I checked my watch as I veered off Central Park’s main path to run around the Jackie O reservoir — holding a 7:40 pace, good enough for a 10pm run with a beer and two pretzels in my stomach. While my body wasn’t entirely willing, my feet felt light, fast and nimble in New Balance’s latest trainers, the FuelCell Rebels, built with a foam that New Balance says rebounds better than anything they’ve made to date. I’d just claimed my test pair hours earlier at a launch event in Brooklyn, and the shoes practically begged me to get moving as soon as I pulled on the sock-like uppers. The thin upper structure bungeed my feet down onto the FuelCell platform so nicely I actually gasped and jogged in place. The feeling didn’t go away as I walked around the cavernous warehouse venue, nor did the feeling dissipate as I rode the train home and paced around my (very small) kitchen debating whether I should go for a run at all.
Throughout my test run the Rebels felt firmer than the Adidas SolarBOOST, more roll-resistant than the Nike Epic React Flyknit 2 and more forgiving than the Saucony Kinvara 9 (my personal favorite and current go-to). I wrapped my run with a quick stretch in front of my apartment building, cooling down in the light breeze blowing down 111th Street, and marveled looking down at my feet. I would most certainly be running more in these.
The FuelCell release includes four new running shoes — three trainers and one high-end racing flat, which felt to me like New Balance’s rebuttal to Nike’s Vaporfly 4%. That race shoe, the FuelCell 5280, was developed specifically to help runners finish a faster mile. While every second counts at the pointy end of a marathon, fractions of a second become even more crucial in a race that’s over in as little as 3:43.13, driving New Balance to make the most minimal, lightweight and responsive racing shoe it’s ever produced. The result is something that feels slightly wrong when you first put it on; a reviewer for Wired likened it to pulling on a speed skate for the first time, and I tend to agree with his assertion that you’ll hate it if you aren’t running at least 10mph (that’s a 6:00 mile) because of the way the shoe is structured to promote a racer’s stride, a special kind of foot strike and toe-off.
The FuelCell Rebel trainer I tested on my nighttime run will retail for $130 upon release; the 5280 race flat will go for $200. The two other trainers in the FuelCell line, the Propel and Echo, are set to retail for $110 and $100 respectively. To learn more about the FuelCell collection, which launches worldwide on June 9, 2019 (Global Running Day), read up on the full FuelCell launch and sign up for email updates on the New Balance website.
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