Our verdict

The New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 left us wanting more in terms of performance—its midsole wasn't as springy as we'd hoped, especially when stacked against the latest supershoes. However, during our long runs and tempo sessions, it truly stood out as a wonderful partner. We think those in search of top-tier performance might find it lacking, but for runners seeking a versatile shoe that's up for the occasional race, it's a strong contender.

Pros

  • Plush, comfortable midsole
  • Snug-fitting yet comfortable upper
  • Smooth, rockered ride
  • Versatile for all paces
  • Durable and grippy outsole
  • Reliable lockdown
  • Amazing for long runs

Cons

  • Limited energy return
  • Not the best for racing
  • Lacing system could be better

Audience verdict

87
Great!

Who should buy

We've concluded that the FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 is a prime choice for:

  • Runners seeking a plush racing shoe with a less stiff ride when compared to other supershoes.
  • Those aiming for a high-quality running shoe perfect for long runs at fast paces, given its exceptional performance in such conditions.
  • Marathoners looking for a versatile shoe that does a great job at races and also serves well for interval sessions.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3

Who should NOT buy

Despite the inclusion of a full-length carbon plate, the FuelCell foam in the SC Elite v3 falls short on energy return—costing runners valuable seconds in any race, regardless of distance. For those who prioritize pure performance, we believe there are better options available, such as the Nike Vaporfly 3 or the Hoka Rocket X 2.

Moreover, while the SC Elite v3 performs admirably in training, we think its high price tag doesn't quite justify its versatility. When comparing it to supertrainers like the ASICS Superblast or the Saucony Endorphin Speed 4, which feature highly resilient foams in a comparable weight, we do not recommend the SC Elite v3 as the best value for your investment.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 parts

Breathability

Upon unboxing the Elite v3, its breathability didn't seem promising, sparking some initial concerns in the lab. However, instead of dwelling on what might happen, we chose to jump straight into our testing to discover the real story, beginning with the smoke test.

To our relief, our concerns quickly dissipated. The knit upper proved to be incredibly breathable, not just in the toebox but throughout the entire shoe—a major advantage for those prone to blisters in the arch during long-distance events.

The light test, despite its simplicity, is an excellent tool for identifying the most breathable areas of a shoe. Through this, we discovered that New Balance smartly focused on airflow in the toebox while still ensuring adequate ventilation and structure throughout the rest of the upper.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 microscope

Examining the shoe under a microscope, we identified micro-ventilation holes that promote optimal airflow.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 holes

We also realized that the upper is crafted from engineered mesh, yet it's remarkably stretchy, among the most flexible we've tested.

After thoroughly assessing the upper, we concluded that it's quite unique, blending mesh (body) and knit (tongue) in one single shoe.

Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 5
Average 3.8
Compared to 221 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Breathability
5

Durability

Toebox durability

After the shoe scored top marks in the breathability test, we didn't set our hopes too high for its performance in the durability test, where we put the upper to the test against the abrasive spin of our Dremel tool.

Our skepticism was justified. Leveraging our extensive experience from lab testing hundreds of shoes, we've honed our ability to spot a fragile upper—and unfortunately, this was one of those cases.

The Elite v3's upper barely withstood the Dremel challenge, earning a disappointing 1/5 in our assessment.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 Toebox durability
Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 1
Average 2.3
Compared to 155 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Toebox durability
5

Heel padding durability

We then shifted our focus to the heel, a section that often raises concerns more than the toebox. While the toebox test might only be relevant for a select group of runners—typically those who tend to point their big toe upwards while running—the heel endures wear from nearly everyone.

To our delight, the Elite v3 truly excelled in this area. Employing the Dremel under the same conditions as we did for the toebox (3.2N @ 5K RPM), the heel withstood the challenge admirably, securing a perfect score of 5/5.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 Heel padding durability
Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 5
Average 3.2
Compared to 151 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel padding durability
5

Outsole hardness

Then, we moved our focus to the outsole, hoping it would mirror the heel's performance.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 outsole

The outsole boasts a huge cutout that reveals the carbon plate, with a rubber overlay that, in our view, appears somewhat tacked on as an last-minute fix.

In our initial test, we measured the hardness at 74.5 HC in our lab—a score that sits comfortably in the middle, leaning towards a slightly softer composition to enhance grip. From our tests, we can confirm that this balance contributes positively to the shoe's traction.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 Outsole hardness
Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 74.5 HC
Average 80.4 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 272 running shoes
Number of shoes
54.9 HC
Outsole hardness
92.8 HC

Outsole durability

Yet another Dremel test on the outsole helped us gauge its durability.

We observed a mere 0.9-mm indentation in the rubber, a result that might seem average at first glance. However, considering the soft nature of the rubber used here, we see this as a commendable outcome.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 Outsole durability
Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 0.9 mm
Average 0.9 mm
Compared to 133 running shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole wear
2.0 mm

Outsole thickness

In our analysis, we discovered that the outsole of the shoe has 3.2 mm of rubber. While this thickness is a good choice for a training shoe, it feels excessively bulky for a competition shoe, particularly given its strong performance in our durability assessments.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 rubber

From our standpoint, New Balance could have streamlined the design by opting for a thinner layer of rubber, perhaps between 1.5 to 2 mm. This adjustment would still ensure ample longevity while significantly reducing the shoe's weight, potentially making it far more competitive in the racing category.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 Outsole thickness
Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 3.2 mm
Average 3.2 mm
Compared to 291 running shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole thickness
6.6 mm

Weight

The New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3, despite its lengthy name, maintains a decent weight. Tipping the scales at 7.7 oz or 217g, it's a bit heftier compared to other supershoes, but nothing concerning at all.

In our experience, the real conversation about this shoe isn't its weight but rather its midsole—so let's dive into that!

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 Weight
Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 7.65 oz (217g)
Average 9.38 oz (266g)
Compared to 292 running shoes
Number of shoes
5.26 oz (149g)
Weight
12.56 oz (356g)

Cushioning

Heel stack

We measured the heel at 36.4 mm—while not pushing the World Athletics' 40-mm stack height limit for race-day shoes, it still offers a remarkably cushioned experience.

Given the amount of FuelCell padding, we're confident it's quite uncommon for any heel striker to bottom out the Elite v3.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 Heel stack
Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 36.4 mm
Average 33.6 mm
Compared to 291 running shoes
Number of shoes
7.6 mm
Heel stack
42.7 mm

Forefoot stack

Yet, the forefoot presents a stark contrast, much thinner than anticipated. Our measurements show it's only 22.2 mm, a thinness attributable to the forefoot's geometry and the placement of the midsole cutout.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 Forefoot stack
Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 22.2 mm
Average 24.9 mm
Compared to 291 running shoes
Number of shoes
7.6 mm
Forefoot stack
35.8 mm

Drop

Adhering to World Athletics' official procedures, our two measurements revealed a substantial 14.2-mm heel-to-toe drop, significantly diverging from the brand's claimed 4 mm.

As discussed in this article, such discrepancies are common in the industry. It's worth noting that, in our field tests, the shoe felt more like it has an 8-mm drop during runs, largely due to its unique geometry, rather than aligning with 4 mm or 14.2 mm.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 Drop
Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 14.2 mm
Average 8.7 mm
Compared to 291 running shoes
Number of shoes
-0.8 mm
Drop
16.1 mm

Insole thickness

The SC Elite v3 features an exceptionally slim insole, measuring merely 2.1 mm, strategically designed to maximize the foam while adhering to World Athletics' regulations.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 Insole thickness
Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 2.1 mm
Average 4.5 mm
Compared to 287 running shoes
Number of shoes
1.5 mm
Insole thickness
7.3 mm

Midsole softness

Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.

Touching on a sore point, the foam New Balance employs in the SC Elite v3 is the old FuelCell, which is, without a doubt, this shoe's Achilles' heel. Honestly, we struggle to label the SC Elite v3 as a true supershoe since, in our estimation, a genuine contender in this category should combine a high-energy-return foam with a carbon plate.

While the SC Elite v3 does incorporate the Energy Arc carbon plate, it falls short on the superfoam front. The FuelCell in this model delivers merely average energy return, on par with everyday trainers like the Rebel v3, and lags significantly behind rivals boasting Pebax midsoles.

Is this shortfall a deal-breaker? For those prioritizing performance, it certainly is, and you should definitely take a look at the pricier Elite v4. However, for runners seeking a cushy and plush ride, this shoe excels, as evidenced by its softness, which we measured at just 15.1 HA.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 Midsole softness
Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 15.1 HA
Average 21.4 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 219 running shoes
Number of shoes
8.5 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
41.5 HA

Difference in midsole softness in cold

As we've previously mentioned, the FuelCell foam used by New Balance here isn't Pebax, leading to less impressive performance in colder conditions. It does become 22.3% firmer, which isn't necessarily poor, but given the steep $230 price point, it's frankly disappointing.

For that kind of investment, we expect a foam that maintain its performance regardless of temperature, something we've found lacking in the Elite v3.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 Difference in midsole softness in cold
Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 22.3%
Average 25.6%
Compared to 218 running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in midsole softness in cold
100%

Plate

Our testing revealed that the SC Elite v3 is equipped with a curved carbon plate, enhancing the shoe's rigidity and delivering the dynamic, propulsive sensation sought after in a race-day shoe.

This plate is a fresh introduction in the series, featuring the innovative Energy Arc technology with a cambered shape to boost efficiency.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 Plate

Rocker

Defined by its curved geometry reminiscent of a rocking chair, the SuperComp Elite v3 embodies the essence of a rockered running shoe perfectly. In our lab tests, we've encountered only a handful of shoes that offer such a seamless, rockered experience!

Stability

Lateral stability test

Combining a substantial amount of foam with extreme softness naturally compromises stability, and that's exactly the experience the Elite v3 provides.

This also makes the shoe incredibly enjoyable for all runs, yet it's strictly suitable for neutral runners—definitely a no-no for those needing extra stability.

Torsional rigidity

The SC Elite v3's incorporation of the Energy Arc carbon plate suggests a high level of torsional rigidity, though it falls short compared to other racing shoes.

We awarded it a 4/5. This feature significantly contributes to the shoe's more relaxed feel compared to its racing peers, offering a bit more ease during runs.

Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 4
Average 3.2
Compared to 270 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5

Heel counter stiffness

The heel of this speedster is surprisingly structured, earning a 3/5 on our stiffness scale. This level of rigidity might not suit marathoners with Achilles problems, particularly those battling Haglund's deformity.

One might wonder why New Balance chose a firmer heel for a racing shoe. It appears they aimed to offset the ultra-soft midsole with features like elevated midsole sidewalls and a moderately stiff heel counter...

Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 3
Average 2.8
Compared to 254 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

This was a missed chance to enhance the shoe's stability, with the forefoot width measuring just 112.6 mm.

Yet, this design choice seems to stem from a desire to keep the weight in check. Despite featuring a hollow central channel, the shoe still tips the scales as one of the heavier options in the racing category.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 Midsole width in the forefoot
Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 112.6 mm
Average 113.6 mm
Compared to 292 running shoes
Number of shoes
100.5 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
126.5 mm

Midsole width in the heel

The heel enjoys decent width, with our measurements showing 91.7 mm, a likely necessary adjustment given the plush FuelCell foam used.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 Midsole width in the heel
Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 91.7 mm
Average 90.5 mm
Compared to 292 running shoes
Number of shoes
74.9 mm
Midsole width in the heel
106.6 mm

Flexibility

Stiffness

In our bend test, where we gauge the force required to flex each shoe to a 90-degree angle, the Elite v3 required a mere 38.3N, significantly less than other carbon-plated counterparts.

This reinforces our impression of the Elite v3 as a more laid-back racing shoe, better suited for brisk long runs or tempo workouts rather than competitive racing.

Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 38.3N
Average 29.3N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 274 running shoes
Number of shoes
2.2N
Stiffness
94.4N

Difference in stiffness in cold

Our subsequent test after putting the Elite v3 for 20 minutes in the freezer showed a stiffness increase of just 9.9%, a change that's hardly worrisome and likely imperceptible to runners.

Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 9.9%
Average 36.3%
Compared to 274 running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in stiffness in cold
148%

Size and fit

Toebox width at the widest part

Next, we focused on the toebox, eager to quantify its dimensions.

The toebox height is somewhat restricted, making this shoe less suitable for those prone to wearing through the top with their big toe.

Despite the shoe's snug fit, it remains surprisingly comfortable. This was validated when we measured a mere 95.3 mm at the upper's widest point.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 Toebox width at the widest part
Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 95.3 mm
Average 98.3 mm
Compared to 292 running shoes
Number of shoes
89.5 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
109.1 mm

Toebox width at the big toe

The toebox features a non-aggressive taper, offering more space in the toe area.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 toe

This spaciousness makes the shoe an excellent choice for long runs of 20 miles or even more.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 Toebox width at the big toe
Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 77.9 mm
Average 78.0 mm
Compared to 166 running shoes
Number of shoes
60.4 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
92.5 mm

Tongue: gusset type

We discovered that the tongue is gusseted in a sock-like style, providing a robust lockdown. However, this design also makes the Elite v3 one of the most challenging shoes to slip your feet into.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 Tongue: gusset type
Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 Sock like

Comfort

Tongue padding

The tongue is crafted from knit, diverging from the mesh used in the rest of the upper, which creates a stretchy and comfortable feel. It's lightly cushioned, with a minimal thickness of just 1.4 mm.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 tongue

When it comes to the tongue, we've been fortunate enough not to encounter any issues. However, we've observed other runners experiencing significant irritation in the ankle, some even to the point of bleeding in marathons. If you're prone to issues in this area, the tongue's design might pose a challenge for you.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 Tongue padding
Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 1.4 mm
Average 5.6 mm
Compared to 289 running shoes
Number of shoes
0.5 mm
Tongue padding
14.2 mm

Heel tab

New Balance has incorporated a finger-loop heel tab into the Elite v3, a feature that proves essential for slipping your feet into the shoe. Without this tab, getting the shoe on would be quite a hassle.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 Heel tab
Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 Finger loop

Removable insole

The insole is removable. Yet, we must caution you due to its ultra-slim design. Should you opt for an aftermarket insole or custom orthotics, ensure they're equally thin to prevent cramping the toebox.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 Removable insole
Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 Yes

Misc

Reflective elements

Our expectations did not include spotting reflective features on the Elite v3, as these are often absent in shoes crafted for daylight marathons.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 Reflective elements
Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 No