Home All running shoes Reviews Racing shoe reviews ... New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 expert review

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 review

8 expert score
9.3 user's score
As editorial policy, we do not accept free samples. We purchased this pair at Running Warehouse with our own money.
Review written on 13th February by Brandon Law Marathon Runner and Shoe Expert
162 other reviews

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 Verdict

The New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 is a fun, stable long-distance racer. It has one of the softest and most cushioned rides of any super shoe but it lacks a high level propulsion. This is due to its cushioning still being too soft and its gentle forefoot rocker which doesn't give you a big forward tipping sensation. Version 4 has a vastly improved upper which has better heel lockdown and doesn't poke into your ankles. It also has a firmer ride and thicker midsole which makes it feel more efficient.

The pros

  • Much better, more comfortable upper than v3
  • Improved heel lockdown
  • Increased cushioning
  • Faster ride than v3
  • Durable outsole

The cons

  • Not as propulsive as other super shoes
  • Too similar to the SC Trainer
  • Heavier than v3

Where to buy

Best offers today in United States, all prices in USD

Rating breakdown

Comfort
8.0
Build quality
8.0
Upper
8.0
Sole unit
8.0
Landing
8.0
Transition
8.0
Toe-off
8.0
Traction
8.0
Durability
8.0
Value / Price
7.0

Facts / Specs

Model
FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4
Weight
8.1 oz (230 g)
MSRP
$250.00

Heel
40 mm.
Toe
36 mm.
Heel drop
4 mm.
Carbon plate
Full length carbon plate

Size/Fit

Sizing
True to size
Heel fit
Normal
Midfoot fit
Normal
Toebox fit
Normal

Cushioning & ride

Type of cushioning
Balanced/plush
Amount of cushioning
Highly cushioned
Stability
Some stability
Flexibility
Rigid

Usage

Racing  
Speedwork  
Daily training
Long distance racing  
Ultra distance racing

Who should buy the New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 ?

If you’re looking for a super soft, long-distance racer with good durability, the SC Elite v4 is an option. If you want something less aggressive than other super shoes which is easier on the legs, it’s also a good option.

Who should not buy the New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 ?

If you want a really stiff, aggressive and firm-riding racer, the SC Elite v4 is not the shoe for you. If you want a super lightweight racer, it’s also not for you.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 Introduction

Picture of New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4

There’s no super shoe series which has undergone more drastic changes over the years than the SuperComp Elite.

The first 3 versions all had very different designs, different rides and different levels of comfort. You get the feeling that New Balance is still trying to find the winning formula for their flagship long-distance racer.

One thing that’s been consistent in all 3 versions is the FuelCell midsole, a super soft blend of nitrogen-injected TPU and EVA. While being squishy and plush, it lacked the explosive energy return of a ZoomX or a Lightstrike Pro.

I liked the midsole of last year’s SC Elite v3 but I hated its sloppy upper. The collar poked into my ankles and I couldn’t get a good lockdown because of its bootie construction upper. I didn’t think it was as fast as other super shoes and I never raced in it.

This year’s SC Elite is the most significant update because we get a new generation of FuelCell in its midsole. The FuelCell in the SC Elite v4 is 100% PEBA. Nike, Saucony, Hoka and even Decathlon are already using PEBA foam in their racers.

The SC Elite v4 weighs 8.4 oz (237 g), which is 0.5 oz (19 g) heavier than version 3. It’s 40 mm in the heel, 36 mm in the forefoot, exactly the same as v3. It also maintains its $250, the standard flagship super shoe price.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 First Impressions

Picture of New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4


My first run in the SC Elite v4 was a 20 kilometre, steady-paced run on the car-free Sunday city loop. I was immediately impressed with the new, improved upper which felt super comfortable and very secure.

The ride to me still felt very soft, however it felt firmer than previous versions of the SC Elite. I was able to hold a steady pace easily and transitions felt very smooth.

It didn’t feel like a very aggressive ride though and the shoe that it reminded me of most was the Endorphin Pro 4.

The SC Elite v4 felt a little bit chunkier with more cushioning while the Pro 4 felt more nimble. It was a fun first run but it didn’t blow me away.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 Upper

Picture of New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4

The change from a bootie construction to a traditional design is the change that I wanted most desperately so I was relieved to find out that New Balance had done so.

The new upper material resembles the upper of the Rebel v3. It’s also rough to the touch and it doesn’t stretch but it’s thinner and more breathable.

Picture of New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4

The short, flat tongue is not gusseted but it does have a loop in the middle of it for the laces to go through. Even with the loop, I experienced a small amount of downward tongue slide though but it doesn’t bother me.

Heel lockdown is excellent although I do have to use a runner’s knot. Luckily there are double first row eyelets provider, unlike the previous version.

The fit for me is true to size and very accommodating, especially in the forefoot so this is a racer I would recommend to wide-footed runners.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 Sole Unit

Picture of New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4

The SC Elite v4 feels faster than version 3 and even though both versions have the same stack heights, v4 feels taller. With each footstrike, your feet sink down into the midsole less which allows for faster turnover.

The uber bouncy sensation has been toned down a bit because the midsole void underneath is shorter and doesn’t extend into the forefoot like in v3. I don’t mind this change but this is where some of the weight increase comes from.

I can’t feel the plate in the SC Elite v4 and in this version, it’s been made thinner. This is good if you want a mellow racer which is easy on your calves, ankles and feet. This is not good if you want an aggressive, rigid, snappier racer which makes it feel like it’s throwing you forward. I fall into the second group.

The SC Elite v4 doesn’t feel as fast as the top tier racers for two reasons: its cushioning is too soft and its forefoot rocker is not prominent enough.

The new FuelCell foam isn’t extremely different to the non-PEBA FuelCell. It’s a little bit firmer and returns a bit more energy but overall, it’s still very similar in ride and feels super soft underfoot. I definitely prefer it to the old version but it needs to be even fimer. A firmer midsole will allow you to increase your turnover easier.

Picture of New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4

When I’m toeing off, I don’t feel the forward tipping sensation- when I lean forward and try to engage the rocker, it doesn’t feel as responsive as other, more aggressive super shoes. This has to do with the plate rigidity and its shape which is too flat.

To me, the SC Elite v4 feels like a long-distance cruiser rather than a speedy racer. This is because of its substantial 8.4 oz weight. It needs to be lighter and more aggressive to differentiate it from its training counterpart, the SC Trainer v2.

For me, the sweet spots for the SC Elite v4 are marathon pace and steady pace. For anything faster, it’s a bit too heavy and too soft, however, if you’re a slower runner, I think it will be fine for faster workouts and short-distance races.

My favourite thing about the new version is that outsole durability is much better. There’s more rubber coverage and the outsole is flatter so wear is distributed more evenly. The new midsole foam also holds up much better because it’s firmer so it doesn’t get scraped by the road.

When it comes to traction, I found it decent on dry roads. I didn’t get a chance to test it on wet surfaces but I don’t think it will be a big issue because the outsole rubber has a raised triangular pattern to help it grip onto the road.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 Conclusions

Picture of New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4

The SuperComp Elite v4 is pure joy to run in: it’s highly cushioned, energetic, stable and it’s durable.

But when it comes to racing, I won’t be picking it.

It doesn’t have the punch or the aggression of the top-tier racers and I don’t think that New Balance has found their super shoe winning formula yet.

The SC Elite v4 will definitely stay in my rotation for long runs, and long tempo runs. I like the new upper, midsole and outsole and it has no major flaws.

Version 4 is an upgrade over version 3. It has a much more comfortable upper and a more robust build. I like the new midsole foam more than the previous one and I think New Balance is on the right track, however, they need to find a way to get it back under 8 oz, to firm up the foam even more and to make the forefoot rocker more prominent.

If you’re aiming to run a marathon in 3 hours 30 or slower, the SC Elite v4 is a great option but for anything faster, there are better options (for the same price or cheaper) which offer more speed assistance.

Why you can trust us

As editorial policy, we do not accept free samples from companies.
We purchased this pair of New Balance at Running Warehouse  with our own money.

This page contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. Read more about our policy.
Lowest price:

$249

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 price comparison

Best offers today in United States, all prices in USD

Reviewed by Brandon

This review was written by Brandon Law on 13th February.
Brandon is a South African who lives and trains in Malaysia. He is a marathon runner who eats, sleeps and dreams running shoes. While most people wear shoes to run, he runs to wear shoes.

User feedback (5)

  • avatar-comment-1036596
    J
    2 months ago
    9 score

    Hi Brandon, a generally fair review. I got my pair today and it feels great. Only issue I see is with the silly short tongue. Just be mindful with suggestions like the trainers may not be good for anything faster than a 3:30 marathon. People have been running sub 3:30 for more than a 100 years with way less shoe technology than today.

  • avatar-comment-1036308
    Wayne
    3 months ago
    8 score

    Always great reviews, thank you. Any guidance/suggestions for a Comrades shoe would be appreciated.

  • avatar-comment-1035708
    Brad
    4 months ago
    10 score

    How many miles do you think you could possibly get out of this shoe?

  • avatar-comment-1035555
    Zahf
    4 months ago
    10 score

    Hi Brandon, it was a good chat in the shop few weeks back when we talk about a lot of shoe and this shoe is one of it. As usual your review always fit my feet perfectly and because of those chat, i bought the shoe and couldn’t be more happier with it

    • avatar-comment-1035600
      Brandon Law
      4 months ago

      Hi Zahf. Glad I could help! Hope to run together one day.

Lowest price:
$249

Where to buy

Best offers today in United States, all prices in USD

Similar shoes to New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4

New Balance FuelCell Rebel v4 Review

The New Balance FuelCell Rebel v4 is an excellent lightweight speed trainer ... (Read expert review)

New Balance Fresh Foam X 880 v14 Review

The New Balance Fresh Foam X 880 v14 is a neutral daily trainer that has many ... (Read expert review)

New Balance Fresh Foam X Vongo v6 Review

The New Balance Fresh Foam X Vongo v6 is an exceptional everyday max stability ... (Read expert review)