New Balance FuelCell TC review
This is the best shoe I have tested this year. Hands down!
No shoe out there (at the moment) delivers a plush, premium, responsive, carbon fibre shoe that is pretty durable. In my opinion, this shoe is best for tempo and your long runs when you need to hit some fast, consistent pace.
Probably not a middle-distance racer but definitely worth considering as a half or marathon competition shoe. If you can’t get your hands on the Next % or Alpha Fly, get yourself a pair of these. They will last you longer and give you more bang for the buck.
First Glance at the FuelCell TC
Described by the experts as the ‘New Balance Rebel on Steroids,’ I had to get my hands on a pair of these and experience them for myself. I searched far and wide for over a week and nothing.
I was desperately hoping this shoe was not going down the same path as Nike regarding limiting release of their carbon plate prized possessions. Finally, my size eventually popped up on one of the popular running shoe sites. I didn’t hesitate and coughed up some serious cash.
They looked good in the box and even better straight out of the box. These shoes cost top dollar, and you can see why.
The shoe looks amazing, and the materials feel expensive, just quality. The midsole shimmers with a pearl-like finish, the upper is soft, and the heel counter fabric reminds me of suede.
The upper is premium, mainly consisting of a soft light layer of woven mesh. It is almost translucent with a lightly stamped New Balance logo over the toe box. The black material that wraps around the heel and houses the laces is suede-like.
The tongue is thin and soft to touch, with holes punched from top to bottom. The shoelaces can be weaved through any of the holes on the tongue to customize how you wish to hold the tongue in place.
The heel counter has a little structure but not overly robust (almost perfect). It has an elf-like heel tab to assist getting your foot in the shoe.
The toe box is wide with plenty of room for the toes to splay while running.
The midsole is made up of extremely soft and bouncy FuelCell with a full-length carbon plate to add some rigidly to the tonnes of cushy foam. The midsole flairs out on the lateral side, designed to hit the ground first, taking some impact and guiding the foot strike.
Soft is an understatement when trying to describe this version of the FuelCell. Walking around is marshmallow-like and a similar feeling to the Nike Next %.
Underneath, you will find a large amount of rubber covering the forefoot and lateral side to the midfoot. This rubber definitely adds some stability to the foam and adds some pop to the cush.
Pretty grippy in the dry conditions, pretty slippery in the wet. Obviously, with this much rubber underneath, the durability looks good.
There are two smaller segments of rubber around the heel area in the high impact areas, and the rest of the outsole is exposed foam.
Firstly, let me tell you that these shoes are extremely comfortable. Regardless of the length or speed of the runs I have tested them on, they are 10/10 in the comfort department.
My first run was an early morning flat 7kms at a steady pace. Soon as I stepped off, the "marshmallow feel" you get from walking around was gone. They felt smooth but snappy.
You can really feel the carbon plate doing what is intended to do — propel! I picked up the pace, and these things just got better. Very easy to maintain the pace.
The second test was a 140 minute long run on the road. Again these didn’t disappoint. They felt fine at an easier pace and ready to go when I wanted to pick it up.
As the run got past the hour mark, the laces or fit felt like it was loosening. Not enough to stop and re-adjust but enough to notice. No foot fatigue whatsoever!
The next test was a tempo/threshold run. I was curious how these would hold up over extended faster speeds. To combat the fit loosening on long runs, I purposely went for a tighter lockdown.
The lockdown fixed the loosening sensation, and these shoes just absolutely hum once they get going. Once you hit your pace, the carbon plate does the rest—consistent and effortless performance.
The only real issue I found was the loosening of the fit during long runs. This is easily combated by a tighter than usual lockdown before you leave.
I have found no issues with the weight. I read that people think it is too heavy, but I honestly have not noticed.