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A lightweight, tempo trainer usually has 3 main characteristics: a firm ride that makes it easy to go fast in, a weight below 215g, and a snug-fitting, secure upper.
Version 1 of the Rebel was such a unique tempo trainer because it wasn’t firm and boring like most tempo trainers at the time.
The FuelCell midsole of the Rebel provided a great level of cushioning and energy return that made it extremely versatile and fun to run in. You could use it for short runs as well as longer distances.
The Rebel also had an extremely unique design with its midsole lateral “wing” flare that made the shoe look futuristic and ahead of its time.
The Rebel v2 has been 2 years in the making and in those two years, New Balance has been hard at work. The Rebel v2 has received big updates: its midsole is now softer, the crystal rubber on its outsole has been replaced with softer, blown rubber and the upper is no longer a bootie construction.
So is the Rebel v2 as fun and versatile as the first version was and how does it compare to the other lightweight speedsters?
|208g (men’s US9)
Light and minimal are the most accurate words to describe the upper of the Rebel v2. It's made from an engineered mesh that's highly porous and best suited to warm climates because it allows your feet to breathe.
The tongue is also well ventilated because there are holes punched into it to allow air to pass through. It's wide, flat and not gusseted but there is still no sideways tongue slide because its wide wings hold it in place.
The heel counter counter and collar are lightly padded and foot lockdown is good. There are unfortunately no last row double eyelets for heel lock lacing but you don't have to worry about heel slippage.
The fit is definitely true to size but it's a narrow-fitting upper so it's not suited to wide-footed runners. Luckily the Rebel v2 is also available in a 2E width.
The softness of the FuelCell has been dialed up a lot and the Rebel v2 is one of the softest shoes to be released so far this year. Even walking around in the shoe, you can feel your feet sink down into the fluffy foam.
Light runners will appreciate the low density of the midsole foam because it doesn't take much pressure to compress the foam unlike other firmer midsole foams like React and Boost.
Conversely, heavier runners might feel that it compresses too easily and bottoms out during footstrikes.
At the midfoot, the midsole flares up to keep your foot centred and increase the stability of the ride which is a trend we've seen on most new running shoes this year.
FuelCell is New Balance's premium super foam that they use in their top of the range performance running shoes like the FuelCell TC and the RC Elite.
It's an EVA-TPU blend which has Nitrogen infused into it to create a lightweight, soft foam with excellent energy return.
FuelCell is the engine of the Rebel v2 and it's where it gets its unique, smooth and bouncy ride from.
You can clearly see by the outsole rubber layout where the Rebel v2 wants you to land: on the forefoot. The entire forefoot is covered with the soft, flexible rubber while the heel and midfoot sections also have rubber coverage.
The large section of uncovered midsole foam on the outsole increases ground feel in the Rebel v2 while also lowering the weight of the shoe.
Like the midsole foam, the rubber on the outsole is also super soft so the shoe flexes easily and freely up in the forefoot.
Durability is a slight concern because of how soft the exposed foam is. You'll start to notice the uncovered outsole areas getting scuffed by rough surfaces after just a couple of runs.
Traction is excellent on a variety of surfaces because of how soft and tacky the outsole rubber is.
Ride transitions in the Rebel today are incredibly smooth because of the single-piece midsole. The high toe-spring also helps to roll you forward so transitions feel effortless; it's as if you're gliding down the road.
The updates to the Rebel have now made it best suited to middle and long distances at easy or steady paces. There is plenty of cushioning now for even the marathon distance and the high level of energy return keeps your legs fresh.
Version 2 is not as snappy-feeling as version 1 because the TPU plate has been removed but the ride now feels more natural and relaxed.
Stability in the Rebel v2 is fine for forefoot and midfoot strikers because its forefoot is wide however heel strikers might find the Rebel v2 slightly unstable because the rearfoot is much narrower than the forefoot.