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New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 Review: Jack of all Trades
By David Salas, Nathan Brown, and Andrea Myers

The New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 is the newest update to the super shoe line. The SC Elite had an early release at the New York City Marathon and received a net positive from the masses. The SC Elite 3 is a redesign from the Fuelcell RC Elite 2 featuring a new Energy Arc Carbon Plate that is shaped slightly like an inverted U. The shoe also uses different geometry underfoot with a deep midline groove through the shoe. The upper also has a sock-like knit update. The result is certainly a net positive and a good addition to the super shoe lineup. 

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3
Price: $229.95 at Running Warehouse
Weight: 7.6 oz, 215 g (men's size 9), 6.6oz, 187g  (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 40mm heel // 36mm forefoot
Drop: 4mm
Classification: Super Shoe


The New Balance SuperComp Elite v3 is a new super shoe that has some new design elements compared to its predecessors. It still uses FuelCell as the midsole, but switches up the outsole/underfoot platform and carbon plate. The result is a balanced rocker that feels good both fast and slow. The SuperComp Elite v3 is a little bit of a "jack of all trades" super shoe.



David: The one thing about this shoe that has seemed to be polarizing among people is the upper and fit. For me, the actual fit was really good. I felt it was dialed in throughout and worked well for a long distance shoe. The heel is slightly snug, the midfoot is normal width, and the forefoot is wide. The forefoot region does taper a little bit to have a normal to slightly narrow toe box. The upper material is sock like and feels very comfortable on foot. It has an aspect of softness with decent reinforcement naturally thanks to the good integration with the sidewalls. There is mild stretch to it that accommodates to swelling well.

The one thing with this shoe is the lacing system. The actual lacing system does lock down well, though the thin sock-like mesh does not protect from biting. It seems to be something I can't escape with this shoe. The final eyelet also comes back pretty far posterior and pulls the material into the top of the ankle. This would be a spot of abrasion for me, especially when running in uneven terrain or turning in these. If they clean up that lacing system that will greatly increase the running experience of this shoe. 

Nathan: The upper of the SC Elite V3 is a bootie construction with a sock-like material. These types of constructions can be hit or miss (looking at you, HOKA Carbon X3). In this  case, they did a lot of this upper really well. It is soft yet breathable, has an overall decent lock-down, and doesn't fold over on the top of the foot when laced down. The fit itself is also nice, with a slightly roomier toe box and slightly more snug in the heel and midfoot. Plus the material has some stretch to it to accommodate different foot types. Where things missed the mark are with the lacing system. There is a thicker string that runs the length of the midfoot and acts as the eyelets. However, this string is anchored with stitching that goes to the inside of the upper. When running and lacing the shoe down I could feel the inner stitching biting into the sides and top of my foot. It also made it harder to really lock down the laces, and therefore I got a little bit of heel slippage. So in the end, you have a nice fitting, comfortable, and accommodating upper, but a lacing system that misses the mark.

I received my usual women's size 9.5 in the SC Elite v3, which fit true to size in both length and width. I tend to prefer shoes with a little extra width at the toe box, and I did not experience any irritation at the ball of my foot thanks to the sock-like upper. The soft, stretchy upper material and the bootie construction make this one of the most comfortable uppers I have tested. I was so confident in the fit of the shoe that my first run in it was an 11 mile workout. The extensive New Balance overlays on the lateral and dorsal aspect of the shoe provide much needed structure to the upper, without creating any areas of high pressure or pinching. There is a small, rigid heel counter at the lower half of the heel, which provides additional structure to the upper and helps comfortably secure the rearfoot. The heel collar has just enough thin padding to make the rearfoot comfortable and virtually unnoticeable while running. Due to the bootie construction, the tongue is a continuation of the thin, soft upper material. This did result in some discomfort on the front of my ankle if I wanted to tightly lock down the laces for faster workouts. I eventually found a balance where I had the right amount of lace tightness without lace bite, but it took several tries on each run. As David and Nathan have noted, the "eyelets" are made from a continuous string that runs on the medial and lateral sides of the midfoot. This method makes it harder to achieve sufficient lockdown, and I find the lacing system of the SC Trainer, which has a similar upper material, to be much more secure and without the potential for lace bite. 


David: The SC Elite v3 was a pleasant surprise for me. I liked the previous RC Elite 2, but I can say this newer model definitely out performs the previous model. The shoe has a redesign of the platform and plate. The shoe still uses FuelCell as their midsole, but now there is a deep midline groove throughout the shoe that helps keep you centered. The plate is also redesigned into their Energy Arc system that is shaped like a mild inverted U. I will say the plate is much more noticeable in v3 than any of the other models. This isn't a bad thing as the FuelCell still cushions it enough for it to feel like a nice rolling sensation.

The shoe does use a rocker profile similar to other super shoes. The rocker on the SC Elite v3 is a little more balanced throughout and provides a nice rolling sensation without being dramatic in any region. This makes the shoe feel like nice at both slow and fast paces. The shoe doesn't necessarily feel "fast" when you put it on but it responds really well when you push it. The toe spring is enough to roll you but not enough to get in your way. This also makes it a good track shoe for me, which I can't say for all super shoes.

Traction was pretty good for me as well. I have been able to take this in wet conditions without issue. I was really pleased with the performance of the SC Elite. The shoe feels like a "jack of all trades" super shoe. It is good in every category, but probably not the top option at any stand alone distance. That is the strength of this shoe though. I feel like this could be the peoples super shoe with having a balanced ride that feels good both slow and fast. The SC Elite is a versatile shoe that can be a one-stop super shoe for track work, road intervals, easy days or long runs, or racing marathons.

Nathan: This was my first time in any of the top-tier racing options from New Balance as I did not run in either version of the RC Elite. My initial take on performance is that it feels categorically different underfoot than any of the other true super shoe options. Many other options are clunky and awkward at slow paces and then begin to give some rhythm once putting in harder efforts. That wasn't the case with the SC Elite v3. This thing was as smooth for me at 10:30 min/mile pace (my recovery pace) as it was at 6:22 min/mile pace (my 10k effort pace). That made it great for long runs and workouts where I could simply use one shoe for all parts of the workout. The drop is technically listed as a 4mm drop, but it felt higher to me on the run, more in the realm of 6-8.

With some super shoes with a lower drop, like the ASICS Metaspeed Sky and HOKA Rocket X2, I feel like I need to "get up" onto the forefoot and then get the propulsion. This wasn't true for the SC Elite v3. This is likely due to the much more gradual rocker than begins earlier in the midfoot. Although it feels higher drop for me than the listed 4mm, there is still a very cushioned feel in the forefoot thanks to the soft FuelCell. Speaking of soft, this is one of the softer-cushioned super shoes I have tried. It doesn't have the same spring/pep as the Vaporfly or Endorphin Pro 3, but is more of a controlled bounce on very soft foam. Regardless of where you land, you'll feel plenty of cushioning.

I was excited to test the SC Elite v3, as I absolutely loved the SC Pacer for workouts, but wanted something a little more cushioned from New Balance for a potential marathon racer. I also tried the FuelCell TC a couple of years ago and found it to be way too soft and unstable for me, and immediately returned it. I was hoping the SC Elite would be firmer than the TC, but more cushioned than the Pacer. 

I was so happy with how the SC Elite v3 felt out of the box that my first run was an 11 mile workout with 7x2 minutes at 2 mile pace. I immediately found the shoe to be comfortable at easy pace for my warmup and cooldown as well as during my intervals. I subsequently used the shoe for 2 other 12-13 mile workouts with mile repeats at threshold and hill sprints, as well as an 18 mile easy run. I found the shoe to perform best at threshold paces, providing just the right amount of cushion and bounce.  As compared to other super shoes like the Alphafly, Vaporfly, or Endorphin Pro 3; the SC Elite v3 does not have the same forceful feeling at push off, likely due to the more moderate forefoot rocker and toe spring. At 2 mile pace and faster, the shoe borders on feeling a little soft, but it still got the job done for me without any discomfort. I decided to test the shoe on my 18 mile easy run because it is the most comfortable super shoe at slower paces that I have tested. While I did not have any discomfort during the run, I did experience some soreness/fatigue in my peroneals afterwards due to the high stack, soft midsole. Runners who like softer shoes may find the SC Elite v3 to be a great easy long run option, but I would not choose to use it again for one of mine. I think this shoe will be best for me in workouts from threshold to marathon pace. I need to test it during a longer marathon pace workout before deciding if it would be a potential marathon racer for me.

The shoe feels like its stated 4mm drop and I found it very comfortable for midfoot landings. I like the split design of the midsole thanks to the deep midline groove, and I could definitely feel the lateral pillar compress a little at initial contact and then gently spring me forward into push off. Runners who do not do well with the more aggressive forefoot rocker/toe spring of other super shoes may do very well in the SC Elite v3. The shoe nearly disappears on foot, thanks to its low weight of 6.6 oz for a women's size 8. I have 55 miles on my pair and the outsole is showing mild wear, particularly in the area of the midfoot that does not have any outsole rubber coverage. The longevity of the shoe will likely depend on how quickly that part of the exposed midsole wears down.

I did experience one major performance-related disappointment in this shoe. I tried taking it on an easy long run a couple of weeks ago, but within the first 2 miles, I could feel something was not right with the sock liner. I stopped and took the shoe off, and the sock liner, which is supposed to be glued to the shoe, had come completely loose and slipped almost all the way up the heel collar. I put the sock liner back in place, but within a few minutes, it had slipped up again. Fortunately, I was only 3 miles from home, so I headed back home, stopping every mile to reposition the sock liner, and switched shoes for the remainder of my run. I took the shoe to a shoe repair store to have the sock liner reglued to the shoe. I have put 30 miles on the shoe since doing so, and the sock liner remains firmly in place. The sock liner on the unaffected shoe remains secure as well. Hopefully this is just a one-off quality control issue, but this would have been a real problem if it had happened in a race.


David: New Balance did better with stability in the SC Elite V3. The RC Elite 2 felt a little unstable to me and I would always feel my ankle stabilizers working a little harder in them. That is not the case in the SC Elite V3. The deep midline groove in the platform and good sidewalls do seem to keep me feeling relatively centered. The outsole traction is good and I trust where I am stepping. The upper security is pretty good throughout despite the lacing issues I had. FuelCell is still one of the softer foams out there and so the shoe definitely still runs like a softer neutral shoe. With that said, this model has given me the most grounded feeling out of all of them so far. Some of that may be in part to the plate redesign as well. 

Nathan: Overall New Balance has created a neutral racing flat with a soft foam that could easily make it very wobbly and unstable. What they did to help this is the very deep groove down the center of the heel, basically creating two independent pillars on either side. When you load the heel, it feels almost like the two pillars splay outward, both increasing the softness and creating a wider platform, stabilizing the shoe a bit more when loaded. There are also some side walls that assist in side-to-side stability. Finally, the smooth transitions also help and the lack of an aggressive forefoot rocker improves the stability. What keeps this shoe from verging on a more "stable neutral" racing shoe is the narrow midfoot, very soft foam, and slight lack of structure in the upper which is mostly due to the lacing system.

The SC Elite v3 is a neutral shoe that has some elements that help center the ride. The major element is the deep midline groove that runs almost the entire length of the shoe. This helps to center the foot at initial contact, regardless of where initial contact occurs. The wider forefoot and balanced midfoot sole flaring additionally help to center the foot as you transition to push off. The soft midsole and upper create some inherent instability that keep this shoe from being a stable neutral shoe. 

Thoughts as a DPT: What do I look for in a super shoe?
By David Salas

Today I want to talk about some of things I look for in a super shoe. Nearly all of the super shoes in the market share some common themes. They tend to have "higher" stack heights normally around the World Athletics 40mm height at the heel. They normally have highly compliant and resilient foams, meaning soft and bouncy. Super shoes usually have a stiffening agent integrated into the shoe to help with stabilizing the foam and to add some rigidity and snappiness as well. There are a lot of moving components that come with super shoe design and running experience. Thankfully I tend to do pretty well with a large majority of shoes, but there are some that seem to speak to me more. Turns out, there are already some thoughts on using comfort as a method of picking running shoes. 

Nigg, Baltich, Hoerzer, & Enders (2015) proposed a new paradigm for selecting footwear. These new paradigms are Preferred Movement Path and the Comfort Filter. Essentially it boils down to this: individuals will run in a pathway that they prefer for their own biomechanics regardless of what shoe is on their feet. This may or may not be comfortable. The Comfort Filter is the other side of this coin: using your natural biomechanics and comfort information can help guide you to your next shoe. It is thought that this may help in reducing injury rates and even improve metabolic efficiency. 

Some of the things I look for is a sense of being grounded. I don't like a pillow soft shoe where I can't feel the ground. I also don't like feeling like I have to balance on the shoe to move forward. The SC Elite does a great job of making me feel centered and balanced. This really comes across on the track, uneven terrains, or turns. I also enjoy having some toe spring to make me feel like I have forward momentum. The SC Elite v3 is not as dramatic as some other shoes, but it is good enough to give that feeling. If it wasn't for some of the lacing system issues I had, this could be a shoe I eye a little closer. It has a lot of good things I look for though and wanted to make sure that was expressed. 


Nigg, B.M., Baltich, J., Hoerzer, S., & Enders, H. (2015). Running shoes and running injuries: mythbusting and a proposal for two new paradigms: 'preferred movement path' and 'comfort filter'. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 49. 1290-1294. 


David: The SC Elite V3 did well in many categories for me. My big recommendation is to refine the lacing system. I would get biting in nearly all locations where there were shoe laces. I would also have it dig into my upper ankle on the top eyelet laterally somewhat frequently. Fix that and the shoe will have a much better running experience. 

Nathan: Not to belabor the point too much, but the lacing system needs to be changed. The lacing in the SC Trainer worked great, and I think bringing that system to this shoe could be a really nice option. Or figure out a way to remove the excess stitching from the inside of the bootie upper. I also want to encourage NB to maintain the earlier stage and less curved forefoot rocker. It makes it a unique option for people running at a slower pace. Finally, widening the midfoot just a bit could add the stability it needs to make it one of the most stable racing shoes out there.

I agree with David and Nathan in that the biggest area of improvement in the SC Elite v3 is the lacing system. I would also recommend that they use the lacing system from the SC Trainer, which works well with the sock-like upper material of that shoe while still using traditional eyelets. I would also recommend extending the rubber outsole the entire length of the shoe to improve its longevity.


David: I said this earlier, though I feel this is potentially the people's super shoe. There is a noticeable rocker, but not one that is overly dramatic. The cushioning underfoot is good and gives plenty of protection while also making you feel grounded. The shoe does not feel as "fast" as some of the other shoes but can do a little bit of everything well. It can run both slow and fast with comfort. This is a super shoe for someone that likes a more balanced rocker profile and a softer midsole.

Nathan: I completely agree with David. This is a long-distance racing shoe for someone running at any pace and may want to use their shoe for both racing, long runs, and some workouts within a training block. I've done everything from a short recovery run to a long threshold tempo and it felt great at all paces. This is also for someone who wants a very soft underfoot feel and not a shoe that feels like it is pushing them forward.

This is a do-it-all super shoe and one of the most comfortable at easy paces. Runners who like a softer midsole and a less aggressive forefoot rocker will do well in the SC Elite v3. I personally think it is best at paces from lactate threshold (LT) to marathon pace, but others may find it to be a true jack-of-all-trades and use it for any road race distance as well as workouts. Runners who are sensitive on the dorsum/top of their feet may want to proceed with caution due to the lacing system.



Fit: (Everything is good but the lacing system makes it difficult to fully enjoy. Dimensions otherwise are solid and comfortable.)
A- (Incredibly versatile with ability to go slow and fast. It bottoms out a little when compared to pure marathon shoes or pure shorter distance shoes though. It is a jack of all trades type shoe.)
Stability: B (They did a lot of things well here. The sidewalls, traction, platform, and plate all help stabilize a soft foam. The Fuel Cell is still one of those softer foams out there though and makes it a tall task to fully stabilize.)
DPT/Footwear Science: B+/A- (Great integration of sidewalls and geometry for a super shoe, upper integration takes away some points)
Personal: B (I like this shoe a lot, its just that lacing system that brings this grade down)
Overall: B+/A- (A very good addition to the super shoe lineup, if the lacing system works for you then its worth a look.)

Fit: B- (Length and width were good, upper material very comfortable, just issues with the lacing system biting into my foot and therefore some slipping in the heel)
A- (Performs well at all paces, but lacks some of that top speed pop compared to others in this category)
Stability: B (Neutral shoe, but not unstable, which is great with having so much soft FuelCell underfoot)
DPT/Footwear Science: A- (Lots of components came together really well, and the use of the deep groove, sidewalls, and curvature of the plate gives a solid performance)
Personal: B+/A- (Really enjoy the shoe, may be an option for my upcoming 20K if lacing does okay for me)
Overall: B+/A-


Fit: B+ (sock-like upper extremely comfortable and accommodating in the forefoot, particularly for a racing shoe. Lacing system makes it hard to achieve sufficient lockdown without lace bite.)
Performance: B+/
A- (This is the most versatile super shoe I have tested due to its comfort at easy paces as well as faster paces. Deduction for slippage of sock liner, which would have been ruinous during a race.)
Stability: B- (a neutral shoe with mild centering elements. Soft midsole resulted in peroneal discomfort for me due to mild instability.)
DPT/Footwear Science: A- (Long midline groove results in a centered, cushioned landings, but lacing design could be improved)
Personal: B+/A- (Overall great fit, versatile for different workouts, but disappointing performance due to sock liner slippage)
Overall: B+/A-


New Balance SC Elite V3
Shop: $229.95 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 Running Warehouse/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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