This week’s review is about the New Balance 650, a retro hi top sneaker that made a comeback last year. This model was first introduced in 1989 at a time when the Air Jordan 1 was dominating the market. Its little brother that debuted the same year, the New Balance 550 was brought back in 2020 in a collaboration with fashion house Aime Leon Dore run by Teddy Santis, now a creative director for New Balance. It immediately became one of the most popular sneakers on the market for at least a couple of years so it was just a matter of time until the hi top version was also revived. In 2022 the New Balance 650 was reintroduced on the market in several colorways.

How They Fit

The New Balance 650 pair we came across was the one in white and gold color, a 2023 release. As it was the case with the 550, they feel very solid out of the box with a very strong retro vibe. Given that they are made of all leather upper and they are a hi top sneaker it must be noted that they are quite heavy. Size 13 weighs just over 20 oz which is in sneaker boots territory. They fit true to size but, same as its low version they run narrow and they need a bit of a break in if your feet are a bit wide like mine. Check out this New Balance size chart if not sure about your size. Once settled in , however, these are very comfortable and it feels like they will last a long time.

New Balance 650 review 1

New Balance 650 white gold4


The New Balance 650 features an all supple leather upper that gives the shoe a bit of weight but also adds some serious durability. There are perforations in the toe box and on the side but the air flow is very limited. This makes it an excellent sneaker to wear when the weather is getting a bit cold and they can easily replace your boots if you are looking for some retro looks. The padded ankle collar is a characteristic of the classic basketball shoes of the 80’s but since now this is more of an everyday sneaker it counts more for looks and added comfort. Same as with the low version, one of the first things we noticed while doing the New Balance 650 review was their limited versatility as an athletic sneaker. Much like the Air Jordan 1 or the Adidas Top Ten they can still be used occasionally on the court but they truly shine as a fashion statement.

New Balance 650 white gold3

New Balance 650 white gold1

Sole Unit 

The New Balance 650 features a classic sole unit made of a rubber material that encapsulates the classic EVA foam midsole we are used to seeing at most retros like the New Balance 574 or the Reebok Classic .The latter can actually be seen on the inner side of the shoe for another cool, retro design touch. The shoes also have the Ortholite sockliner that New Balance have been using for many of their models. This adds to the comfort you feel when you step in in this shoe and they tend to last longer than the regular EVA insoles. Overall the shoes provide a good level of comfort but if you are wearing them all day you may feel your feet a bit tired as they provide essentially no bounce back aka energy return on your stride.

Are New Balance 650 good for basketball?

The New Balance 650 is a retro hi-top sneaker with a strong retro vibe, featuring an all-leather upper. While it can be used occasionally on the court, the New Balance 650, like other similar retro-inspired sneakers, shines more as a fashion statement rather than as a dedicated athletic shoe. It is actually quite limited in terms of versatility as an athletic sneaker, and they are not the optimal choice for serious basketball performance.

Are New Balance 650 comfortable?

Yes, the New Balance 650 is a comfortable sneaker for everyday wear. Despite being heavy due to the all-leather upper, they feel solid and settle in comfortably after a break-in period. The padded ankle collar adds to the comfort, and the Ortholite sockliner enhances the overall comfort level. It’s noted that they provide a good level of comfort as everyday sneakers, but it’s also worth noting that they lack bounceback or energy return, which could lead to some fatigue if worn all day.

Bottom Line 

To summarize our New Balance 650 review, these are a nice addition to the retro inspired hi top athletic sneakers on the market today. They provide a good level of comfort as everyday sneakers. Given their original purpose they still provide some versatility which recommends them as back to school shoes. The $130 price tag may seem a bit high but given the materials used and how the 550 sell it makes sense. They are made of solid leather which means that they’ll last for a while.

NB 650 white gold

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