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New Balance FuelCell RC Elite v2

New Balance FuelCell RC Elite v2 Review Analysis (2022)

Last update: August 2022

Less famous than its competitors, the NB RC Elite 2 is a little gem of responsiveness and versatility to perform comfortably.

The Consensus

9.4Overall score
A very good carbon plate running shoe: light and versatile to run faster with less effort
Don’t have time to read the full review? Here’s what you need to know.

The FuelCell RC Elite v2 is the newest version of New Balance’s super shoe and comes with clear improvements. The FuelCell midsole is getting higher and still working wonders. Now reaching 36 mm under the heel, runners found it even lighter and more responsive. The integrated carbon-fiber plate still works very well and delivers an impressive yet versatile and fun ride with a great energy return.

The knit upper of the New Balance RC Elite v2 has also been updated. It looks great, and the purple colorway is stunning. Not only does it look good, but it also fits very well and should be suitable for most foot shapes and sizes with its roomy toe box.

While many brands opt for a rubber-less outsole to shed weight and improve flexibility, New Balance has made the choice of durability and traction. Although the little lugs under the forefoot are gone, the RC Elite 2 is still very grippy. Also, the overall design is sturdy and testers report that it can go very well over 100 miles without any sign of wear.

The New Balance FuelCell RC Elite v2 running shoe is ideal for athletes looking for a quality carbon shoe. Its fast and light configuration managed to seduce most runners who tried it. What’s more, while it’s a very good racing shoe, you can also use it as a daily trainer thanks to its above-average outsole durability and forgiving cushioned ride at slower paces. It’s excellent for the marathon distance and can also be suitable for beginners looking for a first carbon shoe.

Please read our full review of the New Balance FuelCell RC Elite v2 for more information.
Comfort
9.5
Responsiveness
9.5
Foot lockdown
9.5
Stability
8.5
Durability
9
Value for money
9.5
Design
10
PROS
  • Very nice design
  • High-quality construction
  • Perfect cushioning
  • Maybe the most versatile of all the super shoes (it can moonlight as a training shoe)
  • Good grip on wet surfaces
CONS
  • Be careful in tight turns; it can lack stability

New Balance FuelCell RC Elite v2 Complete Review Analysis

Introduction

New Balance FuelCell RC Elite v2 review super shoes

The first RC Elite carbon-plated shoe was released by New Balance in 2020. Expected as the Messiah, this shoe did not disappoint with its convincing features. The lack of stock also helped to build up the hype. Luckily, the New Balance RC Elite v2 was released in 2021 just in time for the Tokyo Olympics and without inventory issues!

Instead of just repeating the formula of the previous version, RC Elite v2 takes things further. The stack increases slightly with 1 mm more under the heel to reach 36 mm. The drop decreases to 8 mm (compared to 10 mm with the original version), giving a 3-mm higher stack in the forefoot. This new configuration takes the RC Elite range to the next level to perform at long distances like the half or full marathon.

Does the v2 of the RC Elite allow New Balance to compete head-to-head with Nike, Adidas, and Asics? That’s what we’ll find out in our analysis.

Cushioning

New Balance FuelCell RC Elite v2 midsole super soft cushioning

The FuelCell foam technology, which translates into a blend of EVA foam and PTU, powers the midsole of the New Balance FuelCell RC Elite v2. This material is strictly the same as on models like the Rebel v2. The thick layer of soft midsole foam sits on top of the stiff carbon plate. The base is wider to compensate for the high stack. According to the testers, it’s everything they want from such a competition road running shoe!

This underfoot feel is incredibly soft. The ride gives a sense of plush comfort while offering a great bounce. The increased cushion under the forefoot is particularly noticeable. According to runners, it’s the softest forefoot they’ve experienced in a carbon shoe.

However, not the entire platform is soft: the part under the heel feels a bit firmer. This helps to favor fast and effortless transitions from rear to front. The fact that the carbon plate is curved and closer to the foot in the heel than in the forefoot also improves propulsion by enabling a fast and peppy toe-off.

The forefoot rocker of the RC Elite v2 is noticeable but without being as sharp as with other such carbon plated shoes. The ride is quite responsive while remaining forgiving.

Foot lockdown (upper)

New Balance FuelCell RC Elite v2 mesh upper with thick heel collar

A thin, unstructured knit makes up the upper of the RC Elite v2. It has a very breathable and airy design. The foot lockdown is optimal while offering a comfortable and almost relaxed fit. Most runners note some stiff elements in this upper, but they are just there for stability. In fact, the brand refers to it as “barely there support.”

For some testers, the adjustment of the laces of the RC Elite 2 running shoes, asymmetrical, can require a few tries. The tongue is thin and some runners experienced a bit of downward tongue slide. If you have narrow feet and require tight locking then the adjustment may become tricky. Some people even report that they had stability issues on sharp turns despite the effective heel lock lacing. However, they couldn’t say if it came from the shoe’s upper or high height.

This engineered mesh upper has a roomy fit with an accommodating toe box. Also, runners note that despite giving the impression of a loose fit, the upper never failed to adequately secure the foot inside the shoe.

At 7.8 o/220 g for a medium men’s size, the RC Elite v2 is a lightweight shoe.

Also, the upper of the New Balance FuelCell RC Elite v2, while a bit thin, is durable. Its bright finish makes it shine and may even help to protect it from the rain!

Grip and durability

New Balance FuelCell RC Elite v2 rubber outsole with stiff plate

The outsole of the RC Elite v2 doesn’t revolutionize the genre, but it just works. It’s reminiscent of the soles found on various FuelCell models. A blown rubber cover covers the entire forefoot. The midsole is exposed at the midfoot and in the center of the heel. Two rubber strips at the rear help to protect the zones that are more likely to come frequently in contact with the ground.

The deep flex groove, located in the middle of the foot, allows you to peek at the carbon plate and to enhance the flexibility of the sole. It also helps to reduce weight.

The sturdy yet flexible construction of the outsole promotes a smooth and stable ride. It’s also great for durability: runners say that they couldn’t see any signs of early wear even after 100 miles. Last but not least, the traction is excellent, even on wet pavement. We didn’t expect anything less from a high-end New Balance on this front.

The Ride

FuelCell RC Elite v2 road running shoe fast trainer

The New Balance RC Elite v2 is designed for marathon running and competition in general. They don’t disappoint and are ideal for runners looking for a stylish and lightweight race shoe.

The cushioning of the New Balance RC Elite v2 is excellent, and the bouncy ride it provides leads to a responsive and smooth running experience with every stride. The frontloaded promotes an effective impulse for easier transitions to increase the running economy.

For many, the RC Elite 2 is a great pick that’s not only suitable for racing but also for everyday training and long runs. After all, that’s exactly what its robust outsole is for!

Conclusion

FuelCell RC Elite v2 New Balance

New Balance’s Elite RC v2 are great shoes for competitive marathon running. They have a killer look, and their performance will make more than one runner dream of a new half marathon PR.

However, while many other carbon racers focus on performance at the expense of comfort, durability, and versatility, the RC Elite v2 includes all of it in its formula to be suitable for as many runners and different paces possible, even the slower ones (we’re not pointing the finger at anyone here).

Experienced athletes (and this is Seth James De Moor saying it!) love the New Balance RC Elite v2 and, while it can be unstable at times, it’s also a great option for beginners looking to level up.

Facts

Technical Specs

TerrainRoad
Pronation typeNeutral
Drop8 mm
Heel stack height36 mm
Forefoot stack height28 mm
Weight (men)221 g/7.8 oz
Weight (women)184 g/6.5 oz
FeaturesRocker, Carbon plate
AthletesJim Walmsley
Release year2021

Cushioning

Softness (1-5)4 – Soft
Bounce (1-5)4 – Bouncy

Technologies

OutsoleRubber
MidsoleFuelCell, Carbon plate
UpperEngineered Mesh

Use

SpeedModerate, fast
DistanceMid, long, 10k, half marathon, marathon
WorkoutCompetition, daily runs

Reference: New Balance’s official website

Comparisons – New Balance FuelCell RC Elite v2 vs.:

Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% 2

Can NB’s shoe compete with Nike’s high-level racer prized by many elite athletes? While the Vaporfly’s ride is much more impressive, it’s also less versatile. See the detailed comparison.

Saucony Endorphin Pro 2

Coming soon!

Asics MetaSpeed Sky

Coming soon!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Does the New Balance Fuelcell RC Elite 2 fit true to size?

Yes, this shoe runs true to size – no surprises! Also, the toe box is relatively roomy for such racing shoes.

What does RC stand for with New Balance?

RC stands for Racing and Competition while TC means Training and Competition. As a result, the RC Elite is for race day while the TC is more suitable for your long run at training.

Is the FuelCell RC Elite good for runners with flat feet?

While it’s not the most stable of shoes, this shoe could work depending on how much support you actually need. We advise you to try them and ask your health specialist for advice.

Kevin Le Gall

Kevin Le Gall

Kevin is the founder and editor of Runner's Lab. He started running in 2015 and completed his first marathon in Rotterdam in 2016. He's also worked for Under Armour from 2016 to 2018 and helped launch their running collection in Europe (in particular the HOVR shoes). In addition, Kevin is a 300-hour certified yoga teacher (Sivananda) and uses this experience to run more mindfully with a focus on well-being over performance.

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