NEW BALANCE FUELCELL REBEL V2 REVIEW
Brian Metzler | April 2, 2021
The New Balance FuelCell Rebel v2 is a lightweight and responsive, neutral-oriented everyday training shoe. It’s a versatile shoe with an elite midsole foam and enough cushioning and bounciness to make it amenable to both running longer or faster.
But it’s important to note that this is not really an update of the original FuelCell Rebel VI. It is more of an entirely new shoe that just happens to have a similar name.
The FuelCell Rebel has been completely overhauled from the first edition. It’s built around the high-end, energetic foam that’s found in some of fastest New Balance racing shoes.
The upper has been changed from a knit design with a bootie constriction to an airy, engineered mesh with a unique padded, 3D structured heel cup. There’s a little bit more foam (2mm) in the midsole than the Rebel v1, while the flared lateral edge of the original has been toned down considerably.
The super-critical nitrogen-infused FuelCell midsole foam is made from a blend of TPU and EVA that’s similar to what’s found in the carbon-plated RC Elite racing shoe. But because there is no plate in the FuelCell Rebel v2, the foam performs much different and feels much more airy and much less dense. Compared to competitor’s foams, it falls in the middle of the bounciness/responsiveness realm.
The barely-there upper is sleek, supportive and comfortable, not to mention translucent and very breathable. The engineered mesh is soft and flexible without much in the way of support or structure. However, the silhouetted New Balance “N” logo, provides a bit of reinforcement in the toe cap, around the lacing eyelets and in the heel collar.
FIT, FEEL, RIDE
The FuelCell Rebel v2 fits true to size with a comfortable, low-to-medium volume interior. It has an athletic fit and feet that honor the shoe’s versatile, go-fast demeanor.
The asymmetrical lacing design provide good lock-down feeling. It compensates for the flat, thin, non-gusseted tongue that tends to migrate a bit. The interior is sparsely cushioned. It has modest padding around the heel collar and ankle — but overall it’s a comfortable even if minimally appointed shoe.
The ride is soft, flexible, smooth and mildly propulsive but not overly energetic. Although it is moderately bouncy, it doesn’t produce the extreme lively sensation that most performance trainers have.
Ultimately it’s a great everyday trainer capable of running faster. However, its comfort zone is between recovery pace and tempo pace.
WHO IT'S BEST FOR
Runners who appreciate lightweight, nimble everyday training shoes will love the FuelCell Rebel v2. It’s best for runners who are light on their feel and run with an efficient gait (as opposed to a heavy heel-striking gait).
It’s great for moderate-paced runs up to 10K race pace, offering quick-cadence turnover with a smooth, flowy ride.
PROS: NEW BALANCE FUELCELL REBEL V2
If you’re looking for a versatile shoe, the FuelCell Rebel v2 is a good one to consider. While it’s not an all-out speed burner, it has enough energy to run fast but is also soft enough to run slow.
The outsole has a blend of firmer carbon rubber for durability, softer blown runner for traction and a larger section of exposed foam that keeps the weight down without leading to excessively detrimental wear and tear.
With its combination of a good fit, a comfortable feel and a dynamic, smooth, propulsive ride, our wear-testers believe the FuelCell Rebel v2 is one of the best shoes of the spring. It’s one of the best non-plated training shoes based on its fun, springy ride and flexible construction.
CONS: NEW BALANCE FUELCELL REBEL V2
The extremely pliable demeanor and soft midsole doesn’t produce an entirely stable ride. In fact, it can feel downright unstable while cornering or running at faster , interval workout speeds.