New Balance FuelCell SC Elite v4 is Good for Long Runs and Tempo Sessions

SC Elite v4

The New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 is a stable and enjoyable option for long-distance racing, offering plush cushioning. However, its propulsion is limited due to its soft cushioning and gentle forefoot rocker. Version 4 features a significantly enhanced upper for improved heel lockdown and comfort, along with a firmer ride and thicker midsole for increased efficiency.

Do you deserve NB FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4?

The SC Elite v4 offers a super soft, durable option for long-distance racing. It provides a less aggressive feel compared to other super shoes, making it easier on the legs and a suitable choice for those seeking a gentler ride.

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If you're seeking a stiff, aggressive, and firm-riding racer, the SC Elite v4 may not meet your needs. Similarly, if you're looking for a super lightweight option, it's not the ideal choice.

NB FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 Brief Introduction

No super shoe series has seen more significant changes over the years than the SuperComp Elite.

The initial three iterations boasted distinct designs, rides, and comfort levels, suggesting New Balance is still refining the winning formula for their premier long-distance racer.

Across all three versions, the FuelCell midsole has remained consistent, offering a plush blend of nitrogen-injected TPU and EVA. However, it lacked the dynamic energy return seen in materials like ZoomX foam or Lightstrike Pro.

Related: Adizero Takumi Sen 10 Added LightStrike Pro Foam and Redesigned ENERGYRODS 2.0 for Road Racing

While I appreciated the midsole of the SC Elite v3, I found its upper uncomfortable with a sloppy fit. The collar caused discomfort around my ankles, and the bootie construction hindered lockdown. Compared to other super shoes, it lacked speed, so I never raced in it.

SC Elite v4 upper

The latest SC Elite is a major update, featuring a new generation of FuelCell in its midsole. Unlike its predecessors, the SC Elite v4 exclusively utilizes PEBA foam, a material also found in racing shoes from Nike, Saucony, Hoka, and Decathlon.

The SC Elite v4 weighs 8.4 oz (237 g), slightly heavier than v3 by 0.5 oz (19 g), with a heel height of 40 mm and forefoot height of 36 mm, consistent with v3. Priced at $250, it remains in line with other top-tier super shoes.

NB FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 Running Experience

During my initial 20-kilometer run with the SC Elite v4 on the car-free city loop, I was immediately impressed by the enhanced upper, offering superb comfort and secure lockdown.

While the ride still felt soft to me, it did seem firmer compared to previous SC Elite versions. Maintaining a steady pace was effortless, and transitions felt exceptionally smooth.

The ride didn't feel particularly aggressive. It reminded me most of the Endorphin Pro 4.

The SC Elite v4 felt a bit bulkier with added cushioning compared to the Pro 4, which felt more agile. Overall, it was a enjoyable initial run but didn't exceed expectations.

NB FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 Upper/Vamp

SC Elite v4 toebox

The transition from a bootie construction to a traditional design was the change I eagerly anticipated, and I'm relieved that New Balance made this adjustment.

The updated upper material resembles that of the Rebel v3. It's textured and non-stretch, akin to the Rebel's, but thinner and more breathable.

The short, flat tongue lacks a gusset but features a loop in the middle for laces. While I noticed slight downward tongue slide, it wasn't bothersome.

Heel lockdown is superb, requiring a runner's knot for extra security. Unlike the previous version, there are double first-row eyelets for better adjustment.

The fit is true to size and accommodating, especially in the forefoot, making it a recommended racer for wide-footed runners.

NB FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 Sole Units

SC Elite v4 sole units

The SC Elite v4 feels faster than version 3, with a sensation of greater height despite identical stack heights. Reduced sinkage into the midsole facilitates quicker turnover with each footstrike.

The incredibly bouncy feel has been slightly dialed back with a shorter midsole void that no longer extends into the forefoot like in v3, contributing to the weight increase.

In the SC Elite v4, the plate feels less pronounced and thinner, resulting in a milder racing experience that's gentler on calves and ankles. However, for those seeking a more aggressive, rigid racer with a propulsive feel, this may not be ideal.

Related: Carbon Fibre Plates Running Shoes Introductions

The SC Elite v4 lacks the speed of top-tier racers due to its excessively soft cushioning and subdued forefoot rocker.

The updated FuelCell foam offers a slightly firmer feel and improved energy return compared to the non-PEBA version. While it's better than the old version, a firmer midsole would enhance turnover.

During toe-off, the lack of a forward tipping sensation is noticeable. Engaging the rocker doesn't feel as responsive as in more aggressive super shoes, likely due to the plate's rigidity and flat shape.

SC Elite v4 outsole

In my opinion, the SC Elite v4 leans more towards being a long-distance cruiser than a speedy racer, mainly due to its weight of 8.4 oz. To stand out from its training counterpart, the SC Trainer v2, it should be lighter and more aggressive.

In my experience, the SC Elite v4 shines at marathon pace and steady pace. It feels a bit heavy and soft for faster speeds, but slower runners may find it suitable for faster workouts and shorter races.

I particularly appreciate the enhanced outsole durability in the new version. With increased rubber coverage and a flatter outsole, wear is distributed more evenly. Additionally, the firmer midsole foam contributes to better longevity as it's less prone to scraping against the road.

In terms of traction, I found it adequate on dry roads. While I didn’t test it on wet surfaces, the outsole rubber's raised triangular pattern suggests it should offer decent grip in such conditions.

NB FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 Summary

SC Elite v4 midsole

Running in the SuperComp Elite v4 is an absolute delight: it offers abundant cushioning, energy return, stability, and durability.

However, for racing purposes, I will not select it.

It lacks the punch and aggression of top-tier racers, indicating that New Balance hasn't yet found their winning formula for super shoes.

The SC Elite v4 remains in my rotation for long runs and tempo sessions. With its improved upper, midsole, and outsole, it boasts no significant flaws.

Version 4 represents an improvement over version 3, featuring a notably more comfortable upper and sturdier construction. The new midsole foam is preferable, but New Balance should aim to reduce weight, further firm up the foam, and enhance the prominence of the forefoot rocker.

For marathoners aiming for a 3-hour 30-minute pace or slower, the SC Elite v4 is a solid choice. However, for faster paces, there are more competitive options available at similar or lower prices, offering greater speed support.

  • Price: $250
  • Style & Color:
  • Usage:
    • Long Distance Running
    • tempo running
    • marathon
    • racing shoes
  • Constructions & Features:
    • true to size
    • a FuelCell midsole made with PEBA
    • ruber outsole
    • Rocker profile for smooth, natural feeling transition from heel to toe
    • Energy Arc pairs sport-specific carbon fiber plate geometry with strategic midsole voids
SC Elite v4 heel