I was excited to try the New Balance Fuelcell Elite 2 (also known as the NB Fuelcell Elite v2). The original Fuelcell Elite was ok but not great. It was heavier than many other carbon-plated models and not as responsive. I was hoping New Balance stepped up their game with the update, and thankfully they did. The newest version comes with a more stable ride, breathable knit upper, but it’s still one of the heavier options with less Traction.
New Balance Fuelcell Elite 2 Quick Stats:
Weight 7.7 oz
Heel to toe drop: 8 mm
New Balance Fuelcell Elite 2 Introduction:
The NB Fuelcell Elite v2 has a similar ride to the Rebel v2 but also has a carbon fiber plate. I was a fan of the original Rebel, and while the v2 is good, it’s not the “same.” I feel like I’m in the minority with saying that!
Anyway, a couple of things set the New Balance Fuelcell Elite 2 apart from other carbon-plated shoes. It fits like a trainer, and the ride is soft with a lot of traction. Different isn’t a bad thing and gives people more options in this carbon-plated world.
Sadly, the second version gets away from these features. Why? It was never that the NB Fuelcell was “bad,” but it was different.
New Balance Fuelcell Elite 2 Fit:
As mentioned, one thing that sets the shoe apart in the racing world is the NB Fuelcell Elite v2 doesn’t fit like most racing shoes. There is much more width to it, and it has a roomy forefoot. Interestingly, it fits more like a trainer than a racing shoe. This is great for anyone who has a wider foot or bunions since carbon-plated shoes don’t come in wide (yet).
Updates to the New Balance Fuelcell Elite 2 included the new stretchy knit material. It makes it smoother than the original version as well as gives it some breathability. The mesh is also thinner, with a few holes on the top, which let in more air. The mesh on the New Balance Fuelcell Elite 2 is probably one of the thinnest meshes of any running shoe I’ve tried. I can’t get over how thin it is! I thought this might be a problem, but after 100 miles, the upper in the NB Fuelcell Elite 2 feels fine.
In my opinion, the best uppers are those that disappear off your feet, but the RC Elite 2 has a quirk that causes the upper to annoy you sometimes. The tongue for the New Balance Fuelcell Elite 2 isn’t gusseted, which means you might find it sliding all over the place.
The collar and heel tab are plush and I didn’t notice them after the shoe was on my foot. In all, the upper of the NB Fuelcell Elite v2 is decent; I just wish the tongue wasn’t all over the place.
As far as fit, I wear between a 10-11 wide in running shoes and usually a 10.5 in New Balance running shoes. I found the size 10.5 to be ideal in the New Balance Fuelcell Elite 2.
New Balance Fuelcell Elite 2 Ride:
As mentioned, the original RC Elite was probably the softest and most cushioned carbon fiber plated shoe out there without adding extra stack height. For the nonelite runner, that means less stress on the Achilles and calves.
The updated NB Fuelcell Elite v2 is still one of the softest carbon plated shoes. This is in turn because New Balance uses Fuelcell Midsole. The Fuelcell Midsole is a TPU/EVA blend. What does that mean? Basically, the midsole of the New Balance Fuelcell Elite 2 and the Fuelcell Elite 1 are the same. At least you don’t have to worry about too much change there!
The disadvantage of the midsole being “so soft” is that you get less of the propelling feeling from the carbon plate. Since the NB Fuelcell Elite v2 also comes in a little heavier than many other carbon plated shoes, it takes away the ability to run hard track intervals. You can, of course, but it’s best suited for longer races like the half or marathon.
Durability and Traction: I found the original New Balance Fuelcell elite to have some of the best traction of any carbon plated shoe. New Balance has updated the outsole with more rubber on the outsole. It now has two vertical strips on the rearfoot. New Balance says this new placement is more effective at protecting the exposed midsole, which should increase durability as well as traction. I don’t think the new rubber placement is as good for traction.
I’ve found there is a lip on the heel of the New Balance Fuelcell Elite 2 that has gotten fairly beat up with only 100 miles. Hopefully, they either remove the lip or add rubber to make it more durable. I do think it’s one of the better shoes for inclement weather but could see it getting extremely heavy in a torrential downpour.
Most carbon-plated shoes last between 100-200 miles. I think I’ll see the NB Fuelcell Elite v2 to at least 200, except the small lip on the back. In short, the durability and traction is still one of the best for carbon plated shoes but not as good as the original version.
Stability: The additional width in the New Balance Fuelcell Elite 2 has made the RC Elite v2 more stable. Is it a stable shoe? No. But has the additional width made it more stable? Yes.
I’ve run several different “fast runs” in the New Balance Fuelcell Elite 2. I think it excels as a long-distance and tempo shoe. I don’t think it’s overall great for anything shorter like track intervals because it’s extremely soft but also heavy. There are much better options for track workouts, including the Metaspeed Edge.
The NB Fuelcell Elite v2 feels like a trainer but acts like a racer, so if you want the comfort of a trainer but want that carbon plate, this is the best option in the carbon-plated world.
New Balance Fuelcell Elite 2 Conclusion:
The NB Fuelcell Elite v2 is neither the lightest nor the fastest carbon plated option, but it is probably one of the best if you have wider feet or are strictly marathon training. Because it feels most similar to a trainer, the ride is also much less aggressive on your feet.
Plus, at $225, it is cheaper than many other options. It has had significant updates since the original RC v1, but I think they’ve all been positive for the most part. If you are a fan of the New Balance Rebel or looking for a wider carbon plated shoe, the New Balance Fuelcell Elite 2 is a good option.
My Current Shoe Rotation:
Races: New Balance Fuelcell Elite 2, Asics Metaspeed Sky, Hoka One One Rocket X, adidas Adizero Pro, New Balance Fuelcell 5280, Nike Next%, Saucony Endorphin Pro, New Balance fuelcell TC, Reebok Run fast Pro
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Questions for you:
Have you tried the New Balance Fuelcell Elite 2?
What is your favorite racing shoe?