For those of you that are fans of the brand the NB 574 is not a new silhouette for you. It is one of the most common models sold by the brand. It is a simple silhouette that does not have too many unnecessary add ons. This approach went into designing the New Balance Numeric 574 Vulc.
I took the time to test the shoe to find what NB Numeric has to offer for vulcanised skate shoe fans. I tried to skate the shoe on all possible obstacles to find what the advantages and disadvantages are and whether this model lives up to the extreme popularity of the original NB 574 silhouette.
First Impression and Fit
My first impression of the shoes is that the features are surprisingly minimal, but well thought out, and have been updated with skateboarding in mind. The upper is a mix of thick suede, mesh, and leather detailing. The mesh design is to provide breathability in the front of the foot and tongue. The tongue is not particularly thick or held in place by any additional support. I can feel that the toecap, the ollie area, and the flick have been reinforced with an additional layer of protection that feels rather firm.
The suede and additional support make the toecap feel quite solid but the vulcanised sole is quite flexible. The white band in a vulcanised shoes that keeps the upper and sole together is called foxing tape. The foxing tape has a matte finish which to the touch is rather grippy. I would say it is a bit thicker and feels harder than other vulcanised brands.
The collar of the shoe has a reinforced heel with light padding around the Achilles that does not feel bulky or constricting but is quite firm. This kept my heel in position very well. When I put the shoes on I found they do not feel very bulky but rather light. I have a bit wider foot so some shoes feel rather tight at first. I did not have a problem with that with the NB Numeric 574 Vulc.
The shoe is true to size but if you are not sure go with a half size larger for this model as it does not stretch that much.
After the first 10 hours of skating
I will be honest that the first 10 hours in this shoe were hard and I will say it was mostly my fault. My experience is that vulcanised shoes are so flexible they stretch out a lot. I like to skate vulcanised shoes a bit smaller so they stretch and form perfectly to my foot as the shoe breaks in.
This was a big mistake with this model. The sole isn’t like any vulcanised shoe that I’ve skated in some time because of two key distinctions. The shape of the midsole is sloped and the firmness and thickness of the foxing tape keeps the shoes from stretching. Both are very important for vulcanised shoe skaters and the toe feel.
What is a sloped midsole? When you take the insole out of the shoe the remaining inside of the shoe is the midsole. With the NB 574 Vulc, you can feel how much thicker the heel side of the shoe is compared to the balls of the feet and toe side. The Ortholite® insole is about 5mm at both the toe and heel side of the insole, yet you can feel how the heel is elevated, thanks to the design of the sloped midsole.
Secondly, this design also pushes the toes towards the front of the shoe quite a bit, which in my case was quite painful. Even though the shoe is quite flexible, the thick foxing tape did not have as much give in the toe box, which led to crushed toes when bailing and jumping off the board.
The combination of sloped midsole, extra sturdy foxing tape and the slightly undersize fit made this shoe very difficult to shred. After skating the shoe for 10 hours I decided to put them back in the walking rotation to break them in some more.
After 20 hours of skating
I spend the next ten hours skating the shoes on smaller transition with some flat ground as well. I found that by now the shape of the shoe was still a bit small but had stretched to my desired size. This took quite some time as I walked in the shoe regularly over a month.
The flick on this shoe was one of my favourites in some time as the toe box matches the natural shape of my foot exactly without compressing any part of my foot into a point. The sole began to wear more not from pushing but from rotating my front foot on the board during skating.
The shoe felt like a sturdier street shape shoe with all the benefits of a vulcanised sole for transition. I loved it most for skating a 4 foot / 1.5 meter spine as I felt a street style stability but great vulcanised shoe style precision.
After 30 hours of skating the NBN 574
The last ten hours were spent mostly on a new deck, which was much steeper, with new grip. I thought I would rip through the shoes rather quickly in the ollie area but again to my surprise the shoe’s durability was above average.
I skated mostly ledges and did manuals. Because of the mid sole I felt like I was skating a shoe made more for street than being a soggy vulcanised shoes at this point. The foxing tape was great at taking most of the damage from ollies and the steep shaped board with the fresh grip made the flick too grippy.
The rubber in this shoe is grippier then most, particularly in the foxing tape. The shape and flexibility of the sole did not prevent me from finding the right foot placement for manuals. I liked the feel of the shoes in the toes and balls of the feet. The foxing tape was not too thick to offer a bit of maneuverability.
The firm foxing tape keeps the shoe’s form but offers a lot of board feel to find the perfect pinch for Crooked Grinds, BS Smith Grinds and BS Tailslides. The toe box is perfect for technical ledge skating particularly for those that find some shoes too narrow.
Conclusion – Who is this shoe for?
I would say this a great all-round shoe for anyone that is looking for simplicity. It offers a superior flick for people that prefer a slightly wider toe box. It provides superior protection for anyone that wears down their foxing tape more so than other parts of the shoe. The structure of the shoe keeps its form because of the thick foxing tape and elevated mid sole.
I recommend this shoe for anyone that skated the NB Numeric 272 but need a bit more stability. I do not recommend buying this shoe if you must use your own custom insole over 5mm in thickness. If you prefer a flat midsole I would not recommend this shoe either. If you are looking for a low top shoe with a vulcanised boardfeel but a sturdier structure the New Balance Numeric 574 Vulc is the perfect shoe for you.
- great toe box for a wider foot
- very grippy foxing tape
- does not stretch like most vulcanised shoes
- not for custom insoles with elevated heels