New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Trainer Shoes Review
by iRUN Singapore on October 05, 2022
Weight: 295grams / 10.4oz (Men’s US 9)
Price: $289 SGD
Stack Height: 47/39mm (8mm drop)
Pros & Cons
Soft & Smooth Ride
Great Upper Lockdown
Runner Requires Strong Hips & Ankles
Chaffing on Lateral Left Ankle
As runners, we used to think that more is always better, but is it really? Ever since the introduction of the Nike Vaporfly 4%, more shoe companies have increased the stack height of their running shoes, till the World Athletics restricted stack heights to 40mm.
While shoes of above 40mm stack are not permitted for official racing, they are still allowed for training purposes. Adidas was the first to release a training shoe with >40mm stack. Measuring at 50/40mm, this trainer drew lots of media attention for its radical design. It didn’t have the speed of marathon carbon plated shoes, and worked best for steady long runs. Instability was one of the main issues that the Prime X faced, which led to many runners having to return their pair.
Enter the FuelCell SuperComp Trainer, New Balance’s response to the Adidas Adizero Prime X and a replacement of The FuelCell TC. Featuring a 47/39mm drop, the SC Trainer weighs about 30 grams heavier than the Prime X and adds 11mm and 13mm of stack in the forefoot and heel respectively when compared to the FuelCell TC.
Upper & Fit
The upper is made from a flat knit, with an ‘N’ logo design overlay to provide added structure to the lateral midfoot. Knit uppers are generally a hit or miss for me. Shoes using knit usually have toe boxes that are either too narrow or too unstructured. Lockdown and breathability are also usually tough to nail down.
I was pleasantly surprised that I did not have to use the last lace holes in the SC Trainer. Lockdown is really good here. The toe box was ever so slightly snug when I went true to size in my regular width. Though, half a size up would have been too big for me. Unless you have a really wide foot, I recommend a true to size fit.
Breathability is also better than many trainers with knit uppers. However, I experienced some chaffing in the lateral portion of my ankle. This is where the upper meets the cushioned heel collar. It got slightly better over time but seemed to be a recurring problem especially during the first few runs. Having heard the same feedback from numerous runners, I hope new balance looks into making some tweaks in their next version. Not everyone will experience this, but definitely take this into consideration.
Midsole & Ride
Here comes the exciting part! Remember the crowd-favourite fuelcell foam that made waves in the running community? Now, there’s even more of it, 47mm in the heel and 39mm in the forefoot to be exact! The presence of a new ‘Energy Arc’ cambered carbon fibre plate prevents the SC Trainer from being mushy, while also aiding foot transitions with the pronounced forefoot rocker and ‘strategic midsole void’ in the centre of the midsole.
At close to 300grams, the weight can definitely be felt on the run. However, it feels faster and more nimble than other max cushioned trainers of the same weight category. I found the ride to be really smooth at easy-tempo paces, though I would probably take something lighter for anything tempo and up.
It isn’t as dynamic as the RC Elite 2 or even the Adidas Prime X, but feels closer to a cruiser to take you through the longer runs. On tired legs, the ride felt a little sluggish and unstable when my form broke down. My hips felt more fatigued than usual, due to the instability of the high stack. Do I think that it is a good replacement for the TC? I don’t, though it serves a different purpose. The TC was more versatile on the paces while the SC Trainer is more limited to a slower range of paces. While more comfortable on foot, the weight difference is significant. I’d say one would purchase the SC Trainer if he/she seeks a fun long run cruiser.
All in all, the ride is definitely one of my favourites if I was going out on a long run, especially on fresh legs.
Outsole & Durability
New Balance utilizes a blown rubber outsole in the forefoot and heel sections, reminiscent of the RC Elite 2. There are exposed sections of midsole in the mid and forefoot. It works well on most dry surfaces, but struggles during wet weather.
Durability is decent but isn’t great. I predict about a 500km lifespan before the outsole shreds off. Be careful to run on gravel surfaces though, big stones might get stuck in the middle groove.
Areas of Improvement
Fix Upper Near Collar
The New Balance SuperComp Trainer is a max cushioned trainer that works well at easy to tempo paces. While the ride resulting from the 47mm of fuelcell foam is plush, bouncy and fun, runners purchasing the SC Trainer need to have strong hips and ankles to avoid potential injuries from the high stack of soft foam.
Reviewed by Xtride Running
Check out New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Trainer here