Last updated on February 16th, 2024
Although the task of writing about a shoe with such a lengthy name poses a risk of carpal tunnel syndrome, I was eager to try out the New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4. However, from now on, we will primarily refer to it as the SC Elite v4.
As an average runner, I didn't feel the same letdown as those who were faster when it came to the midsole of the previous version, the SC Elite v3. Of course, there were aspects of the shoe that I hoped would be better, particularly the design of the upper, which we'll discuss in a moment.
However, overall, the SC Elite v3 served me well last year and I truly loved running in it. The fit, outstanding comfort, and effortless ride made it my preferred choice for a fall half marathon.
The SC Elite v4 has undergone a complete transformation this year, with substantial modifications made to every aspect of the shoe. In fact, if I were to provide a detailed comparison between the Elite v3 and the Elite v4, it would be difficult to identify any similarities between the two shoes, except for their stack heights, at least based on their specifications.
Did this extensive update completely transform the appearance of the shoe? Or does the SC Elite v4 serve as a prime example of positive evolution?
Upper / Vamp
From the SC Elite v3 to the current model, I was anticipating a different approach in the upper, and my expectations were met. Unlike the v3, which caused blisters for some runners, I didn't have that issue. However, I did notice that the one-piece engineered knit design didn't offer much flexibility in adjusting the midfoot tightness.
The SC Elite v4 incorporates Fantomfit technology by New Balance, which provides a thin mesh upper with targeted structural support. The lacing system is precisely adjusted and evenly spaced, securely securing the foot onto the footbed without causing any discomfort. This leads to a more personalized and secure fit in the midfoot area, fulfilling my desire for improved lockdown compared to the v3.
Be assured that the tongue performs admirably despite its appearance. However, it is not attached to the shoe and tends to curl under when not in use. Additionally, it may appear less refined than the rest of the upper. Nonetheless, it effortlessly fits into position when putting on the shoe and consistently fulfills its purpose while running.
Although the problem with the midfoot lockdown was fixed, it is important for me to acknowledge another issue I experienced with the upper. This problem only became apparent when two specific conditions were met: 1) when it was extremely wet, and 2) when it was extremely cold. During these instances, when the upper became completely soaked and my feet were too cold to expand, I did notice the collar starting to bend and loosen after longer runs.
I never encountered any significant lifting at the back of my shoes, and it didn't hinder my running performance under those circumstances. However, it was bothersome enough for me to choose a runner's knot when I anticipated coming across that particular mix of factors during my runs.
When it comes to discussing weather conditions, the upper part of the shoe is highly ventilated. This was evident when I tested the SC Elite v4 during an extended period of extremely cold weather in January, which actually put my fingers at risk. However, this impressive breathability will undoubtedly be greatly appreciated on a typical race day.
Outsole & Traction
I typically wouldn't opt for a road racing shoe to walk on snow-covered roads, but due to the harsh midwestern winter, I had no other option. Despite the challenging conditions, the outsole of the SC Elite v4 performed admirably.
In addition to its effectiveness in snowy conditions, the shoe also demonstrated impressive performance on wet surfaces overall. However, I did encounter some slipping on a rain-soaked wooden pedestrian bridge when I attempted to navigate a curve at a fast pace. Nevertheless, the newly designed traction pattern and slightly increased rubber coverage proved to be satisfactory. The only signs of wear I have noticed so far are some minor fraying on a small section of the midsole material that was exposed and subjected to extra pressure from midfoot striking.
The SC Elite v4 now features a midsole foam composed entirely of PEBA, a first for New Balance. Additionally, the brand has redesigned and reduced the carbon fiber plate, as well as modified the midsole structure. Interestingly, I also experienced increased stability in the midfoot area, particularly when making turns.
In conclusion, it is effective. The arrangement results in an energetic and lively experience, characterized by a more noticeable upward curve at the front compared to the previous iteration.
The SC Elite v3 always provided a reliable and consistent running experience, no matter my pace or how my foot struck the ground. Its ride remained unchanged, remaining comfortable and forgiving while still offering a subtle boost of energy.
In contrast, the SC Elite v4 offered a delightful experience for me. It seemed to perform exceptionally well when I landed on the middle and front parts of my feet. Additionally, it displayed a remarkable responsiveness to the intensity of my exertion.
Just to clarify, I didn't experience any conflict with the SC Elite v4 when my strike shifted backward. However, I did notice that focusing on the front portion of the shoe resulted in a greater amount of energy transfer. As a result, the shoe naturally inclined towards maintaining a steady pace for marathon and half-marathon distances. This also held true for tempo runs and more intense workouts such as interval training.
As a result of these factors, I believe that those runners who enjoyed the cushioning of the SC Elite v3 but were unsatisfied with the lack of energy return will be pleased with the improvements made by New Balance in the SC Elite v4.
I'm pleased to say that the comfort remains and, as a runner of average height, I was able to fully experience the enhanced energy and propulsion of the SC Elite v4. It's as if I can achieve everything I desire, just like Liz Lemon.
Is SC Elite v4 suitable for wide foot runners?
Although this latest version is significantly different and enhanced compared to its previous model, I noticed that the overall fit and size remained consistent with both the SC Elite v3 and the RC Elite v2. The fit happens to be extremely comfortable for my average-to-slightly-wide forefoot.
It is my understanding that New Balance currently does not have any plans to introduce a physical wide version of their product. However, there is news that a wide version may be released in the future, though the exact timing is still unknown. Despite this, I believe that the design of the SC Elite v4, particularly with its more structured Fantomfit upper, may provide adequate comfort for individuals with wide feet during races. Nevertheless, considering the price, I would advise those with wide feet to only consider purchasing the SC Elite v4 from a retailer that offers a generous trial period.
Regarding sizing, it is worth mentioning that some individuals may consider the length to be slightly inadequate. However, this is ideal for me as I am often regarded as "small/short for my size" and typically require a half size larger in my running shoes. It may be beneficial for you to bear this in mind and take note of your own personal sizing preferences.
Is $250 retail price Reasonable?
While the SC Elite v4 may not be the most visually appealing option, it does stand out in comparison to other similarly priced alternatives. Priced at $250, it does come with a $20 increase from its previous version. However, the v4 offers improved performance with a superior midsole material when compared to the v3. As a result, it now competes more fiercely with other high-performance shoes within its price range.
If it's possible for you, I believe that the SC Elite v4 is an excellent choice of footwear. However, nobody should ever be made to feel inferior for running in shoes that suit their feet and align with their lifestyle and objectives, regardless of whether they participate in races or not.
SC Elite v4 Summary
The SC Elite v4 maintains the same level of comfort and accessibility as its predecessor, while also incorporating additional bounce and a sharper design that will satisfy many runners. If you can afford the typical price of a top-tier running shoe, this is an excellent option for races like marathons, half-marathons, and tempo runs.
In the end, I believe that New Balance has achieved a harmonious blend of comfort and performance with the SC Elite v4. This shoe remains accessible to runners of all skill levels, while still delivering that desired extra element found in a racing shoe.
- Price: $250
- Styles & Color:
- WRCELLA4: White with bleached lime glo and hot mango
- Marathon / Half-marathon
- tempo runs
- interval training
- Constructions & Features:
- Weight: 188 grams (6.6 oz)
- FuelCell midsole made with PEBA
- Energy Arc pairs sport-specific carbon fiber plate geometry with strategic midsole voids for better energy returned
- Rocker profile for smooth, natural feeling transition from heel to toe
- Solid rubber outsole