Thursday, July 18, 2019

New Balance FuelCell Propel Multi Tester Review: A "Cool" Shoe. A Superb Upper Tops a Soft and Smooth Ride

Article by Jacob Brady, Peter Stuart, Michael Ellenberger, and Hope Wilkes

Editor's Note:
We welcome Jacob Brady to the RoadTrailRun review team. He began running casually in college and after a season of triathlon training transitioned to a distance running focus. He started his run streak (at least 2mi, every day) in April 2018 and averages around 50 miles per week. Jacob runs a mix of roads and trails; most recently, he qualified for the 2020 Boston Marathon (2:54), completed his first trail ultra (50km), and has been getting into the trail racing scene. Jacob often places in the top 10 finishers in local races around the Portland, Maine area. In addition to running, he surfs, bikes (both mountain and road), and nordic skis. You can check out Jacob’s recent activities on Strava here.

New Balance FuelCell Propel ($110)
Introduction
The New Balance FuelCell Propel checks in at about 9 oz / 255 g with a 6mm drop. It releases August 1, 2019 and is also available in wide. It features an exciting new midsole foam called FuelCell. FuelCell is said by New Balance to have a minimum of 39% more rebound than its Revlite foam found in its performance shoes such as the 1400 and we can say it sure does! It is the training companion to the FuelCell Rebel (RTR Review)
Soft and very bouncy, FuelCell is contained by a broad midsole geometry and a full contact outsole. The Propel is an exciting new option in the lighter daily trainer category going head to head with Nike offerings with React and Zoom X foam, Skechers Hyper Burst, Reebok's Forever Energy, and for sure New Balance's own Fresh Foam.
Jacob: I was very excited to experience the next new super foam; to some level the first from New Balance, no less. The FuelCell Propel is the daily trainer model in the recently released series of shoes from New Balance making use of their FuelCell midsole. The line also includes the up tempo FuelCell Rebel (RTR Review) and the road mile short racer FuelCell 5280. The shoe promises a wide slab of bouncy goodness and boasts modern styling with a no real overlays, no big New Balance ‘N’, and a tall, swooped heel collar; an exciting start.


Peter: After experiencing the FuelCell foam in the NB FuelCell Rebel, I was excited to see how it would translate to a more typical daily trainer.

Hope: In the “Foam Wars” where some brands push us into higher priced models lest we miss out entirely on their best midsole tech, New Balance has three great options with Fresh Foam, Rev-Lite, and now FuelCell and multiple shoes that feature each. Having read some rave reviews for the FuelCell Rebel, my FOMO was in full effect when I was happily surprised with the chance to run in the FuelCell Propel, NB’s daily trainer vehicle for their new super foam.


Pros
Jacob:    Comfortable, well-fitting upper
     Flexible, soft, and bouncy midsole
Michael: Terrific upper and midsole combination; 
     Dynamic enough for nearly any pace; 
     Shoe could almost be run sockless
Peter:     Great upper, easy to dial in.
    Great new midsole material
    Really good outsole, great grip.
Hope: 
Roomy toe box and secure midfoot and heel lockdown — always a  winning combination, 
   Comfortable and runs smooth


Cons
Jacob: 
Slightly short; the fit for me was great overall but I could see those on the line between sizes having to size up just for length and then having the shoe feel too large overall.
The midsole is on the extreme end of softness, likely too much for some
Michael: Slightly too mushy
Peter: none
Hope: too soft for my liking, accelerated outsole wear, kind of ugly (sorry!)
Watch Sam's Initial FuelCell Propel Video Review


Tester Profiles
Michael is his 20’s and is a 1:07 half marathoner. He runs 50-60 miles per week, generally in lightweight trainers or racing flats at around 6:00-6:30 minutes/mile. 
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. 
Jacob runs a mix of roads and trails in the Portland, Maine area. He runs every day and averages 50 miles per week. Jacob recently ran a 2:54 marathon and completed his first ultra, a 50km trail race.
Hope: Hope is in her 20’s and after several ultras is now more on the road. She has a marathon PR of 3:47. She trains about 50 miles per week with many of her runs in the (broad) 8:00-10:00/mile range. She is happy to hit 7:30 miles on tempo days.


Stats
Estimated Weight:: men's 9 oz / 255 g (US9)  / women's / (US8)
Samples: men’s 12 10.7oz / 305g, women's 9.5: 8.57 oz / 243 g
Stack Height: 27mm heel, 21 mm forefoot, 6mm drop

Available now including at Running Warehouse HERE. $ 110.00


First Impressions and Fit
Jacob: As soon as I unboxed my pair, I was struck by how large the shoe looked; a roomy-looking toebox and a really wide midsole footprint, especially around the heel. The high swooping heel collar and gray/black coloring contrasted by the bright red and yellow outsole lends a dramatic look. The fit is ‘cush’ overall with a medium amount of tongue and heel padding and soft materials. The length is almost short but the shoe is comfortably sized; the right amount of snug while remaining roomy. The midsole is very soft and flexible which contributes in giving the Propel an almost slipper-like feel. There is a lot of give to the midsole even just standing in the shoes.

Michael: This was a shoe I was really excited about - New Balance has been doing some great things lately (the FuelCell Rebel got terrific reviews, and the Beacon line has long been on my radar) and out-of-the-box I was impressed with the fit and finish of the Propel. The upper is a step above previous NB offerings, with a really impressively constructed heel collar that just begs to be run in.


Peter: I didn’t know these were coming and I was happily surprised to see them at my door. I reviewed the NB Fuel Cell Rebel, and while I really liked the midsole material, they seem to encourage a bit of supination for me--and frankly they are too soft to go super fast (I’ll keep my 1400’s for that!). Fit is right on for me in my normal size. Plush step in, excellent sizing in length and easy foot lockdown. One of those great shoes I don’t have to sit around and mess with lacing on--just put them on and go run. 

Hope: For a second I thought these were the Rebel when I opened them up — the midfoot stitching makes it clear that the Propel is part of that same FuelCell family. Fit is bang on for me in a US W9.5. Too much step-in comfort makes a bit wary of things to come, and that’s what I had here. The FuelCell Propel feels very soft underfoot, softness that turns out to not be an illusion. More on that later. Looks-wise, I have to agree with Michael that the shoe appears to be very well made. I’m not sure it’s on the level of On or Salomon, but a definite step up for New Balance. The stitching details are impeccable. That said, the design is kind of an eyesore. I’d like to see NB ditch the light to dark fade (or make it light to dark) in favor of a single color upper that gets a pop of color from the toe cap, lace loops, NB logo, and/or stitching details. Again I’ll agree with Michael in my praise for the gentle Achilles swoop in the heel. This is a great, functional take on the trend of flared out heel collars.


Upper


Jacob: The upper is sleek and minimal with only a single overlay around the toe area. The soft mesh has a great level of give and is comfortable and never intrusive without compromising lock-in. The tongue and heel padding is light and well-distributed. The bottom half of the tongue is sewn on and a red cord is used instead of a traditional eyelet; really cool. The upper allows the shoe to largely disappear on my feet; I’ve had no issues with lock in at a range of lace tightness. It is critical to the shoe’s overall comfort. The only part of the shoe I felt was notable while running was the high heel on my achilles, though this was minor and sort of off and on; I’d prefer is lower, but maybe it contributes to the easy lock in. It’s not a breaking point either way and the Propel upper is very solid overall.


Michael: But-for the midsole on the Propel, the upper would be gaining headlines for New Balance: it’s well-built, with support in the right places (including sewn-on elements on the exterior to maintain upper integrity) and an interior that honestly feels as if it could be worn sockless, it’s so seamless. 
I just love the tapered heel collar (a tweak undoubtedly mimicked from the recent-model Nikes) and the accent colors laced (no pun intended) throughout the upper. 
Though the upper is primarily grey, it is speckled with lime green, bright blue, and sharp red - a gorgeous look to match an extremely well-honed upper.

Peter: An object lesson in simple, effective uppers. As stated above, it just works. I like the sweatshirt type material around the heel collar. It’s soft and doesn’t seem to retain much water. The engineered mesh is plenty breathable and the little overlay at the toe bumper is good looking and unobtrusive. So many shoes I review seem to take a bunch of tweaking on first few runs to get the fit dialed in. Not the NB Fuel Cell Propel. I put it on, laced it up and never thought about it again. 

The tongue is a good thickness and is held in place to the shoe. While the shoe looks like it might be overly wide, it doesn’t seem to take much cinching down. I haven’t had any issues with the flared heel. 
Hope: My experience was basically the same as the guys’: this upper delivers no fuss lacing and lockdown. For that, I can live with its looks. I’d like to praise New Balance for the thoughtful tongue design. So many brands give us either skate shoe puffiness or a tongue so thin you’d swear it only has one side. In the FuelCell Propel, New Balance has joined the soft, smooth heel lining with mesh to create a Goldilocks tongue — the thickness is just right to prevent lace pressure. 

I also want to point out that while this looks like a traditional construction shoe at first glance, it’s bootie construction all the way. What this means: The tongue is free only where it extends past the second-to-last lace loop. Otherwise it’s stitched into the upper. I think this take on the one-piece upper (making it out of two elements, but joining them into one) is both innovative and meaningful in terms of providing good fit and comfort.


Midsole

Editor's Note: Below how New Balance describes the new FuelCell midsole foam in the Propel:

"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…."

Jacob: Even from just picking up the shoe and pressing into midsole with my fingers, I could tell how extremely squishy it was. The step-in feel didn’t disappoint. A crazy soft, sinky feeling foam, but not bottomless cushion. The rebound was notable as well, similarly to Nike’s Zoom X midsole. The soft and flexible feel also reminiscent of Nike React (particularly in the Epic React), but the FuelCell midsole is much softer. For some it will be too soft, but it’s a really exciting, bouncy, modern-feeling foam.
Michael: Ah, the midsole - the meat of the shoe. Jacob is right - the FuelCell technology onboard here is soft, and it’s really my biggest hesitation to recommend this as an all-around go-to shoe. There’s undoubtedly some bounceback - the midsole is responsive enough for a lot of different types of runs - but it can feel soggy when really trying to turn over on those faster runs. I conducted a fartlek run in these devicating between 5:15 and 8:15 pace, and came away impressed - but I have to say, the shoe doesn’t quite pop the way the Zoom Fly Flyknit or Skechers GoRun 7 Hyper do. Onboard the Propel, FuelCell is great - but it’s not quite industry leading. 

Peter: It’s not too soft for me. I think the firmer rubber on the outsole helps keep the NB FC Propel just firm enough. I’ve run in plenty of shoes lately that feel mushy and take more effort to push through the gait cycle than I’d like--The NB Propel isn’t one of them. I prefer it to Nike Epic React for sure, and it’s a bit firmer than various Hoka’s. I haven’t done any real tempo work in these--I’ve been doing long runs and recovery runs in them for the most part. The feel, for me, is nearly perfect. It’s forgiving, has some bounce, but I still feel the road. 


Hope: I’m with Jacob and Michael here. The FuelCell midsole is mega soft. Far too soft for my liking. It reminds me of React, but with the softness dialed up several notches. It doesn’t feel bad, but it doesn’t feel fast either. The longest run I did in the FuelCell Propel was 9 miles. While I admit it kept my feet comfortable and my legs fairly fresh, I felt like turnover was inordinately slow since the shoe had so much mush to it.


Outsole
Jacob: The Propel has a full-contact rubber outsole. Unlike many New Balance shoes which have a single-piece, full-cover outsole, the Propel outsole is composed of five separate pieces. This gives the midsole more ability to flex, which I felt worked great. The rubber compound is very sticky which was immediately noticeable when trying on the shoes inside. Traction was definitely above average on road, dirt, and even light trail. I took the Propel for a run in the pouring rain and had no issues at all; great stuff. I love the bright colors as well as they contrast the black/white of the upper well.


Michael: It feels silly to say (and it may be the first time I’ve ever said), but I love the aesthetics of this outsole. But it isn’t just good lookin’ - it’s fully functional, too. Like Jacob, I thought the shoe was almost too sticky when wearing around my apartment, but they felt exceptional on the roads. The shoe is flexible and dynamic without sacrificing protection. 
Peter: A big improvement on the grip of shoes like the Beacon and other shoes with tons of exposed eva in the outsole. The NB Fuel Cell Propel grips all surfaces really well and should last a good, long time. The outsole has some similarities to the NB 1400, which is a great thing. The fact that the rubber is in 5 different sections goes a long way to keeping the ride from feeling clunky. 
Hope: Like the guys, I love the grippiness of this outsole. It’s outstanding. I’ve long been a big fan of how New Balance does full-coverage outsole. They make rubber a cushioning element too. Same thing with the FuelCell Propel’s nearly-full-coverage outsole: the soft underfoot rubber is augmenting the softness of the FuelCell midsole. This makes the shoe way too soft for me. Your mileage may vary, so if you love soft shoes, this should be music to your ears. One more thing:  after no more than 30 miles on the shoe, I noticed accelerated wear in the heel rubber, so that may be something to watch out for. The outsole is serious soft!

Ride
Jacob: My first run in the Propel included a variety of pace blocks in an attempt to find where the shoe feels best. I found the Propel overall very comfortable and foot-conforming without being at all tight, adequately lightweight, but a bit difficult to run in. I think the combination of super-soft foam and minimal structure made it hard to lock into my form; kind of like it exaggerated all small variations in foot strike. In the past I’ve found that soft midsoles (Hoka Clifton 3, Skechers GoRun 5, Altra Escalante) felt better at faster paces and a bit of a chore for an easy day, but the Propel didn’t excel or even change much in feel regardless of my pace. However, after a few more runs in them, including a 15 miler, I’m overall a fan. When my legs are tired, the Propel feels slow and inconsistent and requires more effort than ideal to keep turning over. However they’re fun to run in, not too soft as I was afraid of after my first run, and always a pleasure to have on the feet. I don’t find them to be at all a ‘go fast’ shoe, but they feel great on downhills and for a steady-state run they’re just as capable as any trainer; I’m glad to have them in my rotation.

Michael: I love the Propel; there are only so many ways to say it. But it’s not quite perfect, and ultimately the ride is where it (slightly) lets me down. Whereas another next-generation daily trainer, the Skechers GoRun 7 Hyper, was soft enough for the easiest runs and yet springy enough for closing a tempo, I think the Propel is just a little too soft. Maybe the Rebel effectively fills the gap here - I didn’t get to try it out - but for someone looking for a true race-to-recover trainer, I don’t think the Propel can do it. 


Peter: I love this shoe for easy days, recovery runs and long runs. I haven’t tried to do much fartlek or tempo in it--and I’m not worried about it. While they can speed up just fine, they feel to me like the epitome of a daily trainer. They feel great going super slow and they feel just as good going to a moderate tempo. I feel like I can run super long in them without ever feeling any foot fatigue (well, not ever...but a long time). The ride is stable, a little bouncy and smoooooooooooth. 


Hope: I think my experience is closest to Jacob’s. Turnover is a bit ponderous. The shoe handles downhills more than capably, but otherwise stubbornly refuses to go fast for me. But! The ride is soooo smooooth. This is why I’m such a big fan of New Balance’s outsole and midsole combos (usually both single slab, here single slab midsole with multiple outsole elements). I anticipate keeping the FuelCell Propel in my rotation for recovery efforts since the buttery smoothness is just too nice to pass up.


Conclusions and Recommendations

Jacob: The New Balance Propel is a fairly unique daily trainer. It’s well-designed, comfortable to wear, and boasts an exceptionally squishy midsole which is definitely fun but makes it somewhat difficult to run in. I appreciate having the Propel in my rotation for variety and enjoy running in it, but I would not like to wear it everyday and thus would hesitate to recommend it for those looking for one do-it-all shoe. However, I think that most people would enjoy running in the Propel and do appreciate the fit, design, and innovation. Also, a slab of high-rebound superfoam for $110 USD is pretty great. Overall, it’s a cool shoe.

Overall Score
RIDE Feel, Energy Return, Cushion, Weight, Fun Factor
FIT Lockdown, Comfort, Sizing
VALUE Measure of Cost, Performance, and Expected Durability
STYLE Looks

50%
30%
15%
5%
8.7
8
9
10
9


Michael: Jacob’s “cool shoe” review is right. The New Balance FuelCell Propel is cool - it’s sharp looking, it’s packed with new tech, and it’s just darn fun to run in. I decided to borrow Jacob’s grading rubric, as well (not just phrasing) to generate an output, but the number need not tell the whole story: the Propel is an enjoyable, if slightly mushy, daily trainer that should check a lot of boxes for a lot of runners, and I look forward to seeing a lot of these out on the roads!
Overall Score
RIDE Feel, Energy Return, Cushion, Weight, Fun Factor
FIT Lockdown, Comfort, Sizing
VALUE Measure of Cost, Performance, and Expected Durability
STYLE Looks

50%
30%
15%
5%
8.85
8
10
9
10

Peter: The NB Fuel Cell Rebel may well be my favorite daily trainer of the year. It’s fun to run in, it’s soft but not overly mushy, it’s great for most types of runs and I think it will be a terrific shoe for all types of runners. 

Overall Score
RIDE Feel, Energy Return, Cushion, Weight, Fun Factor
FIT Lockdown, Comfort, Sizing
VALUE Measure of Cost, Performance, and Expected Durability
STYLE Looks

50%
30%
15%
5%
9.70
9.5
10
10
9.5


Hope: For me, the FuelCell Propel didn’t deliver on its promise of a bouncy, energy return-fueled ride, but it did deliver outstanding comfort and a smooth ride powered by the soft foam. It’s not a home run for me, but it’s a high-quality, smooth-running recovery day shoe. Fans of super soft shoes or more efficient runners might find it more versatile.
Overall Score
RIDE Feel, Energy Return, Cushion, Weight, Fun Factor
FIT Lockdown, Comfort, Sizing
VALUE Measure of Cost, Performance, and Expected Durability
STYLE Looks

50%
30%
15%
5%
8.55
8
10
8
7


Comparisons

New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon (RTR Review)
Jacob: The Propel midsole is significantly softer, more flexible, bouncier, and less stable. Neither shoe is very structured--both a single slabs of foam and a simple upper. The Beacon midsole is much more dialed; firm but bottomless cushion which works for runs of any pace. Just standing around the Beacon feels almost hard but it has a smooth and somewhat propulsive give to it at speed while the Propel feels like it almost bottoms out just standing in them. The Propel outsole is better than the Beacon, but that’s about it. I’d definitely pick the Beacon.
Peter: I love the Beacon, and I’ve been reaching for it less and less since I got the Propel. We’ll see if this holds over time, but I’m pretty sure I prefer the Propel--especially over long distances. 
Hope: Beacon 1 & 2 feel a lot snappier despite being (plausibly) as cushioned. I think the FuelCell Propel’s upper is superior, but I vastly prefer the speedy ride of both the Beacon 1 & 2. Beacon 1 fits me true to size in a US M8. Beacon 2 fits me true to size in a US W9.5.


New Balance FuelCell Rebel (RTR Review)
Peter: The Rebel has the same foam but 3mm less of it front and back 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. 

Hoka One One Rincon (RTR Review)
Sam: The Rincon is almost 2 oz / 57 grams lighter and has a narrower lower volume upper but one that is so thin (yet supportive) that broader feet should still consider. The Propel ride has noticeably more rebound and bounce. The Rincon, at least when "fresher and newer" does feel somewhat more cushioned and unusual for a Hoka has some easier flexibility. The FuelCell foam is much more fun to run, the Rincon's midsole being more conventional in feel, if overall the shoe is considerably lighter feeling than Propel. A nice combination might be Propel for moderate pace training and Rincon for long racing and tempo work.


Nike Zoom Pegasus 35 and 36 (RTR Review)
Michael: I was quite impressed with the Pegasus 36 - as I noted in my review, it isn’t a “next-generation” or tech-laden daily trainer, but instead a relic of the old guard. And that’s not a bad thing - the ride of the Peg’ is smooth at nearly any pace you throw at it - but I do think it ultimately lags just a little behind the Propel. Those who like the classic firm and stiff ride of the Pegasus line will be thrilled with the 36 - but those seeking something with a little more ‘bounce’ should check out the New Balance. 
Peter: The peg is a firmer, more traditional feeling shoe. I like the Peg 36 a lot, but I’m going to reach for the NB Propel 9/10 mornings given the choice. 


Nike Epic React 2 (RTR Review)
Jacob: The Epic React 2 (ER2) is one of the daily trainers in my current rotation and I’m a big fan. Like the Propel it has a modern design with a flexible slab of high rebound foam and unstructured upper. They’re relatively similar shoes overall. The ER2 midsole is significantly firmer but still soft enough to be comfortable. The ER2 upper is hard to dial in, and doesn’t match the comfort of the Propel upper. However, the ER2 is more versatile and consistent/easy to turn over at any pace; the definite winner for me.
Peter: I wanted to like the Epic React more than I liked it (I never tried the 2). For me the React stalled out on the forefoot--the Propel rolls right through and feels more natural overall. 
Hope: I think the FuelCell Propel would run a lot like the ER2 if it swapped out the soft rubber outsole for the crystal rubber New Balance used on the Zante Pursuit. The ER2 has a lot more pop, so it’s my pick, but I’ll note that the FuelCell Propel’s upper will probably make more people happy. ER2 fit me true to size in a US W9.5. 


Adidas Boston 7 and 8 (RTR Review)
Jacob: The Boston (7) is much firmer, more stable, and has much more ground feel. There is a lot more structure going on with the Boston from the torsion plate, dual-density midsoles, and even upper overlays which provides a more locked-in, consistent ride. The shoes feel very different overall. Flexible, soft, unstructured vs firm and consistent. I felt like the Boston was easy to keep turning over the legs at any pace while the Propel requires more work. I have raced both half and full marathons in the Boston and would definitely not choose the Propel in that scenario, though in some ways it’s a more fun shoe to run in, and definitely more comfortable. Boston for a more traditional, versatile, solid feel and Propel for a fun trainer. If I had to have one, Boston for sure.
Peter: Different shoes for different purposes--for easy on the body daily runs the Propel--for a little more speed and a firmer ride the Boston.


Reebok Harmony Road 3 (Initial RTR Review)
Michael: In 2019, two of my favorite daily trainers are from Reebok and New Balance. Who would have guessed it? Ultimately, though, I think the Propel is a better choice for most runners - while the HR3 is undoubtedly a springly ride, the Propel has a much improved upper and a more fun ride, top-to-bottom.


Reebok Forever Floatride Energy (RTR Review)
Jacob: The Forever Floatride Energy (FFE) has a significantly firmer ride and a bit more controlled rebound. It’s more versatile and also feels easier to lock into form/pace but the FFE upper fit me horribly and somewhat ruined my overall enjoyment of the shoe. There is more race potential in the FFE though I wouldn’t choose either it or the Propel for racing ideally, so my pick is the Propel.


Skechers GORun Ride 7 (RTR Review)
Peter: these are very different feeling shoes. The Ride 7 is very soft and the Propel is a firmer ride. Still plenty cushioned but firmer. The Ride 7 may be too soft for some--though I really liked it. The Propel strikes a really nice balance and is probably going to be a fit for more different runners. 

Skechers GORun 7 Hyper (RTR Review)
Michael: Try as I might to cycle it out, the GR7H is one trainer I just keep coming back to. The upper is imperfect - nearly all of our reviewers thought so - but the Hyperburst midsole is just so impressive that I can’t quit it. FuelCell certainly givesHyperburst a run for its money - especially at slower to middle paces - but I think the Hyper is a better choice for runners looking for a faster/tempo shoe. For those who generally stay on the easier end of the spectrum, the upper of the Propel makes the New Balance worth your while.
Hope: I 100% agree with Michael. Don’t sleep on the GR7H because of its sloppy upper. Hyperburst is seriously springy and freaky light. The GR7H fits me at least half a size big in US W9.5.
General release August 2019
Read reviewers' full run bios here
The product reviewed was provided at no cost. The opinions herein are the authors'.
Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and current preferred shoes

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22 comments:

jgt11 said...

How would this compare to the Beacon?

Sam Winebaum said...

Comparison is in the review in Comparisons section at the end.
Sam, Editor
Thanks for reading Road Trail Run! See our page with links 100’s of in depth shoe and gear reviews HERE. You can also follow RoadTrailRun on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram where we publish interesting run related content more frequently as well as links to our latest reviews.
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Anonymous said...

Hi,
Great reviews as always. Just wondering how the Hoka Rincon compares with the NB Propel. It sound like the propel is more for slower and moderate speed runs and the Rincon is more versatile - including faster runs. Cushioning levels is it similar, softer firmer, breathability etc. Also similar comparison to with Reebok harmony road 3 thanks.
Cheers
Steve

Anonymous said...

How does it compare to Rincon?

Greg S said...

Same toebox size as the rebel? Or is the fit snugger? I found the rebel too wide for my normal to narrow feet.

Anonymous said...

Ride Comparison with Brooks revel 3 pleaase ?

Anonymous said...

How does it compare to the new Clifton 6¿

Anonymous said...

I loved the feel of the FuelCell Rebel but found that it caused a lot of over pronation. Does the Propel cause any over pronation issues? Is it well supported on the medial side? (I'm generally fine running is almost all neutral shoes but the Rebel forces my foot inward strongly.)

Unknown said...

Would this make a good marathon shoe for a slower (desperately trying to break 4 hour) runner and would this or the GR7H be your preferred choice as a marathon shoe? The GR7H is actually available in the UK so I'm thinking of giving it a shot (I currently wear both NB and Skechers).

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Unknown,
You will break 4!
It could make an excellent marathon shoe if you prefer a softer bouncy ride. The GR7H is firmer and springier. The big issue if the upper doesn't fit you exactly and especially when tired in later miles is its so so support. I would steer clear of it for a marathon. When is your marathon? If you want a Skechers Hyper the Max Road 4 Hyper launches in Sept. It is more cushioned, springy, and its upper a stretch knit works very very well. I wear tested it and made sure! A great shoe for your 3:54 marathon! Our review will post before launch.
Sam, Editor

Unknown said...

Thanks Sam. The Max Road looks tempting, the problem here in the UK is that we get such a limited range of the Skechers shoes coming to us. I've run my last 2 marathons in the Forza 3 along with all my long runs so could play safe and get another pair of them as they are comfortable for sure. Second pair are starting to go dead now though so need replacing.

BQTrail Runner said...

I love the Fuel Cell Rebel for speed work so thought this would be a good training companion to it. But whereas the Rebel is snappy and promotes a quick turnover, the Propel is a plodder and I found myself really fighting the shoe to keep from heel striking. With the temperatures in the 90s today, by the end of the run the Propel felt like I was running in sand with bouncy cinder blocks on my feet. Way too much work and moisture retention. For me, the upper was somewhat of a horror show as I had to drill a higher set of eyelets to get a decent lock down. This shoe was an epic fail for me. Had I not foolishly drilled out the eyelets, I would return them. The Rincon is lighter, doesn't hold moisture like a sponge, and while it doesn't have the bounce of the Propel, it does seem to promote a much smoother turnover. To quote a great shoe reviewer, I'll take Rincon all day every day over the Propel.

Anonymous said...

How is the cushioning comparison with peg turbo v1 ?

Sebastian Wagner said...

Hi, nice Reviews. But i think Fuel cell is not a new Midsole foam. Because the Fuel cell Impulse from new Balance from 2018 got the Fuel cell before the Rebell and Impulse. https://www.newbalance.de/de/pd/fuelcell-impulse/MFCIM-V1.html?dwvar_MFCIM-V1_color=Black_with_Magnet#color=Black_with_Magnet&width=D
So NB bring's Out a new Line Up fuel cell shoes. Or is it a different fuel cell in the new shoes? So If i Like the NB fuel Cell Impulse, the Nike Pegasus 35, Nike Elite 10 and am a forefoot Runner would you recommend the Fuel cell propel and or Rebell? Wish you a nice Weekend. Sebastian from Germany

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Sebastian, Thanks for kind words it is a completely new foam with 39% more rebound than say RevLite according to New Balance. Will add that info to review. It is much softer and bouncier than foams in other shoes you mention. Also Propel more flexible than those. Based on FuelCell shoes I suspect you would prefer Rebel. Sam, Editor

Jimmy said...

I have to agree with Peter, these are the epitome of daily trainers. I don't usually post a comment after only one run in a shoe but when I average 6:55 pace for 5k in complete comfort without even planning to run tempo pace I think it's warranted. These have the bounce of Bostons (if not more bounce) with more and softer cushion at a similar weight. For me that is a perfect daily trainer combo. I might still use Beacon for 10+ mile runs but I think Propel for everything else except for short intervals which 890s or 1400s would be better suited for. For those that prefer to train or can only reach fast paces in firm and snappy shoes then this isn't the shoe for you, but for everyone else this shoe is a fast and fun daily trainer, soft without being mushy (unlike Hoka), and cushioned enough for long runs. I much prefer the Propel over the Forever, it is similar weight and cushion but bouncier and softer with a more comfortable and supportive upper for only $10 more. Those who like firmer and snappier may like the Forever but it isn't a fun shoe to run in for me. My only warning with the Propel would be to try both your usual size and a half size down since the fit is roomy in my usual size and a little short and narrow in the forefoot at a half size down. I wound up going a half size down with thin socks but it's still snug in the forefoot but I prefer that over it being too roomy.

Sam Winebaum said...

Thanks for your comment Jimmy! Glad you like Propel!
Sam, Editor

Doug said...

Were you able to determine the stack height on the shoe (it says coming soon at the top)? Also how does it compare to the Hoka Rincon?? Thanks!

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Doug,
Still no word on Propel stack height. If not provided we usually use Running Warehouse stats as they are consistent but they have not yet posted. I added a comparison to Rincon below and also in the article:
The Rincon is almost 2 oz / 57 grams lighter and has a narrower lower volume upper but one that is so thin (yet supportive) that broader feet should still consider. The Propel ride has noticeably more rebound and bounce. The Rincon, at least when "fresher and newer" does feel somewhat more cushioned and unusual for a Hoka has some easier flexibility. The FuelCell foam is much more fun to run, the Rincon's midsole being more conventional in feel, if overall the shoe is considerably lighter feeling than Propel. A nice combination might be Propel for moderate pace training and Rincon for long racing and tempo work.

Peter S. said...

Doug,

This is a VERY different shoe than the Rincon. It's heavier, firmer and more of a traditional trainer. That said, I'd pull this shoe out to run in before I'd pull the Rincon. There's a synergy in the upper/midsole connection that just works. While the Rincon is super light, it's a little too soft to be super fast. For most runs I prefer the Propel. I go easy in it and enjoy it and last week I did 800 meter repeats in it and it felt great at speed.

Anonymous said...

How does it compare to the NB 1080v9? It is stiffer or softer? They seems to cover the same spot, daily training.

Do you think this foam will last longer than EVA based foams like the fresh foam in the 1080v9?

Greetings from Italy!

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Anonymous,
Yes both can be considered daily trainer. Choice depends on preferences. The Propel is softer, more flexible, clearly bouncier but also a touch less cushioned overall than the 1080v9 as the cushioning is less dense and while we don't have stack heights for Propel yet I think more stack in 1080. The 1080 is more stable and steady while the Propel is a livelier option. Thanks for reading.
Sam, Editor