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New Balance FuelCell Prism v2 Review
By Chief Editor/Founder Matt Klein


The original New Balance version of the Prism - the Vazee - was a lightweight, light stability shoe that was incredibly firm, if not harsh. A mild medial post provided guidance, although the incredibly firm sole and aggressive toe spring provided more. The Prism was a drastic change with the introduction of FuelCell foam. The ride softened an incredible amount to the point that it was a very neutral shoe until the pace picked up. The New Balance FuelCell Prism v2 returns with a subtle balance between the two. A more clear entry into the mild stability category, the FuelCell Prism v2 may be finally hitting its stride. 




Specifications for the New Balance FuelCell Prism 2 (per Running Warehouse)
Weight: 9.5 oz / 269 g (men's size 9) 7.7 oz / 218 g (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 30 mm / 24 mm
Drop: 6 mm
Classification: Mild Stability Trainer/Lightweight Trainer



RUNNING SHOE SUMMARY

The New Balance FuelCell Prism v2 is for those who want a mild stability lightweight trainer. With a nimble ride that feels far lighter than the listed weight, the Prism v2 is particularly good for those who want a little less shoe for faster days or for middle distance training miles. The upper is very light, fitting slightly snug with or without socks. A slightly firmer ride than last time makes for more apparent stability, but this shoe integrates everything so well even those with neutral mechanics will enjoy it.

FIT


The New Balance FuelCell Prism v2 fits me true to size if slightly short in my normal men's US size 10. The upper features a breathable and comfortable engineered mesh that is soft against the skin and works well with or without socks. The width is fairly normal in the heel and midfoot. The security from the laces is good enough that I did not have to lace lock the shoe. There is a small flexible heel counter located in the rearmost section of the heel. It did not cause me any problems at all, which is particularly good since my Haglund Deformity is flared up right now. So those with heel sensitivities  will be fine. The forefoot is normal in width, but feels snug due to the slightly short fit. The upper does stretch, particularly in the upper, after only a few minutes that feeling disappears. There is additional security built into the upper in the midfoot. The laces, which are perfect in size although slightly long, integrate very well with the upper. It is easy to get a secure fit that holds my foot on the platform even while trail running (which is why the white upper is so dirty in the photos). So overall a slightly snug but comfortable upper that breathes very well and locks the foot down.



PERFORMANCE

The New Balance FuelCell Prism v2 has a mix between a firmer and softer ride while maintaining the feel of a lightweight trainer. Despite still using a full FuelCell midsole, it appears to have a higher durometer/level of firmness compared to the previous version. This creates a far more stable feeling and makes the light medial post slightly more noticeable. The FuelCell material is still soft, it is just more balanced than other shoes using that midsole material. The transition is fairly smooth as there is a posterior lateral heel bevel. The transition is fairly smooth onto the forefoot, which has a decent level of flexibility. There is some toe spring, which creates a smooth toe off. The flexibility is limited to the forefoot as the post seems to slightly stiffen the heel and midfoot. There is a 6mm drop which is noticeable. For those that heel strike, the FuelCell in the heel does compress, creating an even lower drop. Those those used to higher drop shoes should take time to transition.

The traction and durability are both very good for a road shoe. I have over 30 miles in my pair and see no wear on the N-Durance outsole material. Use wise the FuelCell Prism v2 will work as a daily trainer for those used to lightweight trainers or as a workout shoe for those coming from heavier stability shoes. I have done variety of runs in this shoe, including intervals, a trail tempo, easy runs and a trail run. While not best for aggressive trials, picking up the pace feels great in this shoe. The FuelCell, while firmer than previous iterations of shoes with this midsole, is still nicely responsive. The Prism v2 also feels much lighter than the listed weight and it is easy to turn the legs over while wearing them. Easy runs of moderate length felt great in these, but I had more trouble over longer distances. So most people will find this as a mid distance training/workout shoe. Those used to lightweight trainers will easily be able to train full time in this shoe for a variety of distances. Those coming from heavier stability shoes will also find a lightweight stability racing options if they want a little more protection than shoes like the Fastwitch or 1500.


STABILITY 

The New Balance FuelCell Prism v2 is a mild stability shoe. A mild post sits in the rearfoot, with a firmer section on the medial side right where the midsole triangulates. There are a few additional methods of stability. The heel bevel is slightly lateral, which creates additional bias laterally at the heel. There are sidewalls on both sides of the shoe, with the lateral side being a bit more pronounced. This may provide some gentle guidance for anyone that goes too lateral at the heel/midfoot transitions. There is a very mild amount of this on the medial side as well. The midfoot is not as narrow as other shoes and the last (shape) of the shoe is a little straighter. Finally, there is some mild sole flare at the forefoot which can gently center the foot. None of these methods are pronounced and even the heel posting is mild. Those with heavy stability needs may be able to do shorter runs and workouts in this shoe, but it is best for those with neutral to very mild stability needs at the heel specifically. 

THOUGHTS AS A DPT / FOOTWEAR SCIENCE

How Do You Know How Much Stability You Need?

When we talk about stability, we are now referring to the many varied ways to add structure to a shoe. This can be through traditional means such as a medial post, heel counters, or wedging. It can also refer to new methods include guide rails, sidewalls, sole flare, internal sole geometry, straight lasts, extreme lateral bevels and more. A question frequently asked by both patients and readers is "If I do need stability, how much do I need?" The answer depends on several factors that can change over time.

The biggest factor is understanding how much or how little stability you can handle. The amount of stability you can handle may have both a low and high end. Shoes that are too stable or not stable enough both have the potential to cause issues. There is also variability in how much stability each person needs, as some people need a large amount, some people need a little, others can handle a variety and others are very sensitive (in a negative way) to shoe stabilizing methods. Most people can handle a variety of levels of stability. We encourage switching between a few pairs of shoes as the different amounts of stability and stimuli from different shoes provide a cross training effect. This may be helpful in reducing certain running related injuries (Malisoux et al., 2015). How much you can handle will depend on your individual mechanics, strength and endurance. The most common thing to focus on is comfort!!!  While frontal plane (side to side) motion at the foot/ankle has been the biggest focus, we know now that just because someone may move excessively in a certain area does not mean they are going to have problems. Most people focus on pronation, which is the inward collapse of the foot during normal shock absorption. However, it also refers to supination, whereby some people actually collapse outwardly AFTER they land (less common, but there are still some people that do this). This is not to be confused with landing on the outside of your foot and rolling in (that's still pronation). Just because someone pronates or supinates doesn't mean they are going to have a problem. It also may just be the way they shock absorb. If you take away something someone is doing efficiently, you may cause problems elsewhere. However, if they do not have the strength, endurance or stability to handle those motions in that area, then a stability shoe may be helpful. How much stability you need will depend on how much correction you need. If you are having problems/injuries specifically related to excessive pronation/supination including injuries to the posterior tibialis, Achilles tendon or other tissues with known relationships to pronation/supination, a shoe with more stability may be a better idea (Malisoux et al., 2016). If you try those shoes but find them too stiff/uncomfortable, a shoe with a little less may be better.

How much you stability you need (if you even do) will also depend on the type of run you are doing. Slower and longer efforts may require more stability as your body fatigues or as you tend to land harder. On the other hand, faster efforts, during which people will often have shorter ground contact times, may require less stability. This is a great reason to have a variety of shoes and if you need stability, a variety of levels of stability. The New Balance FuelCell Prism v2 may work very well for shorter/faster efforts or workouts for someone who normal trains in a shoe with more stability like a New Balance 860 or Vongo. Stability shoes generally tend to be heavier, so a shoe like this may nimble enough to use for faster days but not the bulk of someone's mileage. Then when your body is fatigued from a workout, you can switch back to a shoe that supports you more as your body recovers.

It is important to understand that for many people, there is no perfect level of stability. Bodies and biomechanics change over time. Something you may have needed to run comfortable/without injury may change as the many factors in life change throughout your time on this planet. So this is often an experimental process. If you know a certain shoe or type of shoe works for you and you have problems when you try other things, you might want to stick to that shoe. If you are one of the lucky ones that can run in anything, enjoy trying different shoes! If you have stuck with a certain type of shoe for a while and want to try something different, try it on and see how you feel. If there are a few extra requirements that you need to work on to run in that shoe, you may have to put some extra effort into your body (like extra work on strengthening, stability, mobility, etc) to make sure you stay healthy when wearing them.

Please remember shoes are tools. Different people need different tools. There are also different reasons for them. If you are having issues related to excessive pronation, then a shoe with stability may be a good idea to use. If you find that a shoe with a high level of stability is too rigid/uncomfortable for you, you might want to try something with less stability. If you find the shoe with less stability is not enough, try something with a little more. When you put your foot in a shoe, it should feel comfortable and stable. The best bet is to head to a local running store and work with the many experienced experts there. They can help guide you through this process, which can take some practice to understand. Be patient with your self as this process involves some learning and experimentation.

References

Malisoux, L., Chambon, N., Delattre, N., Gueguen, N., Urhausen, A., & Theisen, D. (2016). Injury risk in runners using standard or motion control shoes: a randomised controlled trial with participant and assessor blinding. British journal of sports medicine50(8), 481-487.

Malisoux, L., Ramesh, J., Mann, R., Seil, R., Urhausen, A., & Theisen, D. (2015). Can parallel use of different running shoes decrease running‐related injury risk?. Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports25(1), 110-115.



RECOMMENDATIONS

I have really enjoyed this shoe. It is rare to find a lightweight light stability shoe and that happens to be a favorite shoe type of mine. I would like to see the post extended a little farther forward. The only reasoning for this is that it will provide stability not just for those who need stability at the rearfoot but also the midfoot. That however is nitpicking. This is an excellent upgrade from the previous version, which was far too soft to really be considered a stability shoe. The increased midsole durometer improves the stability greatly while not sacrificing responsiveness. This is a unique shoe within New Balance's footwear offering and I very much appreciate it!


WHO THIS SHOE IS FOR

The New Balance FuelCell Prism v2 is for those looking for a slightly lower drop, lightweight trainer with mild stability. The FuelCell is a little firmer in this version, which allows for better stability but solid responsiveness for workouts. The ride feels much lighter than the listed weight and feels smooth for being a little bit lower stack by todays standards. The upper is very comfortable, albeit slightly short with a breathable mesh and comfortable against skin fit. This shoe is best for those who want a lightweight trainer or those coming from heavier stability shoes looking for a workout/race day with a little more cushioning than other light stability racing shoes.


GRADING

Matt
Fit: A-/B+ (Breathable, secure and comfortable upper with a slight performance fit, but enough flexibility for adequate room. Feels slightly short).
Performance: 
A- (Smooth, moderately responsive and fun ride for those protection but with a little less shoe that most of what is out on the market. Slightly firmer than other fuelcell offerings)
Stability: A- (True to form as a mild stability shoe. Posting could be extended just a bit more into midfoot)
DPT/Footwear Science: A- (Good use of sidewalls and mild post. Would suggest either slightly filling in midfoot)
Personal:  B+ (A fun shoe, but the drop is just a little low for me right now. This is a fun lightweight shoe that feels lighter than the listed weight. Not quite versatile enough for me though for longer efforts)
Overall: A-/B+ (Excellent lightweight light stability shoe for those wanting a shoe with a little lower drop that works well for both shorter/moderate distance easy runs and workouts. )
  
SHOP | SUPPORT DOR

Find the New Balance FuelCell Prism v2 at Running Warehouse here
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FURTHER READING

Visit our Stability Guide for comparative shoes and learn more about stability. Also check out some mild stability shoes:

Recently at Doctors of Running
Stable Neutral Shoes: What they are, Examples, Supination vs. Pronation
Nathan's Marathon Race Recap!
RC Elite 2 Video Review -
Matt Klein discusses why it's an interesting shoe for beginner marathoners and the ways we should train into a shoe for the marathon distance
Puma Deviate Nitro Elite Long Run Review -
David Salas talks about his 21 mile long run in the shoe and offers thoughts on it's potential for the marathon as he trains for CIM
Topo ST-4 Review -
Minimalism lives on in 2021 with Topo's crossover running shoe.
Puma Deviate Nitro Review -
The training companion to Puma's racing shoe. For fast days on the road

Thanks for reading!

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TESTER PROFILE:


Matthew Klein, PT DPT OCS FAAOMPT
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist
Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists

Dr. Matthew Klein is a 150 lb male with notable PRs of 14:45 for 5k and 2:32:44 for the full marathon.  He typically runs 70-100 miles per week and trains at a variety of paces from 8min per mile recovery runs to 4:40 per mile 1k repeats.  He prefers firmer and responsive shoes with snug heels and medium to wide toe boxes.  The stability guy of the group, he also prefers a little stability in his footwear. However, as a researcher, clinician and running shoe aficionado, he will run in anything. 

Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this website belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. This website should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking medical care. If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your local running physical therapist. If you are in the Los Angeles area, I am currently taking clients for running evaluations.

***Disclaimer: These shoes were provided free of charge in exchange for a review.  We thank the  people at Running Warehouse and New Balance for sending us a pair.  This in no way affected the honesty of this review. We systematically put each type of shoe through certain runs prior to review. For trainers and performance trainers, we take them on daily runs, workouts, recovery runs and a long run prior to review (often accumulating anywhere from 20-50 miles in the process). For racing flats we ensure that we have completed intervals, a tempo or steady state run run as well as a warm up and cool down in each pair prior to review. This systematic process is to ensure that we have experience with each shoe in a large variety of conditions to provide expansive and thorough reviews for the public and for companies. Our views are based on our extensive history in the footwear industry and years testing and developing footwear. If you are a footwear rep looking for footwear reviews or consultations on development, we are currently looking to partner with companies to assist, discuss and promote footwear models. Partnership will not affect the honesty of our reviews.

Please feel free to reach out, comment and ask questions!
Contact us at doctorsofrunning@gmail.com

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