Friday, September 09, 2022

New Balance FuelCell Rebel v3 Multi Tester Review

Article by Jacob Brady, Renee Krusemark, Derek Li and Joost de Raeymaeker

New Balance FuelCell Rebel v3 ($130)


Jacob: The Rebel v3 is the next iteration of the lightweight, fun, bouncy, versatile trainer. The Rebel v2  (RTR Review) was a favorite of RTR reviewers and many others. It was one of my top trainers of all time and I still wear it at least every other week even with 500 miles on it. Thus, I was curious to see what changes New Balance would make to the already great shoe for version 3. 

For me, the only things I would change from v2 are slightly more length (I know some runners who went a half size up in v2) and a few millimeters more stack underfoot to reduce bottoming out and provide a bit more protection for long runs. Another thing to note that could be improved is that several runners I know (RTR reviewer Jamie as well as two local runners I run with) experienced tearing of the upper on the medial side

New Balance notes that the Rebel v3 has a “slightly more universal underfoot ride and upper fit and materials inspired by the FuelCell SuperComp Trainer.” My impression of this is that we’ll see small changes for visual and ride consistency with other new 2022 shoes. Going into the test it seems nothing major or exciting, but maybe small tweaks that could refine the performance.

Joost: I got my first pair of Rebels, the v1, at the NYC marathon expo in 2019. They looked fantastic and were a little rebellious, with that wide lateral midfoot flange. This geometry didn’t really work for me, causing some posterior tibialis pain because of the very high pronation velocity with my gait (as confirmed by Runscribe). That’s why I didn’t jump on the Rebel v2 bandwagon straight away, in spite of the glowing reviews it got. 

Until late last year that is. When traveling to Belgium for Christmas, I ordered a pair on sale and ran most of my holiday runs in them. The flare was a lot less pronounced and the foam and feeling underfoot fantastic. When the upper tore after a little over 300 miles, I didn’t hesitate and ordered another pair. This one seemed a little tighter than the first one, but maybe that had to do with the fact that we were back in the tropics for the hottest time of the year and feet tend to be a little more swollen in the heat. Lots of interesting shoes came in for review in the meanwhile, and they’ve been sitting there until I got a chance to review v3 and run in them again, preparing for a comparison. I remembered how much fun the Rebel 2 was and hoped v3 would maintain the nimble underfoot feeling with slightly more midsole foam. Gone is the flange and the forefoot is just a tad wider for a more traditional look and geometry. What does this mean in terms of ride? Let’s dive in.

Derek: I have been fortunate enough to test all 3 versions of the New Balance Rebel range. There was a huge difference in the ride between Rebel 1 and 2, and I was excited to see what Rebel 3 could do to improve on an already excellent and very popular Rebel 2. As a refresher, I personally liked the Rebel 2 more for short interval work. It had a lower to the ground feel while sporting a comfortable but still quite flexible rocker and a springy midsole. The main weakness I see with Rebel 2 was outsole durability, so let’s see if Rebel 3 has addressed any of these issues. 


Lightweight, yet amply cushioned. -Shannon/Jacob/Renee/Michael/Joost

Lightweight, sock-like upper. -Shannon/Jacob/Renee/Michael/Joost/Ryan

Bouncy, fun, versatile ride Jacob/Sam/Renee/Joost/Ryan/Derek

Flexible, less structured, ride useful option in a sea of plated rides Sam/Jacob/Renee/Joost/Derek


Runs on the small side. -Shannon/Jacob/Joost

Overly low-volume toe-box. -Shannon/Jacob/Michael

Not a notable improvement over v2-Jacob/Renee

Narrow midfoot - Derek

Forefoot outsole wear poses questions about durability - Joost


Weight: men's oz 7.37oz / 209g (US9)  women’s 6.46 oz / 186g US8

Rebel v1 men’s sample US9: 7.44 oz / 212g


men’s: 7.26 oz  /  205g US8.5; 8.8 oz / 249 g US12;  7.37 oz/ 209g US9/EU42; 217g / 7.65 oz US9.5

women’s:  6.46 oz / 186g US8

Approx. Full Stack Height: men’s 29.5 mm heel / mm 23.5 forefoot, 6mm drop

$130. Available now including at New Balance HERE

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Jacob: Out of the box, the Rebel v3 felt super-light with the same soft supercritical FuelCell foam as in v2. The styling including the waves and badge on the midsole and general design language meshes with the SuperComp line, so NB’s goal of design consistency is achieved. The styling is less unique overall than the racer stripe of v2 but may appeal to more runners, so this is a fne change.

On the scale, the weight has not significantly changed from v2 in my US12 sample, only 4g heavier with an entirely new shoe is interesting and commendable.

On the foot, the feel is similar to v2 in being glove-like, locked in, with soft and flexible foam underneath. The upper is minimal and soft but structured where it needs to be—well designed and well executed. Hopefully the redesign will resolve the v2 medial tearing issue, but more mileage by more reviewers is needed to confirm. Overall the on-foot feel reminds me a lot of v2 or at least what I remember of v2 when it was fresh. The vibe is unchanged.

As for fit, the shoe feels too small overall. There is not enough length for my big toe which was nearly pressing against the toe bumper and I had to lace fairly loosely. I confirmed my sample was a US12, my usual size. I have not needed to size up in a shoe before (sometimes I size down a half size), so this was surprising. Though I was hopeful it would loosen up and not be an issue in the long term, through testing the tightness decreased my enjoyment of the Rebel v3 and so I would recommend sizing up a half size.

Renee: One of my favorite all-time shoes is back! The Rebel v2 was my overall favorite shoe of 2021 (road or trail) and remains a top 10, if not top five, all-time favorite shoe. My first pair of Rebel v2s have more than 400 miles (I stopped counting). My second pair are still fresh with about 75 miles, which helped with comparisons to the new Rebel v3. 

Fans of the Rebel won’t be disappointed, although whether or not the new version is “better” than v2 will depend on the runner. My first, and longest, run with the Rebel v3 was 18 miles, and overall I have 92 miles at the time of this review, mostly speed work. I think I might slightly prefer the Rebel v2 on foot, but after a few speed sessions, I thought the shoes ran exactly same. 

The new version’s upper is less transparent and less breathable, which means less stretch and volume. I did not find the Rebel v3 too short or low volume, but it is less roomy in terms of volume as compared to the Rebel v2. On foot, I can see the material across the midfoot is less in the v3.

(Image: left Rebel v2, right Rebel v3)

On the positive side, the upper is less likely to tear on the medial side. I had no issue with tearing in my Rebel v2 until after 350 miles, but even then the tear was slight. Runners who wanted a lower volume upper fit and more structure might like the changes. Personally, I liked the super light flexible upper of the Rebel v2. Honestly, on foot I notice the difference, but while running the upper made no difference to the ride. The new version has an overlay across the heel that adds a slight amount of stability.

(Image: left Rebel v2 heel, right Rebel v3 heel)

Again, on foot, I’m not a fan of the upper changes, but while running the shoe felt as flexible as the second version. Sizing is the same for me between the second and third version. Runners between half sizes should go with the half size up.

Joost: As the others mentioned: if you’re between sizes, go up half a size. They fit rather small. Not smaller than the Rebel 2 for me, but YMMV. In spite of the slightly higher stack, wider forefoot and narrower midfoot, the Rebel 3 doesn’t feel very different underfoot. 

The upper, though, is quite different and more in line with the SuperComp line of shoes. It is slightly thicker and no longer a single layer. It does still seem breathable enough for warmer weather, though. The upper is also more reinforced on both sides. My v2 tore open on the lateral side and not the medial like everyone else’s.

The tongue is now gusseted, making for a more secure midfoot fit. It is still the same perforated material otherwise. 

There’s also a little more support in the heel, with a reinforced overlay at the bottom of the heel cup. 

The heel itself is no longer split at the achilles’ but bent a little backward to avoid irritation. The laces in my review pair are incredibly short and don’t allow for heel lock lacing or even a double knot, but they stayed tight on all my runs.

All in all a better upper than v2, feeling a little softer and more malleable. I didn’t get the feeling of lower volume than in v2, but as mentioned above, when in doubt, buy ½ size up. All in all a good upper, which holds the foot well, is secure and fairly breathable. Those are the basic requirements of any good shoe. All upper boxes checked. On to the midsole.

Derek: The main change for the Rebel 3 seems to be in the upper. The new upper fits a little more snugly for me. 

The toe box volume is a little lower and it is marginally shorter than v2 though this does not really bother me. The thing that stuck out most for me on initial step in was how much lower volume the midfoot is now. I initially thought they made the last narrower, but a cursory comparison of v2 and v3 showed that the midsole widths are not all that different. The only explanation is the use of less material in the upper, giving it a lower volume fit. I don’t have wide feet, but I do have low arches, so when the midfoot volume goes down, I notice it very quickly as a wider spacing between eyelets at midfoot and often a disproportionately higher lace tension at midfoot vs the forefoot and heel area. 

Fortunately, it’s not too bad with thin socks, and I can still get away with a relatively comfortable fit. Fit is still true to size for me. While the materials of the upper are similar, I do get the sense that the upper material is just a little less breathable than before. 

The tongue is now gusseted as Joost mentioned above and I think in this case, it probably helps to provide a little bit more mid-foot support. It didn’t happen to me, but I remember seeing several reports of the upper tearing at lateral mid-foot for some people, so I think the gussets maybe help to address that issue. The heel area looks quite different as seen in the A/B photo above, but in practical terms, the 2 heels feel quite similar to me. The heel cup is relatively soft and all the materials are quite flexible such that they don’t really feel present once you lace up and start running. 

The design of the upper looks a little more “traditional” now and reminds me of the 880v12 I previously tested, which is a bit of a shame. I quite liked the more avant garde look of the Rebel 2 uppers. Walking and jogging around, the familiar underfoot springiness is all still there, though quite frankly, it doesn’t feel noticeably different from Rebel v2. 


The midsole gets 1.5mm more FuelCell foam height, 3mm more width at the forefoot, 5mm less width at the midfoot and the same heel width.

Jacob: The Rebel v3 midsole uses New Balance’s super-soft, very light, supercritical midsole foam used in the RC and SC lines as well as the Rebel v2. It is a fun-to-run, high-energy foam on the softer side of super foams. The midsole is medium-stack, very flexible, and largely similar to the Rebel v2, with the key addition of slightly more stack and width. These changes should add a slight bit more stability and protection which is what I felt like the Rebel v2 would benefit from, which is excellent. For me, on the run, the difference is not notable, but I think it creates a slightly friendlier ride and increases versatility without a notable increase in weight.

Renee: The midsole of the Rebel v2 felt like magic . . . on my first pair. I bought a second pair and didn’t think the midsole felt as soft, bouncy, or magical. I’m inclined to think some manufacturing differences occurred in pairs of the Rebel v2. Don’t get me wrong: the Rebel v2 midsole was great either way. Overall, the midsole feels the same in v3: soft, bouncy, and responsive. On an A/B test, with my “newer” Rebel v2 at 75 miles and the Rebel v3 at 92 miles, the Rebel v2 feels slightly softer, but I think that might be from the outsole. While running, I can’t tell the difference. The third version adds stack to the forefoot. My longest run in the second version for review was 16 miles, but I later ran an 18 miler. My first run with the third version was 18 miles. I don’t think the additional stack makes a difference in the Rebel v3’s ability to be a distance shoe, but it doesn’t hurt. Thankfully, the additional stack didn’t affect the shoe on tempo and speed work, which is where the Rebel v3 shines. The width of the forefoot may be wider on paper, but I didn’t notice it.

Joost: I’m very happy the midsole of the Rebel 3 feels nearly identical to v2. The geometry has changed slightly, now completely doing away with the lateral flange and gaining a more traditional shape. New Balance shaved away a fair bit in the lateral midsole and added 1.5mm in the forefoot. To the touch, the foam feels identical to v2, and the 1.5mm extra is hardly felt. When you first put on the Rebel and walk around in it, you might get the feeling you’re going to bottom out, because of the softness of the FuelCell foam, but on the run, it is nimble, snappy and still well cushioned enough.

Derek: Despite the added stack, I struggled to feel any noticeable difference in cushioning, and this was quite evident not only towards the end of workouts when I was starting to tire, or on some of the longer easy runs I put the shoe through to test its vibration dampening. Perhaps I have just been too spoiled with max stack trainers of late. The Rebel 3 is bouncy and protective with minimal bottoming out even at hard efforts, but all these can also be said of Rebel 2, and I found both shoes to have very similar midsole feels. 

Strangely, I found the forefoot rocker to be less evident in Rebel 3, something that I cannot quite explain because the geometry appears to be unchanged with consistent 1.5mm stack increase across the board. 


Renee: A lot of runners, me included, noted early wear on the outsole of the Rebel v2. The v3 outsole no longer has the triangle shaped pattern, although the outsole material is still soft. The coverage is about the same. I think my v3 shoes have similar wear to my second pair of v2s (with similar total mileage), but it’s less noticeable to the eye because of the rubber pattern. 

(Image: left Rebel v3 outsole, right Rebel v2 outsole)

The Rebel V3 does not have the lateral flare, but I didn’t notice the change while running. I ran on dirt and gravel with the Rebel v3 and the thin outsole and soft midsole don’t offer much protection for larger rocks, but the shoes are so flexible and light that it didn’t bother me. For runners who frequent dirt and crushed rock, the Revel v3 should work fine (of course pavement too!). 

Derek: In the image above of Rebel 2 (right) vs Rebel 3 9 (left), the main durability issue for Rebel 2 was the orange outsole, which was very soft and easily abraded blown rubber. It definitely helped contribute to a smooth and soft ride, but it sure wore out pretty fast. With the new rubber outsole pattern and the compound used, I am cautiously confident that durability will be better. I am hesitant because while the rubber looks the same, I have experienced very different outcomes with the outsole rubber on the NB SC Pacer and SC Trainer; There was a lot of accelerated wear on the SC Pacer but SC Trainer’s outsole seems to be quite durable. For now, the Rebel 3, outsole seems to be holding up like that of the SC Trainer so things are looking promising. Beyond durability, the new rubber compound also seems to be a bit more grippy on wet surfaces, which is always a good thing. 

Joost: This is the only area of concern for me. After around 50 miles in the shoe, there’s already very visible wear in the forefoot rubber of the v3 (lower shoe above). 

I have the impression the heel outsole is a slightly different and more resistant material, so if you’re a heel striker or have a less aggressive toe-off than I do, wear might be less of an issue.

The outsole pattern has changed a little, especially in the forefoot, where there’s now a distinct separation between mid- and forefoot instead of the different shaped pattern in v2. This helps with lateral stability and longitudinal flexibility. The triangles have been replaced with a thicker ribbed pattern with some holes along the grooves, probably to save weight and add a little flexibility.


Jacob: The ride is excellent for a trainer, just as expected from the Rebel v3. It is fun to run, bouncy, energetic, flexible, and runs well at slow and fast paces. It’s a versatile ride which performs well during workouts , long runs, easy days, road/trail mix, and walking around. 

The most noteworthy point for me is how similar the ride is to v2 overall. I can’t properly do an A/B test since my Rebel v2 has 500 miles on it, but even currently comparing them, the ride is surprisingly similar. So similar that I would hesitate to confidently say the v3 is an improvement in any way that would be worth the process of designing and manufacturing a new shoe this year, but that need for new is just part of the current industry. 

As a consumer, I’d recommend buying v2 if you can get it at a discount once v3 is out, since you aren’t missing much of v3. Both are great (just go a half size up in v3).

Renee: The changes of the Rebel v3 from the previous version should appeal to runners who want more structure and stability from the upper and the midsole ride. On paper, some of those changes might sound as if the speed aspect of the Rebel has changed. In my opinion, the Rebel v3 runs just like the second version. During an A/B test, I thought the v2 felt lighter and faster on foot, but once running, it’s not noticeable. My longest run was 18 miles, and the Rebel v3 works just as well as the Rebel v2 for a distance run. 

The shoe shines at mid-distance tempo runs and speed work. I remained sort of “so-so” about the Rebel v3 during my first few runs, but once I started speed work, I felt the magic. Underfoot, the midsole is flexible and light, which is my preference. 

Joost: Fun is the first word that comes to mind. Natural is also one of them. With the plethora of plated shoes and super high stack models that have been coming our way lately, the ride of the Rebel is a joy. My feet feel like they are moving the way they’re supposed to, with a great amount of bounce added by the FuelCell midsole. While the flange already wasn’t very present in v2, taking it away and opting for a more traditional geometry has made the ride even more natural and enjoyable for me. In my opinion, it’s a flexible, stable, bouncy ride that will benefit mid- to forefoot strikers most.

Derek: The Rebel 3 ride is very very similar to the Rebel 2 for me, though maybe a touch less racy. It’s not because the shoe is higher stack now, but rather I find the forefoot rocker to be even less evident now than in v2. 

I still find the shoe to be good for shorter workouts where I get that extra flex through the toes like a more traditional workout shoe, and I think that’s the best use case for the Rebel 3 for me. It is definitely too little shoe for daily training for me, though I should point out that I generally prefer shoes with at least a 3mm heel stack for my daily trainers. 

So far, my longest run in the Rebel 3 stands at about 10 miles and I have to say, my feet were a little sore for the last 3 miles. For longer runs, or longer workouts and threshold runs, I would tend to favor a shoe with a little more stack, even if it is not plated. 

A note on stability here. The softness of the Rebel 3 will make the heel feel a little bit unstable for some people. I think the lower stack makes it less noticeable and it is unlikely to cause as much stability concerns as say the NB Fuelcell TC did. However, if you need a lot of heel stability, this is not going to be the shoe f

Conclusions and Recommendations

Jacob: The Rebel v3 is an excellent lightweight, do-it-all road running shoe. It has a racer-class weight and a versatile ride that brings fun and performance to every run. If you like soft, flexible, bouncy midsole foam in a trainer the Rebel v3 is world-class. I can casually cruise around in it as well as blast short intervals. 

One area it falls short for me is fit—my usual size which works well in over 95% of shoes I have tested, is too small in the Rebel v3, specifically, too short; the toebox feels a bit cramped as if I were wearing a half size down. This likely would be totally resolved with a half size up, so is unfortunate for me and for those buying without reading reviews, but not critical to assessing the shoe overall. 

I think it’s important to note that the ride and overall impression of the shoe on foot and on the run is very similar to the also excellent Rebel v2, so I would recommend getting the v2 if you can find it for a lower price. On another note, I don’t think that fans of v2 (assuming they can find a size of v3 that fits well) will not be missing v2 when they get the v3. 

Overall, the v3 is a minor improvement over the already great Rebel v2, including a bit more stack and width to increase versatility, a new upper which hopefully resolved durability problems some runners experienced in v2, and negligible change in weight (still very light). I’d recommend it to all runners looking for a road training shoe —I think it would work well and be enjoyed by most, especially those who like a softer underfoot feel.

Jacob’s Score: 9.5 /10

Ride: 9.5 (50%) Fit: (I am not scoring fit due to sizing issues) Value: 9.5 (15%) Style 8.5 (5%)

Renee: Another winner! The Rebel v3 is a buy for runners who like light weight, flexible shoes. While best at fast paces during mid-distances or speed intervals, the Rebel v3 runs well for me for slow, easy days too. I ran one, long slow run (18 miles), and while it worked, I would prefer a higher cushioned shoe for those runs . Otherwise, the Revel v3 is versatile. I agree with Jacob: if you can find the Rebel v2 at a discount, you aren’t missing any dramatic improvement with the Rebel v3. While on foot, I think I like the Rebel v2 more, but both shoes run the same in terms of distance and speed. Runners who need a lower volume upper and more structure across the heel might prefer the Rebel v3. Runners who like a flexible, breathable upper, might prefer the fit and feel of the previous version. 

Renee’s Score: 9.7/10 (-.30 upper)


Joost: For me, the best Rebel yet. It might not really deserve the name Rebel anymore, now that that midfoot flange is completely gone, but in a world of high stack and plated shoes, maybe it is still something of a Rebel, along the likes of the Saucony Kinvara and a very few others. If you’re in for a fun riding, bouncy, natural feeling shoe, the Rebel 3 is an excellent choice, but size up if you’re in doubt.

Joost’s Score 9.33/10

Ride: 9.8 (50%), Fit 8.5 (30%) Value: 9.5 (15%) Style 9 (5%)


Derek: The Rebel 3 updates are a bit of a mixed bag for me, which to be fair says more about the Rebel 2 than the Rebel 3; The Rebel 2 was one of my favorite short interval shoes and I just loved how the thin upper wrapped my foot like a track spike. Rebel 3’s upper doesn’t fit my feet quite so naturally, so that’s always going to color the ride of the shoe. I find that I am not able to get that super snug wrap in the Rebel 3 because the midfoot always gets too tight before I get the right tension in the front and heel. So the overall fit is a bit lower volume as others have mentioned before, and the shoe might even run a bit short for some people. This alone will be an issue for people who didn’t get on with the Rebel 2. Recall that a lot of people already found Rebel 2 to fit narrow/small. 

Beyond the upper, I think the big improvement is the outsole, if the durability predictions prove to be correct although Joost’s experience there gives pause. 

The least significant of the updates are ironically the midsole for me, as I found that the difference in bounce/cushioning are barely noticeable when comparing the Rebel 2 and 3 side-by-side. In a way, fans of the Rebel 2 won’t be disappointed that NB didn’t spoil a good recipe, but I am not very sure that Rebel 3 will win over people who struggled with Rebel 2. 

Derek’s Score: 9.115 / 10

Ride 9.4 (50%) Fit 8.8 (30%) Value 9 (15%) Style 8.5 (5%)

Smiles Score: 😊😊😊😊


Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

New Balance Rebel v2 (RTR Review)

Renee: I compared the shoe throughout my review. Overall, the Rebel v3 has changes that, on paper, sound like they might change the shoe. I found the changes slight and the ride remains the same. Both shoes work best for tempo or speed workouts, with the occasional easy or long run for runners who don’t need much underfoot. I have a slight preference for the Rebel v2’s more flexible, more breathable upper.

Joost (M9.5 in both): Both fit small. The ride is equally fun and bouncy and great for some tempo or speed work, but also for your daily easy runs or if you want to work your feet and lower legs on longer runs. V3 has the better upper, so that would be my obvious choice. However, if you can find v2 on sale, get a couple of pairs of that version first.

Derek:  I am true to size in both models. I think the Rebel 3 fits a bit narrower, especially at the midfoot and is an overall lower volume shoe. Rebel 3 seems to have a more durable outsole, but otherwise the ride of the 2 versions are very similar, with version 2 actually having a marginally more rockered feel for me. I have to say Rebel 2 fits me a little better overall, and so Rebel 2 is a better shoe for me. 

Saucony Kinvara 13 ( RTR Review)

Joost (M9.5 in both): The Kinvara has the superior upper and there are no issues with sizing, but the Rebel v3 midsole provides a more lively and fun ride. If durability is a factor, the Saucony gets the upper hand for me, due to early frontal outsole wear on the Rebel v3.

Derek: I am true to size in both shoes. I agree with Joost that the Kinvara upper is better. It’s just simpler to get the lockdown right with that upper. In terms of ride, I think the Rebel 3 is noticeably more dynamic and bouncy with a little better vibration dampening. The Rebel 3 also has much more outsole coverage than Kinvara so it is likely to be more durable than Kinvara. Overall, I think if you can get the Rebel to fit you, it is definitely going to be a more enjoyable shoe.

Rebel v3 available now including at New Balance  HERE and at our other partners below

Samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased through affiliate links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'

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Antonio said...

Thanks for the review!
How does it compare to Hoka Mach 5 and Asics Novablast 3?

Anonymous said...

Great review as always. I am a heel to midfoot striker and find the v2 a bit unstable on longer runs especially at the heel. Does the V3 fix this in this regards or very similar. How does rebel v3 compare with saucony endorphin speed 3. Thanks :)

Anonymous said...

Does New Balance Rebel v3 have the same rubber smell as the Rebel v2?

Anonymous said...

How does this compare to the streakfly? Or for a diff flavor, pros and cons verse a rincon?