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New Balance FuelCell Rebel v3 Review: A Little Bit of Everything
By David Salas, Andrea Myers and Matthew Klein

The New Balance Rebel series has been doing a great job of pushing forward the performance trainer category. The Rebel v3 continues upon this lineage with a new outsole design and a more streamlined and fitting upper. The FuelCell midsole still maintains bounce and feels a little more sturdy under foot than the predecessor as well. The Rebel v3 is a performance trainer that can turn over at fast paces as well as cruise at slower paces with pretty decent comfort at both extremes. 

Price: $129.95 at Running Warehouse
Weight: 7.4 oz, 209 g (men's size 9), 5.8 oz, 164 g (women's size 8)
Stack Height: Not Provided
Drop: 6mm
Classification: Lightweight Performance Trainer


Matt: The New Balance FuelCell Rebel v3 is a non-plated, flexible performance trainer with a new generation midsole. A snug upper sits on top of a taller but narrower midsole than the previous version. This makes for a nimble shoe that when combined with the snug upper fit feels great for picking up the pace. The increased midsole height and softer FuelCell make for a surprisingly cushioned ride. Overall, the Rebel v3 is a uniquely flexible and snug performance trainer for those than want a neutral shoe for a variety of paces and shorter to moderate mileage. 

David: The New Balance Rebel v3 is a performance trainer that blends together some new generation midsole technology and the traditional low riding performance trainer feel. The shoe is soft and bouncy but still maintains a solid sensation of being grounded. The shoe can turnover quite quick and can also slow down as well. The Rebel 3 is a highly versatile option on the market.

Andrea: The New Balance Rebel v3 is a non-plated performance trainer with some bounce from its FuelCell midsole. It is an incredibly lightweight trainer that has just the right amount of cushion and ground feel for a variety of paces. The Rebel v3 is an excellent option for runners looking for a non-plated shoe for workouts. It does run small, so runners who are between sizes should consider sizing up 1/2 size. Some runners may prefer to reserve it for interval days, but I found it just as enjoyable on easy days. Priced at $130, it is a great value shoe.



Matt: The New Balance FuelCell v3 fits me true to size, if slightly long, in my normal men's US size 10. The fit is snug through the forefoot and midfoot, with a normal width in the rearfoot. There is a flexible heel counter in the rearfoot with some mild padding in the heel counter that provides structure but did not bother my calcanei (heel bones). There is a thin and gusseted tongue that was secure. The laces are on the thinner side, which combined with the thinner mesh upper I could not tie down too tight without putting pressure on the top of my ankle. Fortunately, the snug fit locked my feet in well and I did not have to lace lock the shoe. There are not a ton of reinforcements on the upper at the midfoot, so I did have some slippage with quicker turns. The forefoot tapers on the lateral side, making the front feel more snug. The overall upper is fairly light and disappears as soon as you start running. Overall, the upper is lighter, slightly snug and secure, as expected for a lighter weight/faster shoe.

David: The New Balance Rebel v3 fits true to size in my normal Men's 9.5. The shoe does maintain a performance fit throughout, being a tiny bit more snug than most daily trainers. The tongue is definitely thin and performance oriented, but still lightly padded in a way that provides no irritation. The tongue is gusseted really well with a wider elastic piece that holds the tongue and the upper to the foot while still allowing a little stretch. The shoe slowly widens out towards the forefoot: in the heel is normal to slightly narrow, the midfoot normal to slightly wide (for a performance shoe), and the forefoot is pretty widened a for a performance shoe. The material of the mesh is very comfortable and has mild stretch to it. It feels a little more on the performance end, but still maintains some daily trainer comfort as well.

There is a moderate flexibility heel counter that is pretty shallow in the heel bed and goes up about a third of the length up vertically. It does a great job of maintaining shoe structure and giving a nice sense of security without being overly stiff. Overall, a well-done upper. There is a very mild toe guard through the forefoot that also holds the structure well in the region. The only thing I really noticed with this shoe is that I did get a little bit of rubbing on the medial and lateral aspect at the wings of the toe guard. I never blistered but could feel a tiny bit of irritation with longer mileage beyond 10 miles of running. Despite that, the upper is done really well. 

Andrea: I received a women's size 10 in the Rebel v3, which was definitely the right size for me. I normally wear a 9.5 (including the SC Trainer), but wear a 10 in the New Balance SC Pacer and the Endorphin line. Even going up a half size, the length was a little shorter than I would prefer and I had a little less than a full thumb's width from the front of the shoe to my big toe. The width in the heel and midfoot is normal and the forefoot is a little wider than average, which I found comfortable.

There is not a lot of volume in the upper, so those with higher volume feet might not be comfortable in the Rebel v3. The mesh upper is soft and comfortable despite having minimal stretch. There is a smaller, semi-rigid external heel counter and the heel collar has light padding. Despite the shorter length and lower volume of the upper, I found it to be extremely comfortable and secure. The tongue is on the thin side and has a very secure gusset that attaches the tongue to the Strobel (the area underfoot, below the insole), resulting in the tongue and gusset wrapping the dorsum of the foot. The tongue also has a lace loop that further contributes to the security of the upper. I had no issues with lockdown or heel slippage in the Rebel v3. Overall, I found the Rebel to be a nicely fitting shoe, although I would have preferred a little more length.


Matt: The New Balance FuelCell Rebel v3 is a performance trainer and potential racer for some. The weight is extremely light at 7.4 oz (men's size 9) and features a large surprising amount of softer FuelCell foam underfoot. The FuelCell midsole is bouncy and softer throughout the length of the shoe. There is a 6mm drop listed, although is feels slightly lower than that to me due to how hard I land and compress the softer FuelCell in the heel. The ride is flexible especially in the forefoot. While there is some toe spring up front, the flexibility will require adequate to extension to perform well in this shoe. There is a solid posterior lateral heel bevel, which combined with the softer FuelCell makes for excellent heel landings and transitions. There appears to be a posterior flare at the rearfoot, but it is offset by the well-placed bevel. So there is a mild rocker to the ride, but most of the shoes forward progression comes from the FuelCell's bounce and the flexibility. The ride is a unique combination of feeling well-cushioned, but light.

I have done several workouts in this shoe and it feels like a softer and higher cushioned version of the older flexible racing shoes I was used to. There is bounce to the midsole, but all the speed has to come from you. It feels especially great for tempo runs and fartleks, but the softer cushion struggles for me at extremely fast efforts (where I would want a plate). For those that can handle this neutral ride and want a lighter performance trainer, there is enough cushion for moderate mileage.

The shoe feels very durable for a light performance trainer. I have over 30 miles on my pair with only a little abrasion at my usual spot. For that reason, I expect a higher number of miles out of a lighter performance trainer like this (probably 200-300). While being a performance trainer for most, some who are used to less shoe and want a bouncy, light and flexible racing shoe may also do well with the Rebel v3. 

David: The New Balance Rebel 3 certainly embodies a performance trainer. The shoe feels grounded and lower than normal daily trainers, but still higher up than racing flats. The FuelCell midsole definitely has a bouncy nature and a softer feel to the midsole throughout the full length of the shoe. It has a very gentle rocker and relies more on the midsole and forefoot flexibility for propulsion.

The ride feels pretty natural throughout and not overdone. The heel is lightly rounded and works well with the softer foam as you load it in initial stance and loading response. This gets you to the midfoot easily without a crashing feeling. The midfoot transition through the forefoot is pretty fluid at most paces, though does like to move on the quicker end. The forefoot has mild to moderate flexibility especially when loaded. When running fast the shoe gives you a little bounce without changing your mechanics. You definitely still have to work to get this shoe to move fast, but when you get it up to speed the lack of significant rocker feels nicer since you can dig into your forefoot more. This is a shoe that I can use for road workouts and track workouts where some shoes I keep isolated to the road. I can run both fast and slow in this shoe, though I do like it as a training companion and workout shoe primarily. 

Andrea: The Rebel 3 is one of the best non-plated performance trainers I have tested. The FuelCell midsole gives it some of the bounce of super shoes, but the lack of a plate allows for much better ground feel. The 6mm drop and flexible forefoot makes midfoot landing to push off feel extremely natural. I tested the Rebel 3 at easy pace to mile pace. I found the midsole to provide enough cushioning to be comfortable on easy days, but provided a more natural feeling as compared to higher stack shoes. There is more ground feel in the Rebel as compared to the Beacon, likely due to the increased flexibility of the forefoot in the Rebel. At faster paces, the FuelCell feels more responsive, but the flexibility of the forefoot still requires you to do the work at push off, as compared to stiffer and more rockered super shoes. The only issue I had with the Rebel is that the location of the forefoot rocker does not match the structure of my feet. I have a relatively long heel to ball of foot measurement (meaning I have shorter toes for my foot length) and it felt like the forefoot started flexing behind the ball of my foot at push off, causing some discomfort in my medial arch in that location. This was most noticeable when I used the Rebel v3 for 1 mile repeats at threshold and less noticeable for shorter intervals. Due to this issue, I will reserve the Rebel 3 for easy runs, where I do not feel the need for a max cushion shoe, and shorter intervals or strides.

After 45 miles of testing, the outsole shoe light wear in the midfoot and forefoot. Some of the wear is due to using the shoe for two runs on my treadmill, which chews up outsoles more severely than pavement. I would expect better than average durability from the Rebel v3. I did one run in the Rebel v3 on wet roads and had no issue with traction, even during strides.


Matt: The New Balance Fuelcell Rebel v3 is a neutral performance trainer. There are no traditional methods of stability and the platform is non-intrusive. There are extremely small sidewalls at the lateral and medial heel/midfoot transition. This feels like a higher arch in the midfoot, but the softer foam does not provide true support. The sole is on the narrower side, although there is some more mild medial heel flare at the heel. The well-done posterior lateral heel bevel does guide the heel in well. However, the more narrow midfoot is extremely neutral. Overall, this is a shoe that will do well for those without stability needs and wants a non-obtrusive, flexible ride. 

David: For having a softer foam, the Rebel 3 runs pretty stable throughout. The upper lockdown keeps you on the platform and gives you a nice sense of security in almost all conditions. I have even been able to take this shoe through the some runnable trail conditions as well, though most of my usage has been road. I have taken some hard turns around 4:50 mile pace and the shoe has held well laterally when leaning into turns as well. The sole flaring is mild in the heel but extends out in a way that it seems to integrate with the platform really well. The forefoot is more noticeable but seems to stabilize the softer foam really well without sacrificing the responsiveness or fast feel of the shoe. The outsole traction is also pretty good in the forefoot, helping with digging into the toe off phase of gait and pushing off in multiple directions. The midsole itself is still pretty soft throughout and there is some inherent instability, but the Rebel v3 has integrated some solid components to make this shoe feel like it is a part of you when running. I definitely trust this shoe in most situations. 

This is a neutral shoe, but the design of the shoe does provide some stability elements. The wider platform, particularly in the midfoot and forefoot, provide some stability regardless of where initial contact occurs. The excellent fit and security of the upper lock down the foot and prevent any foot translation. The potential guidance from the forefoot rocker is reduced by the flexibility of the forefoot. Due to the flexibility of the forefoot, this shoe may not be the best choice for runners with limited 1st MTP mobility. 


Inside the Forefoot Rocker
By Contributor Andrea Myers

A forefoot rocker is the upward curvature of the sole of a shoe at the forefoot. It is a common feature in running shoes, particularly those with greater longitudinal bending stiffness that may result from greater stack height or the presence of a plate. The 1st MTP joint (joint connecting to big toe) normally extends (bends up towards the shin) during push off, but a stiff-soled shoe will make it more difficult for 1st MTP extension to occur. Adding a forefoot rocker to a stiffer shoe helps with the transition from mid-stance to push off and reduces the amount of 1st MTP extension required for push off to occur.

Having the benefit of testing many shoes for Doctors of Running, I have consistently found that I am less comfortable running in shoes in which the apex of the forefoot rocker is positioned excessively behind my 1st MTP joint. I had this experience again in the Rebel v3, which led me to search the scientific literature to try to figure out why.

Lin et al., (2017) explored the biomechanical implications of rocker sole shoes. The authors stated that the apex of a rocker sole should be placed proximally to the area that is being off-loaded. This means that for the forefoot rocker, it should be placed between the 1st MTP and the heel as opposed to between the 1st MTP and the end of the big toe. This makes sense because if you want to reduce the amount of motion at the 1st MTP during push off, the curvature of the forefoot needs to start before the joint, not after. I thought that my issue with the Rebel v3 was that the apex location was too far behind my 1st MTP, so I searched for studies that examined the effects of different apex locations on foot and ankle biomechanics and plantar pressure. A study done on walkers found that moving the apex location further back (towards the heel) decreases Achilles loading and reduces plantar pressure on the MTP regions (Chen et al., 2022), but I was unable to find a similar study done on runners.

I did find an interesting study by Sobhani et al., (2016) on the biomechanics of running in rockered shoes. The study subjects were 18 experienced female endurance runners who were assessed while running in a standard shoe and a rockered shoe (both shoes were made specifically for the study and are not commercially available). They found that running in a shoe with a forefoot rocker resulted in a reduction in positive and negative work at the ankle, but an increase in the positive work at the knee. This study was unique in that they also broke down the data between habitual rearfoot and forefoot strikers. They found that the magnitude in reduction of positive and negative work at the ankle as well as the plantar flexion moment was almost double for midfoot strikers as compared to rearfoot strikers. They theorized that this may be because shoes with a forefoot rocker will cause midfoot strikers to land on their heels, because it may be unstable for a midfoot striker to land at the midfoot of a shoe with a forefoot rocker. Upon examination of the plantar pressure data for the midfoot strikers in the study, the authors found that every midfoot striker landed on their heel in the shoe with a forefoot rocker. Runners who land on the midfoot or forefoot have greater plantar flexion moment as compared to rearfoot strikers. If a shoe with a forefoot rocker causes non-rearfoot strikers to become rearfoot strikers, it will result in an even greater reduction in plantar flexion moment and work at the ankle because of the change in strike pattern. The limitations of this study are its small sample size and the fact that they only used female subjects, which means it generalizability is limited. The authors stated that it would be beneficial to repeat they study with a greater number of subjects and/or use commercially available rockered shoes.

None of this research has provided me with a definitive reason why I was uncomfortable in the Rebel, but it did provide some very useful information about the role that forefoot rockers play in walking and running biomechanics. Research on the human body rarely provides clear cut answers, particularly when it comes to an activity that involves as many variables as running. With regards to the Rebel, I think that for some reason, the location of the apex of the forefoot rocker combined with the flexible forefoot does not work with my mechanics.


Lin SY, Su PF, Chung CH, Hsia CC, Chang CH. Stiffness Effects in Rocker-Soled Shoes: Biomechanical Implications [published correction appears in PLoS One. 2017 Apr 19;12 (4):e0176467]. 
PLoS One. 2017;12(1):e0169151.

Chen, Tony & Wong, Duo & Peng, Yinghu & Wang, Yan & Wong, Ivy & Lam, Tsz-Kit & Lam, Gilbert W.K. & Zhang, Ming. (2022). The interaction effects of rocker angle and apex location in rocker shoe design on foot biomechanics and Achilles tendon loading. Medicine in Novel Technology and Devices. 13.100111.

Sobhani S, van den Heuvel ER, Dekker R, et al. Biomechanics of running with rocker shoes. 
J Sci Med Sport. 2017;20(1):38-44. 


Matt: The Rebel v3 is a great shoe, but will be more divisive than its predecessor due to how the geometry has been redone. The narrower fit and midsole and slightly higher stack changes a great deal of the shoe. Those wanting the slightly wider/anatomic fit of the last version will not do as well here. The midsole is also slightly firmer, but still soft, compared to previous. This change will upset some people, which is a gamble on New Balance's part given how popular the Rebel v2. The place the Rebel v3 clearly fills is that of a softer, flexible racing shoe. There are not many shoes out there in this weight range anymore, so it does fill an extremely unique void. However, I would caution New Balance with getting rid of the Rebel v2 design. It may have been better to just create an entirely new shoe. 

This is personal, but I would love to see this shoe designed to be more stable. The midfoot cut out was disappointing given how surprisingly stable the last version was just using geometry. The Rebel v3 has completely departed from that, which may alienate many people from finding success in it. Without changing too much more, it may be helpful to add a bit more of that in (fill in the midfoot, sculpt things a bit more to even the weight out without increasing it). 

David: The Rebel 3 is very well constructed. The upper security is done very well throughout but I do think the region near the toe guard could probably have a tad more softer or padded lining in the mesh upper to prevent irritation. The outsole pattern is pretty good with traction, but does seem to be wearing a little quicker than other shoes for me in the forefoot region at 32 miles. 

Andrea: The Rebel 3 is an incredibly versatile shoe and a great option for those looking for a non-plated performance trainer. I wish that the geometry of the forefoot meshed with my feet and biomechanics a little better, which would make it more comfortable for me during longer intervals. If the forefoot rocker was placed a little more distally (towards the toes) on the shoe, it would likely work better for my mechanics. 


Matt: The New Balance FuelCell Rebel v3 is a performance trainer for those wanting a snug fitting, flexible, light and well cushioned road running shoe. The FuelCell midsole provides a bouncy ride that works great for faster/uptempo efforts, while the stack height and softer ride provides protection for moderate mileage. The narrow shape and flexible ride provides a more natural/neutral ride, seemingly combining the higher cushioning of modern shoes with the flexibility and nimbleness of older racing shoes. For that reason, those that want a flexible and superfoam, non-plated shoe for racing will do well here. Others that want a light performance trainer for workouts and short-to-moderate mileage with a snug fit will enjoy the FuelCell Rebel v3 just as much. 

David: The New Balance Rebel v3 is a performance trainer for someone looking to have a shoe that can go fast and slow without a large rocker. The shoe also uses the new generation midsole of FuelCell and provides a good sense of bounciness underfoot. Despite the softer material, you still feel pretty connected to the ground. For me, this a pretty ideal workout shoe and I can use this both on the road and the track. 

Andrea: The New Balance Rebel v3 is a neutral performance trainer than can be used at every pace. Runners who are looking for some ground feel and a more flexible forefoot will love the Rebel 3. New Balance is really showing the versatility of FuelCell in the Rebel 3, which does not require a plate to be both cushioned and responsive at faster paces. The Rebel does run small, so those between sizes will want to go up 1/2 size. 


Fit: B+ (Snug, secure with with slightly lateral tapered forefoot. Fits almost slightly long)
A- (Bouncy flexible and light ride that can handle short to moderate mileage and workouts)
Stability: B [Neutral] (Posterior lateral heel bevel provides mild guidance at rearfoot, but narrow midfoot, narrow overall width and softer foam)
DPT/Footwear Science: B (A rare light, well cushioned and flexible shoe in todays era. I would expect however that with an increase in stack height, the shoe would not get more narrow since that is inherently stable. Need to look at widening midfoot with taller stack height and using other geometry to save weight. Heel bevel placement is excellent. )
Personal: B+/A- (A fun shoe for faster and tempo efforts that has the cushioning for short to moderate distances. Wish the midfoot was more stable)
Overall: B+ 

Fit: A- (Security is great throughout, comfortable material, though a little irritation near the toe guard)
A- (Solid workout shoe that can go about as fast as you want, heel and forefoot great transition, though the midfoot to forefoot could probably be smoothened a tiny bit for slower paces)
Stability: A- (Midsole gives some inherent instability, though great security and connection with the ground even off road)
DPT/Footwear Science: A- (A really nice blend of new generation shoe and traditional performance trainer)
Personal: A (This is a really fun shoe that  I keep reaching for on workout day)
Overall: A- (A really well done performance trainer with good bounce and connection to the ground underneath you)
Fit: A- (extremely well fitting upper, but the shoe does run small and the upper is lower volume)
Performance: A- 
(performs well at every pace, provides ground feel and cushion, very light weight for a performance trainer)
Stability: A- (wide platform and well fitting upper provide some stability, but flexible forefoot requires sufficient 1st MTP range of motion)
DPT/Footwear Science: A- (excellent use of high performance foam in a non-plated shoe)
Personal: B+ (versatile option for both easy days and interval days, but location of forefoot rocker combined with forefoot flexibility did not work with my feet for longer intervals)
Overall: A- 


Price: $129.95 at Running Warehouse

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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 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 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.

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