New Balance 990 vs 1540 Shoes Compared [What’s the Difference?]


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When I compared the New Balance 990 vs 1540, this is what stood out the most to me:

  • These shoes are similar in that they both are casual/athletic shoes. Both are comfortable, but they won’t be as “squishy” under the foot as modern ultra-lightweight athletic shoes. If you prefer that “squishy” comfort, I would recommend the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 (click here to view) or the New Balance FuelCell Rebel (click here to view) which are my two favorite options.
  • The New Balance 990v5 is part of New Balance’s “Made in USA” collection (the 1540 is not). The 990 was not my favorite Made in USA option – the 993 was. This is where you can view the New Balance 993 Made in USA shoes (affiliate link takes you to NewBalance.com).
  • In my experience, the 990 provides more cushioning under the foot, but the 1540 provides more motion control and support. The 1540 is made with New Balance’s ROLLBAR technology that helps prevent improper rearfoot movement. This is where you can see the videos of me wearing both shoes and see the compression and support under the foot as I step.
  • Overall, I found the 990 to be much more flexible. Again, the 1540 is built more for support and stability. I’ll let you be the judge: this is where you can see the videos of me testing the flexibility and “twistability” of the New Balance 990 vs 1540.
  • The New Balance 990 and 1540 both fit within the realm of what I consider “true-to-size”. The 1540 is built using the SL-2 last, which creates a wider forefoot and deeper toe box. The 990 has a more standard width. I would suggest you check out these side-by-side comparison photos I took to compare the sizing of these shoes to other popular brands.
  • Although both of these shoes are athletic shoes, they are not ultra-lightweight shoes. The 990 weighs less than the 1540. When I recently I tried over 30 types of New Balance shoes, I found the average weight to be 0.89 pounds per shoe for a men’s size 12. Both of these shoes weigh more than that. Click here to read more about how much these shoes weigh.
new-balance-990-vs-1540

In this article let’s take a closer look at the New Balance 990v5 and the New Balance 1540v3 by using the videos and pictures I took of the shoes that I own.

Table of Contents

New Balance 990 vs 1540 Comfort

How They Respond on Foot

To give you an idea how these shoes respond on a foot, here I am wearing mine:

When comparing the under-foot comfort of the New Balance 990 vs 1540, I thought the 990v5 offers more cushioning than the 1540. But the 1540 offers more support and stability, especially around the heel.

The New Balance 1540v3 has New Balance’s ROLLBAR technology which is a medial post across the heel of the shoe that helps prevent improper rearfoot movement. If you need an athletic shoe with extra support and stability, the 1540 will likely be the better option.

But don’t think of the 990 as a lightweight athletic shoe either. It is more supportive than modern ultra-lightweight running shoes. It just won’t be as supportive as the 1540.

If you prefer a more modern, lightweight athletic shoe with soft “squishy” comfort under the foot, there will be better options. These types of soft-soled running shoes are very comfortable to wear, but won’t provide as much stability and support.

The 1080v12 is my favorite lightweight New Balance running shoe. It provides that “squishy” feeling and even though the 990 and 1540 are comfortable, they don’t have a thick, “squishy” midsole like the 1080v12 (990 vs 1080).

For comparison, here is how the 1080v12 responds on my foot:

I also compared the flexibility and the “twistability” of the 990v5 and the 1540 shoes and found a significant difference. This where you can view those results.

Alternative Options

If you like the casual athletic design of the 990 (which is a bit sturdier than modern running shoes), then I would also suggest the Made in USA 993. I actually thought the 993 was the most comfortable shoe in the New Balance “Made in USA” series. Click here to view the New Balance 993 shoes (paid affiliate link takes you to NewBalance.com).

If you like the support and control of the 1540, the New Balance 847 is another popular athletic shoe that offers rearfoot motion control and support. And I found it to weigh less than the 1540v3. Click here to view the New Balance 847v4 shoes (paid affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com).

New Balance 990 vs 1540 Flexibility

In the videos below, I tried to capture how flexible these shoes are:


The 990v5 is much more flexible and “twistable” than the 1540v3. But the 1540v3 is much more supportive and helps prevent improper foot motion. I also found a difference in weight. Click here to view the difference in these shoes regarding weight.

New Balance 990 vs 1540 Padding

Both the 990v5 and the 1540v3 have quality padding around the collar and tongue. If you made me choose, I felt like the 1540 had the thicker, softer tongue. Here are mine (990v5 first):

new-balance-990-padded-collar
new-balance-1540-padded-collar

Insole Thickness

Yes, both the 990v5 and the 1540v3 have removable insoles, so you can clean or swap them as needed. First, here is the insole of the 990v5:

new-balance-990-insole
new-balance-990-insole-measurement

And below, is the insole for the New Balance 1540:

new-balance-1540-insole
new-balance-1540-insole-measurement

By my measurements, the insole thickness was basically the exact same. I did find the fit of these shoes to be slightly different. This is where you can view the side-by-side photos I took regarding sizing.

New Balance 990 vs 1540 Design

Upper Material

Both the 990 and the 1540 are made with breathable leather/suede/mesh uppers. Here’s the material on mine (990 first):

new-balance-990-material
new-balance-1540-material

Sole Height

Below is the height measurements I took for the men’s size 12 New Balance 990 vs 1540 (990 first):

new-balance-990-sole-height
new-balance-1540-sole-height

Outsole Width

Below is the width measurements I took for the men’s New Balance 990 vs 1540 (990 first):

new-balance-990-width-outsole
new-balance-1540-width-measurement-outsole

As you can see, the width of these shoes at the outsole is similar, but it is important to note that the 1540 is built on the SL-2 last, which is designed to create a roomier forefoot and toe box area. Don’t expect the difference to be drastic.

If you are concerned about fit, I would highly suggest you view these side-by-side sizing photos I took of each shoe to get a better idea how both the 990 and the 1540 fit.

New Balance 990 vs 1540 Weight

The 990v5 weighs 1.01 pounds and the 1540 weighs 1.07 pounds per shoe for a size 12 men’s.

new-balance-990-weight
new-balance-1540-weight

As you can see, the 990v5 weighs less than the 1540v3.

Recently I tried over 30 different types of New Balance shoes and I found the average to be 0.89 pounds per shoe for a size 12 men’s. To view the full list of weights (in a chart) I took for over 30 New Balance shoes, click here.


New Balance 990 vs 1540 Sizing

I found the 990v5 and 1540v3 fit within the realm of what I would describe as “true-to-size”. Here I am wearing mine:

new-balance-990-vs-1540

The 1540 (on the right in the picture above) is built using the SL-2 last, which creates a wider forefoot and deeper toe box. However, the SL-2 will *most likely* not be wide enough in standard form to overcome the need for wide sizing. In most cases, even on a wider last like the SL-2, you should still order wide sizing if you normally order wide sizing in shoes.

The 990v5 is built using the SL-1 last, which is designed to create a more standard width and fit.

To give you a better idea how wide these shoes are, here they both are (in standard width) compared to the Nike Air Monarch 4E, which is a popular extra wide shoe (990 first):

new-balance-990-vs-nike-air-monarch-sizing
new-balance-1540-vs-nike-air-monarch-sizing

In the sections below, I compare both of these shoes to other popular shoes so you can get a better feel for sizing. To read more about sizing, visit my article that discusses New Balance sizing and fit.


New Balance 990v5 Sizing Photos

These photos below all use a size 12 men’s shoe. If you would like to skip ahead to 1540 sizing, click here.

New Balance 990 (right) vs Adidas 2k Boost Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-adidas-2k-boost-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Reebok Classics Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-reebok-classics-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Nike Zoom Winflo Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-nike-zoom-winflo-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Skechers Go Walk Slip On Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-skechers-go-walk-slip-on-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Brooks Adrenaline Sizing

brooks-vs-new-balance-990-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Skechers Go Walk Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-skechers-go-walk-sizing-1

New Balance 990 vs Saucony Shadow 6000 Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-saucony-shadow-6000-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Adidas Superstar Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-adidas-superstar-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Nike Air Max 90 Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-nike-air-max-90-sizing-1

New Balance 990 vs Crocs Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-crocs-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Under Armour HOVR Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-under-armour-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Hey Dude Wally Sox Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-hey-dude-sizing-1

New Balance 990 vs Vans Slip On Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-vans-slip-on-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Nike Air Force 1 Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-nike-af1-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Adidas Cloudfoam Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-adidas-cloudfoam-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Asics Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-asics-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Hoka One One Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-hoka-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Converse Chucks Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-converse-chucks-sizing-1

New Balance 990 vs Vans UltraRange Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-vans-ultrarange-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Vans Old Skool Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-vans-old-skool-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Converse Pro Leather Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-converse-pro-leather-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Adidas Gazelle Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-adidas-gazelle-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Skechers Afterburn Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-skechers-afterburn-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Nike Cortez Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-nike-cortez-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Nike Blazer Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-nike-blazer-sizing

New Balance 990 (left) vs 880 Sizing

new-balance-880-vs-990-sizing

To read more, visit my article about the sizing of New Balance 990v5 Shoes.


New Balance 1540 Sizing Photos

These photos below all use a size 12 men’s shoe.

New Balance 1540 (right) vs Adidas 2k Boost Sizing

new-balance-1540-vs-adidas-2k-boost-sizing

New Balance 1540 vs Reebok Classics Sizing

new-balance-1540-vs-reebok-classics-sizing

New Balance 1540 (left) vs 813 Sizing

new-balance-813-vs-1540-sizing

New Balance 1540 vs Skechers Go Walk Slip On Sizing

new-balance-1540-vs-skechers-go-walk-slip-on-sizing

New Balance 1540 vs Skechers Go Walk Sizing

new-balance-1540-vs-skechers-go-walk-sizing

New Balance 1540 vs Brooks Adrenaline Sizing

brooks-vs-new-balance-1540-sizing

New Balance 1540 vs Saucony Shadow 6000 Sizing

new-balance-1540-vs-saucony-shadow-6000-sizing

New Balance 1540 vs Nike Air Max Sizing

new-balance-1540-vs-nike-air-max-excee-sizing

New Balance 1540 vs Crocs Sizing

new-balance-1540-vs-crocs-sizing

New Balance 1540 vs Keen Sizing

new-balance-1540-vs-keen-sizing

New Balance 1540 vs Under Armour HOVR Sizing

new-balance-1540-vs-under-armour-sizing

New Balance 1540 vs Vans Slip On Sizing

new-balance-1540-vs-vans-slip-on-sizing

New Balance 1540 vs Nike Air Force 1 Sizing

new-balance-1540-vs-nike-af1-sizing

New Balance 1540 vs Vans UltraRange Sizing

new-balance-1540-vs-vans-ultrarange-sizing

New Balance 1540 (right) vs 574 Sizing

new-balance-1540-vs-574-sizing

New Balance 1540 vs Skechers Afterburn Sizing

new-balance-1540-vs-skechers-afterburn-sizing

New Balance 1540 (right) vs 997 Sizing

new-balance-1540-vs-997-sizing

New Balance 1540 (left) vs 860 Sizing

new-balance-1540-vs-860-sizing

New Balance 1540 (right) vs 624 Sizing

new-balance-1540-vs-624-sizing

New Balance 1540 (left) vs 880 Sizing

new-balance-880-vs-1540-sizing

New Balance 1540 (left) vs 1080 Sizing

new-balance-1540-sizing

New Balance 1540 (left) vs 993 Sizing

new-balance-993-vs-1540-sizing

New Balance 1540 (left) vs 577 Sizing

new-balance-577-vs-1540-sizing

New Balance 1540 (left) vs 2002r Sizing

new-balance-2002r-vs-1540-sizing

To read more, visit my article that discusses the sizing of New Balance 1540.


New Balance 990 vs 1540 Conclusion

In my experience, the 990 provides more cushioning under the foot, but the 1540 provides more motion control and support. The 1540 is made with New Balance ROLLBAR technology that helps prevent improper rearfoot movement.

Because of this, I found the 990 to be much more flexible. The 1540 is built more for support and stability. This is where you can see the videos of me testing the flexibility and “twistability” of the New Balance 990 vs 1540.

The New Balance 990 and 1540 both fit within the realm of what I consider “true-to-size”. The 1540 is built using the SL-2 last, which creates a wider forefoot and deeper toe box. I would suggest you check out these side-by-side comparison photos I took to compare the sizing of these shoes to other popular brands.

Although both of these shoes are athletic shoes, they are not ultra-lightweight shoes. The 990 weighs less than the 1540. When I recently I tried over 30 types of New Balance shoes, I found the average weight to be 0.89 pounds per shoe for a men’s size 12. Both of these shoes weigh more than that. Click here to read more about how much these shoes weigh.

If you are searching for ultra-lightweight athletic shoes, there are better options. I like that “squishy” comfort under the foot. My favorite lightweight New Balance running shoes is the the Fresh Foam 1080 (click here to view).

Paul Johnson

Paul is a lead content creator for Workwear Command. He has had several blue-collar jobs which have provided him a wide range of experience with tools and gear. He also has a business degree and has spent time in business casual office settings.

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