Tried & Tested: New Balance FuelCell Rebel v4

Tried & tested: New Balance FuelCell Rebel v4

Versatility is the name of the game with New Balance’s latest edition of the Rebel, with a weightless, propulsive design adding oomph to every stride. I tried them out, and these are my honest thoughts.

VERSATILITY HAS ALWAYS BEEN one of the most appealing aspects of New Balance. It’s a quality that can be found not just in individual shoes, but throughout the brand’s entire range. New Balance makes shoes for everyone and every type of runner. Their products are anything but exclusionary, with application in a variety of runs, no matter your level of experience. Case in point, you’re just as likely to see a competitive athlete rocking a pair of the latest Rebels as you are a guy who jogs a few kilometres a week.

This doesn’t mean New Balance have been hesitant to implement cutting-edge technology in favour of honing broad-appeal. Anything but. Avant-garde carbon plating, synthetic materials and uber-plush foam have become hallmarks of the New Balance offering. And visually, the brand delivers some of the best-looking shoes you’ll be able to find. It’s easy to see why I was eager to get my hands—and feet—on the latest New Balance innovation, the FuelCell Rebel v4.

The look

You could say the Rebels had me at hello. I was lucky enough to land a spice blue and limelight pair—without the marketing speak, they’re a fluoro yellow and ocean blue. The striking colours complement an overall sleek design that immediately catches eyes and keeps them there as they fade into the distance on the feet of a stylishly equipped runner—at least, that’s how I imagine everyone saw me once I took to my local park.

The specs

Enough about the looks, let’s talk performance and specs. Once you’ve slipped them on, the Rebel’s really do feel like wearing nothing at all. A feeling that can be attributed to a FantomFit upper providing bonded support and a snug fit which maintains breathability. It also helps that the shoes are shockingly lightweight—when I popped them on my precision scales, they came in at a miniscule 200 grams each.

The fourth iteration of the Rebel has a taller and wider sole than previous versions. As any erudite sneakerhead will know, it is typically the narrower soles that offer the most energy return and propulsion, but if anything, the Rebel is even bouncier than its predecessors. We can thank an enhanced FuelCell foam midsole—which harnesses a new PEBA/EVA blend—for that.

The test

Now to the test itself. The design of the Rebel confers suitability for up-tempo runs on a primarily solid surface, so I set out for Sydney’s vaunted Centennial Park for a pacey 5k. As devotees of that circuit will know, a lap around Centennial’s iconic white fence amounts to around 4km, so I had to improvise with a few detours and double backs, and this allowed me to test the Rebels on varied surfaces.

As someone who is accustomed to a narrower foundation, the Rebels, with their wider cushioning, felt markedly different during my opening strides. But what I first assumed to be my own feet’s teething issues in adapting to this unfamiliar feeling actually proved to be the FuelCell foam hard at work. Initially, I felt almost off balance, but soon realised that the hyper-responsive Rebels were forcefully propelling me forward with every step. Once I got my bearings and got into a rhythm, I began to appreciate how it feels to run in the Rebels. It’s like having a turbo boost for your feet, with off the charts energy return delivering the extra oomph I needed to push for a faster than usual pace.

As we mentioned earlier, versatility is where the Rebels shine. They’re supposedly suitable for everyone from a beginner to a marathon runner, and while I fall somewhere towards the middle of that spectrum, I understand the reasoning. As far as everyday runners go, you won’t find many better than the latest Rebels. They’re ideal for the everyday run on urban terrain, and manage particularly well on hardened surfaces like pavement and road. They lost a little oomph on grass, but were still superior on the surface when compared to my regular pair.

The verdict

In summation, I set out to run 5km at a 4:45 minutes per kilometre pace, 15 seconds faster than my usual standard. I finished the run averaging a 4:40 pace, and I believe I have the Rebels to thank. Retailing at just $220, they’re awfully affordable too. My advice? Get your hands on these as soon as possible, and leave competitors in your dust.

Final rating: 9/10

The New Balance FuelCell Rebel v4 was released in Australia on March 1st, 2024. You can find more information on the shoe here.



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By Cayle Reid

Cayle Reid is a fan of everything sports and fitness. He spends his free time at the gym, on his surfboard or staying up late watching sports in incompatible time zones.

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