Monday, June 17, 2019

Updated! New Balance Fuelcell Rebel Multi-Tester Review: Make Way for the Newest Superfoam on the Block?


Article by Mac Jeffries, Peter Stuart and Derek Li
Editor's Note: Mac's initial review is updated with Peter and Derek's testing results.

New Balance FuelCell Rebel ($130)

Introduction:
Mac: The FuelCell shoe has been on my radar for months now for a number of reasons.

First, I am a big believer in midsoles that offer great energy return. For years, shoe companies focused primarily on shock absorption; Adidas changed that trend with the introduction of Boost, which used TPU polymers instead of EVA foam to offer better energy return and durability, but at the cost of greater weight. Since then, shoe companies have pushed the boundaries of lighter weights and better energy return, two traits once considered to be mutually exclusive.* These shoes promise great energy return at a light weight - consider me intrigued.

New Balance told us the foam midsole in the Rebel and other Fuelcell series shoes:
"...exceed(s) any rebound in the history of New Balance foams. All of these foams have a minimum of 39% more rebound than Revlite, and nothing in this Fuelcell product line is Revlite....We are able to use multiple densities to still achieve these very high rebound scores, something we consider unique to this compound and part of the magic of Fuelcell....The Fuelcell Rebel offers this high rebound carrier along with a forefoot part of even slightly more rebound".

More on how different Fuelcell shoes compare below.

Second, the placement of the plate under the mid  foot seems to be in the perfect spot for the mid foot strikers such as me. I was interested to see how this shape and placement compares to the Vaporfly and Project X. More on this later.

Third, that weird lateral flange caught my eye. If we land on the outside of our foot and then roll in, doesn’t it make sense to have something extra over there? The final product is a racer you can train in more than a trainer you can race in, and I am going to go ahead and spoil this one for you: this shoe rocks.

Pros: Very well done upper. Lightweight. Midsole is promising. Flange seems to be at least somewhat effective.

Cons: Possibly too soft for some. Forefoot volume may be a tad shallow. Flange seems to be at least somewhat ugly.

Tester Profiles
Mac is a former collegiate defensive lineman who runs to fill the competitive void left after school and to stay in shape. He is in his late 30s, runs 50-80 mpw, and at 6’3”, has come down from his playing weight of 275 lbs to a steady 205 lbs for the last 10 years. Jeff’s PRs are 19:30, 1:33:xx, and 3:23:xx; he also teaches and coaches XC & T&F.
Peter lives in Austin, Texas and is a sub 3 hour in the marathon in recent years as well as a 1:25 half marathoner.
Derek is in his 30’s and trains 70-80 miles per week at 7 to 8 minute pace in mostly tropical conditions in Singapore. He has a 2:41 marathon PR.

Stats:
New Balance FuelCell Rebel
Estimated Weight: 6.9 oz / 196 g (size M 9)
Sample Weights:
7.2 oz / 204 g (size M 9.5)
9.5 oz / 349 g in my 14EE, about 0.5 oz lighter than my 14D Beacons)
Stack Height: 24mm (Heel), 18mm (Forefoot), 6mm drop
$130. Available Now at  Running Warehouse and other stores.
From New Balance:
Inspired by the shoe Jenny Simpson used to win the 2018 5th Ave Mile, the New Balance Fuelcell Rebel uses a similar flared midsole design along with a healthy portion of cushioning to create a lightweight running shoe that can handle longer races and faster-paced training.

To keep this shoe as lightweight possible, New Balance used a thin engineered mesh upper strengthened in the midfoot with Trace Fiber Stitching. Underfoot, the Rebel features a translucent outsole that's so durable designers were able to use less rubber and further reduce weight.

If you're a speed demon looking for a fast shoe to help you blow past your competition, you need a pair of New Balance Fuelcell Rebels on your feet.

First Impressions and Fit
Mac: This is a lightweight, good-looking shoe. I expected it to be light, but with what appears to be polymer midsole - such materials can be heavier than EVA - I was very pleasantly surprised to see that these are actually lighter than my beloved Beacons. Win. Also, I am digging the RW&B color scheme; very classy. It’s as if an old school racing flat got flung into the future and got a makeover while it was there: 21st century materials on a shoe that screams NB5000.
Mac: Unlike most racers, the Rebel is available in both D and EE, and I am happy to report that the EE is actually built on a (roughly ⅛”) wider last; it isn’t just a bigger upper lazily sewn onto a pre-existing last. I would urge you to consider the D a true-to-size “race fit” - comfortably snug - and the EE a true-to-size “trainer fit”. Since I will be doing more training than racing in these, I opted to keep the EEs and sent my Ds back.

Peter: First impressions aren’t everything! While I was super excited about the light, bouncy and stylish shoe in front of me, I had a terrible first run in them. They seemed a little too soft, but before I could really figure out if I liked them, the insole just came slipping down my foot. By mid-run there was just a bunched up bit of insole under my arch. Ugh. Shoe Goo to the rescue though; I glued the (very insubstantial and incredibly cheap feeling) insole down and gave the shoe another chance. I was also a little worried about the fit of the shoe as it took a couple of lacing tweaks to get it just right. I’m glad I gave the shoe another chance though, because it’s really grown on me.
Derek: I received the black version of this shoe. New Balance is really hitting it out of the park with their latest knit uppers, first with the 890v7 and now the Rebel. The designs are just very elegant and classy. My first impression on putting on the shoes are that the fit is quite generous in terms of width and length, even in the D width that I received. I normally wear US9.5 for most brands, and 9.5 fit me perfectly for recent NB models (890v7, 1080v9). With the Rebel, I get a little over a thumb’s spacing in front of my toes, which makes me think I could maybe get away with US9 for this model. That said, the toebox is somewhat shallow as others have commented so you still get a fairly snug forefoot feel. The extra length in front of my toes don’t bother me as I normally aim for a full thumb’s width in front of my toes. Like Peter, it took me a few tries to get the right lacing tension for this shoe. The slightly stretchy knit, with the slightly stretchy laces made me feel like I could never maintain tension in the laces. Ultimately I realized that because the opening of the ankle is fairly small in this shoe, you don’t actually need much tension to keep your foot locked down in it and got used to the feeling of not “feeling” any lace tension above my feet. In terms of underfoot feel, I was very impressed. NB has never been keen on going with softer midsoles and even the Beacon is on the firmer side of shoes of that stack height. Here I can really feel the softness and slight bounce just walking around. The degree of ground feel (or lack thereof) is very very good for a shoe of this weight.

Upper
I Mac: I am loving this upper. The stretchy mesh upper has a Jacquard mesh toe box and a bootie construction has what NB refers to as Trace Fiber Stitching at both the midfoot and towards the heel. It is designed to give just enough let the foot in easily, while still providing proper lockdown. I gotta say, New Balance absolutely nailed this. Just enough stretch to get your foot in and out, but plenty of security rounding corners. Also, the tongue is fully integrated into the upper, so there is no worry about it sliding or debris getting into your shoe. If there is a potential negative, it is that the toe box height may be a tad shallow. I haven’t noticed it during a run yet, but I have my eye on it.

Peter: This is the best bootie type upper I’ve ever worn. Once I got the lacing dialed in it has been a completely excellent fit--a total harmony between the upper and the rest of the shoe. I’d love to see a pull tab on the back to make getting in the shoe just a little bit easier, but it’s a terrific upper all around. Fits and holds my foot perfectly. The mesh on this shoe is a little confusing to me. I honestly thought it was a knit upper until I read Mac’s thoughts on it above. I think it’s the “trace fiber stitching” on the sides that gives it a bit of “knit” vibe. I think the shoe runs a little bit warm--which may have contributed to the insole slip. I’m running in Austin, TX in heat and humidity, so shoes get real wet, real fast. I’ll keep running in them through the summer, but they are not the MOST ventilated shoe I’ve run in. Is it wrong that the laces don’t bug me? They’re fine!
Mac: A quick word on the lacing.  The laces are really long. The lacing system is cool as you have the red strands to help secure the laces in addition to the normal eyelets. I am not sure if this is by design or not but am betting it was as this allows us to really customize how my shoe fits.  

I laced through the eyelets and the red reinforcements separately to get tons of lockdown across the mid foot, while opening up the lacing to give me more room around my toes.

My right foot has MY lacing, while my left foot has the “normal” lacing.

Derek: I agree with Mac and Peter that the upper is really really comfortable. It certainly fit my foot really with in terms of fit and volume. And yes, the laces are really, really long. Even with double knotting, I still get 2.5” of laces flapping around. Sadly there are no extra eyelets for a heel-lock type lacing pattern. I sometimes do that even though I don’t need it, just to use up more lace length. No chance of that here. My one gripe, and it is a very small one, is that when I did a track workout in the shoe, I noticed midway through that the shoe was getting warm. It wasn’t any part in particular but the whole shoe felt like it was retaining heat. It was a 88degF/80% humidity sort of night but the strange thing is I didn’t feel it on the warmup or the cooldown, only when I was running hard. I think it could be heat build up from the shearing forces somewhere, maybe between insole and footbed. Anyway it’s just something I noticed, that I did not notice in NB’s other knit shoe for the year - the 890v7, which by the way is very well ventilated.

Midsole

Mac: The midsole is, of course, where the NBFCR shines, and I would highlight three points: the foam composition, the lateral flange, and the small plate under the forefoot.
New Balance describes its characteristics and where it fits into the FuelCell line as follows:

"All of our Fuelcell compounds exceed any rebound in the history of New Balance foams.
All of these foams are a minimum of 39% more rebound than Revlite, and nothing in this Fuelcell product line is Revlite.
We are able to use multiple densities to still achieve these very high rebound scores, something we consider unique to this compound and part of the magic of Fuelcell.
The 5280 is the lightest density of Fuelcell and is paired with a carbon fiber plate.
The Fuelcell Rebel offers this high rebound carrier along with a forefoot part of even slightly more rebound.
The Fuelcell Propel, being the most democratic and “substantial” of the line, we preferred dialed a bit denser so all types and paces of runners can enjoy it’s benefits.
So, in order of appearance you’ve got all Fuelcell foams but with proprietary formulations that result in different densities.

It is important to reinforce, that the Fuelcell Rebel is the most neighboring product to the Fuelcell 5280…."
Peter: We’re so lucky to be running right now. The advances in midsole tech over the last few years have been nothing short of revelatory. I spent years looking for lighter shoes with some cushion and bounce and now it seems like we get a new midsole compound monthly--if not weekly. Fuel Cell is the latest contender in  the ‘revolutionary’ midsole sweepstakes. I try to stay clear of marketing and reviews before running in a shoe lest it mislead me or leave me disappointed. Things like “39% more rebound” only serve to confuse me when I ‘m out running. So, the midsole. It’s really nice: It’s got some bounce to it, it’s relatively soft in terms of ground contact and it morphs depending on what you’re doing at any given time. It’s a really smooth ride for long, easy miles and floats nicely when you pick up the pace.

Derek: I got the first version of the NB Fuelcell back in 2017 with its plasticky blue upper and green midsole. It was very firm. It’s hard to believe this is the same midsole compound. This foam is softer and bouncier. It’s not ZoomX soft, not even HyperBurst soft, but it’s getting there. There’s a lot of vibration dampening going on here. Even at slow easy paces, the shoe feels perfectly adequate and cushioned.

Mac: The lateral flange is interesting.
It seems to account for our natural running motion - landing slightly on the outside of the foot and rolling inwards - very well. The flange itself is pretty stiff, and there is definitely a sensation of it snapping back to normal when pushing off during the stride. Worst case, it probably won't hurt us, and it possibly even actually helps :-)

Peter:   The midsole, as “bouncy” as it is, is relatively unstable. I think the flange does a nice job of stabilizing the shoe. It’s hard to know what it would feel like without the flange--but with the flange, the shoe feels pretty stable. I think it helps--I also don’t mind how it looks. I have a feeling that it will help later in races when form starts to slip.
Derek: The lateral flange was something I wasn’t sure I would like. On the one hand it’s placed at exactly where I land when I’m going hard, on the other hand I’ve had aching pains from raised lateral sidewalls in some shoes e.g. Reebok Floatride Run Fast and Pegasus 35. After a couple of runs at a variety of paces, I can safely say that I don’t notice any discomfort at all. If anything the flange adds some amazing stability when taking the curves of the track hard. This is definitely one of those things you don’t realize you need until you start seeing what it can do.

Mac: Also notable is the small nitrogen infused TPU  plate (see outsole pic below) between the midsole and outsole. You don't feel the plate itself while running; what you do feel - as referenced above - is a sensation of the shoe snapping back to its normal shape when you push off.
How much of this is caused by the flange vs. the plate is hard to say, but the feeling inspires confidence. The plate is not like the full length carbon plates found in the Project X or the Vaporfly, nor is it meant to be. You don’t have the sensation of being thrown forward like in those two shoes, but the plate does add at least a little firmness and protection to an otherwise very soft ride.

Peter: Unlike the Hoka Carbon X where I can feel the plate and feel like I have to work to push through the gait cycle--the plate in the Fuel Cell Rebel is pretty much imperceptible. It works with the whole of the shoe to keep things moving but doesn’t announce itself. Again, I think this midsole would get really unstable without the flange and the plate. As it is it all works pretty well.

Derek: The plate is not something I noticed at all during my runs, which is to say it’s not very stiff at all. There’s good flexibility through the forefoot in this shoe, which is why I find it pretty decent as an easy run shoe, which is to say the plate probably isn’t doing anything for me.

Outsole
Mac: The outsole is great. It is somewhat translucent, reminiscent of Saucony’s Crystal Rubber in their Freedom series, and this compound seems equally awesome. Great traction, even as I tried to make my feet skid across some wet asphalt, and there is a great balance between functionality - see the near full coverage - with weight savings - see the lack of outsole under the arch, as well as the small holes among the lugs in the forefoot. I cannot speak to its durability yet, but the early signs are promising. Crazy that this shoe has so much more outsole than the Beacon, yet it weighs in at a few tenths lighter. EDIT: I will echo what Derek says below about running across wet metal: it gets slick. But wet concrete and asphalt is no problem.

Peter: Looks great, works great, runs great!

Derek: I’ll focus on the grip of the outsole since it’s way too early to talk about durability. It works very well on dry surfaces. Tarmac, concrete, Tartan track… On damp surfaces, it works well only the rough stuff. The crystal rubber doesn’t seem to grip metal surfaces as well as carbon rubber or exposed EVA (eg Beacon), so keep this in mind if you are running on urban streets a lot. I had a lot of slippage on damp drain covers on one run, more so than with other shoes.

Ride:
Mac: I can say with confidence that this new material is somewhere between the Beacon’s Fresh Foam and Skechers’ Hyper midsoles in terms of weight and energy return. Think “Adidas Boost”, but lighter. In fact, in a lot of ways, this shoe is what the Boston should be: great energy return, similar stacks (the Rebel has 2mm less in the heel and 2mm more in the forefoot), but at 1.5oz lighter. It definitely feels better at pace than it does going really easy, and there isn’t much under the heel - what is there is a lower density - so fast, midfoot runs will get you the most out of these.

Peter: The Fuel Cell Rebel is soft but not mushy. It’s got a plate, but it’s not overly stiff. It’s fast and can go long. Overall I really like the ride of this shoe. It’s a lot like the Pegasus Turbo, but slightly firmer. It’s a little softer than the NB Beacon. It may be most similar to the Razor 3--but I will address that in the comparisons.
Derek: The ride is very smooth and easygoing. It’s probably the best transitioning shoe I’ve tried in recent memory that doesn’t use a carbon plate. The foam and crystal rubber deform very well underfoot so it really takes the insulation out of the ground surface. In terms of overall feel, it reminds me most of the New Balance Beacon but with maybe a better toespring so you transition a little faster. It actually feels a bit softer and bouncier than the Beacon to me. This combination works very well and the shoe has felt comfortable over a very wide range of paces for me, anywhere from 8:00/mile all the way down to 5:20/mile pace. The stock insole is very minimal, so if you want a little extra padding for that faster long run or longer race, you have the option to swap in a more substantial insole, but as is, the underfoot feel is very cushioned for its weight.

Conclusions and Recommendations
Mac: The FC Rebel already ranks among my all-time favorites as a speed day shoe, even if it doesn’t quite have the midsole pop of the best super foams on the market. It is better than Boost and React, but not quite on par with Hyper and Floatride - even so, I actually expect this shoe to have a broader market appeal than any shoe without a swoosh. Anyone who finds the Adidas Boston a little too heavy for its intended purpose, or finds the Razor 3 or Floatride Fast a little too narrow, really needs to give these a try. With free two-day shipping and free returns using the link to Running Warehouse, there really isn’t anything to lose.  
Update: I raced 8k in these this weekend, and I gotta say that my initial love for these is well-founded. They disappear on your foot, corner well, offer protection and responsiveness... Again, maybe not QUITE the pop of Hyper or Floatride, but the fit and feel is better than either of them. Me likey.

Peter: I’ve put this shoe through easy runs, recovery runs, long runs and speed workouts and it excels everywhere. My only reservation is that it seems to get pretty hot, wet and sweaty. This led to a moving insole (glued down with shoe goo), and a little bit of instability late in a speed workout (to be fair the runner was unstable at that point--so the shoe may not be to blame). The bootie is incredibly comfortable. It’s a great shoe. If you don’t like a softer ride you may not be thrilled, but due to the plate, it does firm up nicely when you run harder in it.

Derek: The Rebel surprised me. It’s a lot more than just a speed shoe and could easily work for most as a do it all type of shoe. My only gripe is that the upper can feel a little warm. The fit is very generous and should fit quite a wide range of foot shapes given the malleability of the upper. Very narrow feet may struggle to get a good lockdown here though. The shoe has a firm bounce to it that works well in terms of vibration dampening without giving you that sinking feeling in the shoe. 2019 is an exciting time to be a runner, with a lot of great midsoles on the market at prices that won’t break the bank. There’s more in the shoe comparisons, but if you like the Reebok Floatride Energy, or the Skechers Razor 3, this shoe is a MUST TRY.

Scores:
Mac: It is still early, but this is among my favorite shoes I have run.  The only real deduction here is in FIT for the possibly-too-shallow toe box height. Everything else is nitpicking: RIDE is a 9 instead of a 10 because it is softer than I would like, and it doesn’t have the same forward-propelling sensation of the Project X or Vaporfly. VALUE: It is competitively priced - which unfortunately says more about today’s inflated shoe prices than it does about the value of these shoes. It is a few bucks more than the Boston, and a little less than the Razor 3 & Floatride Fast. (If it were priced like the Forever Energy, I would buy every single one in stock.) STYLE: some folks will hate the lateral flange, but other than that, these things look gooooood. EDIT: After a race and a few more runs, I changed my initial FIT from an 8 to a 9. These EE disappear on my slightly wide foot, and NB deserves credit for offering widths in their racers when no one else will.

Peter's Score: 9/10
A hair soft and the insoles are incredibly thin and cheap. The shoe also runs a bit warm. They are a joy to run in. the smile factor is high.

Derek's Score: 9.02
Ride 40% 8.8, Fit 40% 9, Value 10% 9. Style 10% 10
For comparison, I gave the Hoka Carbon X a 9.2 using the same weightage.
The ride is very, very good for a shoe without a carbon plate, but it’s going to be hard to score above a 9 without some sort of rocker function these days, especially for a shoe targeted at fast paces. Fit is good but the upper can be a bit warm.

Comparisons
Mac: *I would just like to note that most of the shoes I am comparing are among my all-time favorites. So, while that surely indicates some personal preference bias on a certain type of shoe I like, I really feel like I am splitting hairs among some great shoes here.


New Balance FuelCell Propel RTR Review
Editor’s Note: The Propel also has a  FuelCell midsole. It does not have the front propulsion plate and can be thought of as the daily trainer companion to Rebel. It weighs about 2 ounces more at 9 ounces but also has 3mm more FuelCell foam front and back. It has a bouncy soft ride, well tamed by a broad on the ground geometry and well decoupled and flexible full contact outsole.
Peter: The Rebel has the same foam but adds a plate. It’s an interesting shoe. It’s soft, so doesn’t feel amazing at high speed, but the plate leaves me feeling fatigued on longer runs. I did a track workout in them this week and they didn’t have the turnover I would have liked. I also feel like the lateral flange on the Rebel pushes my foot in medially so they feel a little unstable to me. The Propel on the other hand is a great daily trainer. I think I’d go with a Propel as a daily trainer and the NB 1400 as a speed shoe. 

New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon 1 (RTR Review)
Mac: Feel free to think of this as the New Balance Beacon, except lighter, springier, & softer with a better upper and more secure ride, with marginally less cushion and for $10 more. I actually switched back and forth between the Beacons and Rebels this morning: the Beacons definitely have a little more protection, while the Rebels have more pop and beg to go fast. Beacons for a marathon, Rebels for a 10-5k.
Derek: The Beacon isn’t a shoe that I regularly reach for. The ride is cushioned but a bit dead for me, and transitions feel a bit slow. The Rebel feels equally cushioned but with a slightly livelier bounce to it, plus the geometry of the outsole helps it to transition a lot faster than the Beacon. I’d pick the Rebel as it is an overall more versatile shoe.
Peter: I’m currently reviewing the Beacon 2, and the OG Beacon was one of my favorite shoes last year (or ever). Whie I still love the Beacon, I think I prefer the Fuel Cell Rebel. Yes, the Beacon has a little more protection, and a lighter more breathable upper--but the Rebel is plenty of protection and rides like a dream. Wearing them back to back helps tease out the differences. Most simply I’d say that the Beacon feels like a really great version of a (very light) more traditional running shoe, while the Rebel feels like a beautifully executed version of a new breed of shoe.

Skechers Performance  Razor 3 Hyper (RTR Review)
Mac: The Razor 3 is simply one of the best shoes available today; it is just a little lighter, more responsive, and more protective than the Rebel. The Rebel, however, has the better upper and outsole, and it is available in widths.
Derek: Until the Rebel came along the Razor 3 had been my go-to workout shoe for everything from 200s to 5k repeats. Now I’ll probably still choose the Razor for the longer repeats but the Rebel is my new favourite shoe for track work. (Aside: my all time favourite speed shoe is the Reebok Fast Pro, but I save that for the special workouts or short races.)
Peter: The Razor 3 and the Rebel feel very, very similar underfoot. The upper on the Rebel is a bit more sophisticated and holds the foot a bit better (nothing against the Razor). Wearing a Rebel on one foot and a Razor on the other it seems that the Razor is a hair more flexible underfoot. To me the Razor wants to go a little faster than the Rebel, but I think the Rebel is a bit more shoe and more likely to feel good at 20 miles. If I were going to race in one tomorrow, it would be the Razor, if I were going for a longer run it would be the Rebel.

Skechers  Performance GOrun 7 Hyper (RTR Review)
Mac: The GR7H has the unfortunate pairing of a fantastic everyday midsole with a horrible upper; still, it is one of my favorite everyday trainers. GR7H for base miles; FCR for Tempos and Races.
Derek: I actually don’t find the GR7H to be all that cushioned. It feels like a lot less shoe than the Razor 3, and is consequently leaves me a bit sore for longer runs. I would rather use the Razor for easy runs if I have to, vs the GR7H. Compared to the Rebel, the GR7H has a lot more ground feel and less cushioning. No question for me the Rebel is the better overall shoe.
Peter: Rebel, hands down.

Reebok Floatride Fast (RTR Review)
Mac: I will pretty much echo everything I said about the Razor 3 here. Floatride (and Hyper) are 2 of the 3 best midsole materials in the industry - I see you, Zoom X - and as impressed as I am with FuelCell, it isn’t quite in the same category as Floatride PEBA foam. Still, choose the FC Rebel if you need a larger fit or a softer ride than what the Fast offers.
Derek: Floatride is a fantastic foam, but its bounce is somewhat lost in the Run Fast for me. The Run Fast to me is the best rubber outsole on the market, and if I want to race long on wet roads, that would be the shoe for me, but in terms of ride, it is not quite so special compared to Rebel, Razor 3 etc.
Peter: A lot more cushion in the Rebel. I started to find the Floatride Fast to be a little too firm over longer miles. It does feel good going fast, but the Rebel would be my pick.

Reebok Floatride Forever Energy (RTR Review)
Derek: The Energy is significantly heavier but the underfoot bounce and ground feel is similar. You will notice the weight difference between the 2 shoes immediately as the Floatride foam is noticeably dense (i.e. heavier) underfoot when you try to pick up the pace. By contrast the Rebel offers a similar ride in a lighter package that handles speed amazingly well. The Energy is $30 less at retail and a lot cheaper when Reebok throws out discounts, so the cost-benefit is not quite so clear cut between the 2 shoes. If you don’t already have a speed shoe and are considering the Energy as a daily trainer, I’d take a hard look at the Rebel as it can easily do double duty.

adidas Boston 7 (RTR Review)
Mac: Again, the FuelCell Rebel is everything the Boston should be: both have great energy return and outsoles, but the Rebel comes in at over 1.5oz lighter. Heel strikers and narrow feet may prefer the Boston, but this is Rebel for me, hands down.
Peter: Boston is firmer and more ‘traditional’. If you prefer a softer shoe go Rebel--Firmer go for the Boston.

New Balance 890v7 (RTR Review)
Derek: I really like the 890v7. Sure it’s not the cushioned tempo trainer it used to be but it’s a great all around speed shoe for me. Good ventilation, flexibility, and just enough cushion for the short stuff. That’s not even counting its killer looks yet. The Rebel is a different beast, but could maybe be seen as a good complement to the 890v7. The Rebel is significantly more cushioned with less ground feel than most daily trainers, but with equally good looks. I would say 890v7 for fast track work, maybe 300m or shorter, and the Rebel for 400s on up. The cushioning of the Rebel really comes through after the 10th rep onwards.

NB Fuel Cell Rebel vs. Nike Pegasus Turbo (RTR Review)
Peter: I’ve been running a lot in the Peg Turbo lately--the softness has felt great on easy runs. As much as I like it -- the Peg pales in comparison to the NB Fuel Cell Rebel. The FuelCelll may be a hair firmer than the Turbo. What really stands out in a side to side comparison is that the Pegasus feels downright clumsy compared to the Fuel Cell Rebel. The upper of the Peg, which I’ve really liked, feels like a big awkward clown shoe when directly compared the the super smooth bootie of the Rebel.


NB Fuel Cell Rebel vs. Hoka Rincon (RTR Review)
Peter: Much like the Pegasus Turbo, the Hoka Rincon feels great to me until I compare it directly to the NB Fuel Cell Rebel. All three of these are nice, bouncy, fairly soft shoes--the NB Fuel Cell Rebel, however feels more like an extension of my foot. The Hoka Rincon may be a better choice on a very hot, humid day as the upper is more breathable.


Read reviewers' full run bios here.

One pair of the product reviewed was a personal purchase, the others were provided at no charge. The opinions herein are the authors'.
Comments and Questions Welcome Below!

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33 comments:

Kuz said...

Great review mac, can't wait for this summer New Balance line up. i missed up on last year beacon but hoping to get the second version.

Mac said...

The Beacons are on closeout at RW as we speak! Get a couple pairs when you get your Rebels!! :-)

...and thank you for the kind words :-)

vaad said...

The low vamp on the toebox may be a deal breaker...this seems to be the trend at least with all these knit uppers. This leaves me with my Brooks Launch/Asteria. I may try Hokas being a new wider last they've always had a higher volume toebox for the ultra runners.

Mac said...

If you truly need a high volume upper, check the Hoka Carbon X, or even the Beacon 1.

The good news is that now that I have several runs - plus a race - on these shoes, I have noticed the toebox exactly zero times. If that is the only question mark for you, I would encourage you to give these a try. Free shipping and free returns from RW using the links on this site; not much to lose :-)

Nick said...

Think these could handle a 10-mile or even a half marathon?

Mac said...

For the right runner, Nick, these could absolutely handle a Half - or even a Full. So much depends on the runner, obviously: some folks run 100 mile races barefoot, and many pros run marathons in Zoom Streaks or Adidas Adios. These certainly have more protection - and spring - than any of those three options :-)

For me personally, I could imagine doing a Half in these, with no issues, yes.

Nick said...

Awesome thanks!

EricJD said...

Any comparison of this to the New Balance FuelCell Impulse? Is this a newer non-RevLite version of that?

Mac said...

I have not run in the impulse, but I can confrim, per New Balance, that there is no RevLite in this midsole compound. In addition, these are a full ounce lighter, even though there is 1mm more cushion throughout.

Pretty impressive :-)

Awan Diga Aristo said...

was going to buy the fuelcell impulse on discount. but after reading this review, I think I'll wait for the rebels instead.

Mac said...

Awan, no need to wait... they are available exclusively at Running Warehouse NOW - before the general release on June 5th! :-)

Ron said...

My top two running shoes are the Nike Flyknit Lunar 3 and the NB Beacon. This shoe looks and sounds like it could hit a nice balance between right between those two. And it comes in 2E! I'm already way too hyped. :) New Balance please make a black and white colorway!

Luke said...

This is one of the shoes that I am considering for my fall marathon, waiting to see what the Skechers Speed Elite looks like, and what its availability will be.

Will Bates said...

Interested to know how this compares to the 1400 as it seems like the Rebel might make the old school 1400 obsolete. New Balance also didn't update the 1400 for this year which is interesting.

Will Bates said...
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Will Bates said...
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Matt S. said...

Mac,
Tell RW you need to get a higher commission! Based on your review, pulled the trigger on a pair after reading your review.

And just a couple general comments for the whole team at RTR:

1. Been visiting your site for a while (2 years?), and overall I think you guys and gals do a great job.
2. Very happy to see Mac on the RTR team. Here is why: I also wear a size 14 and am much larger than the normal 130-pound runner. 6’6” tall and 235, played Div 1 Basketball in college, but built like a football player...

Needless to say, seeing a review from a human with similar build to me is very important. While I don’t ignore the feedback from 130 pound experienced runners, but us big guys (especially guys that still like to push the pace) just put a hell of a lot more force/wear/beating on a pair of shoes than anyone that weighs 50 to 100 pounds less...

Keep up the good work RTR.

Matt S
Mooresville NC

Anonymous said...

How do these compare to the 890v7?

Sam Winebaum said...

Derek Li who is also testing for our multi tester review says:
Only one easy run and one track speed session so far, but it’s pretty clear than the Rebel is a lot more cushioned than the 890v7, almost at the level of Beacon in terms of ground feel. And yet it handles speed very well. Especially cornering. My feet feel less beat up in the Rebel vs 890v7 as the workout progresses. The only downside with the Rebel is it feels warm. There is heat build-up maybe because the upper is denser knit, plus the thicker foam traps heat easier. By contrast the 890 breathes a lot better in warm and humid conditions.

JimO said...

Razor 3 or FuelCell for 5k-10k racing? Around 6:30 paces...

Thanks!

Unknown said...

How do they compare to the Kinvaras

Nick W said...

Hi Guys,

Thanks for the great review here! One comparison I was hoping you might have an opinion on was the FC Rebel vs the Nike Elite 9/10 please? I still go back to this shoe a lot, and prefer it to the Beacon for example, however the Rebel seems like it might be a decent upgrade on the Nike ZE for someone who forefoot strikes? Thoughts appreciated!

Thanks, Nick W

Peter S. said...

Nick,
Great question I love the Elite 9''s too. For me the Rebel doesn't turn over as fast. I like them a lot, they feel amazing on the foot, but I don't know that they'd be a track or a 5k shoe for me (which the Zoom Elite would be). I'd get a pair of NB 1400's as an Elite replacement.

Sam Winebaum said...

Comments in reply from Mac Jeffries:
Nick,
I will take a stab at this: I haven’t run in the ZE, but I have put plenty of miles on the Streak 6 & 7. The only thing I would prefer the NZS6/7 for would be the hardest track repeats that you would do, as they are considerably firmer and more stable going around the curve at top speed. The Rebel is much more versatile; they can handle anything from 3-5k paced intervals to MP (and some would include Easy runs).
I hope that helps, sorry I cannot comment specifically on the ZE.

Jim,
if you are choosing between the Razor 3 and Rebel, things are going pretty well for you ;-) Let foot shape be your guide: if narrow, then R3, if medium or wide, take the Rebel D or EE. If foot shape isn’t an issue, and I had to make a decision at gunpoint, I think the R3 will give you a touch better performance.

Anon,
Softer and more spring than Kinvaras. Upper is better in the Rebel, as well.

All the best,
-Mac

Nick W said...

Thanks Peter and Mac for the quick feedback here, much appreciated. I'll consider the Rebel for the 10k or half but not as a replacement for track work - better shoes around for that from what you've suggested here. The Rebel sure looks good though! All the best.

Luke said...

Same question as Jim, but 10 mile and up? I have the Razor 3s, use the Speed 5 as my 5k/10k shoe.

Aaron said...

I'm 6'3", 205lbs, size 14. Mac is my #1 go-to source for running shoe reviews!

Wes Arnold said...

Great review. Has anyone in your team run this and the Escalante Racer? How do they compare? I’m going to order one of these for my 10k and track workout shoe.

Roy Hampton said...

Many thanks for the in-depth review. Are you aware if NB will be releasing any of their trail shoes with FuelCell foam? The Gobi II works really well for me as a road to trail show in South Florida, I'd be very interested in trying a FuelCell version of the Gobi or Hierro

Mark said...

How would this compare with the Nike Pegasus Turbo 2? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

How do they compare to Zante Pursuit in cushion / responsiveness?

Hisham said...

Ran a 30km race today and had exactly the same experience as Peter, the insole rolled up underfoot at km 11. Granted it was raining during the race as was custom weather here in Malaysia. I got fed up at km 18 and removed the insoles. The ride became harsh till finish line. Shoes are meant to disappear whilst running but the insole issue truly spoilt my race today. I like the foam material n upper. Great for mid and forefoot striker. Less than ideal for heel striker when we get tired.

Shaun Kell said...

Hi Sam and Co:
I'm a fairly new serious runner (3 years ago I was a 15 mile a week guy. Now about 30) who loves a trail 50k. I have the Rebel and looove it for weekday workouts but I'm looking for a long run shoe. When I go longer than about 90 min in these, I get pain in my lateral metatarsal/phalange joints. I think its a foot shape issue as my forefeet tend to splay laterally because I overpronate (stability shoes have never worked for me either). I had good luck with the early Brooks Pureflow, but haven't been inspired by the last pair I had (PF6). I tried the Altra Torins and the Brooks Caldera--which didn't cause the met pain, but caused my soleus to catch on fire, although the Calderas were better on the trail and tied tight with a runners loop. No idea why this is, but I notice it on my newish (100 miles) Salomon Sense Rides too. Anyway something about the Rebel makes my soleus happy, but the last is too curved. Any guidance here?