New Balance FuelCell Rebel v4: Lightweight Speed Trainer

FuelCell Rebel v4 in hands

The New Balance FuelCell Rebel v4 stands out as a superior lightweight speed trainer, ideal for active, brisk running sessions. Its innovative midsole, crafted from a mix of PEBA and EVA, offers an energetic and dynamic ride, encouraging a faster pace. Compared to its predecessor, v3, v4 feels more suited for fast-tempo runs, as it is firmer and provides a more satisfying experience. The v3 was slower and felt more akin to daily training shoes, unlike the upgraded v4 version that raises the bar for speed training.

Do you deserve New Balance FuelCell Rebel v4?

The Rebel v4 is a stellar choice for those who prefer doing speedwork in trainers without a plate. Furthermore, if you're seeking a ride similar to the SuperComp Elite v4, but with smoother transitions and enhanced ground sensation, the Rebel v4 is highly recommended.

The Rebel v4 may not be the ideal shoe if you're in search of a reliable daily trainer for predominantly relaxed runs. It is also not suitable if what you're seeking is a stiff, plated speed trainer suitable for long runs.

New Balance FuelCell Rebel v4 Brief Introduction

In the current market, where plated speed trainers reign supreme for speedwork usage, New Balance's Rebel distinguishes itself as an unplated top-seller that persistently stands strong. This lightweight trainer boasts excellent cost-effectiveness, comfort, and accessibility.

The Rebel's second model was truly my favorite. Its distinctive features--from its quirkiness to its speed, and its unique design highlighted by the lateral midsole flare--made it a one-of-a-kind speed trainer during its time.

After reviewing the Rebel v3 last year, it seemed to me that it had relinquished some of its charm, as it no longer embodied an exhilarating, rapid speed trainer. Rather, it came across as a cushioned daily trainer, lacking in the playful novelty offered by its predecessor. True to New Balance's description on their website, the Rebel is designed to be lightweight and swift.

The amplified softness of the FuelCell midsole in Rebel v3 transformed it into a plusher and less quick-reacting model than the Rebel v2. As a result, it was only suitable, in my experience, for runs at a leisurely pace and not for anything swifter.

Historically, FuelCell has been a nitrogen-infused concoction of EVA and TPU. However, this year's FuelCell experiences a significant enhancement. The SC Elite v4 is entirely made up of PEBA, and the Rebel v4 boasts a PEBA mix. When looking at the power-to-weight ratio, nothing surpasses PEBA.

The current year's Rebel v4 strongly mirrors the design of the SuperComp Elite v4. Notably, they even share an identical color scheme among the various options available for these two models from New Balance.

This is a tactic that Saucony successfully applies with their Endorphin Pro/Speed models, and it has effectively heightened the popularity of the Speed model.

Weighing in at 212 g (7.5 oz), the Rebel v4 is slightly heavier than its predecessor, v3, which weighed 210 g (7.4 oz). While it retains a 6 mm drop, the price has, regrettably, risen by $10.

New Balance FuelCell Rebel v4 Running Experience

FuelCell Rebel v4 on feet

During my initial run of a leisurely 15 kilometers, I was taken aback by the noticeable advancement in the running experience. The new midsole foam added a sense of firmness and speed to the ride. The padding appeared more significant and the perception of the ground beneath me was less compared to the former model.

The feeling was reminiscent of the SuperComp Elite v4, yet the Rebel v4 seemed more streamlined with smoother transitions. Despite my muscles aching from the previous day's gym workout, I discovered that my average pace was quicker than what is typically average for a relaxed jog.

I had contemplated stepping up by a half size just like I did for v3, but I'm pleased I didn't, as the fit was extremely agreeable. The first run was indeed remarkable.

New Balance FuelCell Rebel v4 Upper/Vamp

FuelCell Rebel v4 upper

The Rebel v4 sports a slender, racing-upper that bears a significant resemblance to the SuperComp Elite v4. The mesh's thin yet highly breathable nature is complemented by a meager amount of padding aimed to maintain a low weight.

The shoe boasts a spacious upper, particularly around the midfoot and forefoot, which may feel a bit loose if your foot is on the narrower side. Nonetheless, my advice is to stick to your regular size; downsizing by half a size may result in an uncomfortably short fit. I find that pairing it with thick socks offers the best comfort.

The thinness of the tongue causes it to slightly descend during runs, though it's not a major concern. The shoe's foot lockdown is excellent, albeit requiring a runner's knot and a fairly tight cinch. All in all, the upper fit leans towards being a bit oversized, and there is certainly room for enhancement.

New Balance FuelCell Rebel v4 Sole Units

FuelCell Rebel v4 sole units

The Rebel v4 has made a substantial comeback, reminiscent of the feeling that version 2 offered. The run is captivating, seamless, and most crucially, it exudes speed. This engaging trainer is one that I eagerly anticipate using for every run.

The shoe truly comes into its own during runs faster than your leisurely pace. The most pleasurable experiences are during steady and tempo runs. This trainer firmly encourages a faster pace. Naturally, I observed myself instinctively accelerating my speed during casual runs, owing to the shoe's vibrant energy.

What I love most about this shoe is the swift and versatile sensation it provides. Its light construction is a refreshing difference compared to the bulkier, plated speed trainers that all weigh over 9 oz. Although the Rebel lacks a plate, its energetic blend of PEBA/EVA in the midsole gives it a rapid feel nonetheless.

I've found the Rebel v4 to be better suited for medium to long runs (over 15km) than its previous version. The midsole in v3 had a tendency to compress significantly during footstrikes, offering a higher level of ground sensation. The v4, on the other hand, provides superior shock absorption and delivers greater cushioning depth.

Given its lack of a stiffening component in the midsole, this shoe showcases a highly flexible, soft forefoot which demands a bit more effort from your calves, ankles, and feet. Hence, there are more suitable choices for extremely long runs, considering the Rebel v4 doesn't possess a highly efficient, energy-conserving forefoot rocker.

The Rebel v4 boasts ample rubber coverage on its outsole, yielding excellent durability. Its rubber is designed with a triangular pattern to boost grip, and it performs superbly, even during rainy conditions.

My primary worry is regarding the longevity of the lively bounce of its midsole. As of yet, the experience continues to be as vivacious as my inaugural run with it. Considering the softness of the midsole, it might be prone to puncture by sharp debris on the road. In fact, a tiny shard of glass has managed to embed itself deep into the foam of my pair.

Summary and Conclusion

FuelCell Rebel v4 side overlays

The performance of the Rebel v4 outranks other trainers without plates. Its midsole foam bears resemblance to what you'd expect in a high-end running shoe: it's lightweight, comfortable, and provides excellent energy feedback.

Version 4 is a remarkable upgrade. It embodies the spirit of Rebel more than version 3 did, leaning more towards speed. Picking up pace with the Rebel v4 is simpler. Thus far, version 4 is my preferred choice and I would undoubtedly purchase it again.

My primary dissatisfaction with the Rebel v4 lies in its upper, which is overly spacious. There's an excess of width in both the midfoot and forefoot. Moreover, the foam is extremely soft, making it highly susceptible to punctures.

Priced at a mere $140, it provides exceptional value. It's not often you find a trainer offering a PEBA blend midsole. While the foam isn't an exact match to that in the SuperComp Elite v4, there is a striking similarity in feel.

FuelCell Rebel v4 midsole

When juxtaposed with other lightweight, non-plated speed trainers such as the Hoka Mach 6, Saucony Kinvara 14, and Brooks Hyperion, the Rebel v4 comes across as notably superior. Its midsole has a lighter density, it exudes greater responsiveness, and overall, it has an enthralling allure.

  • Product: New Balance FuelCell Rebel v4
  • Price: $140
  • Styles & Colors:
    • Spice blue with limelight and blue oasis
    • Graphite with black and quartz grey
    • White with bleached lime glo and hot mango
  • Usages:
    • Speed training
    • tempo training
  • Details:
    • 212 grams (7.5 oz)
    • Synthetic/mesh upper
    • Sublimated graphics
    • No-sew overlays
FuelCell Rebel v4 toebox