Tried & Tested: New Balance SuperComp Elite v4 Review

Tried & tested: New Balance SuperComp Elite v4

Light as air and practically more sole than shoe, the New Balance SuperComp Elite v4 is the king of all supershoes. We put them to the test to prove it.

ONE-UPSMANSHIP HAS BECOME a hallmark of the age of supershoes. When the first supershoe was introduced back in 2017, it was a fairly regular looking pair of runners. But underneath the hood was a revolutionary development – a carbon fibre plate and a thick-stacked midsole. At the time, research showed that on average, running in supershoes used 4 per cent less energy and promoted better running economy, meaning you didn’t need to work as hard to run fast. Cue supershoe mania.

Soon after, the supershoe craze began. Every brand started launching their own carbon-plated shoes, with each outranking its predecessor. Every brand wanted their shoes to have more foam, more bounce, more propulsion – or to at least appear that way to the naked eye. The result was a range of shoes that were increasingly visually striking, but often faltered in actual performance, losing the energy saving credentials that made them popular in the first place.

Thankfully, not every brand has gone in this direction. New Balance, for one, has maintained dependability throughout the various generations of its premier supershoe, the SuperComp Elite – the latest iteration of which has only recently been released.

The SC Elite v4 is a race day shoe designed to boost performance when every millisecond really matters, for everyone from ambitious amateurs to elite marathon runners. The SC Elite represents the culmination of years of innovation at New Balance, building on previous generations to build a shoe that pushes the boundaries of performance footwear. With a lightweight construction, powerful energy-returning technology and an ergonomic design, the SC Elites are a force to be reckoned with. To see if they were worth the hype – and be assured, there’s plenty of it – I got my hands on a pair of SC Elites and put them through their paces.

The look

New Balance SC Elite v4

In terms of design aesthetics, the SC Elites are a marriage between form and function. They come in a single colourway: white with bleached lime glo and hot mango – which is, to the layman, white with fluoro green and orange accents that trickle down to the outsole. A snug FantomFit upper also offers ultra-light bonded support without sacrificing comfort or breathability. The entire exterior is eye-catching, and these aren’t the kind of kicks you should lace up if you’re aiming keep a low profile. But with a design this appealing, why would you ever want to go incognito?

The specs

The standout feature of the SC Elites is, of course, their carbon fibre plated midsole – the unofficial stamp of authenticity for any supershoe. The SC Elite’s FuelCell midsole is crafted with 100% PEBA foam, not only ensuring ridiculously precise responsiveness but also a firm platform for every stride.

The carbon fibre plate complements the dynamic capabilities of the FuelCell midsole exceptionally. New Balance’s underfoot Energy Arc technology, which utilises strategic midsole voids, works in tandem with the plate to amplify the shoe’s energy return – a particular strength of the SC Elites. By optimising the distribution of force and maximising the storage and release of energy, the shoes boast a level of responsiveness that borders on the supernatural. According to New Balance’s sports research lab, the SC Elite can deliver 87 per cent energy return, a 4 per cent increase on its precursor.

The use of carbon fibre technology not only serves to enhance energy return, but also contributes to the shoe’s remarkably lightweight construction. New Balance says the SC Elite is only a meagre 237 grams, but on my precision scales, they were actually a touch lighter at 231 grams. Clearly, someone’s measurements are off – probably mine. In practice, this immense weight reduction ensures that every iota of energy exerted is transferred into forward propulsion.

The test

Enough of the minutiae. Are the SC Elites actually worth their marbles? If you’re short on time and want to get straight to the point, the answer is yes, but that takes all the fun out of explaining why. Read on for the details of my test run.

The SC Elite’s reputation as a race day shoe made a longer effort seem like an obvious choice for my road test. I selected Sydney’s iconic Coogee to Bondi coastal track as my route, which is around 6km each way. But given that I was short on time and not in the mood for a 12km run, the plan was to turn around halfway through the journey and make it a 6km run instead.

The Coogee to Bondi trail is, famously, an incredibly scenic route. Although, in late March, when daylight saving is on the brink of death and temperatures are rapidly dropping, the seaside chill is less appealing than usual. Add to this that I was setting off right after work on a rather ho-hum Tuesday night and it’s easy to see why my motivation wasn’t high. But such is the reputation attached to the SC Elite line that I felt I had to hit the pavement as soon as possible.

Immediately after setting off, the reality of just how light the SC Elites are became apparent. It cannot be understated how much these shoes feel like wearing nothing at all, the form-fitting upper and lightweight construction working wonders in creating a genuinely incorporeal feel. But one thing you will feel is supreme responsiveness and cushioning, propelling you forward with every stride. To describe it as succinctly as possible, running in the SC Elites is like running with springs strapped to the bottom of your feet.

As any runner will know, there comes an inevitable point during a straight-line run where you’ll have to call halfway and turn around. Deciding on where this point should be is far easier said than down, however. Once I had gotten into a rhythm and was proceeding at ease, it became difficult to find the will to turn around. Eventually I did, but not before overshooting my original 3km turning point by an entire kilometre – whoops. I attach at least partial blame to the SC Elites and their super-smooth ride for this.

When testing a new pair of shoes, I always make a point of running on varying surfaces. Traction is often an issue with high-profile supershoes that are more foam than shoe, as providing all that bounce usually comes at the expense of stability. Many a shoe will be marketed as suitable for everyday usage on multiple surfaces, but on anything but pavement they feel worse than running in a pair of thongs. That’s not a problem with the SC Elites, with their solid rubber outsole delivering solid traction on the variety of uneven, rocky and grassy terrains I experimented with during the second half of my run.

The verdict

My test run in the SC Elites didn’t go exactly to plan, with an unexpected extra 2 kilometres, but my pace held up regardless. I managed a 4:50 minutes per kilometre pace amid the Eastern Suburbs’ endless hills and inclines, which is better than I’d expected. Anything under a 5:00 minute pace on flat terrain is a solid effort on my part, so I have to assume the SC Elites did most of the work.

All in all, the SC Elites have endeared themselves to me and have proven to be peerless among supershoes. Currently retailing for $360, they’re also one of the more affordable options on the market. At that price, they’re hard to pass up, and take my word for it, you won’t find a springier ride.

Final rating: 9.5/10

The New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 was released in Australia on February 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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