Physical Therapists Using Clinical Analysis To Discuss The Art And Science Behind Running and The Stuff We Put On Our Feet

Post Page Advertisement [Top]


New Balance FuelCell Propel v4: Beginner's Intro to Plated Running?
By Matthew Klein

One of the bigger challenges for runners who have progressed far enough to consider a plated shoe is cost. Fully plated shoes (not partial) usually start around $150 even for training shoes. While some of the older models are going (finally) going on sale, this cost can still be a barrier for many runners, especially those new to the sport. The New Balance FuelCell Propel v4 changes that, sporting a full-length TPU plate between a large amount of FuelCell foam. With those changes come a drastically different shoe from previous versions of the Propel series. While Propel 4 is plated, it gains a large amount of weight and stack height. The only thing similar about it to the Propel v3 is the name and will likely attract a completely different runner. 

Price: $109.99 at Running Warehouse
Weight: 10.7 oz, 302 g (men's size 9), 9.6 oz, 272 g  (women's size 8). 
Stack Height: Not Provided
Drop: 6mm
Classification: TPU Plated Performance Trainer


The New Balance FuelCell Propel v4 is a soft, plated daily training shoe for those who want some snappiness for easy and uptempo mileage. The once-light Propel series gains some weight as it adds a large amount of FuelCell foam and a TPU plate. The fit remains a little snug with an upper that stretches over time, providing a slightly performance-oriented fit. No longer the nimble shoe, the Propel v4 is now a solid option for hammering daily miles, long runs and pace pick-ups. It also remains a budget option for those looking for more training-focused performance.

: Puma Velocity Nitro 2


The New Balance FuelCell Propel v4 fits me true to size in my normal men's US size 10. The fit is initially snug throughout, but the engineered mesh does stretch with time. The forefoot is normal to slightly snug in width with some extra volume that adds a little extra stretch. The midfoot is snug with a thicker non-gusseted tongue. Surprisingly I had no issues with tongue slippage. The heel is normal in width with a solid amount of heel collar cushioning and a moderately flexible heel counter. The counter is rounded and did not bother me at all, but those sensitive to them should approach with caution. The security of the upper is good thanks to the slightly snug fit and I did not need to lace lock the upper. The insoles have been creasing and sliding, most noticeably in the forefoot. This has surprisingly not caused any issues outside of being annoying; however, I would encourage most to consider switching out the insoles. Although the upper is fairly comfortable, this is one that I would suggest using socks with. The inner aspect of the engineered mesh is a bit scratchy, making some protection on your skin preferable. 


The New Balance FuelCell Propel v4 is a performance trainer that excels during daily miles and pace pick-ups. While a 10.7 oz weight was provided for a men's size 9, my men's size 10 actually weighs that much. Thus, I expect a true size 9 to be under 10 ounces. This weight range makes it feel trainer like and the full-length FuelCell foam provides a solid controlled bounce underfoot. The midsole is not super soft like the FuelCell Supercomp Trainer or SC Elite but is slightly firmer comparatively. The TPU plate adds some mild stiffness to the midsole, but I did not really notice it until I picked the pace up. The sole is well-rockered with a slightly lateral posterior heel bevel and a comfortable forefoot rocker. The transition at the heel is fairly smooth (although I think the bevel could still be a bit more lateral) and the FuelCell foam compresses well. The 6mm heel drop is noticeable but does not feel super low drop. This is likely due to the decent forefoot transition, which is comfortable. The stiffness of the plate and rocker at the front work well together and transition nicely.

The ride overall is somewhat relaxed, with the Propel v4 feeling comfortable for daily training and easy miles. This may come from the softer FuelCell foam and my enjoyment of the shoe having a bit more structure. You can pick the pace up in this shoe as I have done both hill repeats and intervals in this shoe. It does not do well at hard faster efforts but can do long runs and uptempo efforts. It feels on the heavier side for tempo runs but for mid-range efforts it feels great. This makes it a great option for those who do not want a super aggressive racing shoe but want to get a feel for what a shoe with a bit more performance feels like. At $110 it is impressive how much outsole rubber is on the bottom of the shoe. After 25 miles there is some abrasion in my normal spot (posterior lateral heel) but it is not significant and the material is still intact. Overall, I expect this shoe to last longer than most budget shoes and instead be in line with most daily training shoes. 


The New Balance FuelCell Propel v4 is a neutral shoe with some stable elements. There are solid sidewalls at the medial and lateral midfoot. The TPU plate provides some torsional rigidity and also comes up along the lateral side of the midfoot. For those who deviate laterally or have a history of lateral foot instability at the midfoot, this may be a good option. There is a central groove in the midfoot outsole that showcases the plate. The medial and lateral pillars of FuelCell provide some mild resistance to lateral motion, further adding to some centeredness at the midfoot. As with many New Balance Shoes, there is a solid amount of lateral sold flare at the forefoot. This tends to prevent excessive supination at the forefoot. The heel is fairly neutral with some of the lateral sole flare due to the central heel bevel offset by the easy compression of the foam. The FuelCell Propel v4 overall has a neutral heel, stable neutral midfoot with some additional lateral stability and a forefoot with resistance to lateral motion.

Thoughts as a DPT: The Balance of Contrast
By Matthew Klein

We frequently reference the fact that using a variety of shoes can be helpful in reducing injury risk. In fact, outside of strength training and intelligent training, it is one of the few things that have been found to decrease running injury risk (Malisoux et al., 2015). A question we often receive is how different do these shoes need to be. While several of us suggest and personally have shoe rotations that include a daily training shoe, lightweight trainer and racing shoe/flat, not everyone may actually use that variety of footwear for their training/running. Your training "tools" should match what you are doing or want to do. So those who just want a daily training shoe but want to experiment with picking up the pace may find a shoe like the Propel v4 to be a solid option that doesn't break the bank. It features a softer foam and a plate, but still retains much of the feel and ride of a great daily training shoe. This makes it a less aggressive change from those just used to training shoes.

While we suggest considering the use of a variety of running shoes, we know that drastic changes are one of the bigger risk factors for injury. This can include drastic/quick changes in training (volume/intensity) or drastic changes in footwear. We frequently hear injury stories from our patients after switching to some new super shoe too quickly after hearing about them and getting excited. Excitement is fine, but any new tool while require some adaptation from your body. You adapt to the shoe and not the other way around. This means either taking time to ease into a new footwear type or considering a "transitional" one. The Propel v4 is an excellent option for this to try something different without straying too far from traditional. 


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.


While I have enjoyed the FuelCell Propel v4 as a daily training shoe, I feel that it lost its previous place as a lighter uptempo shoe/lightweight trainer. While the weight increase is not as terrible as advertised, it still feels more like a training shoe to me. This is probably fine for those who want a budget-plated shoe that isn't too drastically different from the training shoes they are using. However, I want to challenge New Balance to do better. I would love to see this shoe drop a little bit of weight to get back down to around 9 ounces. The central groove could be extended a bit to drop a little weight. The plate can also be further shaped in ways to facilitate forward motion that still cuts down on weight. The medial groove in the forefoot could also be cut out like the lateral one to slowly shave down weight. Even low 9 oz would make this an incredible budget shoe that would beat out close budget competitors like the Axon 3 and Velocity Nitro 2. It is almost there, but not quite.


The New Balance FuelCell Propel v4 is a solid, non-aggressive performance trainer for those that want to try a plated shoe that can go uptempo without breaking the bank (or your legs). The fit is slightly snug yet comfortable, providing some stretch and volume that accommodates well for a performance shoe. The ride is comfortable with mild stiffness, making it great for daily training and uptempo training. It is not the fastest or the lightest shoe, but may be a great transitional shoe for those interested in getting into faster running and more aggressive racing shoes. It is not light enough to be compared to true lightweight plated shoes like the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 or Skechers Razor 4, but sits along other budget performance shoes like the Puma Velocity Nitro 2. The $110 cost of a shoe that features this much tech is impressive, but more tech doesn't necessarily make for a faster shoe. What it does make is a great transitional option for some and a potential racing shoe for those who want a trainer that can go a little faster without being too aggressive or breaking the bank.


Fit: B/B+ (Slightly snug fit with a little extra volume that fits comfortably. Insole can slide in forefoot, may want to consider replacing)
B (Solid daily training and long run shoe that can pick up the pace to uptempo efforts)
Stability: A- [Stable Neutral Midfoot] (Midfoot sidewalls, lateral plate lip and central groove create a stable midfoot, especially for those who go too far lateral)
DPT/Footwear Science: B+ (Stable midfoot design makes this a rare shoe for those who go too far lateral. Weight increase makes sense for stack height and plate, but could still be lighter. Excellent shoe for those who want to try a performance shoe without being too aggressive)
Personal: B/B+ (Great daily training option but does not contrast enough with daily trainer for me to keep it in my rotation)
Overall: B+


New Balance FuelCell Propel v4
Price: $109.99 at Running Warehouse

Shop Men
| Shop Women

*Using the link to purchase helps support Doctors of Running. Thanks so much!

Check out Gear We Love
Ultraspire Fitted Race Belt: The best way to carry your phone and goods on the run. No bounce and various sizes for waist. (Also recommend the Naked belt)
Saysky Running Gear: We were really taken aback by this Scandinavian company's ultra-thin, durable performance clothing
Skratch Recovery, Coffee Flavor: Mental and physical boost post run. Coffee flavor is excellent and goes great straight into a fresh brewed cup
goodr Sunglases: Run in style with goodr's super fun sunglasses.
Feetures Socks: Massively grippy socks that will make you feel more one with the shoe
Amphipod Hydraform Handheld Water Bottle: Perfect for long runs when you need hydration in the summer
Trigger Point Foam Roller: Help get those knots out post-run and feel better for tomorrow
Theragun Massager: This small version is great on the go for working tired legs
Ciele Hat: Our team's favorite running hat of choice!
Fractel Hats: Our team's wider fitting running hat of choice!


Reebok Floatride Energy 5 - Major changes to the popular training series, including a torsion system
Runner's Essentials: Eight Videos to Watch
How Much Money Does Doctors of Running Make? Report #4
New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 - A full redesign of their super shoe offers the best ride yet, but with one issue
Puma Fast-FWD Nitro Elite - Puma's highly aggressive, uniquely design 5k/10k racer
Saucony Terminal VT - Saucony's new middle distance super spike, featuring PWRRUN HG

Find all Shoe Reviews at Doctors of Running here.

Thanks for reading!


Facebook: Doctors of Running
Youtube Channel: Doctors of Running
Instagram: @doctorsofrunning
LinkedIn: Doctors of Running
Strava: Doctors of Running
Podcast: Virtual Roundtable
Pinterest: Doctors of Running


Check out the Doctors of Running Podcast to find more reviews, interviews, and running features from the team.

Visit our Podcast Page
Find us on Apple
Find us on Spotify

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.

Please feel free to reach out, comment and ask questions!
Contact us at

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3

Bottom Ad [Post Page]

// ]]>