This review is going to start off in a really contentious way, maybe, but we really didn’t like the original Rebel when New Balance released it. Maybe it was just the aesthetics or the upper material, but overall there was just something about the shoe and so much else that we liked instead, so apologies to those who did love it. New Balance however appeared to agree with us because the Rebel V2 is like a whole new beast top to bottom and there is a reason that almost every other reviewer like us is in love with this shoe. We can call it now but expect to see this on a lot of best-of lists and it is but as always the best for the right person.
Quick Details, Specs, and Availability
- It’s a complete overhaul and holy mackerel, well done New Balance.
- Speed days, tempo days, a bit of distance… heck, whatever.
- Weighs in at 7.3oz or 207g for a US Men’s 9, 5.8oz or 164g for a US Women’s 7.
- Features 26mm of cushion and has a 6mm heel/toe drop.
- Retails at $130.00 USD and comes in 3 colors for Men and Women with more colors to come.
As we break down the shoe in terms of how New Balance kind of striped it apart, it is easier to reflect on something like the RC Elite because this shoe feels more like an evolution from that than the original Rebel V1. The actual last mirrors it almost identically, with much of the change coming in this new upper as well as a new and improved FuelCell midsole. The challenge with the Rebel V2 is actually trying to figure out the element that makes it so compelling because it actually has a really simple design overall. It is just one of those shoes that works really well altogether.
When you first pull it on, you will notice the forefoot has a nice width to it as it is a bit roomier on the lateral side. The new offset lace system actually works really well and while the tongue isn’t gusseted, it is very wide and wraps across the top of your foot so you experience very little tongue movement overall. It actually acts as another material element against your foot so you never get any bit on the sides of the tongue. The forefoot is very breathable and on our version, you will notice these white lines that run the length of the lateral edge as well as the interior of the medial edge and note these are purposeful and not just aesthetic. They actually add some level of stability and reduce stretch in the upper. As you hit the rear foot, you will notice a lightly padded but very high heel that protects your Achilles. The heel counter itself is rigid on the mid-line but it does not have that plastic feeling, just a nice level of hold. And then you get on the road…
Something has happened with the FuelCell midsole over this last year and it is definitely working. Material wise it actually feels very soft to the touch, but its rebound properties are much higher than we expected. Additionally, New Balance has really flared the lateral side of the midsole which gives you a much larger landing area and a lot more stability from midfoot forward. The only negative here is that it is definitely going to favor runners who land on the front or mid of their foot and while there is ample heel cushioning, it definitely feels like it was designed not necessarily with them in mind. New Balance could easily change this by extending that flare all the way back to the heel, similar to what Hoka has done with shoes like the Mach 4.
Performance-wise, they are just a ton of fun to run in and if anything hard to slow down. That may sound crazy, but that bounce and responsiveness along with a very low weight sensation leads to a quick up-tempo run in almost every case, even when we try to slow it down. As we said, there is something in here that is difficult to pin down, but there is a certain enjoyment factor that comes from the Rebel and we have to believe it’s the amalgamation of all the changes New Balance has made. The shoe can very easily be a half marathon shoe and in most cases could probably operate at marathon levels although you might want a bit more cushion.
For normal everyday runners who just want something light and easy to throw on and want to feel a little quicker, the Rebel V2 is really a fantastic option. We do feel like there are days when you will want a bit more relaxed ride than the V2 offers, but we are reaching as overall it works really well. If anything, this makes us really really excited for the upcoming RC Elite V2 because this new FuelCell is solid.
The upper on the Rebel V2 is an engineered mesh, but they have also added those linear striations that provide some additional support to the mesh. The tongue is very wide wrapping across the entire top of your foot and that slightly offset asymmetrical lacing column does work quite well in terms of where New Balance placed it. That heel and Achilles protection come up quite high to provide maximum support and it starts very rigid at the center line and then lightens up as it wraps around your heel, holding you quite nicely.
New Balance cause of this their highest rebound FuelCell midsole and from what we are seeing honestly we can’t disagree. It feels incredibly flexible and soft to the touch, but in run, it has a very high level of responsiveness. This is truly kind of shocking because softer midsoles tend to run a little flatter than this.
On the outsole, New Balance used a mix of solid rubber as well as their NDURANCE rubber in those high wear areas and it covers a pretty significant portion of the forefoot and does grip very well. There is minimal rubber on the heel so again we lean to this favoring that mid to forefoot striker.
Style & Aesthetics
We are actually really digging the styling choices that New Balance went with on the Rebel V2 and they are offering quite a wide variety of colors so while our orange and white test unit may not be your cup of tea, there are much more muted offerings in the lineup as well.
If we haven’t belabored the point enough in this review, New Balance has knocked it out of the park with the Rebel V2. The shoe feels light underfoot, the midsole is soft and flexible, yet highly responsive and fast, overall it is a comfortable run and an easy run, and most will truly enjoy it. The design definitely favors that mid to forefoot strike, but it is challenging to find a lot of bad with this shoe. We are now really looking forward to seeing what the racing line-up looks like over the next few months for New Balance as well as other models that will make use of this updated FuelCell midsole as well.
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.