New Balance Numeric 480 vs Nike SB Dunk

Dan Bunn

Join us as we compare the two most popular basketball-inspired skate shoes on the market, the New Balance 480 vs Nike SB Dunk, to find out who's truly King of the Court.

New Balance Numeric 480 vs Nike SB Dunk Comparison - CSC, Cardiff Skateboard Club - UK Skate Shop

Arguably one of the most hyped skate shoes right now, both in skating and streetwear circles, the Nike SB Dunk has been absolutely dominating the slow-mo Instagram reels game for the past few years. However, nobody stays at the top forever and countless new competitors have thrown their hat in the ring to challenge the Dunk's cultural dominance; one of the most popular of these being the New Balance Numeric 480. So, what's better, the New Balance Numeric 480 or the Nike SB Dunk? While we'll leave that up to you to decide, this article will talk you through the similarities and differences between the shoes to help you make your choice.

New Balance 480 vs Nike Dunk History

First things first, the main similarity between the New Balance Numeric 480 and the Nike SB Dunk is their origins. Both shoes are reimagined versions of classic 80s basketball shoes which have since been updated for skateboarding, maintaining the same iconic aesthetic while using the latest technology for modern skate performance.

Nike 15 Years of SB Dunk Poster - CSC, Cardiff Skateboard Club - UK Skate Shop

Although the Dunk was adapted for skating way before the 480 - with the SB Dunk first releasing all the way back in 2002 while the NM480 came out just last year - the New Balance 480 actually came out before the original Dunk, with the 480 first appearing in 1983 while the Dunk came out two years later in 1985.

New Balance Numeric 480 Skate Shoe Yin Yang Collection Poster - CSC, Cardiff Skateboard Club - UK Skate Shop

New Balance Numeric 480 vs Nike SB Dunk Construction

Given their shared basketball shoe roots, both the New Balance Numeric 480 and Nike SB Dunk share a pretty similar look and construction, with both shoes featuring a multi-panelled upper for that iconic basketball aesthetic. The multi-panelled uppers mean that both shoes feature reinforced toe-boxes for an extra-layer of protection against wear while the toe-boxes of both shoes feature perforations for added breathability. Likewise, due to their basketball origins both shoes feature a very similar tread pattern, with a pivot circle for the ball of your foot to provide additional flexibility and help foot adjustment.

New Balance Numeric 480 Sole with Pivot Circle - CSC, Cardiff Skateboard Club - UK Skate Shop

The main differences here, in terms of both appearance and construction, is that the Nike SB Dunk is generally chunkier than the New Balance Numeric 480, with the Dunk featuring a more padded tongue and upper, puffy laces and more heavily reinforced eyelets. In contrast, the 480 features a more slimmed-down, lightweight construction with standard flat laces, although the 480 does also benefit from a raised rubber sole around the toe and heel for extra durability.

Nike SB Dunk Top-down View, photo from Nike websiteBoth the Nike SB Dunk and the New Balance Numeric 480 feature a cupsole construction for comfort, support and impact protection at the expense of the heightened boardfeel of vulcanised shoes. Here, the main difference is the technology used with the Nike SB Dunk featuring a Zoom Air insert in the heel to prevent heel-bruise while the New Balance Numeric 480 features a full-length FuelCell midsole for comfort and support throughout alongside their signature NDurance rubber for long-lasting grip and durability.

New Balance Numeric 480 (Juniper / White) Top-down View - CSC, Cardiff Skateboard Club - UK Skate Shop

New Balance Numeric vs Nike SB 

One of the biggest differences between the shoes is of course their branding, with both shoes featuring large embroidered logos for their respective brands on the side as well as smaller logos on the heel and tongue. The Nike SB Dunk features Nike's signature swoosh embroidered on the side, with the tick stretching all the way back to the heel; while the NM 480 features a slightly more subtle 3D embossed 'N' logo on the side.

Nike SB Dunk Low Side Profile, photo from Nike Website

Which brand you prefer mostly comes down to personal preference (although the smaller New Balance 'N' logo is a bit more subtle than the massive Nike tick) but, while we may be slightly biased, we'd back New Balance over Nike any day. Here in the UK, New Balance do some much more to support the local scene than Nike, with New Balance hooking up a load of UK legends across the country while Nike has a reputation for historically fucking over smaller shops and dropping their UK riders. Plus, you don't have to enter a raffle to grab yourself a pair of 480s...

New Balance Numeric 480 (Juniper / White) Side Profile - CSC, Cardiff Skateboard Club - UK Skate Shop

That's enough chit-chat though. Head to the shop to browse the full range of New Balance Numeric skate shoes and buy now from CSC. Or, find out more useful information on the CSC Blog. Safe.

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