Sunday, June 11, 2023

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Trainer v2 Multi Tester Review: 13 Comparisons

Article by Ryan Eiler, Jeff Beck, Joost De Raeymaeker, Sam Winebaum

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Trainer v2 ($180)


Sam: New Balance’s carbon plated SC Trainer returns with a 6mm drop in heel stack height and a 4mm drop up front. It now comes in at a more “max”, and not as before “super max” stack height of 40mm at the heel and 34mm at the forefoot but with a 5mm wider heel platform. The Fuel Cell foam is one third less dense but of the same firmness as v1’s. Weight drops 28g / 1 oz to 9.52 oz / 270g in my US9 sample.

Returning is the Energy Arc combination of bowed carbon plate and deep central cavity but with a now broader central cavity with more gently sloping walls to the centerline.

The upper is updated with a breathable engineered mesh with more padded and conventional rear collars and lower ones as several of our testers had issues with the high rigid collars. We set out to find out how the changes affected the ride and fit of a big 2022 RTR favorite.

More complete reviewer bios are below but to provide some upfront context for the review Ryan has a 2023 2:18:05 marathon PR, Jeff is around 4 hours in a marathon, Sam is lucky, very lucky to break 1:40 in a half these days and Joost has a 2:26 PR from the 2019 Berlin Marathon at age 51.


Ryan/Sam/Jeff/Joost: Depth of cushion for high mileage

Ryan/Jeff: Plate stiffness provides pleasant stability

Ryan/Sam/Jeff/Joost: Upper is nicely structured yet relaxed for long runs

Ryan/Jeff: Pleasant, easy to ‘set and forget’ type of ride

Sam: Love a carbon plated shoe with some flex and SC Trainer 2 has a nice long snappy flex

Sam: Likely the friendliest carbon plated shoe for slow even very slow paces: flexible enough, soft enough, stable enough

Jeff/Joost: Toebox has plenty of room


Ryan/Sam/Joost: Toe-off feels labored under easy effort due to heel softness & moderate and now lower 6mm drop

Sam/Jeff/Joost: Miss the longer steeper ramp down to easy rolling toe off of v1

Ryan/Joost: Too long of a transition for quicker paces

Jeff: My kingdom for a heel pull tab

Joost: Has lost the spark and fun of v1


Weight: men's  9.52 oz /  270g (US9)  /  women's oz / g (US8)

             Samples: men’s  9.52 oz /  270g US9, 10.33 oz / 293g US10.5, 285g /10.05 oz US10

             v1 approx. 18g weight drop: 10.5 oz / 298g US9  

Stack Height: men’s 40 mm heel / 34 mm forefoot ( 6mm drop spec) 

v1:  46 mm heel / 38 mm forefoot (8mm drop spec)

$180  Available now in regular and 2E Wide including at Running Warehouse HERE

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Ryan: While the stack height doesn’t look quite as radical as the 47mm monstrosity of V1’s heel, it’s still visually apparent that V2 is ready and able to handle high mileage. There’s a girthy stack of Fuel Cell, certain to put smiles on faces, paired with another iteration of New Balance’s carbon plated ‘Energy Arc’ cavity and bowed plate. This shoe, unsurprisingly, takes many design cues from the racier SC Elite v3, and appears to be a beefier take on that design. It seemed clear early on, both in hand and on foot, that this shoe would be a workhorse with an extra gear over your run-of-the-mill daily trainer.

The version I tested showed up in a handsome grayish-blue engineered mesh, which was both extremely comfortable yet strong enough to resist undue movements dealt by the energetic midsole. 

The fit is noticeably more relaxed than NB’s more racing oriented shoes, especially in the midfoot. There is plenty of space in the forefoot as well — a similarity to the SC Elite. A sturdy heel provides adequate control at the rear, while the NB logos on both the lateral and medial sides of the upper add further supportive reinforcement.

A gusseted tongue made of the same material as the rest of the upper skips on adding plush cushion, and instead opts for some brushed internal overlays. Breathability will probably rate about average, as the mesh in the toe box conducts some airflow, but the gusseted tongue blocks much of it in the midfoot. The overall result is a comfortable yet performance-ready feel with nicely balanced pressure all around, ready to handle tons of mileage.

I found the fit true to size in my M9.5.

Sam:  Ryan has described the upper well. Basically the design goes from a thinly padded internal rear cushion pillows with a high heel counter with single material stretch knit tongue and gusset to a lower more conventional rear padded collar and a thin conventional tongue with gusset. 

The new lower and more padded conventional rear and lace collars have had none of the issues (minor for me but quite serious for some of our testers) where the high rigid ankle collar and sharply ending last internal padding bolster created irritations. 

Bottom line v2 has a more comfortable,  more conventional more performance trainer to daily trainer oriented upper and fit

The mesh is similar in thickness to v1 but with a more 3D texture and a bit baggier fit overall as the mesh is now less dense in texture.  My pair is a half size up from my usual and for sure in the next pair I would certainly go true to size as the fit is a bit too generous in a half size up.  The SC Trainer v2 is also available in 2E Wide but I might suggest those borderline wide go with a half size up of the regular fit. 

Jeff: The upper fit definitely has a “performance trainer” vibe to it - it bridges the gap between a dialed in race shoe and a comfortable trainer. Breathability definitely hasn’t been an issue, though it has been unseasonably cool as of late - I may change course once true summer hits Denver. 
That said, the mesh is pretty thin and slightly translucent over the toebox, so much so that when you don’t have the shoes on the ultra bright orange sockliner comes through the upper pretty clearly. The lateral portion of the upper is a bit thicker, which helps make a pretty thin upper feel decently substantial - or at least not flimsy.

The toebox won’t be confused for an Altra or Topo, but there’s enough room there to accommodate my almost wide foot (even in the standard D width!) for several hours of comfort, and I’d suggest sticking true-to-size lengthwise as well. 

Joost: My version 1 now has well over 900 miles on them and they carried me through last year’s marathon prep, just hammering out the miles when needed. It was my favorite shoe of 2022. 

Lots has changed between v1 and v2. Some of the reviewers had issues with the collar biting into their ankle, something I resolved quickly with a little bit of surgery, but apart from this, I really liked the v1’s more racing oriented upper. The fit was relatively tight, which helped with that enormous 47mm slab of foam under the heel.

The upper has been described well by Ryan, Sam and Jeff. It is now obviously more of a performance trainer upper, with ample padding around the ankle and at the heel. I got sent a size 10 instead of my usual size 9.5 and find that I have to really tie the laces very tight to get a decent fit. 

I suspect that even in my normal size 9.5, I would have ample room in the forefoot. In summary a very comfortable upper, but a bit more sloppy than last year’s.


Ryan: It’s hard not to love Fuelcell. Its soft, bouncy character is on full display here and is certain to win over many more hearts and legs. The risk of turning out a poorly behaved, unstable shoe is high when the midsole height creeps up anywhere near 40mm. However, the carbon plate in this case keeps everything in check surprisingly well. I’ll compare it to Nike’s Invincible 1 and 2 which, which are tons of fun and one of my favorites for recovery runs, can be a bit unwieldy with its unstiffened ZoomX midsole. This SC Trainer V2 by contrast feels stable enough to put on autopilot and not think about for 10 miles at a time.

NB has been featuring its “Energy Arc” design in many of its recent models, including this one. A fairly large and deep channel in the Fuelcell midsole passes from the heel all the way up to the forefoot. It doesn’t create a radical feel underfoot, but rather softens up the whole ride without sacrificing much stability.

And as with most plated shoes, there’s a sense of detachment from the road, as the plate absorbs and distributes any irregularities in the road’s surface. To me the plate’s stiffness feels equivalent to that of the SC Elite V3.

While this midsole provides plentiful protection and inspires confidence, my biggest gripe relates to the combination of the shoe’s very soft heel and fairly stiff plate. With only 6mm of drop, it’s hard to plunge down through the huge heel depth and rebound forcefully enough to engage the plate in a meaningful way. It can end up feeling like you’re just sinking into the midfoot and never really getting the chance to snap off of the toe, especially at “training” pace — which is what this shoe is supposedly meant for.

If you want a soft but powerful “grand touring” style trainer, with tons of injury-preventing cushion, this SC Trainer V2 is certainly a top contender.

Sam: Yup, “grand touring style ” Ryan describes the Trainer 2 midsole (and ride) well. Lots of cushion and comfort balanced with the stable energetic impulse and suspension of the Energy Arc bowed carbon plus big cavity. To top it off unlike most all other carbon shoes the Trainer has some flexibility to ease slower paces and heel striking along. New Balance is clearly aiming for a more accessible carbon plated shoe suitable for a wide range of runners and paces here.

The midsole geometry is for sure changed as we have a lower stack height with a lower 6mm drop in heel stack height and a 4mm drop up front to now come in at a more “max” than prior “super max” cushion stack height of 40mm at the heel and 34mm at the forefoot of a now one third less dense but same firmness FuelCell foam. Weight drops 18g or a full ounce in my US9 sample to 9.52 oz / 270g.

I appreciated the 5mm wider rear platform and increased stability. 

Strangely while softer the heel felt less cushioned in the v2 (lower stack height and more compression) than v1 while the forefoot was more cushioned with the plate better masked in v2. 

In addition to the less dense foam, the wider Energy Arc openings seem to play a clear role in softening the ride, particularly at the heel while also taking some of the shoe’s quick edge off, and this despite the noticed lighter weight of v2.

The changes in geometry and foam lead to a less decisively forward rolling midsole with a somewhat flatter feel from heel to midfoot and a more decisive and more necessary to work towards and find final toe off. I miss the more radical long steep ramp down feel of v1 but appreciate the increased rear stability which helps at slower paces. 

On the plus side the increased flexibility eases things along at slower paces, even very slow paces of around 11 min miles were quite pleasant. Most plated shoes are rigid and not slow pace or heel strike friendly, SC Trainer is.

Jeff: Grand tourer is absolutely the right comparison. The shoe reminds me of the original Nike Vaporfly 4% in a number of ways, but a much easier version to live with - like a Porsche 911. The midsole of this shoe keeps you wanting to keep going, and the ultra soft (but not unstable) platform makes it much easier on your legs and feet. There haven’t been many cases of the newer version of the shoe coming in with measurably less midsole than last year’s shoe, especially doing that and having it work, but this clearly does.

Joost: I’m not much of a car aficionado, at 55 never even having seen the real point in getting my driver’s license and usually answering with something like “black” when people ask me what car someone was driving, so I can’t really attest to the Grand Touring comparison. The SC Trainer 2 has however maintained much of the feel of v1 upon first stepin, in spite of losing a fair bit of midsole foam. The changed density/firmness ration probably has a lot to do with that. I really like this version of FuelCell and of the Energy Arc plate and geometries  New Balance has been putting in its performance line shoes.

There are however more changes in geometry. The base is also wider and the plate itself has more “room” to flex a bit. The whole is a fairly completely decoupled lateral and medial side of the shoe, something that influences the ride (which it also did in v1). The rocker feels different, mostly due to the lower drop and less foam. Sam’s description of feeling “flatter feel” is spot on.


Ryan: There’s very little midsole foam exposed to the ground here, and the rubber’s thickness seems appropriate for a shoe billed as a high-mileage trainer. Were it not for the huge Energy Arc cutout in the midsole, I’d say that the rubber was overdone, but because the midsole precludes any rubber from running down the middle of the shoe, the outsole thickness doesn’t negatively affect the ride.

I’d like perhaps a touch more rubber in the forefoot where there is some foam touching the ground, but that’s more of a nitpick than a true concern. I had no issues with traction, and the rubber lining the perimeter of the outsole works nicely.

Jeff: The outsole is very similar to the v1, but with some nice changes. This time around we get a little more surface variation, which gives it much more traction - last year a few runners reported some wet surface issues. The little stripe of rubber running down the center is a nice touch, making so if you do bottom out the copious amount of midsole, you shouldn’t do any damage to the exposed plate.

Sam: I have not much to add to the guys' outsole analysis.

Joost: The outsole is about the same as in v1, but with some extra little detail for traction. If it holds up as well as in v1, it’ll basically last “forever”.

Ride, Conclusions and Recommendations

Ryan:  I get a whiff of two distinct personalities at play here. On one side of things, there’s the massive helping of friendly FuelCell and a welcoming upper — all smiles. On the more serious side, the plate’s stiffness beckons you to lay into it, lest it feel like it’s meddling with the transition up onto your toes. So while it’s a “trainer”, it’s a serious trainer.

The heel is among the softest of any shoe I’ve tested in recent memory, with the ‘Energy Arc’ cavity allowing you to plunge deep into the 40mm stack. The forefoot is also plenty soft, although its width and generous serving of rubber give it a more stable feeling than you get from the heel. These two things, in conjunction with the now-lower 6mm drop, make the transition a bit slow and laborious at casual paces. In other words, it’s easy to sink into and pop off of the midfoot — but if you’re the type of runner who enjoys rolling off of the toe, you’ll have to work at it a bit, as the plate’s stiffness is noticeable.

I see these characteristics slotting the SC Trainer V2 into the “long, serious training run” category. I’ve been using the SC Elite for 15+ mile runs, but I’m happy to now have a shoe with more comfort (the Elite’s lace-focused lockdown isn’t ideal), more durability, and enhanced protection from the asphalt. Casual running aside, if you’re seeking an option for moderate to hard high mileage, this SC Trainer is absolutely worth considering. It feels highly modern and capable of going fast for long, without blowing a $250 hole in your pocket. Personally, I don’t mind the extra weight and find it helpful for training purposes — a 7 oz racing shoe feels incredible after repeated training in 9.5-ouncers.

Ideally, you’ll need to accept the shoe’s tendency to bounce you upward, rather than help you snap off of the toe and onto the next step — which is completely fine, if that’s your preferred ride type. The plate stabilizes the foam very well, but it can feel overly stiff at what most folks would consider “training pace”. I wish it was a touch more flexible, even at the risk of sacrificing stability.

Despite my critique of its stiffness, this is still a fantastic shoe to have in the arsenal. I plan to rely on the SC Trainer heavily for the 90 minute+ days that might risk beating my legs up. It’s a serious trainer that will be able to handle heavy mileage, especially well suited for those days where you’ll be keeping an eye on your pace. I agree with my fellow reviewer, in that despite a $180 price tag, there still feels like a lot of value in how well NB have constructed the SC Trainer V2.

Ryan’s Score: 9.7 (Deduction for a flat-footed ride, given softness of heel and stiffness of plate)

Smiles Score: 😊😊😊😊

Jeff: By and large I agree with Ryan’s assessment. There’s a pretty substantial bounce to the shoe that few shoes, even super shoes, can match. As a slower and heavier runner, I didn’t find many issues with toe off, but the vertical bounce Ryan mentioned is absolutely there. I could see this being a gateway super shoe for many runners who have yet to dip their toe into the top pantheon of fast shoes. 

The value proposition is surprisingly good, when you consider that virtually all upper-tier cushioned trainers are around $160, this shoe feels much more than a $20 upgrade and is kind of in a class of its own. The lower stack, more traditional upper design, and more relaxed upper will make the v2 less polarizing than the v1 was. The midsole density is surprising, the v1 is both more cushioned and much firmer under foot, which I think makes the v2 that much easier to recommend for a big mile trainer.

Jeff’s Score: 9.75

Ride: 9.5 (50%) Fit: 10 (30%) Value: 10 (15%) Style:10 (5%)

Sam: Softer but not necessarily “more” cushioned, more stable and less radical in ride overall than its predecessor, the SC Trainer v2 is a friendlier take on the plated max cushion trainer to racer genre that will likely work for more runners than the first version with its super high (and somewhat unstable) heel and steep ramp forward.

The upper is comfortable and secure with none of the sharp rear collar edges of v1. The less dense foam is pleasing in feel with the Energy Arc plate effective in the mix without being totally over present and prescriptive and with the big weight drop clearly noticed. The now lower platform has something I really like these days in plated shoes, some flex for those paces and strikes that are not all out and or up on the forefoot.  

I miss the more aggressive ramp down and longer rolling toe off of the v1 and its denser foam,  and this despite its giant stack making them more unstable at slower paces. While the lower density foam is for sure softer and more pleasing,  I agree with Jeff the firmer v1 was more cushioned and also more decisive in ride even at its higher weight. 

At $180 the SC Trainer v2 is a very strong value for a versatile shoe for most daily training longer runs and as a solid marathon racer for those more concerned about cushion, comfort, stability, and a manageable carbon plate at slower paces than grams. And very surprisingly, unlike most all carbon shoes, they are slow and even very slow friendly as the platform has some flex but still with plenty of carbon plate impulse, the cushion is deep and soft, and they are stable.

Sam’s Score: 9.39/10

Ride: 9.3 Fit: 9.4 Value: 9.7 Style: 9.3


Joost: At first, the ride didn’t feel all that different from v1. There’s the nice decoupled feel I remember from that shoe and the typical noise it makes when the medial side slaps on the ground after I touch down on the lateral side of my midfoot. But then, I started to notice the differences. The rocker feels noticeably flatter and gone is the more aggressive toe off of v1. This is coupled with a sloppier upper (probably in great part to reviewing ½ size up from my regular size). I felt I had to put in a lot more energy to go reasonably fast. For slower paces, v2 might actually be better because of the less aggressive rocker.

V1 was an exciting, new and fun shoe, which some people had issues with. I for one was one of its biggest fans. V2 takes away a lot of the fun and excitement of v1. This doesn’t make it a bad shoe by any means. It is a great “pile on the miles” trainer with great comfort and durability. Lots of runners will probably prefer the more comfortable and conventional v2 over v1, but I was a little sad they tamed the beast.

Joost’s Score: 9.03/10

Ride: 9 Fit: 9 Value: 9 Style: 9.5


13 Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

New Balance  FuelCell SC Trainer v1 (RTR Review)

Jeff: The v1 is heavier, has a higher stack, a firmer ride, a tighter fit upper, and a snappier toe off. The v2 is lighter, softer, bouncier, and has a more relaxed fit upper and also has a wider platform in the forefoot and midfoot by ~5mm. While I liked the v1 quite a bit, it was a very odd shoe that seemed to be race inspired, but also no. The v2 has clearly defined itself as a trainer that you could use for racing, and I think it’s much better for it.

Sam: I mostly agree with Jeff but in the end prefer the v1 for its effective “oddness”. A race inspired and riding shoe that has massive cushion and protection for tons of miles while having a radical edge. The v2 leans more trainer and a friendly one with its big advantage its lighter weight and more refined upper.

Joost: I guess I made it very clear in my review. I much prefer v1 over v2 because it was simply a more fun and exciting shoe which helped me run industrial amounts of miles in my Chicago marathon prep.

New Balance  FuelCell SC Elite 3 (RTR Review)

Ryan: The SC Trainer 2 feels in many ways like a “beefier” version of the Elite. The biggest difference (price aside) is the difference in agility between the two. Of course, the ~2oz advantage of the Elite has a lot to do with this, but so does the construction of the midsole. Despite sharing a similar ‘Energy Arc’ channel, the carbon plate in the Elite sits visibly closer to the road underfoot, and its firmer forefoot allows a snappier toe roll than does the Trainer.

The fit and feel of the Trainer feels more welcoming and comfortable, as it has a robust, relaxed vibe and will hold up better when the mileage stacks up. I’d argue that the Trainer is better at holding the foot in place, given its extra overlays and more stout design. The Elite uses a very wide and flimsy tongue to save weight, which requires the laces to handle a lot of the lockdown. As a result of this, pressure isn’t distributed nearly as well across the foot as it is in the SC Trainer v2.

The outsoles share a similar design, but the Elite unsurprisingly pares back on the rubber to save weight. Both shoes fit true to size.

If you absolutely need to go fast, the Elite is the obvious choice, but for anything short of racing or intense workouts, I’d reach for the Trainer.

Joost: The SC Trainer 2 feels indeed more like a built up version of the Elite 3. I couldn’t wear the Elite 3 apart from my review because of ankle blisters, so my choice goes to the Trainer.

New Balance FuelCell RC Elite 2 (RTR Review)

Jeff: While it’s a year out of date, the RC Elite 2 remains one of my favorite race shoes because it’s a high performer while also remaining very comfortable and livable. These two shoes feel like slightly different versions of the same thing - like going from the 5-iron to a 9-iron of the same set, you can feel the differences but mostly, it’s the same thing. The SC v2 is softer, more cushioned, and roomier, while the RC Elite 2 has plenty of cushioning and space, but just a little more dialed in for race day performance.

Joost: The RC Elite 2 is softer and also a lot less stable than the Trainer 2. It’s clearly made to race, so picking one of them basically depends upon your intended use. If you just want to run easy miles (lots of them), go for the Trainer.

New Balance FuelCell TC (RTR Review)

Jeff: The SC Trainer v2’s grandfather, the TC was New Balance’s initial plated trainer borderline super shoe (pseudo super shoe?). While I was a big fan, the lessons that New Balance has picked up over the last few years are very evident, with a softer and more cushioned ride, and a smoother toe off - not to mention a more reinforced upper. The TC really seemed to be up in the air on whether it wanted to be a trainer or race shoe, the SC Trainer v2 doesn’t have the same quandary.

Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 (RTR Review)

Sam: About as soft, lighter and more energetic with its supercritical PEBA foam,  the Endo Speed 3 was one of my 2022 favorites. As with the SC Trainer 2 it has a flexible plate, not carbon but nylon and as said above I really like some flex in my plated shoes. Both have comfortable relaxed uppers, a bit too relaxed in upper for “speed” in the Speed with the SC Trainer 2 more secure for me especially at the rear. I still lean Speed 3 in this match up and especially in the more secure upper Run Shield version.

Joost: The Endorphin is a lot easier to “forget” on your feet. It feels more natural riding than the SC Trainer. Contrary to Sam, I find it easier to speed up in the Speed than in the Trainer (probably due to reviewing ½ size up).

Puma Deviate Nitro (RTR Review)

Ryan: The Deviate Nitro is somewhat of a lower-stacked version of the SC Trainer, with a more traditional ride style. It is one of my favorite ‘do it all’ shoes for its ability to handle faster running, provide considerable cushioning, and wrap the foot in an impressively comfortable upper. The SC Trainer does these same things, but cranks the midsole cushioning up a couple notches and in doing so, changes the ride dynamics.

The result is that the SC Trainer feels far softer than the Puma, although its stiffer plate makes snapping off of the toe a little less natural than it does in the Puma. Whereas the NB will allow you to sit back and sink into the 40mm FuelCell, the Puma encourages a quicker turnover and transition. The Deviate Nitro feels much lower to the ground, and is easier to manage at harder efforts.

I prefer the ‘PumaGrip’ outsole for its more confidence inspiring feel, especially in the forefoot. The uppers of both shoes are well executed, robust, and hard to find fault in.

The Deviate Nitro isn’t as adept at handling truly long runs, and the SC Trainer’s cushioning is hard to match; however, the Puma seems more well rounded and versatile.

Both shoes fit true to size, although the Puma has a slightly sportier fit in the forefoot.

Saucony Endorphin Pro 3 (RTR Review)

Ryan: The Endorphin Pro 3 has purely super shoe vibes about it. Highly energetic, deeply cushioned, and quick to snap off of the toe, it is a more performance-oriented shoe than the SC Trainer for certain.

The depth of cushion is softer and more approachable in the SC Trainer, although both shoes offer tremendous amounts of protection from the road. The Endorphin’s PWRRUN PB is more propulsive, but also a bit harder to tame. This midsole, in conjunction with its “Speed Roll” geometry, makes the Saucony much more eager to keep your weight forward and rolling off of its highly sculpted toe. It will also come as no surprise that the Saucony has a far lower inertia and is much quicker to turn over given its weight advantage.

Both shoes are meant for longer running and don’t have an overly aggressive foot hold, although I prefer the more robust and secure feeling of the SC Trainer, all else equal.

I had some durability issues with the Saucony only about 150 miles in, which slightly soured my opinion of the shoe. The outsole wore through quicker than expected in the toe, and the outer overlays began to crack and peel away prematurely. Given the thickness of the SC Trainer’s outsole, I doubt that we’ll see a similar problem with the NB.

Sam: Agreed with Ryan. Similar soft riding feel with the Saucony clearly more race and getting your weight forward to take advantage of its geometry. SC Trainer is more mellow and forgiving and a better choice for slower paces and training to go with some racing.

Joost: The Endorphin is definitely a racing shoe, while still feeling very comfortable and soft. It’s equally good at just cruising along on a nice long run, however, its upper won’t last very long (mine fell apart after 300 miles), so if you really want to pile on miles, the SC Trainer is your best bet.

adidas adizero Boston 10/ 11 (RTR Review) and 12 (RTR Review soon)

Sam: I am testing the Boston 12 but can say while in the same category of highly cushioned plated trainer racers.  The Boston 12 has a firmer, more decisive, snappier ride. It shares some flex with the SC, something I like. It is considerably re worked from the Boston 11 with a less aggressive overall feel from softer less dense Lightstrike foam and more Lightstike Pro upfront on a slightly lower platform which also gives them so welcome flex closer to the very front, something they share with the SC whose flex is stiffer and longer.

The deep rear cavity of the SC and its softer foam give it a more relaxed landing with far more sinking before rebound and a less quick off the heel response than the Boston 12. To note, gone is the small carbon plate under the heel which delivered tons of harsh response replaced with a single front to back Energy Rods unit. Upfront, I feel the same quicker snappier return but things are closer as the Boston 12 now has a deeper plunge of quicker rebounding supercritical Lightstrike Pro, the SC having a non supercritical foam FuelCell foam. They share similar uppers in being generous in fit with the NB more polished and a little less rough in feel. In terms of paces and uses, the NB should accommodate slower paces somewhat better leaning more towards all around uses while the Boston 12 is for the quicker runner, faster paces and even I would say racing.

Skechers GO Run Speed Beast (RTR Review)

Sam: The Beast has exactly the same weight and heel stack height differing only in having a 6mm vs. 4mm drop for the SC Trainer and costing $5 more. The Skechers has a front carbon infused H Plate that is quite aggressive in feel, even more so than the SC's full carbon, with its soft and somewhat more energetic supercritical foam. It's 4mm drop, rear softness, and no rear plate is somewhat more noticeable than the SC's rear of shoe and for me is not quite as slow pace friendly although its more extensive rubber coverage helps stabilize the ride. The Skechers upper is somewhat more performance oriented and secure with plenty of toe box room. Very close these two and I lean overall towards the more polished SC Trainer v2 in this match up.


Adidas Adizero Prime X Strung (RTR Review)

Sam: The wild Prime X has a far more dynamic ride but a for sure less stable one if you are not at faster paces on the front of the shoe whereas the SC is far more any pace friendly.  With a narrow heeling landing, considerably more stack height at 49.5 mm heel / 41 mm forefoot close to 1 oz lighter it goes all out and sets the standard for cushion to weight, a ride that is almost like flying off the front. It’s upper is also wildly innovative, roomy as the SC’s is but not nearly as well held, especially at the heel with that giant stack. It requires good aligned form at all times and while incredibly fun to run at $315  for most it likely imore concept car than solid modern plated trainer as the SC is.

Skechers GO Run Ride 11 (RTR Review)

Sam: The Ride 11 is a more conventional riding plated shoe as its H shaped carbon infused plate is only at the forefoot which as with SC has some flex. It leans more overall daily training than the SC with a similar midsole feel from its dual density supercritical Hyperburst Ice foam  and deep cushioning. Its stack height of 38mm heel / 32mm forefoot is close to the SC’s, 2mm less front and back and weighs about 0.2 oz more but has considerably more rubber coverage. Its upper is comfortable, true to size, but warmer and less refined than the SC’s. At $125 vs. $180 it is a better value if you are seeking an all around daily trainer with the SC the choice if you also want a shoe that is long race ready or for faster long runs. 

Nike Invincible 1 & 2 (RTR Reviewand 3 (RTR Review)

Jeff: The Invincible 1 the inevitable answer to the “what would happen if Nike put a bunch of ZoomX and no plate on a shoe”, and while it was a super cushioned and bouncy trainer, it could be a bit unwieldy. The 3 is largely the same, but with a little more control in the way of a strobel board that doesn’t take much bounce out of the equation. Ultimately, the New Balance and its plate adds quite a bit to the shoe, and whether it’s the plate, the added stack, or the lower density FuelCell, when worn against each other the SC Trainer v2 feels like it has exceptionally more cushioning, especially under the forefoot. I know many of us have felt that ZoomX has been the top of the class when it comes to super shoe foams, but the latest FuelCell has to be in the conversation. All that and a much better fitting upper on the New Balance makes this comparison of equally priced shoes a no brainer for the SC Trainer.

Ryan: Nike’s Invincible 3 was a nice iteration over v2, with increased stability thanks to some added stiffness directly under the foot from the inclusion of a lasting board, prior having none. While I see the SC Trainer and the Invincible butting heads a bit in the “long training run” category, they aren’t perfect competitors. The plate in the NB results in a far stiffer shoe, making it more stable and lending it to more serious types of training. The SC prefers that you utilize its stiffness and work to power the carbon plate, whereas the Invincible is happy to bounce along at more casual paces. The ZoomX midsole of the Nike feels more energetic, in part because of its lack of any serious stability devices, but also because it tends to be more reactive than the comparatively soothing FuelCell. 

Practically speaking, I’d happily grab the SC Trainer for a firm 10 mile effort, whereas I wouldn’t dare to do the same in the Invincible.  I wouldn’t say that one is definitely better than the other; they just have slightly different use cases. The NB wins on stability, which isn’t a surprise considering the midsole geometries of these shoes. The ‘Energy Arc’ cavity of the SC Trainer distributes impact to the medial/lateral edges, while the Nike has a monolithic slab of ZoomX under the entire foot.

I see the SC as the shoe you’d reach for when you have a long, specific training run in mind and you might be looking at your watch, whereas the Invincible is the long run shoe you’d be happy to wear without worrying about your pace.

The uppers take a fairly similar robust but relaxed approach to holding the foot, and both do a fine job. I’ve put the Invincible 3 through about 400 miles of running, and it’s held up extremely well so far. Based on feel and build quality, I’d imagine we’ll get a similar type of durability from the SC Trainer. Both shoes fit true to size, and offer a spacious toe box.

The FuelCell SuperComp Trainer v2 is available now at our partners





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Tester Profiles

Ryan Eller A hopeless soccer career led Ryan to take up running, and after taking a decade-long break from competing, he is back racking up mileage whenever he can.  He calls the 2018 Boston Marathon the hardest race of his life, where he finished in 2:40, barely remembering his name at the finish line.  More recently he has solo time trialed the 2020-2021 super shoes, often sub 15 minutes for 5K. Ryan has a PR of 2:18:05  from the 2023 Vermont City Marathon.

Jeff Beck is the token slow runner of the RTR lineup, and as such his viewpoints on shoe and gear can differ from those who routinely finish marathons in three hours or less. Jeff runs 20 miles per week on roads and trails around Denver, CO (and sometimes on the treadmill when the weather gets too much for a Phoenix native). Jeff only got into running in his 30s, as a result his career PR's are 4:07 for the marathon and 5K at 23:39. Jeff has finished several ultra marathons, from 50K up to 50 miles, and is still debating if he wants to go down that road again.

Joost is a Belgian in his 50s living in Luanda, Angola, Africa, where he faces the heat, humidity and general chaos to run anything between 60-100 miles per week. He was on a mission to run and win in his age group in the 6 marathon majors and got his 6th star at London in 2023 with a 2:26:10 PB in Berlin in 2019 at 51. He recently won his M50 AG at the 2022 Chicago Marathon in 2:29 and in 2023 won his AG in London in 2:36. Only Boston, so far, escapes him for an AG win at the 6 Majors. He ran in primary school, but then thought it would be a lot cooler to be a guitar player in a hard rock band, only picking up running again in 2012, gradually improving his results. Please check out Joost's coaching service here

Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 66 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. 2022 was Sam’s 50th year of running. He has a decades old 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the just sub 1:40 range if he gets lucky.. training 30-40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah be it on the run or nordic skis. He is 5’9” tall and weighs about 164 lbs, if he is not enjoying too many fine New England IPA’s.

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

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Angus said...

Great review, sounds very interesting.
One of the main comparisons I was hoping to see was the Superblast - any brief thoughts please ?

Anonymous said...

Great review. Love to have a comparison between this and the propel v4. Thanks

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the review.

Regarding the pricing, it's bad in EU. 230-240€.