- 92/100 by Believe in the Run
- 92/100 by Coach
- 90/100 by Running Shoes Guru
- 85/100 by Fueled by LOLz
- 95/100 by Canadian Running Magazine
- 90/100 by Road Trail Run
- 94/100 by GearJunkie
- 94/100 by Runner's World
- 90/100 by Running Warehouse
- 90/100 by Get Sweat Go
- 90/100 by groovc
- 97/100 by Gear Patrol
- 90/100 by Upwell Health Collective
Earlier this summer, New Balance launched a new series of shoes based on the FuelCell platform. Using FuelCell, the new high rebound foam (highest energy return yet from New Balance, minimum 39% more than Revlite), the four shoes in the series are all built with speed in mind.
Positioned between the 5280 (MSRP US$200) for elite runners and the US$110, Propel for the middle-ground runner, the US$130 Rebel is a lightweight racing shoe for the more efficient runner who wants to go faster. The Echo, a more supportive shoe, complete the series and comes in at US$100.
New Balance FuelCell Rebel
Having lacked a decent road racing flat in my armoury (since my On Cloudracer was retired some time ago), I welcomed the chance to take the Rebel through its paces.
My conclusion is that here, New Balance has a winner. The Rebel is a near game-changer of a shoe with its many distinguishing features and has become a firm part of my rotation for speed sessions and races.
It is a true all-rounder, with a cushioned, comfortable ride for longer, slower-paced training runs, but also snappy enough to use for racing anything between a mile and a marathon. The shoe of the summer so far!
A number of notable features initially catch the eye:
- the thin, knit upper
- bootie fit
- lateral flange in the midsole
- minimal outsole with translucent blue rubber
Striking looks of the Rebel
It is interesting that other than the lateral flange, all these other features were also seen on the Nike Epic React, which last year was the first to feature React, Nike’s version of high rebound midsole compound.
In many ways, the Rebel is reminiscent of the Epic React but, if Epic React is akin to a touring sedan, the Rebel is most definitely a sports car, at least on looks!
The upper is made of engineered mesh and very stretchy and well-fitting, yet breathable.
According to New Balance, trace fibre stitching provides further strength in the midfoot. This is a feature I really liked, and along with the lateral flange, keeps feet secure with none of the “spilling out” experienced on Epic React’s narrow midsole.
Lateral flange, or flared midsole
Aesthetically, the lateral flange is a bit of, as we say here in the UK, “marmite”; some will love it, others will hate it.
I personally thought it made the shoes look cool, even futuristic. Form and function, however, go hand in hand, so I was equally curious about how the flange would impact the running experience.
Translucent outsole showing TPU plate
According to New Balance, the FuelCell midsole has multiple densities, with a higher rebound compound used in the midfoot. While not quite the carbon fibre plates used in 5280, the Rebel also feature nitrogen-infused TPU insert in the forefoot for added propulsion at take-off.
As mentioned, the Rebel has a bootie fit, with the tongue absent and instead of featuring a sock-like upper.
New Balance designers have done a fantastic job here. At first glance, the Rebel looks as if it comes with a standard tongue.
It is only when you looked from the other side, or once the shoes are on the feet, that the sock-like design and feel becomes apparent.
While the heel collar is high, with the heel cup being relatively deconstructed, the tabs are unobtrusive.
The heel could use more jazz
With no rough seams or stitching in the shoes, I wouldn’t hesitate to use the shoes sock-less if I was that way inclined.
I did feel, however, as much as I like the colourway and overall look of the shoe, that the designers could have done a little more with the heel area to jazz things up a bit. But that’s just being greedy.
I have traditionally been a UK 10 in New Balance and found the standard D width to be a good fit. The Rebel is no exception, but I feel they do tend to fit just a tiny, but snug around the midfoot and in terms of length.
I wouldn’t really wear my thicker socks with the Rebel. But then again, I tend to wear thinner socks in general for speed training and racing. So, overall, I felt pretty comfortable with the sizing and fit.
My UK 10 shoes weighed in at 210 grams each, so very much on the light side. Given the substantial midsole, I’d say much of the weight saving is from the upper, but like the React, one of the qualities of FuelCell is its favourable rebound-to-weight ratio.
On the road
Once out on the road, my first thought was that the Rebel was actually pretty well cushioned for their weight. With a stack height of 18mm in the forefoot (and 24mm in the heel for a 6mm drop), New Balance does categorize the shoe under cushioned, and I’d say that’s the correct classification.
A cool way to have reflective detailing
I think what I eventually had to get my head around was the initial disconnect between the minimal upper and the rather pleasant, plush cushioning underfoot.
For a shoe which seemed built for speed, and about which everything described pointed to going faster, and designed for the more efficient fore- and mid-foot striking runners, the extent of cushioning was a surprise. And a revelation and, ultimately, joy.
I suppose much of it is down to the heralded qualities of FuelCell, but the Rebel’s ride was responsive without being harsh and cushioned without feeling mushy.
I have long been a fan of On Cloud, which is much vaunted for their cushioning despite light in weight. FuelCell Rebel is similar in terms of the cushioning-to-weight ratio, but comes with an added bonus of a racing flat upper, making it a more versatile shoe.
I have over the past couple of months using the shoe for speed training, longer runs of over 10 miles, and for racing the mile and 5km, and the Rebel has handled it all well with aplomb.
The comfort is second to none. The foot is held securely and naturally with no hotspots, and the ride is a pleasure.
The lateral flange is very much unnoticeable when running, so I am unable to provide any insight as to its function or contribution to the experience. Perhaps the very fact it’s unnoticeable means it’s doing its job.
As mentioned earlier, unlike the Epic React, the Rebel feels very stable when cornering at speed. Possibly that’s again the flange doing its job.
At any rate, the flared midsole is a design feature I understand that has trickled down from the 5280, which is tailored for the elites, including Jenny Simpson, in winning high profile races, so enough said.
New Balance FuelCell Rebel is a truly impressive shoe. I’d go as far as suggest that it’s a game-changer.
Initially, I thought I was getting a racing flat or shoes for the faster training sessions only, but the more I use them, the more I’m impressed by their versatility and suitability for all speed and distances.
The initial perception that the Rebel is meant for speed only is partly due to their heritage - from the 5280 which are designed from analysis of elite runners for elite runners and partly due to New Balance’s marketing pitch (significantly from the upper design, which is minimal and foot-hugging).
My only (and the only major) reservation is over the durability of the upper due to its minimal nature. But, in a sense, the attractive price point of US$130 perhaps reflects this.
It is only when the Rebel is road tested over time, over different paces and distances, that the versatile qualities of the FuelCell compound shine through.
In that sense, the Rebel is perhaps best described as a sports car’s body on a touring sedan’s chassis.
Check all colorways of the New Balance Fuelcell here.
In 2019, New Balance introduced its new foam Fuelcell foam as a replacement for Revlite. New Balance produced the Fuelcell Rebel akin to the New Balance 5280, a carbon-plated short-distance racing shoe.
Fuelcell Rebel is very similar to 5280, but it does not have Carbon plate and has more Fuelcell foam in the midsole.
The New Balance Fuelcell rebel features one-piece knit upper without any overlays. The wavy pattern of knit is unique and looks pretty good. Knit Upper just enhances the looks of the shoe.
Upper performed superbly in every aspect that a runner wants from a running shoe. The upper wrapped the foot like a sock. It's the kind of upper that one can easily forget that they are wearing a shoe.
Knit upper is not as soft as primeknit or as compared to other high-end shoes with knit upper, but it does not cause any chafing, blister, or other issues. The shoe's breathability is top-notch; I did not feel any hot spots while running in hot weather.
The upper has tiny holes all over the upper, which enhances the breathability. Rebel has bootie construction, which means there is no tongue and one-piece upper the only problem I found with the upper, it was a little tough to get the foot in the shoe.
New Balance Fuelcell Rebel has a wide toe box and enough space for runners with wide toe box.
Rebel has a semi-rigid heel counter without any external heel clips. The heel counter provided great lockdown and did not feel any degree of heel slipping while running at faster paces or while taking turns.
The lacing pattern in Rebel is very unique. Instead of holes for lacing in the upper, it has a string attached, and laces passed through it.
This lacing technique leaves no space for customization. When I wore the shoes with thick socks, I noticed the pressure from the laces on top of my foot.
However, the problem went away with thin socks. This can be with me only because of my foot shape.
The shape of the midsole is weird. It has an outward flange, which is inspired by the gait pattern of Jenny Simpson. Interestingly this outward flange does not affect the gait cycle and is totally unnoticeable.
As the name suggests, this shoe has Fuelcell midsole, which New Balance introduced as a replacement for Revlite. New Balance claims that this new foam is much more responsive than Revlite.
I have run in 890v7 (which has Revlite midsole), and I found this new foam Fuelcell way more responsive and giving than Revlite foam.
Revlite foam was firm, and anything above 10k was rough for the legs. However, this foam Fuelcell, despite being on the firm side of cushioning, has more shock absorption and impact protection.
This Fuelcell foam is made up of TPU foam injected with nitrogen making the shoe more snappy and promoting faster turnovers.
I used these shoes for my 5k run and shaved 40 seconds from my time without any specific training. The first few miles felt pretty firm and not responsive.
After 15-20 miles, though, Fuelcell foam started to feel softer and more responsive. When I ran below the pace of 5:30/km, the Fuelcell foam showed its true colours, and it made running at fast paces very easy and effortless.
The midsole is made up of two dual density Fuelcell foams. The dual-layer can be seen right through the transparent outsole, which is pink in colour.
According to New Balance, this dual-density foam provides more energetic forefoot propulsion.
As this shoe is inspired by New Balance 5280, it has similar outward flange in the midsole, which promotes midfoot landing.
Fuelcell Rebel offers a very responsive ride. This shoe is built for neutral runners who land on midfoot. Runners who land on the heel will not be able to enjoy the ride of the shoe.
It was like a normal shoe when running at slow paces, but when I increased my speed, the Fuelcell midsole showed its true colours. It increased my cadence, and turnovers became faster.
Everything about this shoe is very unique. The outsole of New Balance Rebel is made up of data-driven lug design taken from New Balance 5280 made for mile racing.
The forefoot of the outsole is covered with transparent rubber. There is very little rubber covering the outsole's heel area, and the midfoot has blown rubber for durability.
The traction provided by the outsole on dry road was very good, but on wet surfaces, the outsole does not provide adequate traction.
I have not noticed any kind of premature wear and tear of the outsole in terms of durability. It will easily outlast the midsole of the shoe.
Fuelcell Rebel has enough support for a neutral runner. The trace fiber provides great amount of support without adding weight to the shoe.
Also, the wider landing platform of the shoe provides stability. Knit upper has almost no stretch to it, wrapping the foot snugly and keeps the foot in place while taking turns or doing track workouts.
After using these shoes for 60 miles, there is no fraying. The upper and outsole are in decent shape.
Fuelcell foam is still as responsive as it was on the first run. I think this shoe will easily last for 400 miles.
This shoe is an all-rounder who performs brilliantly and looks even better. The knit pattern, lacing technique, shape of the outsole, everything about this shoe is unique, and I love how it looks.
- Super lightweight
- Responsive midsole
- Superb upper
- Appealing looks
- Affordable price
- Less traction on wet surfaces
- Laces put pressure if worn with thick socks (might be only me)
Fuelcell Rebel is a great shoe. Getting this shoe would be like driving a supercar in traffic.
At $130, in an era of days where high-performance shoes are well above this price point, the New Balance Fuelcell rebel is definitely a steal.
Here is my early review of the New Balance FuelCell Rebel which I was lucky enough to be sent to test. For those like me who are new to this range, they are one of four shoes that make up New Balance’s new FuelCell range.
The aim of the range is to provide maximum rebound, faster timers and more PBs over a range of distances. The Rebel is undoubtedly a racer but is claimed to have the durability to be suitable for tempo training sessions as well.
My first impression was that the Rebel was unlike any shoe I have tried before. The most similar shoe I have tried is the Nike Epic React Flyknit that came out last year. They certainly feel light, nothing new there, with a sock-like upper that feels about as minimalist as you can get.
But underneath the sole is more substantial and almost looks like a distance shoe. But the really striking bit is how the sole sticks out on the outside of the forefoot.
It is not easy to see this to the full extent in the picture but it seems almost the reverse of a support shoe and when I first saw them I was worried my arches would collapse when running but more on that later.
The design here is similar to the Nike Epic React Flyknit and pretty much nothing else. Weight, or a lack of, is clearly a priority and the thin, completely unpadded bootie-like upper keeps things flexible and airy up top.
Underneath there is FuelCell padding in the forefoot surrounded by a lighter, firmer foam towards the heel.
The sole has a shallow tread with a harder wearing material under the forefoot presumably to prolong the part you’ll land on most when pressing on. All in all, they look to be speed up to top with a bit of comfort underneath.
How do they feel?
The Rebels tip the scales at 208g and you can tell as they certainly feel lightweight. The upper, whilst feeling very thin and airy holds your foot in place well.
There is no slippage as the upper stretches and moulds to your foot, a bit like a compression sock without being quite so tight.
There is no support or padding on the tongue or cuff but this didn’t bother me. I always wear socks but I think the Rebels would be comfortable without socks as there is not much to rub on the one-piece upper.
They feel fast and encourage you to push on. They are not as soft as they look and do start to feel firm on longer runs.
I think they will be ideal for a fast, flat 5K but probably not much further. They are not great on cambers due to the complete absence of support under the arch but they don’t claim to be a support shoe.
The good news is that despite that protrusion from the sole on the outside of the midfoot I didn’t roll over any more than the other neutral shoes I have. I am not quite sure what the point of the odd sole shape is but it works ok for me.
The Rebels feel super airy due to the laser cut stripes in the upper sock. It really does feel thin and my initial feeling was that they would only last for a handful of runs.
They seem to be hanging in there a bit better than that so far but I’ll need a bit longer yet to be completely convinced. The biggest issue is likely to be that the Rebels run quite small. I am a UK 10.5/11.5 US in pretty much everything but these feel tight in a UK 10.5.
This could be because the upper is like an elasticated sock but I could see and feel my big toe sticking into the Front.
I have never had a pair of shoes where my big toe has come through the upper, the soles have always given up long before, but I think these could be the first. Time will tell but that is my initial impression.
What about underneath?
The sole of the Rebel reminds me of the Nike Epic React Flyknit in that the front part is made of a durable material with a shallow tread and a thin, lightly wrinkled heel. The FuelCell is clearly visible under the forefoot showing the expected landing area.
The Rebels were launched in early June so I have only tried them in fine, dry weather. I have had no issues with the grip and the sole seems to be wearing fairly well.
I am not planning to use them in anything other than fine weather as the uppers do not look like they would cope too well.
No doubt that speed is the overriding factor behind the Rebels. They are lightweight, nimble and shaped to push you onto your toes and get you moving quickly.
The FuelCell helps with its excellent rebound making it genuinely difficult to just plod along and I found myself running significantly quicker than I normally would.
The downside is that the firmness crept in more and more above 5K and my feet did start to complain a bit. They are as fast as anything I have run in but as to expected, you need to sacrifice a bit of comfort to achieve this.
Speedy? Never in doubt. PB worthy? Absolutely.
There are no mysteries and no surprises (other than I didn’t roll over as much as I thought) with the Rebels. They are an out and out racer and feel like foot support with a sole attached. For a short, flat road race on a warm, dry day I can see them being my go-to shoe for years to come.
On those criteria, I have yet to see anything better. But at £120 you may want shoes with a broader range. However, if you remember to go up half a size and are lucky enough to have a pair of shoes for every type of run I doubt you will regret not following the crowd and being a bit of a Rebel.
I was never a fan of New Balance shoes. It is an unfair statement as I actually never owned a pair. They just didn't past my initial visual criteria test—bulky, boring looks with that massive N on the side.
Maybe those were great to run in, but in times when I can have esthetics, comfort, and performance combined, I will aim for the best.
After submitting five reviews to RunRepeat, it was my time to choose my free pair reward, and I was excited. It was a bit of a pickle, as there are so many interesting releases in 2019 to consider.
Somehow, I had a glimpse of the Rebel on the internet, and it got my instant attention. I did some digging for more detailed info and what I managed to read was good enough to decide.
After a well over 250km of running, I can honestly say that I do not regret it. I would go as far as to admit, that at this very moment, New Balance FuelCell Rebel is my favorite runners.
The Rebel is the best thing that landed on my foot ever. I have them in rotation with Epic React 2. Let me walk you through it:
Humble beginnings with capturing the unboxing moment. It is available in Australia for $200 in three different colorways. Personally, I think this one is the coolest. I got them in US 11.5 (my Nike's size).
So, I did notice that there is a divided opinion circulating in the runner's circles. For some, myself included, the design is visually great, but I can understand that for some the shape of the Rebel (maybe that is the genesis of that name) may be too weird.
I like the minimalistic approach, and this shoe got my interest from the moment I laid my eyes on it. First thing you will notice is that unconventional shape that is curved (it may be helping it particular landing).
Plus, we have a fin, which sits the outer of the shoe, designed for stability improvement. The bottom line is, I find that look very attractive and unique. I will add that Epic React is still nicer visually.
Upper and fit
One-piece "bootie" designed upper made out of thin engineered mesh. As an extra, and it's the first time I've seen it, we have Trace Fiber stitching across the midfoot area, which provides that perfect and secure lockdown.
It is an essential addition as it is usually the issue with stretchy uppers, and this one is definitely super stretchy. It allows your foot to slide right in with no problem, and when those laces are tightened, it will stay in place.
There was no sliding while running, just secure lockdown. Another great thing that I noticed right away is that the upper adapts almost instantly to the shape/ size of your feet, so there is no breaking in period plus no one would be left out.
I do appreciate the wider toe box, and I wasn't disappointed. As advertised, the shoe runs true to size
Just want to add, and I can say it after over 250km on the track, that upper is probably the best I have worn so far. It ticks all the boxes on my list. It's super stretchy, very lightweight, and breathable (if you live in Australia, it is a must).
The red strands along the lacing also contribute to better fit and security. One thing I can complain about perhaps would be the length of the laces. I double knot, but still, I feel them flapping around.
It is not something that will affect your performance, but it may distract you occasionally or lead to paranoia.
I should mention that in my size US 11.5 according to my kitchen scale this shoe weighs approx 230g.
The main feature as the name states is FuelCell midsole made out of dual-density Fuelcell foam material. As I realized, this shoe design suits perfectly forefoot to midfoot runners like myself.
The midsole is a bit firmer in that area to improve the overall performance (I think I was missing that in Epic React). It is very responsive, soft, and light. Most importantly, that midsole got some solid bounce to it.
It only has a 6 mm drop, which is great and feels more like no drop at all. The fit and overall construction give a sensation that you are not wearing anything whatsoever.
I like to run fast, and that shoe is definitely a great tool in that department. I am not sure how it would feel to run a half or full marathon as my distances were mostly 8 km, 10 km up to 15 km.
My feet were still fresh after those runs. And, I noticed that my pace improved and became more consistent.
Just to compare midsole fresh out to the box and then with 250km under the belt.
I am not entirely sure what the exact purpose of the lateral flange is, but I think it is helping to lessen the impact on landing and improve the traction. Maybe, it even corrects the way foot position itself.
My wild guess would be that, like a sports car, this unique shape may speed-related. It would make sense as this shoe definitely can go fast. I like the look of it, too.
The outsole incorporates blue/translucent (depends on which colorway you choose) blown rubber placed strategically in forefoot and heel area. This placement is meant to reduce the weight while still maintaining a good grip and traction.
It is designed for forefoot landing, so that is where the whole durability prevention is focused. I have no idea how it is possible. But, on that blue material, there is still no signs of wear, and it's been a good 250 km of solid running.
The rest of the outsole is just exposed foam. You can see some damage there, but it won't affect you in slightest.
I think that there is some plate in the forefoot area—you can sense it while trying to flex the shoe and see it. But, I cannot confirm that.
Regardless, that's how the outsole presents itself before hitting the road. The circled area is a plate that I am suspecting was inserted into the shoe.
Below, we can see wear after 250 km of usage. No signs of damage across blue rubber. Some tears on the exposed foam area, but that was expected, especially at the back edge as marked.
Durability here reminded me a bit outsole of Saucony Freedom ISO. It was unbreakable. I did not have a chance to test in the rain. The weather, unfortunately, was way too nice, plus I didn't want to get that pristine white upper dirty.
I ran distances from short and sweet 5 km to 15 km. The ride was smooth, comfortable, and fast.
I need to mention that, for a while, I had some pain in the forefoot area of my left foot. I can't really tell if that's because the shoe is quite minimalistic (blue rubber bit hard). It is a neutral road runner, so you will fell those rocks or roots when you ran over them.
On the other hand, I had a couple of months of running extremely fast (for my standards) on each workout, so it could be just injury due to overtraining. I think it is worth pointing out.
- The bootie upper is extremely comfortable and fits like a glove no matter how wide your feet are.
- The lacing system design gives the best lockdown.
- The overall design of the shoe is edgy and unique.
- Fast—this shoe can fly (have some nice PRs while wearing that speed machine).
- The 6 mm drop is perfect.
- Considering all the goodies you will get with that purchase, the price tag is justified.
- The capability of achieving long distances while still maintaining comfort is limited. I would say half-marathon would be max (more than that may cause some discomfort).
- The blown rubber is a tiny bit too hard, very durable, but painfully solid.
- I am finding it difficult to complain about that shoe, but let me just say that laces could be shorter.
I was nicely surprised by the New Balance capability for making great sneakers. That statement may come across badly, but I do not have any history with that brand, and I am happy that there is more than Nike and Adidas to consider if you look for innovation and style.
It just happened that until now all New Balance shoes I've seen in local shops were just ugly or bulky (not a fun of stability shoes).
FuelCell Rebel blew me away; my expectations very exceeded. I was hoping to like this shoe, but I wasn't expecting to fall in love again. It was right from the first wear.
I mentioned before that you don't need to break them as they adapt instantly. Fit is on point, and I can only hope that when I reach 500 km upper stretch would not loosen too much.
I like to run fast, and the Rebels can definitely deliver in that department. Due to "feather-like" weight and overall design, they are perfect for forefoot neutral runner like me who like to hit the track hard.
I do a lot of tempo runs, but recently switching into aerobic development training, so I was testing them on a bit slower yet longer jogs. Either way, they are performing amazingly.
The shoe really feels fast, and in my option in distances between 5km to a half marathon, it will shine. It has a great and smooth transition for midfoot to forefoot runners.
I managed to get initially round 4 m/km pace on 5 km run and later on stretch that to 4:02/km on the 8km distance. I was amazed, and it felt great.
I have them in rotation with Epic React 2, but 70% of the time, I will be getting those out. They just feel better—nicer fit, smoother ride.
Pricewise, they land somewhere in the middle. Not too expensive, but not cheap either ($20 cheaper than Epic React).
I would highly recommend giving FuelCell Rebel a try. I am aware it is not for everyone, and some may like it more than others, but I am basing this rating on my own experience, which was nothing less but great.
On the side note, which has nothing to do with the making of the shoe itself, on a recent run, I got wrapped in some branches, and my beloved upper got torn. It looks like it won't get worst, but it is breaking my heart.
Looking forward too many more runs in the FuelCell Rebel. It is a joy.
The New Balance FuelCell Rebel is a lightweight running shoe designed for fast days or races up to a half or even a marathon. At 6.2oz for a women’s size 8 and 7.3oz for a men’s size 9, it definitely fits in the lighter shoe category.
With a low drop of 6mm, 18mm in the forefoot, 24mm at the heel, it will encourage a midfoot to forefoot strike, which is great for faster workouts.
The upper is a really comfortable, snug bootie, but the sole is weirdly shaped, causing extra pronation and mild to pronounced pain in the ankles.
I love the look! If I have to be really honest here, this is one of the main reasons I bought this pair. I like the way it looks, the shape, the colors, the whole thing.
The patterns on the side, which are similar to the ones on the FuelCell Propel, give it a sense of speed, and while it does not make me run faster, it does look cool.
I got the blue ones, but the other colorways are awesome too, especially the white one!
This is my favorite part of the shoe. It is a very snug mesh, similar to Nike’s Flyknit, but with a stretchier feel.
Most of my running shoes are 9.5 (US size), and these fit true to size. I can’t emphasize enough how comfortable they feel.
I haven’t had any issues regarding rubbing on my toes, no blisters, nothing, only comfortable runs.
The mesh is really breathable and makes the shoe a really good fit for hot summer days. I don’t think I would use it in the winter when temperatures drop below 32°; my feet would probably freeze.
Tongue & laces
The one-piece upper means no tongue, and this is really something I’d like to see more often.
The tongue is really a useless piece of running shoes if you ask me. It often slips on the sides as you run or can be uncomfortable, but that’s not a concern with the Rebel.
What’s up with these laces? Seriously, they’re unusually long, which in and of itself is not a problem, but it is just weird. I will take overly long laces over short ones any day.
Length aside, the laces are made of a stretchy fabric that really holds up after tightening the knot, and I’ve never had any issues with them coming loose mid-run, a pet peeve of mine!
The midsole is made of New Balance’s latest innovation in the field, FuelCell. It’s in the name. After all, it must be good, right?
Cutting to the chase, it is very light and allows them to come up with such a light shoe. However, in terms of energy return, I really haven’t noticed anything out of the ordinary.
Do not read that as some form of criticism. I’m just saying that it is neither better nor worse than similar shoes I’ve run in, like the Pegasus Turbo 2 with ZoomX. FuelCell gets the job done.
Similarly to ZoomX, it’s pretty firm and does not have the cushiony feel you would get with something like Nike’s React, for instance.
It confirms the fact that this is a fast shoe, and I would not recommend it for longer runs. I think that the lack of cushioning would become really noticeable past mile 9 or 10.
Time to address the elephant in the room, this weirdly shaped “thing” on the outside of the midsole.
I’m still struggling to figure out what purpose it serves. This flared shape almost feels like some sort of excrescence, like it shouldn’t be there.
Besides the looks, this piece is a real problem for a pronator runner like me. My ankles already roll inward, and the Rebel exacerbates it.
It went from being annoying to actually painful after a tough workout (5-6 mile repeats at half marathon pace). This is the type of workouts the shoe is supposedly designed for. During the cool down, it really felt like the shoe was hitting me where it hurt.
Every time I looked down at my feet while running, seeing the shoes from above was weirdly disturbing. This shape is definitely unique; I haven’t seen anything like it before.
There’s not a lot of rubber in the outsole, and it helps with the weight. The shape of the rubber confirms that the Rebel designers had a forefoot/midfoot strike in mind.
There’s very little rubber in the heel area. If you are a heel striker, I don’t think you should really consider this shoe.
I can already see signs of wear on the foam on the inside of the heels. After only about 110 miles, this is a bit disappointing.
In comparison, I’ve run more than 400 miles in the cheaper version, the New Balance FuelCell Propel, and it looks way better, with four times more miles in it!
I wouldn’t treat it as a totally bad thing; fast shoes tend to last less than daily trainers, mainly due to the trade-offs designers have to make to cut weight. But still, I wish it wouldn’t already start to tear.
The inside of the midsole is also starting to show signs of crease. Once again, not a red flag, but also, maybe a bit early!
This is a frustrating pair of shoes. It has a lot of good qualities - it is very comfortable, light, with good responsiveness on tempo runs, but the flared midsole ruins the whole thing for a pronator runner like me.
This shoe is best for runners who don't pronate.
This shoe does it all for me. I was looking for something light but with ample cushion and relatively decent support for those speedy miles during tempo runs and intervals. The FuelCell is all that and more.
This is a fairly odd looking shoe. Not ugly by any means, just unlike other designs out there. Looks like a sock-rocket.
The upper is a very pliable mesh with a woven colored stitched design on both sides. The outsole foam is embossed and indented with vertical striations, continuing around almost the entirety of the shoe.
The foam on the outer side of the shoes does not follow the contour of the shoes completely. Rather, it protrudes or flares outward slightly, mid-foot, which is great for runners that underpronate.
Underpronation is when your weight rolls onto the outer edges of your feet. This protruding foam helps stabilize your feet.
Comfort & durability
Right out of the box, these were very comfortable. When you buy a new pair of shoes, you generally want to put in 50+ miles before you can voice your opinion on their comfort.
It’s just not fair to expect that your shoes will caress and nuzzle your feet without breaking them in first. Granted, you want your feet and shoes to have a great relationship, one that you can rely on for miles and miles.
The FuelCell from New Balance is fantastically comfortable. Light and snug, the sock-like upper hugs your feet locking them in for a well-balanced fit. The upper has no real structure, which works in your favor.
There are no hard lines, no areas that can rub you wrong or get in the way of movement. It’s light, breathable, and very flexible. These babies just slip on very easily, like a slipper, without compromising proper fit and comfort.
One of my favorite aspects this shoe has to offer is the outsole. With its strategically placed, very durable rubber, the FuelCell’s outsole provides traction and contributes to the firmness of the “ride” as well as its flexibility.
There are far too many shoes on the market that have eliminated rubber on the outsole. This may be great for keeping down the weight of the shoes but horrific for its durability.
I have had to return numerous shoes that have worn out too quickly, or the minuscule rubber patches on the bottom have literally peeled off!
These have rubber in all the right places, and I love the fact that there is minimal wear, even after tons of miles.
Smooth, comfortable and fast, and lightweight. These shoes perform exceptionally well from intervals to the marathon and feel amazing when stepping on the gas.
With the sock-like upper mesh, combined with the light foam and rubber outsole, the FuelCell is my go-to shoe when I want to feel good and run fast.
The flexible upper envelopes your feet without suffocating them. There is ample room for your toes to breathe, and I have yet to feel any discomfort at the tip of my toes.
I have several shoes in my arsenal that I use for speedwork, from intervals to tempos, to fartleks. I can always rely on these to perform well.
They are light, 7.2 oz (size 9 men’s), so depending on your shoe size, these can be slightly heavier or lighter. The mesh upper is super comfortable, with its sock-like fit, and the form-fitting lacing system hugs your feet in all the right places.
The rubber outsole is ample traction for everyday road running and racing, and you can feel the energy return from the foam, especially when going fast. These shoes are great for shorter distances as well as longer, like the marathon. I highly recommend these to anyone wanting an epic experience.
I was excited to try these shoes as I had read that they have some similarities with the Adidas Adizero Boston Boost (my current favourite running shoe). I was not disappointed.
My first impression on unboxing them was how incredibly light they are. They feel noticeably light in your hand.
New Balance quotes the weight for a women’s shoe as 174g and a men’s size as 208g. My UK Size 5s (EU37) weigh 163g.
This compares favourably to my both my Boston Boost 6s, which weigh 200g. It turns out that the Rebel’s are by far the lightest pair of running shoes that I own.
They look speedy, don’t they!
The Rebels have an unusual look to them. They are probably a love-them-or-hate-them shoe—I like the shape, but I’m not so happy about the colourways.
The white/grey is totally impractical for me, and the black/grey is quite dull. I would love to see more and brighter colour options.
Shiny and white—This was not to last
Fit and feel
This seems like a good trainer for a wider foot. The overall shape of the shoe is quite rounded. I found the shoe to be a little long, and think I could probably get away with a half size smaller.
The fit is very snug, the stretchy sock upper hugs your feet, and there are no issues with the shoes moving about while running. I have made it to 100 miles in the Rebels, and the upper remains pretty stretchy so far.
It is easy to lace up securely without overtightening and cutting off your circulation (a bad habit of mine!). The laces are unfeasibly long though, and I usually end up tucking the ends in to stop them flapping about.
Fuelcell Rebel—The shape is ‘interesting’ to say the least—and the laces are so long!!
Let’s get running
My 100 miles in the Rebels have been on a mixture of road, treadmill, track, and light trail, and they perform brilliantly on all of these. These are fun trainers to run in, and that has to be a win!
They bring together a great combination of lightweight, cushioning, and responsiveness. For me, the FuelCell foam offers more cushioning than Adidas Boost foam, but I would say they are still as responsive.
They are great fun to run in at tempo at the track or on good road surfaces, almost encouraging you to go faster. But, they also offer excellent cushioning for longer and easy runs.
They make a pretty good all-round trainer if you don’t want to have different shoes for different purposes.
One of the distinctive features of the Rebel is the uniquely (dare I say oddly) shaped sole. The base of the shoe flares out into what has been called a ‘wing’ or a ‘flange.’
I am a heel striker and to be honest, and I didn’t really notice this feature either way. But I do find the transition very smooth.
Particularly suited for faster and tempo running
There were a few things that I didn’t like about the Fuelcell Rebel. Firstly, although the grip is pretty good, I don’t feel they quite match up to the Continental rubber used by Adidas on the Adizero range.
I don’t feel as confident running in these in the wet or on paths that are mossy or slippy. For similar reasons I don’t feel very confident running down steep hills—but this might be because my pair are slightly too big.
White is not for me!
I have got on well with these shoes, and they have really converted me to New Balance, which I’ve not worn before. They are marketed as a fast shoe, but I’ve found them to be extremely versatile.
I’ve worn them for track sessions, parkruns, a half marathon, and training runs of up to 20 miles.
I haven’t been 100% converted though. I have slipped backed to the tried and tested Adidas for my main races—but may be due to the superstition of sticking with my ‘lucky shoes’ than any fault of the Rebels.
Of the shoes that I have run in, the Rebels are most similar to the Adidas Boston Boost 6 and Saucony Freedom ISO. I much prefer the Rebels to the Freedom ISO (I haven’t clocked many miles up in my Freedoms at all).
The Rebels beat the Sauconys on weight (the Freedoms are a clunky 228g in comparison), fit, cushioning, and responsiveness. Compared to Adidas Boston Boosts, the Rebels win on cushioning and fun factor. But, the Bostons remain snappier although they probably give a more rigid ride.
[For size comparisons I am a UK5 in Adidas Boston Boosts 6, 5.5 in Saucony Freedom ISO because they are so narrow. I have been wearing 5 in the FuelCell Rebels but will be treating myself to a pair of 4.5.]
Good to know
- New Balance brings to the market a new running shoe that is designed for the everyday runner: the FuelCell Rebel. This lightweight shoe is intended for up-tempo workout days and race days, where a high-rebound performance is expected. Created with the help of athlete Jenny Simpson, the FuelCell Rebel is meant to represent the runner who “does not want to take it easy,” as the shoe is built for activity.
- Meant to be ultimately lightweight, the FuelCell uses an upper made from thin engineered mesh that delivers a lightweight and breathable structure.
- Meanwhile, the construction of the sole unit includes an improved version of the FuelCell, a plush cushioning with a flared design, allowing for longer distances and faster paces, as compared to the basic running shoe. It is supported by a uniquely-structured outsole that uses less material, yet remains durable.
The New Balance FuelCell Rebel is intended to be true-to-size, so runners should expect an accurate fit with their usual preference. Various foot volumes will be accommodated by the FuelCell Rebel, as it is available in Medium and Wide options for both the men’s and women’s versions.
The outsole of the FuelCell Rebel is made from the classic blown rubber. Known for its durability, the blown rubber gives the shoe sturdy and long-lasting qualities, especially at the high-wear areas. The outsole has a one-of-a-kind translucent design, which makes it softer; it also offers an increased level of traction.
The lugs of the FuelCell Rebel are data-driven and focused on the forefoot area, which means the traction it provides is especially ideal for forefoot strikers.
FuelCell comprises the forefoot portion of the midsole. It is a nitrogen-infused foam that aims to give a powerful launch with each step, resulting in a bouncy feel and an equally bouncy ride. The material is made from thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), which is known for its consistent, long-lasting responsiveness, regardless of the temperature. The nature of the TPU makes FuelCell resilient and ever-prepared for speed.
The rest of the midsole is constructed with REVlite, a refined ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) foam that ensures 30% more comfort, responsiveness, and durability over the industry standard. REVlite provides a lightweight ride but not at the expense of stability.
A thin engineered mesh is the main component of the upper of the New Balance FuelCell Rebel. It is composed of a jacquard base layer, which provides a lightweight yet secure ride, and a trace fiber stitching, which gives midfoot support. Both these parts combine with a cleatie construction to create a sleek, sock-like fit and a distinctive aesthetic.
The heel collar features a deconstructed design, as it aims to provide a dynamic and secure fit.
How FuelCell Rebel compares
3 shoes (0.32% of shoes)
6 shoes (0.64% of shoes)
15 shoes (2% of shoes)
19 shoes (2% of shoes)
55 shoes (6% of shoes)
60 shoes (6% of shoes)
211 shoes (23% of shoes)
264 shoes (28% of shoes)
207 shoes (22% of shoes)
93 shoes (10% of shoes)
114 shoes (12% of shoes)
268 shoes (29% of shoes)
272 shoes (29% of shoes)
170 shoes (18% of shoes)
60 shoes (6% of shoes)
35 shoes (4% of shoes)
10 shoes (1% of shoes)
1 shoes (0.11% of shoes)
2 shoes (0.21% of shoes)
1 shoes (0.11% of shoes)
6 shoes (0.77% of shoes)
16 shoes (2% of shoes)
41 shoes (5% of shoes)
113 shoes (14% of shoes)
195 shoes (25% of shoes)
212 shoes (27% of shoes)
134 shoes (17% of shoes)
47 shoes (6% of shoes)
12 shoes (2% of shoes)
3 shoes (0.38% of shoes)
1 shoes (0.13% of shoes)