New Balance FuelCell Rebel v4 Review

The New Balance Rebel v4.

All shoes are reviewed by the Fleet Feet tester team, which represents a wide variety of goals, foot shapes, running locations and terrains. Reviewers pound the pavement, climb the hills, tackle the trails, then come together to compare notes. Debates ensue over the feel of the cushioning, the purpose of the shoe, and how it compares to last year’s model. While each reviewer has their own individual preferences, we hope that capturing our debates will help you make an informed decision.

New Balance first released the Rebel in the summer of 2019. At a time when the shoe industry was still making its shift towards bouncier foams with an emphasis on energy return, the Rebel was, indeed, a rebel.

Fast forward to 2024, and the Rebel v4 promises to offer an even lighter, bouncier ride with a reformulated midsole compound and a higher stack height.

With the review team wondering “Can you run in carbon plated shoes too much?” the Rebel v4 provides a nice alternative for days when you feel the need for speed.

While the v4 probably can’t be considered a rebel anymore amongst its competitors, it might be the best version of the Rebel we’ve tested. Read on to learn why.

Tech Specs

New Balance FuelCell Rebel v4

Weight 5.5 oz (W), 6.9 oz (M)
Stack height (heel/forefoot) 30 mm/24 mm
Heel-to-toe drop 6 mm
Category Neutral
Surface Road, track
Price $140
Comparable to... ASICS Novablast 4, Brooks Hyperion Max

Ride

Cushioning

Energy

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PEBA foam steals the show

The FuelCell foam inside the New Balance Rebel v4's midsole.

Just like the New Balance SC Elite v4, the Rebel v4 offers a completely redesigned midsole compound. The latest blend combines both New Balance’s proprietary FuelCell foam (a mix of TPU and EVA) with PEBA foam for an even bouncier ride. PEBA is an ultra-light, high-performance foam that’s typically seen in carbon-plated supershoes.

“I can easily feel how the Rebel v4 propels me forward with each step, even without a carbon plate, thanks to the soft yet bouncy foam,” says Ashley, who’s currently training for a 50-mile race this April. “I would liken running in the New Balance Rebel v4 to gliding effortlessly across the pavement. This is the ideal feeling for a tempo run. And, yes, tempo runs are where these shoes shine. They are my new favorite alternative to carbon-plated shoes for workout days.”

Not only does the Rebel v4 have a new midsole compound, it offers more foam underfoot to cushion each stride. The latest version has added about 2.5 millimeters of stack height, adding more protection underfoot. With a stack height of 30 millimeters in the heel, it’s about average when compared to other shoes in its category.

“My favorite thing about the Rebel v4 is the stack height,” Max says, whose self-described weak ankles make him nervous in high-stack shoes. “It doesn’t feel overly tall but it still provides a soft, squishy underfoot feel and it was surprisingly propulsive with the bounciness and responsiveness of the foam.”

Some more good news for Max, or anyone else who struggles with stability, is that the Rebel offers a wider base than the previous version.

“The Rebel v4 feels more stable underfoot thanks to a wider base and a slightly firmer foam, all features I really appreciate in a performance trainer,” says Nate, a firm-shoe-enthusiast.

Even though Ashley and Max described the midsole foam as soft, it’s safe to say that it does feel a touch firmer than previous iterations. We felt the same way about the newly updated SC Elite v4, which also switched from a pure FuelCell midsole to a PEBA and FuelCell blend.

The Rebel v4 features a partially exposed outsole, meaning some sections of the midsole foam are left uncovered. This is done to reduce weight and, with the Rebel weighing only 5.5 ounces for the women and 6.9 for the men, it’s clear that weight savings is a priority. The rest of the outsole is covered in a grippy rubber, with the forefoot area being a tad firmer for propulsive toe-offs.

With a shoe this light, durability is always a concern. We’ve only logged a few miles in this shoe, so you’ll have to stay tuned about how the Rebel holds up to wear and tear.

Fantom Fit makes a comeback

The New Balance Rebel v4's upper.

Everyone loves a good comeback story. New Balance brought their Fantom Fit technology back in 2024, a technology used in New Balance models of decades past. Fantom Fit is an engineered mesh upper created by fusing two pieces of thin material together, creating ultralight support.

“The upper is so sleek that it creates a really nice lockdown fit,” says Max. “The width felt true to size throughout the midfoot and forefoot.”

While Max was a big fan of the Fantom Fit upper, Nate and Ashley had their reservations.

“The upper is thin and lacks a lot of structure – it feels wide throughout,” says Ashley. “In fact, even with my medium-width feet, I found myself having to cinch the shoe down a bit more than I expected. That said, it wasn’t anything drastic.”

“The forefoot feels a little too boxy which contributed to a bit of an awkward feeling,” says Nate.

When taking into account the reviewers’ foot shapes (Nate is on the wider side, Max is on the narrower side, and Ashley falls in the middle), their differing opinions certainly had me scratching my head. But I’m also going to call out that, in my opinion, Max wears a too-small size based on his fitid® scan.

Nevertheless, all reviewers agreed that the upper’s breathability and light weight stand out amongst competitors. Plus, the modern design with bold logos and bright colors will certainly help you stand out on the roads.

New Balance Rebel v4 vs Rebel v3

Tech Specs

New Balance Rebel v4

New Balance Rebel v3

Weight

5.5 oz (W), 6.9 oz (M)

5.8 oz (W), 7.4 oz (M)

Stack height

30 mm/24 mm

27.5 mm/21.5 mm

Heel-to-toe drop

6 mm

6 mm

Price

$140

$130

The New Balance Rebel v4 still remains a lightweight, uptempo trainer with a few tweaks to improve its ride.

First, an added 2.5 millimeters of stack height adds more protection underfoot.

“The Rebel v3 just didn’t feel like it had enough foam underfoot to absorb repetitive impact,” says Max. “The Rebel v4 feels much more substantial, while still maintaining a light weight.”

Speaking of light weight, the Rebel v4 managed to shave weight despite the added midsole foam. This could be due to the new Fantom Fit upper, the new PEBA-infused midsole formulation, or simply running shoe sorcery.

The Rebel v4 has increased in price from $130 to $140, which is typical for shoes in its category.

The New Balance Rebel v4's heel.

How does the New Balance FuelCell Rebel compare?

We took a look at some comparable shoes to see how they stack up against the New Balance Rebel v4. Here’s what we found.

Tech Specs

New Balance Rebel v4

ASICS Novablast 4

Brooks Hyperion Max

Weight

5.5 oz (W), 6.9 oz (M)

7.9 oz (W), 9.2 oz (M)

6.7 oz (W), 7.8 oz (M)

Stack height

30 mm/24 mm

40.5 mm/32.5 mm (W),

41.5 mm/33.5 mm (M)

26 mm/18 mm

Heel-to-toe drop

6 mm

8 mm

8 mm

Weight

$140

$140

$170

The New Balance Rebel v4, ASICS Novablast 4 and Brooks Hyperion Max are all energetic, non-plated trainers that shine during speed workouts and uptempo paces. All three shoes rely on their midsole foams and slight rocker shapes to create a forward-rolling sensation. And, while the shoes vary in terms of stack height and weight, they offer similar soft-to-firm ratios that pack enough pop to pick up the pace.

“The Rebel v4 gives ASICS Novablast vibes as a responsive and super peppy performance trainer,” says Nate. “The Brooks Hyperion Max feels similar, albeit a bit firmer.”

The New Balance Rebel v4's outsole.

Who is the New Balance Rebel v4 best for?

The New Balance Rebel v4 is a suitable choice for runners seeking a lightweight, responsive trainer. With a moderate stack height of 30 millimeters in the heel, it’s great for those who don’t like a super tall shoe.

“The Rebel v4 is an excellent tempo shoe, easy run shoe and long run shoe,” says Ashley. “It’s a really fantastic choice for half- and full marathon training. Plus, it’s a really great choice if you don’t want to splurge on carbon-plated shoes.”

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