It was clear at the The Running Event in late 2019 that every shoe manufacturer was preparing to attack Nike’s carbon plated crown. From that point on we have seen revision after revision, but we have never seen a full race offering from New Balance until today, presenting the FuelCell RC Elite. This shoe adds a carbon plate to their already solid FuelCell midsole and pairs it with a super light and roomier race upper. We’ve got a lot more to say here, so let the fun begin.
Quick Details, Specs, and Availability
- New Balance’s contender for the carbon plated racing crown.
- A bit more room and better traction than other racers we have seen to date.
- Weighs in at 7.1oz or 201g for a US Men’s 9/5.8oz or 164g for a US Women’s 7.
- Features 36mm of cushion and has a 10mm heel/toe drop.
- Retails at $224.99 USD and comes in 1 color for Men and Women.
First off, we were huge fans of the original FuelCell TC and literally couldn’t wait for the RC and then even more so for the RC Elite. The shoe design of the TC was really a departure for New Balance in general and we applauded them for really going for it. We were so excited to see that the RC Elite maintained this profile, but also took in a notch up.
On the foot, the upper is not just comfortable, but also breathable. It is a race shoe so you will notice a bit of tapering on that lateral toe side just near your pinky as it starts to creep in, but the synthetic mesh allows you to push against that a bit and it doesn’t bother you. This also happens above the big toe, but during your normal run, it isn’t all that noticeable. If you want to really feel that midsole, then put your phone in these without a sock on. This allows you to really feel those contours and supports throughout. You can especially notice this on the medial/interior side of the foot. No sign of the carbon plate just standing around, but give them a little jump…
Out on the run, these things have some real pop, but this is really where they shine. Our feet were actually comfortable in the RC Elites, unlike other plated shoes where your feet suffer a bit for the sake of the speed. The toebox was airy and open and we had plenty of room to move the toes. They definitely aren’t going to be as comfortable as your everyday runners, but they definitely feel better than the NEXT%, the Speed Elites, and the Hyperion Elites.
Performance is obviously the biggest area of concern and yes, these things can fly. Now here is where things get negligible and honestly, to each their own here. The RC Elite is slightly heavier than some of its counterparts and inevitably we did still see some better times from some of those other models, but it is minor. The extent of the difference is so questionable that we flip it back to how the shoe felt while performing. The bottom line is for most runners, our guess is you will enjoy the ride in this is a bit more than the others.
The upper is a synthetic mesh that uses a cell-based pattern which allows for maximum airflow and breathability without sacrificing too much structure. The toebox width and foot movement is solid due to the pliability of the synthetic. As you get to the midfoot and rear, you will notice these subtle overlays which improve side to side stability. The collar is moderately padded with a slight elf ear and while it features a small heel cup closer to the bottom of the heel, overall it is quite malleable. The tongue is padded down the center but thin on the top and sides.
The FuelCell RC Elite’s midsole is where the magic really takes shape. While it uses FuelCell throughout, the front portion of the shoe is firmer for better drive and toe-off. It also gets wider from the upper to the ground giving you a larger landing pad. The rear portion of the midsole is much softer which definitely gives you a bit more of a plush landing (if you land back there of course). Down the middle of this is where the carbon plate lives designed to give you that ultra-responsive toe-off and allow for greater speed maintenance.
The outsole starts up front with their Dynaride material. These essentially look like mini cleats sitting on top of that firmer FuelCell midsole. This runs the first two-thirds of the shoe and then it transitions to the softer exposed midsole material. The heel finishes with two pieces of rubber, one on the lateral feel side and the other running on the medial inside. This improves durability for heel strikers and mid-foot strikers. Dynaride is the real success here as the front half is really solid from a traction perspective.
Style & Aesthetics
The RC Elite only comes in one colorway for men and women, but those color choices are really solid. The look obviously carries over from the original FuelCell TC, Prism, etc, but it just pops a little more. New Balance has really been going at it with their designs recently and we are definitely here for it.
The New Balance FuelCell RC Elite delivers on the promise of speed, but more importantly, it has brought with it a bit more comfort. Most carbon plated shoes run just a touch uncomfortable, but the RC Elite just feels better. Whether it’s the roomier toebox or a bit more structured upper overall, the shoe just feels a bit more attainable for the everyday runner. It is actually really hard to complain about this shoe because it just feels well thought out overall. If you have been debating going with a carbon plated shoe, this definitely feels like a great place to start.
Check Out Other Reviewers Thoughts
As always, we gather together some of our favorite reviewers so you can get a well-rounded view of the shoe. Here are our favorites.