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New Balance FuelCell Supercomp Elite v3’

We just unpacked the latest super-shoe to hit the local market. They look and feel just that, super fast!

New Balance FuelCell Supercomp Elite v3’s are light, comfortable and energised.

Breathable, soft upper, racey cambered carbon plate, bouncy forward propulsion foam and low stack height & toe- heel drop. This shoe is like a racing flat but without the jarring - a serious racing shoe that can go the distance, without breaking you down .

There's nothing like lacing up lightweight race-ready shoes on the day you've trained hard for - when every second counts. This is a shoe we'd pick in a heartbeat. While we liked the V2, the V3's ticks all the super-shoe boxes within a more classic looking and zippier feeling package, giving you peace of mind when your form, your opponents and the clock are your only focus.

We bumped into a shoe shop owner who said if he still ran marathons this would be his pick. After our first week in them we understand his sentiment.

Here's the real why: The new lighter shoe is designed to deliver energy return. The dynamic Energy Arc cambered carbon plated, split sole system, paired with FuelCell midsole cushioning and an engineered knit upper with seamless built in tongue delivers a well cushioned, snappy ride with a locked in fit. These thoroughbred racing kicks justify the R4800 price tag. For those who enjoy more technical details, read on:

The SC Elite v3 succeeds the RC Elite v2, maintaining the same stack height with a 4mm drop. The big game shifter here is the introduction of the Energy Arc carbon plated technology on a 5mm wider platform at the heel for stability, but a 5mm narrower forefoot for agility. This streamlined geometry looks and feels faster as the combination plunges your foot into an agile toe-off through the soft foam and hard plate. A soft landing but faster toe-off is key to the success of any modern day running shoe.

This Energy Arc technology is a combination of a deep & wide central groove separating both sides of the shoe below a cambered carbon plate, bowed in a concave shape at the heel end of the shoe. Much like antelope, the downward force on these separated landing walls of foam deflects energy into the plate, thereby loading energy which is released as your weight shifts and you move forward. A very different feel to the slightly mushy RC Elite v2.

The FuelCell EVA/TPU foam constitutes 2 densities. The firmer layer is right under the footbed, above the distinct coloured line, above the plate, while the more forgiving foam is below the plate.

The upgraded machine engineered breathable upper is softer with a seamless knitted tongue built in and an edgy, eye-catching logo design that doesn't detract from forefoot comfort. The wide toe box is comfortable with a very subtle toe bumper. Some may find it too wide, especially combined with the soft stretchy tongue and upper, but we barefoot raised saffa's (especially men) seem to prefer wider shoes that wick water well. This should make the shoe suited to a wider range of runners. That said, if you have narrow feet you may not enjoy these. The shoe is light, not the lightest available but on par with Metaspeed Sky+ and Adios Pro 3. Our size 45 Euro shoe weighed in at just 236 grams. In a nutshell, the V3 updates only enhance what was notably a neutral, athlete 'friendly' riding, but now also long race-ready super shoe. Some stats: Stack Height: 35mm heel with 31 mm forefoot = 4mm drop. Much less drop than most super shoes and well within super shoe stack height limits. The responsive foam and dynamic plate combination negates any need to add weighty extra cushioning. The deep cavity running down the center of the midsole creates a satisfying depth of cushioning and saves weight. Stability is enhanced by the wider heel, despite the very soft character of the lower foam layer.

The upper mesh construction includes a breathable exterior mono mesh open grid with an inner bonded layer and no underlays. Soft and pliable hugging your foot better for comfort and stability. Soft smooth stretch knit tongue bonded (non stitched) to the upper just below the lacing system which sits away from your foot, anchored through a cord. The wider toe box and stretch knit tongue allows for some top of foot swelling, typical of our hot SA conditions, while the lower foot remains secure on the footbed. This makes them even better suited to marathon and ultra distances. The heel counter has a pliable overlay combined with the lightly padded collar for secure rear fit, more than some minimalist super-shoes. The strong heel cup adds to the compressing of the soft rear FuelCell midsole into the wider, flared heel. This flared opening makes getting them on and off a bit easier plus it negates potential achilles irritation over longer distances. On our first trial run, it was immediately apparent that this shoe is one of the most easy to wear super shoes, they took no getting used to. Size wise you can stick to your normal size, our 45's fit exactly. The outsole is relatively soft in feel, grippy in wet, and offers protection in key spots, including in the wide gap - presumably to protect the fragile carbon plate from sharp objects. Our wear test verdict:

The plate's rocker effect is not as pronounced or obvious as expected, which may concern some runners who desire an exploding sensation, but that will also make this shoe more suitable to a wider range of run speeds than the likes of Alphafly. You get a sense that the plate is flexible and forgiving upfront which it's not, the soft foam provides that sensation. Unlike many super shoes, you don't have to really load the plate with a strong mid to forefoot strike to activate and get past the toe off at slower paces. This again appeals to slower runners and heel strikers who thought super-shoes weren't for them. It's stable and easy to move past the heel despite the low toe-heel drop, going uphill or down. You want to glide through the pop not have to dig-in to bounce upward - these shoes do that well. You can forget about your feet and focus on breathing deep while running fast. Cons: Some lighter elite runners might find them a tad squishy upfront versus other racing shoes. There is no rear lace lock hold, but the lacing draws the rear forward to fit snugly. The upper isn't as soft or pliable as the sock knitted upper of many trainers, the machine engineered upper takes some getting into. Bottom line: It’s a shoe that will get out of your way as you push for your fastest pace on race day. The best racing shoe New Balance have made, definitely worth a trial.


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