The New Balance RC Elite was actually one of our favorite carbon shoes when that first crop came out. It went a little under the radar for a lot of people and didn’t achieve the mainstream status of a lot of those first big launch shoes, but there was something just comfortable about it. There was a little more room in the toe box, it felt a little softer and more accommodating, and then it had an outsole that could even take on lighter trails as needed. The New Balance RC Elite 2 smooths all the originals edges, adds some cushion, and delivers what is arguably the best carbon experience you can get right now.
Quick Details, Specs, and Availability
- If we have to pick one carbon-plated racer out there right now, this is the one.
- Weighs in at 7.8oz or 221g for a US Men’s 9, 6.8oz or 193g for a US Women’s 7.
- Features 39mm of cushion and has an 8mm heel/toe drop.
- Retails at $225.00 USD and comes in 1 color for Men and Women.
As we mentioned, the original RC Elite was a favorite. It wasn’t as well-received as others out there, but there was something about that midsole that just ran really well and obviously transition into shoes like the Rebel V2. It took things we loved about the FuelCell TC in terms of upper design and just made it a little more race-ready. The RC Elite 2 is here to solve the original’s shortcomings and some real cushion. They have done a whole lot more as well and boy do they look flashy and awesome.
From the moment this goes on your foot, the underfoot cushioning is just fantastic. It doesn’t have that bouncy sensation that ZoomX does so not like a Vaporfly, but there is zero firmness here. There is a bit of a rocker, but nothing so aggressive that you want to fall forward and while it does have a carbon plate, it’s not necessarily overwhelmingly apparent. The shoe kind of just feels good on your foot. The upper opens up to allow your foot in and of course as this is a race shoe wider feet will suffer a bit, but there is a solid stretch in this material so it allows for some flex. The heel and collar lock you in well so it’s a nice balance of light and airy with heel comfort. We also really loved how New Balance has implemented the offset lacing and tongue, right in line with the Rebel V2 which we obviously loved as well.
Running in the RC Elite 2 is obviously all that matters end we can tell you that once you have tried them it is very hard to go back to some other carbon racers. The challenge is truly writing about it because it is definitely a sensation, it just feels easier and even something more like what you wear every day. It truly feels like they took your trainer and just made it faster, but didn’t make you do any more work in the process. We ran in these from marathon distances down and it was very easy to maintain pace, drop time, and the carbon and midsole design help with recovery overall.
Honestly, we have very little negative to say about this shoe. It is a race day shoe no question, but in today’s climate, you can easily wear this on a fast long-run weekend without a problem. The midsole feels fantastic, the carbon plate adds a little extra to it, and the overall foot shape creates additional stability in the shoe. In the end, it just delivers on performance.
The upper is a one-piece engineered mesh design with a ton of breathability in the forefoot. In the toe box area, there is a bit of stretch, but as you move back to mid-foot you get a bit more structure for lateral stability. Then it ends with a nicely padded collar and extended heel which protects that Achilles a bit. The tongue is ultra-thin and not truly gusseted, but stays in place really well given the lace control location. You will also note the off-set design which lays across your foot nicely and the tongue actually extends and wraps around your foot enclosing you in.
Engineered mesh upper Lacing column Well padded collar and heel structure
The midsole uses New Balance’s FuelCell technology which is both ultralight and highly responsive. You get 39mm of cushion and an 8mm drop on here and this means ample padding in both forefoot and heel. New Balance has also created a wider more stable frame all the way from front to back providing a continuous line of foam. Other manufacturers are doing this as well and what it does is provide is a more full foot midsole feeling instead of a distinct separation between front and back. Obviously, you also have the carbon plate in here as well which is sandwiched between layers of FuelCell and is visible via a large opening on the bottom.
Lateral midsole view Medial midsole view
The RC Elite 2 features a large swath of rubber only a few millimeters thick across the entire forefoot and then they layered on two additional pieces on the lateral and medial sides surrounding the heel. It isn’t the tackiest material, but for the majority of all race conditions, it will satisfy everyone’s needs. It definitely can’t do trail duty like the original RC Elite could, but not really the point of course.
Outsole – heel Outsole – forefoot
Style & Aesthetics
We think the shoe is great looking but obviously, it’s going to come down to how you feel about purple or bright colors in general. We also really love the fact they went with mixed designs between right and left foot as varying the orange and pink accent colors across the two shoes really gives it a ton of personality. The upper has a bit of sparkle in it and the lines just make it feel fast.
If it wasn’t clear from our tests, the New Balance RC Elite 2 is our favorite carbon-plated racer right now. There are others that are very close including the ASICS MetaSpeed Sky, but we would choose this on most days paste on underfoot comfort alone. Yes, we think it’s better than the Vaporfly for normal runners which might be a bit contentious but there it is. We even still hold on to the original RC Elites because those ran so well and this just feels like a nice counterpart. These are better for distance and should be your marathon race day choice (even half marathons as well). We expect these to be hard to get your hands on until they hit true mass production later this summer.
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.