Our verdict

New Balance has finally entered the competitive supershoe landscape with their FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4, which boasts a brand-new Pebax midsole alongside a full-length carbon plate. This setup offers supreme energy return and a leg-saving ride with its almost 40 mm stack height. Although it presents a heftier profile compared to its competitors, we were impressed by its unmatched comfort and plush ride, making it an outstanding choice for runners who desire a smoother, more pleasant racing shoe.

Pros

  • Incredibly comfortable ride
  • Ideal for fast-paced long runs
  • Finally features a Pebax midsole
  • Marathon-ready performance
  • Exceptional leg-saving cushioning
  • Premium upper material
  • Amazing for forefoot strikers
  • Roomy upper

Cons

  • Needs to lose weight
  • Subpar tongue
  • Feels bottom-heavy

Audience verdict

90
Superb!

Who should buy

After thorough lab testing, we believe the New Balance Elite v4 is a standout choice for:

  • Runners seeking a supershoe with a plush, cloud-like ride, unconcerned by its slightly heavier build.
  • Marathon enthusiasts with a higher budget desiring a carbon-plated shoe with world-class energy return for long runs and races.
  • Loyal fans of the New Balance Elite series, finally rewarded with the long-awaited Pebax midsole.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4

Who should NOT buy

While New Balance's Elite v4 brings amazing features to the table, we've concluded it doesn't quite hit the mark for those seeking peak performance in supershoes. For runners prioritising raw speed, alternatives like the Nike Alphafly 3 or the Adidas Adizero Adios Pro 3, which are still below the 40-mm stack height limit, might be more appealing.

We also noticed the SC Elite v4 offers a fantastic experience at marathon paces, but it might not be the best fit for the explosive ride needed in shorter 5K or 10K races. For those events, we recommend the Nike Vaporfly 3 or the Hoka Rocket X 2, both featuring a super-stiff carbon plate in a lighter build.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 parts

Breathability

At first glance, the NB SC Elite v4's all-new Fantomfit upper lacks any ventilation holes, sparking concerns about breathability. But we're not ones to speculate—we prefer to dive into the facts in the lab, starting with the smoke test.

Our findings were surprising. Despite the absence of visible holes, the engineered mesh of the Elite v4 performed admirably, scoring a solid 4/5. It may not be the absolute best in the supershoe category, but it's more than sufficient, especially when you consider that most marathons occur in cooler conditions.

The secret behind the Fantomfit technology—while not new to New Balance, this marks its debut in the Elite series—is its ultra-thin design, allowing light and air to pass through with ease.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 microscope

Under the microscope, we discovered a premium, low-density engineered mesh that manages airflow without the need for traditional ventilation holes.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 micro close

Upon dissecting the entire upper, we noted it offers decent padding for a racing shoe.

However, it lacks elasticity, so it's essential to find the perfect fit from the start—as it's likely to remain unchanged over time.

Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 4
Average 3.8
Compared to 235 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Breathability
5

Durability

Toebox durability

After confirming the upper's decent ventilation, we were curious about its durability—a trait not often found in tandem. 

Using the Dremel at 5K RPM to test the upper's resilience, we arrived at a 2/5 score. While not entirely unexpected for such a shoe, this outcome left us somewhat underwhelmed, underscoring a potential area for improvement in future iterations.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 Toebox durability
Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 2
Average 2.4
Compared to 169 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Toebox durability
5

Heel padding durability

Turning our attention to the heel, we hoped for a more promising outcome here, since this area typically shows wear quicker than the rest of the shoe.

Applying the same Dremel test, the Elite v4 slightly improved, securing a 3/5 rating. While this is an acceptable score, considering its £250 price tag, we still believe there's room for significant enhancement.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 Heel padding durability
Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 3
Average 3.2
Compared to 165 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel padding durability
5

Outsole hardness

Turning our focus to the outsole, a critical area for supershoes due to concerns about longevity, we encountered a predictable result.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 outsole design

The SC Elite v4 boasts significantly more rubber coverage compared to other supershoes, hinting at enhanced longevity. However, this added protection comes with the trade-off of increased weight.

Our durometer test yielded a 64.4 HC reading, indicating New Balance has opted for an exceptionally soft rubber compound in this model—akin to the high-performance soft tyres used in Formula 1. Might this compromise the shoe's durability over time? Let's see!

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 Outsole hardness
Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 64.4 HC
Average 80.5 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 286 running shoes
Number of shoes
52.1 HC
Outsole hardness
93.0 HC

Outsole durability

We switched on the Dremel one last time to assess the outsole's durability. We were pleasantly surprised by the results!

After subjecting the outsole to the Dremel's rigour, we observed a mere 0.8 mm indentation. Considering the softness of the rubber, this result is impressive, proving that the Elite v4 not only offers superb grip but also promising durability.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 Outsole durability
Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 0.8 mm
Average 0.9 mm
Compared to 147 running shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole wear
2.0 mm

Outsole thickness

In our final step, we measured the outsole thickness using our vernier calliper, recording a thickness of 2.0 mm.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 rubber

This thickness is reasonable for a racing shoe. However, based on our durability findings, we suggest that New Balance might consider reducing the thickness in the next version to help minimise weight.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 Outsole thickness
Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 2.0 mm
Average 3.2 mm
Compared to 305 running shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole thickness
6.6 mm

Weight

There's no way to sugarcoat it—the Elite v4 tips the scales at a hefty 8.2 oz or 232g, making it unusually heavy for a supershoe.

It might be on the heavier side, but it looks absolutely stunning.

This weight exceeds today's racing supershoe standards. Competitors like Nike, Adidas, Hoka, ASICS, and Saucony offer lighter options, some even more than an ounce lighter, setting a high bar that the Elite v4 currently simply fails to meet.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 Weight
Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 8.18 oz (232g)
Average 9.38 oz (266g)
Compared to 306 running shoes
Number of shoes
5.26 oz (149g)
Weight
12.56 oz (356g)

Cushioning

Heel stack

While the shoe might appear towering at first sight, it's not as elevated as it seems. New Balance incorporated hefty sidewalls for both stability and style, yet our lab tests revealed the actual stack height at 38.2 mm—complying with World Athletics standards.

This height hits the sweet spot for a supershoe—under 40 mm but nearing the limit to optimise both cushioning and energy return. On our runs, the heel indeed felt really cushioned, albeit slightly bottom-heavy, influencing the running experience at fast paces.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 Heel stack
Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 38.2 mm
Average 33.7 mm
Compared to 305 running shoes
Number of shoes
7.6 mm
Heel stack
45.7 mm

Forefoot stack

We measured the forefoot at a surprisingly low 28.9 mm, quite a deviation from New Balance's stated 36 mm.

Following World Athletics standards in our lab, we believe New Balance's measurements are likely taken closer to the midfoot. This discrepancy highlights the importance of our consistent measurement points for accurate comparisons.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 Forefoot stack
Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 28.9 mm
Average 25.0 mm
Compared to 305 running shoes
Number of shoes
7.6 mm
Forefoot stack
36.9 mm

Drop

Given the significant discrepancy we uncovered, it was clear that the drop wouldn't align with the stated 4 mm. Our measurements revealed a surprising 9.3 mm drop.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 drop cut

Despite this, the shoe feels notably less pronounced in its drop, thanks to the elevated midfoot. This design, featuring a lower heel, creates a distinct sensation. Midfoot and forefoot strikers might find the shoe feels more aggressive, while heel strikers may experience a low drop, accentuated by the foam's plush softness.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 Drop
Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 9.3 mm
Average 8.7 mm
Compared to 305 running shoes
Number of shoes
-0.8 mm
Drop
16.1 mm

Insole thickness

We measured the insole at a remarkably thin 2.6 mm—perfect for a supershoe.

This strategic choice allows for maximising the bouncy foam's potential while keeping the shoe within race-day legal limits. It's a smart move that enhances the shoe's performance without sacrificing compliance.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 Insole thickness
Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 2.6 mm
Average 4.5 mm
Compared to 301 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.

The most significant upgrade in the Elite series is undoubtedly the foam. After much anticipation, New Balance has finally incorporated Pebax foam into their flagship racer for a top-tier, high-rebound performance.

Our tests confirmed the softness of the new Pebax FuelCell, with a 15.0-HA reading on the durometer. This softness elevates comfort levels above many rivals, yet we found the Elite v4 to be a tad slower and less responsive than most competitors.

New Pebax foam, identical FuelCell name. Confusing...

Nevertheless, the introduction of a genuine superfoam marks a promising turning point for the Elite line, hinting at an exciting future for New Balance's racing shoes.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 Midsole softness
Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 15.0 HA
Average 21.4 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 233 running shoes
Number of shoes
8.5 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
41.5 HA

Difference in midsole softness in cold

Introducing Pebax foam to the New Balance SC Elite series has been a game-changer—especially in terms of cold-weather performance.

PEBA-based foams, like Pebax, excel in both hot and cold conditions. After chilling for 20 minutes in our freezer, the foam stiffened by only 5.9%, showcasing its outstanding resilience. This result is truly top-notch, ensuring consistent performance no matter the temperature of your next marathon.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 Difference in midsole softness in cold
Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 5.9%
Average 25.5%
Compared to 232 running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in midsole softness in cold
100%

Plate

This is New Balance's first true supershoe, mixing a carbon plate and, finally, Pebax-based ultra-resilient foam.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 Energy Arc

While we've touched on the foam's merits, the Energy ARC carbon plate deserves its own spotlight. It's uniquely designed with multiple curves instead of the standard flat shape, enhancing flexibility and comfort during runs.

This design choice makes the Elite v4 a more forgiving option underfoot compared to other supershoes, distinct from the more aggressive and responsive feel of racers like the Saucony Endorphin Elite.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 Plate

Rocker

Here at RunRepeat's lab, we test shoes from all the top brands, and New Balance has consistently impressed us with their smooth, high-rockered designs in many models we've evaluated, such as the SuperComp Trainer v2.

For fans of rockered running shoes, the Elite v4 is sure to please. It showcases a prominent early-stage toe rocker that's crucial for the shoe's performance. We've discovered in our test runs that without this feature, moving from heel to toe could feel much harder due to the shoe's unique geometry.

Stability

Lateral stability test

Pairing a towering stack height with a marshmallow-soft midsole often leads to stability concerns—exactly what we encountered with the SC Elite v4.

The signature plushness of the SC Elite series foam remains intact, a clear testament to New Balance's commitment to comfort over performance. To enhance stability, we noted substantial midsole sidewalls, an expanded base, and, of course, the carbon plate. Despite these efforts, the SC Elite v4 ranks as one of the less stable supershoes for us.

This stability trade-off can be both a drawback and an advantage. Sure, stability is typically sought after, but sometimes it can take away from the exhilarating, fun ride some runners crave. Ultimately, the choice is yours.

Torsional rigidity

Featuring a carbon plate, the shoe's torsional rigidity is palpable, scoring a solid 4/5 in our lab tests—just shy of the max score.

This makes the shoe stand out from other supershoes, making it ideal for fast-paced, long-distance workouts. For those who appreciate the benefits of carbon plates, this shoe serves as an excellent—though costly—option for marathon prep.

Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 4
Average 3.3
Compared to 284 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5

Heel counter stiffness

The heel boasts some structure, a notable departure from the norm seen in other competition shoes—a deliberate choice by New Balance to offset the instability from the plush foam. Our evaluation led to a score of 2/5.

Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 2
Average 2.8
Compared to 268 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

In the lab, the midsole width of the shoe initially seemed substantial, particularly after the initial unboxing, which made the shoe appear quite large. However, measurements with the callipers revealed a width of 114.6 mm, placing it squarely within the average range for running shoes.

Though a broader base could have enhanced stability, achieving such a design without increasing the shoe's already significant weight presents a challenge. Unless New Balance opts to hollow out the central forefoot channel similar to what they've done in the heel, a wider landing base makes no sense.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 Midsole width in the forefoot
Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 114.6 mm
Average 113.8 mm
Compared to 306 running shoes
Number of shoes
100.5 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
126.5 mm

Midsole width in the heel

We measured the heel at 88.7 mm, which seems typical for a racing shoe. However, when combined with the gap in the midsole and the overly soft foam, it leads to a notably unstable ride, particularly for heel strikers.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 Midsole width in the heel
Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 88.7 mm
Average 90.5 mm
Compared to 306 running shoes
Number of shoes
74.9 mm
Midsole width in the heel
106.6 mm

Flexibility

Stiffness

Throughout our lab review, we've emphasised New Balance's positioning of this shoe as a more comfortable, less aggressive supershoe, arguably tailored for mid-to-back-of-the-pack marathon runners.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 stiff

This led us to discover that the carbon plate in this model is significantly less stiff compared to others, resembling more the flexibility of a nylon plate, similar to what we've seen in models like the Endorphin Speed 4. In our 90-degree bend test, it just scored 38.4N.

Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 38.4N
Average 29.1N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 288 running shoes
Number of shoes
2.2N
Stiffness
94.4N

Difference in stiffness in cold

Following the same approach as with the midsole, we placed the shoe in the freezer for 20 minutes to assess changes in stiffness.

Upon reevaluation, we noted a mere 3.9% increase in stiffness—an exceptional outcome that underscores the superior performance of the Pebax midsole in cold conditions.

Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 3.9%
Average 35.9%
Compared to 288 running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in stiffness in cold
148%

Size and fit

Toebox width at the widest part

One key reason we enjoyed logging long runs in the SuperComp Elite v4 is its exceptional upper.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 upper

Accustomed to tight, race-ready uppers, we found this one delightfully roomy, much like a premium daily trainer, with a generous width of 97.9 mm at its broadest part (for being a racing shoe.)

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 Toebox width at the widest part
Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 97.9 mm
Average 98.4 mm
Compared to 306 running shoes
Number of shoes
89.5 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
109.1 mm

Toebox width at the big toe

With an ample 80.3 mm space in the big toe area, we found that the upper offers incredible roominess, making it a dream for runners prone to blisters on their big or pinky toes. And the vertical space is also good enough.

Furthermore, in certain countries, New Balance offers this shoe in a 2E width—a rare find among competition shoes. Our testing confirmed that this added space significantly enhances comfort, especially for those with wider feet.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 Toebox width at the big toe
Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 80.3 mm
Average 78.2 mm
Compared to 180 running shoes
Number of shoes
60.4 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
92.5 mm

Tongue: gusset type

We found that the tongue, lacking a gusseted design, at least includes a central loop that somewhat maintains its position. However, during our test runs, it consistently felt a bit short and emerged as a notable drawback. The tongue, in our opinion, is among the shoe's most significant shortcomings.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 Tongue: gusset type
Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 None

Comfort

Tongue padding

There's barely any padding, yet it's slightly cushier compared to other supershoes, which often have tongues thinner than 1 mm.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 tongue

The laces were somewhat disappointing, especially when considering that other brands have adopted notched laces for enhanced lockdown.

The Elite v4's tongue has a thickness of 1.8 mm.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 Tongue padding
Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 1.8 mm
Average 5.6 mm
Compared to 303 running shoes
Number of shoes
0.5 mm
Tongue padding
14.2 mm

Heel tab

Consistent with New Balance's latest designs, the heel lacks a pull tab, embracing a sleek and uncluttered aesthetic.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 Heel tab
Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 None

Removable insole

The insole, perforated and as thin as paper, is not glued down, allowing for easy removal.

This means you can switch it out, but keep in mind its slim profile. Replacing it with a thicker third-party insole could significantly reduce the interior space of the upper.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 Removable insole
Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 Yes

Misc

Reflective elements

We didn't anticipate finding any reflective elements on the Elite v4, typical for shoes designed for daytime racing, and indeed, we found none.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 Reflective elements
Test results
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 No