose some flexibility through the sole and we’d consider it somewhat on the stiff side.
Upon wearing the New Balance 913 our first impressions were that it's quite a narrow skate shoe. The 913 felt tapered towards to the front, which is quite blunt and square’ish in shape. This a popular trait of New Balance running shoes and other shoes from the athletic brand.
The midfoot and heel area felt snug and fitted well with little foot movement. Shape and fit, of course, will always be personal as everyone's feet differ in shape.
Boardfeel and Grip
Given the stiff sole, the boardfeel to the New Balance 913 is quite average. Since it's a cupsole shoe the back end of the outsole was quite stiff, resulting in it being fairly inflexible. As mentioned this does soften up, therefore providing better boardfeel over time, but far from the amount of boardfeel a vulcanised skate shoe offers.
New Balance designed a wide tread pattern on the sole, particularly around the front area, featuring additional grooves which improve the flexibility. Overall the sole is quite grippy given the stiffness and it didn’t show any signs of wear spots during the test.
Comfort and Stability
These are some of the mains points to consider when trying on any new skate shoe. At Weartested we look for breathability, weight and comfort from the first time you put the shoe on.
Breathability comes in the form of a ventilation mesh window on the inside arch panel of each shoe, this increases airflow to the arch of your foot but nowhere else. The NB 913 feels light on foot when you first put it on, with a high comfort level coming from the use of synthetic material.
Stability is maintained strongly in the heel area, owing to the snug fit of the heel clip, which is quite high giving maximum stabilisation through to the base of the ankle. The stiff heel area feels secure and holds your foot in the right place.
The suede exterior naturally offers higher initial comfort than leather, and it held up well keeping its shape throughout the 10 hours without bagging out.
Overall the comfort and stability of the New Balance Numeric 913 is very good.
Brandon Westgate’s New Balance Numeric 913 signature model exceeds our expectations when it comes to the overall durability and comfort of the shoe. A few areas that could offer improvements are the shoe’s flexibility through the sole, which gives less boardfeel. However the overall performance of the shoe outshines these small issues.
As stated, we believe this is a great shoe for impact skating, and it should last given its strong durability and cupsole build. New Balance Numeric has set a high technical standard for a skateboard shoe and we definitely recommend trying out a pair of the 913’s.
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