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New Balance FuelCell Rebel v4 Performance Review

Annie Keris
New Balance FuelCell Rebel v4

The New Balance FuelCell Rebel v4 took one of New Balance’s most popular running shoes (or at least it seems that way based on the runner-webs) and changed just about everything about it.

Rarely do we see shoes this loved get facelifts of this magnitude. But apparently New Balance’s culture doesn’t have sacred cows (Editor’s Note: here’s the definition of sacred cows for those of you that haven’t heard this old school term). That’s likely blasphemous for some runners who wish their favorites would stay the same forever.

But for shoe reviewers? The more changes the better! Well, not quite. We still have to run in the shoes so we don’t want bad changes. But fun and interesting changes sure make writing a review easier. 

And the New Balance FuelCell Rebel v4 has plenty of changes to discuss. So settle into your favorite spot on the sofa and let’s get to it.

New Balance FuelCell Rebel v4

Release Date: March 1, 2024

Price: $140

Weight: Men’s 7.5 oz., Women’s 6.5 oz.

Drop: 6mm

Sizing: True to size

Buy Men's Rebel v4 Buy Women's Rebel v4
  • Rundown: The New Balance FuelCell Rebel v4 changes almost everything from the Rebel v3 and despite widespread fear to the contrary, that’s a good thing.
New Balance FuelCell Rebel v4 lateral side view

What Changed?

Drew: When a shoe changes this much I almost want to create a bulleted list…but nah, let’s do this the old fashioned way. The biggest change is in the midsole. It looks WAY different and now pairs nicely with the New Balance FuelCell SC Elite v4, the brand’s long distance racing shoe. 

Both feature a futuristic geometric pattern that seems to double as a stability enhancer. Where the angles flare outward at the heel and forefoot act like natural outriggers that keep me upright on fast turns, unruly cobblestone, and uneven urban detours. For as bouncy as this midsole feels, staying this stable is a nice bonus.

And let’s talk about that bounce. While the midsole is in name, still FuelCell, New Balance continues its very confusing habit of changing the durometer of FuelCell while maintaining the same name. This new version of FuelCell is 20% Peba and 80% EVA. Think of it as somewhere between the daily trainer level supercritical foam and a Pebax-packing race day shoe. It’s a versatile feel underfoot that made me equally confident on easy days and tempo days.

When many people first got a look at the Rebel v4 they feared it got more boat-like and would lose its ability to pick up the pace. I didn’t find that to be the case. It’s still got that get up and go many runners liked but with the added benefit of more protection all around.

However, the 30mm of foam in the heel and 24mm in the forefoot is mid tier by industry standards. It’s sufficient here and feels good underfoot but if you’re used to 40mm in the heel on your daily trainer you’ll notice a difference. In the New Balance world, the Fresh Foam X More v4 and FuelCell SC Trainer v2 fill the high stack void so keep that in mind if you’re coming from another brand.

The outsole also changed to a more geometric pattern but there’s still plenty of rubber coverage and despite absolutely abusing the Rebel v4 during US Olympic Marathon Trials weekend, the outsole is hardly showing wear. I think the Rebel v4 will have a longer lifespan than its predecessors due to this particular change.

Finally, the upper is probably the smallest change but I found it improved comfort versus last year. New Balance’s FantomFit upper technology is heat bonded and avoids seams except at the very back of the shoe. It’s the same upper tech used on the SC Elite v4 with some slight tweaks to make the race day version lighter. It’s rough to the touch on the outside but inside it feels great. And even the tongue, which appears lackluster at first, is comfortable on foot and does a good job distributing lace pressure.

Whew. That was…a lot of changes…and my opinions on them. But I need Annie to weigh in with her thoughts on which tweaks worked and which didn’t.

New Balance FuelCell Rebel v4 medial side view

Annie: You got it, Drew. And kudos for deftly covering all those changes for the people because there were indeed a whole freaking lot of them.

Now, this may send shockwaves across the running shoe reviewer landscape, but v4 happens to be my first foray into the Rebel line – though, in my defense, certainly not for lack of interest. In fact, I was mere moments from snapping up the v3 I’d been eyeing for months (especially given its recent sale prices) until I learned v4 was already en route to my door.

Bottom line, I can’t directly compare v4 to previous Rebels. But I did have the pleasure of testing the likewise non-sacred bovine…er, I mean, the likewise unapologetically reinvented New Balance FuelCell SC Elite v4. As Drew mentioned, that long distance race shoe and this Rebel v4 now bear a ton of resemblance to one another (both in aesthetics and ride feel), making them a no-brainer pairing for racing and training. If one works for you, the other will almost certainly work for you as well.

Ok then…

New Balance FuelCell Rebel v4 outsole traction

On the Run

Annie: I found myself downright delighted each time it was the Rebel v4’s turn in the testing rotation these past several weeks. It does for me what I think the Asics Novablast 3 does for many runners. But the Rebel v4’s last happens to line up a bit better with my feet, as I find the Asics Novablast 3 just a tad long on me in my usual running size, but not quite roomy enough in the toe box to go down a half size to my “true” shoe size. And despite the higher stack in the Novablast line, the forefoot cushioning in the Rebel v4 still felt just as compelling to me in practice.

I agree with Drew that the ride was never squirrelly, and, despite the compressive nature of the midsole foam, I felt very secure and stable when cornering. That’s no doubt a product of the wide base (as well as the geometric carving Drew noted above) along with what I found to be a very effective upper.

Breathability was excellent (almost too excellent for current winter temps), and the traction proved very reliable across a variety of conditions and surfaces.

A common theme I found while testing the Rebel v4 was that it got more enjoyable the longer I ran in it. The geometry in general and the timing of the blended midsole’s feedback lined up effortlessly with my personal gait, making me feel like I was spending less time on the ground and more time in the air.

New Balance FuelCell Rebel v4 lateral snow view

Despite being mid tier by today’s stack height standards, I got plenty of protection from the Rebel v4 on runs exceeding the two hour mark and would have had no problem taking its cushioning setup longer. Granted, I’m five feet tall. But my ancestors have ensured that I’m sturdily built; so I still love my fair share of impact protection as much as anyone. I’m glad to hear that Drew – who has a literal foot-and-a-half of height on me and therefore also at least a couple of pounds – seems to have likewise found the stack sufficient.

For me, the Rebel v4 favored daily runs (duh) and also really shone on long progressions that pressed steadily from easy/moderate effort all the way through to somewhere around tempo – maybe 10k – pace. Any speedier than that and I did start to notice the extra breadth of the platform. But even then, the shoe managed to stay lightweight on foot.

For top-end speed and shorter interval work, I’d ultimately prefer a more specialized shoe than the Rebel v4 – like something with a slightly slimmer midfoot profile. And the Rebel v4 might also be just a tad toomuchfun for the most relaxed of recovery runs. But this shoe can still cover those extremes more than competently, and it does everything in between so handily that it’s an insanely easy choice as a daily trainer.

New Balance FuelCell Rebel v4 reflection


  • Versatile Peba/EVA midsole
  • Durable traction
  • Accommodating upper
  • Ability to pick up the pace
  • Breathability
  • Trustworthy stance, yet with all the gorgeous neutrality an Annie could want (That’s right. My bullet points are sometimes more verbose than Drew’s, but I wear it proudly)
  • Lightweight
New Balance FuelCell Rebel v4 heel rear view


  • Mid-tier stack height
  • More shoe than v3 (the platform can start to feel a touch broad under the midfoot during fastest efforts)
  • Possibly too much fun for true recovery efforts
New Balance FuelCell Rebel v4 upper top view

Is the New Balance Rebel v4 wide foot friendly?

Drew: Yes, I found the Rebel v4 to be plenty accommodating throughout the entire shoe. I think many wide footers will be ok with standard sizing. And based on the previous Rebels it’s almost certain that New Balance will also release a wide version (see the Rebel v3 wide here).

Annie: I completely agree. The Rebel v4 is one of the roomiest standard width shoes in recent memory – to the point that it might verge on cavernous for those with especially narrow or low-volume feet.

That said, I had no issues whatsoever with lockdown. So even though I didn’t need all the extra room in the midfoot, I was still able to get a consistent, secure fit without any need for a runner’s knot and without experiencing any lace pressure. And, as someone with an average-to-slightly-wide forefoot, I of course loved the extra room up front.

New Balance FuelCell Rebel v4 in the sun

Is the New Balance Rebel v4 worth $140?

Drew: With the New Balance FuelCell Rebel v4’s versatility it earns the price point. The $140-150 price band is right where I’d expect it to be and New Balance keeping it at the bottom of that band is a bonus.

Annie: For once, this is an easy one for me. I think the Rebel v4 holds its own and even outperforms plenty of shoes with the same (or even higher) price tag(s). $140 does represent a $10 increase over the v3. But – even with that increase – the Rebel v4 is still, as Drew put it, at the bottom of its category’s price band. I can’t find fault in that, especially for a shoe that performs so well.

New Balance FuelCell Rebel v4 in the snow

New Balance Rebel v4 Summary

Drew: The New Balance FuelCell Rebel v4 is one of my favorite shoes so far in 2024. It doesn’t go overboard on stack height just to fit the trend, is more stable than expected, fits great, can pick up the pace when I need it to, and isn’t prohibitively expensive. The Rebel v4 is a good value all around and is highly likely to become your go to daily running shoe.

Annie: I can’t help but echo Drew’s opinion here. The Rebel v4 very quickly endeared itself as a favorite of mine. It offers plenty of comfort and protection in a lightweight package. It provides the reliability and versatility I want from a daily trainer yet also manages to deliver the joy factor that keeps me excited to lace it up day after day. If that’s not the definition of a great daily trainer, I’m not sure what is.

How do the Authors Run?

Drew Whitcomb (age 42, 6’6″ 195lbs): Runs daily with a once a week rest day. Runs a lot of miles due to testing needs and a growing affinity for long-distance races. Regularly competes in marathons, half-marathons, 10k, and 5k races.

Annie Keris (age 39, 5’0” 117lbs): Typically follows a “two days on, one day off” running routine. “On” days include daily miles, speed work, and long runs. An “off” day usually involves yoga and mobility/recovery work. Enjoys occasional racing but perhaps enjoys the training process even more. Gravitates most toward the half marathon distance, but ventures into the 10k and 5k as well. The marathon is thus far uncharted territory…


While New Balance did send a pair of the Rebel v4 to facilitate this review, they had no involvement in this review, didn’t receive an advance look at it, and have not attempted to influence it.

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