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(The Gear Loop) - The New Balance Fuel Cell SC Elite V3 is the shoe in the New Balance collection that’s built for bringing bucketloads of speed on race day, covering everything from rapid 5K efforts to marathon distance. 

While the name may have slightly changed, the goal remains the same for the Fuel Cell SC Elite V3: to deliver that speedy feeling and do it better than its predecessor.

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It hopes to build on the qualities that made the V2 a strong racing and training companion by grabbing features from New Balance’s other SC (SuperComp) shoes. This includes a new Energy Arc carbon fibre plate, tweaked upper and a lower 4mm drop make it appeal more to the midfoot striker.

We’ve been putting in some road and track time to see if the Fuel Cell SC Elite V3 feels great to go fast in and can sit with the best top tier racing shoes in the business. Here’s how we got on. 

The Gear LoopNew Balance Fuel Cell SC Elite V3 review photo 11
Our quick take

The New Balance Fuel Cell SC Elite V3 feels and runs like a fast racing shoe, but while it offers a slightly firmer ride, it doesn’t quite match up to the more aggressive, propulsive experience of some of its top tier competitors. However, it matches the stability of standout options like the excellent Saucony Endorphin Pro 3, making it great for tempo runs, too.

New Balance Fuel Cell SC Elite V3 review: fast, even over marathon distances

New Balance Fuel Cell SC Elite V3

4.0 stars
For
  • Stable for a racing shoe
  • Strong option for race and speed training
  • Grip in wet and dry
Against
  • One-piece tongue and laces can feel tight
  • You can get more aggressive ride elsewhere

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In the Loop

Everything you need to know about the New Balance Fuel Cell SC Elite V3 in short:

  • Bootie upper construction hugs foot
  • Energy Arc pairs sport-specific carbon fibre plate geometry with strategic midsole voids
  • One-piece integrated tongue construction
  • 4mm drop
  • FuelCell Foam
  • 228g overall weight in UK8
  • Half sizes up to 12.5

Design and fit

The key to any good racing shoe is minimal weight and a good balance of protection and support, especially if you’re planning to take it the marathon distance or beyond.

The Gear LoopNew Balance Fuel Cell SC Elite V3 review photo 4

New York Marathon-themed upper aside (take a closer look at the pics, not our cup of tea), the V3 weighs 228g, so a slight jump in weight from the V2 (219g), meaning it’s not quite as light as Nike’s Vaporfly NEXT% 2 (under 200g) or the Asics Metaspeed Sky+ (205g).

The upper is dominated by a bootie-style construction, designed to sit snug and comfortable around the foot. We felt it offered a good fit overall, with plenty of space at the toes and a nice hold at the midfoot and heel in our UK size 8.

The Gear LoopNew Balance Fuel Cell SC Elite V3 review photo 1

New Balance has switched things up with the tongue though, which is now a one-piece affair and has more of a stretchy sock-like feel to it. We can’t say we are the biggest fans of this and found it takes some adjusting and playing around to make sure the laces at the top of the tongue didn't press into the sides of our feet. 

The heel-to-toe drop has also changed from the Elite V2, transforming from a fairly exreme 10mm drop to a much more reasonable 4mm. On paper, this should promote more of a midfoot strike in this shoe, though as this predominantly heel striker found in testing, that drop wasn’t a major concern of ours.

The Gear LoopNew Balance Fuel Cell SC Elite V3 review photo 2

Performance

We got a taste of what was to come with the V3, having spent some time running in the New Balance SuperComp Pacer, the debut, low-drop racing member in the SC family.

The changes in the midsole make this a better shoe for racing and a better one to tackle a marathon. You’ve still got ample amounts of NB’s bouncy EVA-based FuelCell foam, which makes up the new Energy Arc midsole. This, in turn, packs a full-length carbon fibre plate and cuts out sections of the midsole to improve transitions from heel to toe while also generating greater energy return.

The Gear LoopNew Balance Fuel Cell SC Elite V3 review photo 3

On our first track session with the V3, we certainly got that propulsive feeling from it. The midsole foam is certainly a little on the firm side compared to some top tier shoes, but there’s enough squidginess and the midsole make-up helps to get you moving quickly from heel to toe. 

It doesn’t quite have the same aggressive rocker feeling that something like the Asics Metaspeed Sky+ offers, but it’s enough to feel like this shoe comes to life at speed.

The Gear LoopNew Balance Fuel Cell SC Elite V3 review photo 9

It’s a very stable platform as well, which you can’t say about all performance shoes. When you need to take the pace down a touch and rip around another street corner or track bend, the V3 copes well with the adjustment.

The outsole, which has a tweaked pattern compared to the outsole of the outgoing model, offers good grip on pavements and roads and feels like it has the level of durability to handle a few big races and some speed training time in between.

The Gear LoopNew Balance Fuel Cell SC Elite V3 review photo 6

When we upped the distance, that firmer midsole still felt good, the ride remained enjoyable and the legs felt fine spending some extended time in them. The V3 feels fit for racing and it’s also one we’d have no qualms turning to for an interval or a tempo session or two either.

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To recap

The New Balance Fuel Cell SC Elite V3 is a great shoe to both race in, and turn to for speed-based sessions. It offers a firmer feel underfoot compared to some other top-tier racing shoes but still promises a responsiveness that makes it ideal for rapid runs. While it might not be best in class, this is an ideal option if you’re looking for a more stable performance option that can also handle some training runs before the big day.

Writing by Michael Sawh. Editing by Leon Poultney.