Customer Review

201 of 212 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Used to be a good shoe but now worthless, September 23, 2009
This review is from: New Balance Men's MX608V2 Training Shoe (Apparel)
I've worn New Balance shoes for walking since the late '80s or early '90s. They lasted years. Last fall I bought a new pair that started to fall apart within a few months (since I haven't been taking daily walks for almost a year now, this was brought about merely by walking the dog and pushing a lawnmower around the yard). Another pair did the same thing, so I started hassling NB a couple of weeks ago. Told them the shoes looked like they had a bad sunburn, with a thin, rubbery white coating peeling and shedding from the synthetic foam underneath. It's completely gone from the toe and much of the sides. Where's the leather???

After getting several conflicting stories from the girls who answer the phones (and sending one pair of MX608s back to their laboratory for an 'examination'), I finally received the following explanation from someone higher up:

"Thank you for contacting New Balance Consumer Support!

The tip, vamp, entire heel area and the quarters of the MX608 are all leather. It is called split leather because it is "split away" from the top layer, which is called full grain. The 2-3 layers you can split away from that are called split leathers. The surface of the split is treated with a pu coating and painted. Splits are real leather.

The mudguard area of the shoe is a synthetic material. This is the area along the sides directly above the midsole. If this area of the shoe is abrading, then what you are seeing could be the backing of the synthetic material which is made of compressed fibers.

Additionally, very few athletic shoes are made of top grain or full grain leather anymore. It is just too expensive. All of the 608s are made this way, so there should not be a difference among different pairs."

This gave me enough information to start digging into the realities of "split leather" (or "bicast leather" as it is more commonly known). This is from Wikipedia:

"Bicast leather (also known as bycast leather, split leather or PU leather) is a split leather with a layer of polyurethane applied to the surface and then embossed. Bycast was originally made for the shoe industry and recently was adopted by the furniture industry. The resulting product is cheaper than top grain leather and has an artificially consistent texture and is easier to clean and maintain.

The use of the term 'leather' in relation to this bicast treatment is considered a misrepresentation and therefore not permitted in the United Kingdom and New Zealand. Furniture made with bicast exhibits none of the characteristics associated with genuine leather; it will not develop a patina or suppleness nor otherwise "improve with age". With constant use the polyurethane layer will crack and split free of its backing.

Modern technology permits up to 3 or 4 horizontal layers being taken from the one hide. The leather used in the backing of bicast is a thin, otherwise worthless, layer remaining after better quality layers have been removed for traditional leather work and contributes nothing to the look and feel of the end product."


That's Wikipedia's take, but the conclusions match those of professional leatherworkers as well. New Balance has changed from a durable real leather upper to a bicast "leather", the use of which several countries have already ruled is deliberately misleading.
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Tracked by 1 customer

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Showing 1-10 of 10 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 17, 2010 5:36:26 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 17, 2010 4:02:10 PM PDT
The Avengers says:
I'm in the market for a good pair of cross trainers. I just returned a recent purchase of the MX608V2 because of your review. Would you recommend a different model from New Balance? I tried out the MX855 which has a little more support on the heel and more flexibility than the 608. I'm not sure about the quality of material used in the MX855 though. Thank you in advance for any suggestions.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 17, 2010 10:12:44 AM PDT
bonsaipark says:
Unfortunately, I haven't found a good replacement. I assume all of the New Balance shoes in this price range are made of the same materials, so I hope someone else has a good suggestion to offer. My 608's are pretty much in shreds by now and must be replaced before autumn's walking season commences.

Posted on Nov 28, 2010 5:49:49 AM PST
Bruno says:
You should be using BOOTS to mow a lawn in, not athletic shoes. They're safer (grip from bigger lugs, blade resistance, ankle support if you step in an uneven spot, etc) and made for it. - A lawn professional.

Posted on Nov 30, 2010 3:36:15 PM PST
If you want full-grain uppers, get the 574 model. They're more expensive, though.

Posted on Feb 4, 2011 8:49:58 AM PST
ScoutnBout says:

Posted on Dec 25, 2011 9:18:42 AM PST
"This gave me enough information to start digging into the realities of "split leather" (or "bicast leather" as it is more commonly known)."

This is simply not true. "Split" leather does not mean the same thing as "bicast leather". Here is the real Wikipedia article; read it for yourself:

I have been wearing a pair of MX608V2B all day every work day for the past 6 months. I am so pleased with them that I am back to buy another pair for "casual" wear.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 25, 2011 3:06:06 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 25, 2011 3:15:00 PM PST
bonsaipark says:
I'm sorry if I gave the impression that "split leather" and "bicast leather" were exactly the same thing, but I stand by my original comments. Split leather is turned into bicast leather by applying a thin film of polyurethane plastic to the upper surface (as your Wiki article states), so if you're using bicast leather (which NB is now doing), you're using split leather.

It's the PU coating that I've found to be the problem. Unless you're very careful with them -- and I admit I don't think of these shoes as "dress" footwear, so they do get some casual wear and tear -- the coating quickly begins to pit and peel, leaving the shoe looking like a bad sunburn.

Obviously, this is a question of economics, with NB cheapening the quality drastically as an alternative to raising the price. It still rankles... I hate paying sixty dollars for crap, when such a short time ago, the same outlay bought fairly good quality. And texturing polyurethane to look like the original leather strikes me as deception.

Btw, the Wiki article you linked to links to another piece specifically on "bycast" leather:

I don't know how you'd consider one of these to be the "real Wikipedia article" and not the other.

Posted on Jun 29, 2012 3:51:28 PM PDT
I bought this pair of shoes from work. It was cheaper from Wal-Mart, but otherwise the same. The exact same thing happened to me, the sole literally peeling away from the shoddy body within a few months.

Worst shoes I've ever bought (including the mind-boggling decision to buy velcro shoes in high school).

Posted on Apr 4, 2013 1:37:03 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 4, 2013 1:42:20 AM PDT
L. Guy says:
To many China cheap fakes being sold, I only buy from LL Bean or credible stores. Most fakes are cheaply made.

Posted on Oct 27, 2014 10:12:52 AM PDT
M. Penn says:
For the past 4 years I have found New Balance 608's to have a defective sole that separates from the rest of the sneaker. They really need to fix this.
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