The New Balance FuelCell TC is New Balance’s first modern carbon-plated running shoe. New Balance will also release a model called the RC. The T in TC seems to stand for train while the R in RC stands for race. I imagine the C stands for carbon fiber. New Balance hasn’t revealed the mysterious acronym’s true meaning so let’s just roll with it for now.
The FuelCell TC competes with the similarly training-focused Nike Zoom Fly 3 while the upcoming RC will compete head to head with Nike’s Vaporfly Next%. As someone who absolutely loved and ran my half marathon PR in the Zoom Fly 3, the FuelCell TC is facing really good competition.
New Balance is in a good position to compete, having recently produced a string of solid daily trainers including the FuelCell Propel and Fresh Foam More. Because of my recent positive experiences with New Balance running, I was optimistic that the FuelCell TC could compete with the Zoom Fly 3 but doubtful it could top it. Turns out, my doubts were proven wrong…
Wow, the FuelCell TC is bouncy! The formulation of FuelCell used in the TC is much softer and springier than what was used in the FuelCell Propel and OMN1s. The carbon fiber plate helps out with that, of course, but the combo is delicious. It’s bouncier than the Nike Zoom Fly 3 but in a lighter overall package.
My feet and legs never felt beat up running in the FuelCell TC. The cushion absorbed the impact and pushed me into my next stride. I always ended up running at a faster pace than I planned while wearing them. It may be a mental thing due to how they feel on foot, but I get more results out of the same effort when I wear the TC.
The softness of the cushion paired with the great bounce lifts the TC above the Zoom Fly 3 as the bounciest trainer I own.
While the New Balance FuelCell TC’s fit is more narrow than other New Balance running shoes, it’s still wider than Nikes and will be more comfortable for most of the wide footers that have been stuffing their feet into Zoom Flys and Vaporflys.
The length is true to size, so if you can find the FuelCell TC in stock, buy your usual running shoe size.
The forgiving mesh upper fits well and gave me no issues. The only fit issue is the shoe’s tongue. The tongue can fold up on itself when putting it on. This is similar to other thin-tongued shoes like the Hoka Carbon X or Brooks Hyperion Tempo. It’s annoying and requires your full attention as you slide the shoes on your feet. During runs, I had bad tongue slippage on both shoes. Luckily, Ben Johnson showed me how to fix the slippage by putting the laces through some of the air holes in the tongue. Check the images in this review to see how I did it. This technique also helped a bit with the tongue folding issue (though it can still happen). I recommend anyone buying the FuelCell TC use this lacing technique.
The New Balance FuelCell TC features a mesh upper with suede around the collar and tongue. The suede reinforces the whole area but is low quality. It’s just slightly better than the feltlike stuff that shows up on some shoes. The 3M thread in the laces and the lenticular logo on the tongue are both nice touches.
The breathability of the upper is fantastic. Air moves right through the mesh and large air holes on the tongue. You won’t overheat in these shoes.
There’s a big chunk of rubber covering the entire forefoot. A large portion of the shoe’s weight comes from the rubber. There’s also two other pieces of rubber on the heel.
The outsole grips well but the main triangle-patterned forefoot tread is wearing faster than I’d like. Because the rubber is so thick, the FuelCell TC will easily last over 300 miles, I’m just not sure how long the triangles on the outsole will stick around.
Just like it’s Nike competitor, the FuelCell TC is a little tipsy. It’s better than the Zoom Fly 3 because the midsole flares very wide starting at the heel on the lateral side. The lateral support is assisted by the outsole rubber wrapping up onto the midsole at the midfoot. It adds strength to the natural outrigger of the flared midsole. The midsole also widens at the medial forefoot to balance out the support.
Tackling cobblestone or mulchy dirt paths felt much safer in the FuelCell TC than it did in the Zoom Fly 3. I don’t recommend off-roading in the FuelCell TC but it packs solid support into a high rebound, speed-focused road shoe.
The New Balance FuelCell TC cements New Balance as a legit competitor to Nike in the carbon plate running shoe war. The FuelCell TC is an awesome shoe. It’s ultra breathable, accommodates most foot types, and is extremely bouncy. At $200, the price is high. In return, you get a shoe that will tear up the road during intervals, fartleks, tempo runs, and any other speed work you do.
New Balance was not given any editorial control of the review. This review is based on our weartesters’ experiences using the shoes for speed workouts, trail runs, treadmill training, long runs, casual wear, and more.