Shoe Review: New Balance FuelCell RC Elite
They’re called Elite, but make no mistake: The New Balance FuelCell RC Elite is a great fit for all runners looking to shave time off their PRs.
The New Balance FuelCell RC Elite combines plush, bouncy cushioning with a carbon-fiber plate for a fun, engaging ride. A lightweight upper secures the shoe on your foot, and generous ventilation keeps you comfortable—even when your pace isn’t.
New Balance optimized the RC Elite for long-distance racing, like half and full marathons, and it feels every bit the race-day weapon it was meant to be.
Fleet Feet runners tested the New Balance FuelCell RC Elite to see how it fits, feels and performs. Here’s what they thought.
New Balance FuelCell RC Elite
7.8 oz (M10.5)
Half marathon, full marathon
New Balance FuelCell RC Elite Fit and Materials
Designers tailored every component of the New Balance FuelCell RC Elite for top speed.
From the featherweight upper and thin tongue to the streamlined fit, the RC Elite has PRs written all over it. Here’s what you need to know about the fastest New Balance shoe yet.
New Balance topped the FuelCell RC Elite with a thin mesh upper that creates a comfortable fit.
The mesh creates a grid of small rectangles all over the shoe that provide structure and ventilation. The lightweight mesh feels soft on your foot, and it has a touch of stretch for a dynamic fit.
While the mesh stretches nicely and molds to the shape of your foot, the fit runs slightly narrow. Runners with wider feet should try on the RC Elite to check the fit. New Balance doesn’t make the shoe in wide sizing.
Designers used printed overlays on the upper to add a little more structure, including a streaking NB logo across the forefoot. Some extra overlays cover the eyelets and wrap around the heel of the shoe.
Overall, the one-piece mesh upper is sleek and light, making it perfect for a PR-busting racing shoe.
Heel and Collar
Like the upper, New Balance made the heel and collar to streamline the fit.
The entire heel cup is thin—there’s no bulk or excess. A small pad wraps around the inside of the heel cup, which makes it more comfortable, and the whole thing is wrapped in a soft fabric.
Because the RC Elite is focused on speed, there isn’t as much structure in the heel as in everyday training shoes. But the lighter heel structure still gives the shoe a locked-in fit.
One tester says his foot didn’t budge once the shoe was laced up.
Lacing and Tongue
New Balance finished the shoe with simple, standard lacing.
Designers punched five eyelets up each side of the shoe, and they layered the printed overlays around the eyelets for extra strength. An empty sixth eyelet positioned at the top of the shoe gives you options for heel-lock lacing if you need a little more hold.
The tried-and-true lacing system is great for dialing in the fit and getting a secure, locked-in feel, and it’s also familiar, which is nice for focusing on your effort rather than your shoes.
New Balance FuelCell RC Elite Ride and Performance
The FuelCell RC Elite can flat out fly.
New Balance’s FuelCell midsole is a top-tier, high-performance foam composition that feels very soft underfoot. But what sets FuelCell apart from other super-soft foams used in everyday training shoes is its rebound.
FuelCell delivers much higher energy return than standard soft foams, which translates to that engaging, bouncy feeling. One tester says the foam gives the RC Elite a ride worthy of the investment.
“The RC Elite is just plain fun,” he says. “The springiness really shines at full speed, and it’s so light on your feet that you don’t even think about it.”
Layered inside the FuelCell foam is a full-length carbon-fiber plate. Like other running shoes with carbon-fiber plates, the FuelCell RC Elite is stiff in the forefoot. The stiffness creates a more efficient step, lending the shoe a snappy feeling when you toe off.
FuelCell not only boasts high energy return, but New Balance used data to shape it specifically for faster paces.
If you look down at the RC Elite while you’re wearing it, you’ll see a slight flare on the lateral side of the shoe. New Balance developed the flared midsole design during testing for previous FuelCell shoes; engineers found many runners landed with the most pressure on the lateral side of the foot before rolling through to toe off.
The design creates a wider base and more stable ride on the lateral side. Even when you’re not at top speed, though, the RC Elite still provides a comfortable, smooth landing and transition.
New Balance boosted traction by coating the bottom of the RC Elite with a Dynaride outsole. The Dynaride is different from many typical outsoles, though.
Instead of covering the bottom of the shoe with a slab of rubber, New Balance studded the RC Elite with dozens of triangular nubs. Each nub is made from a durable rubber that grips the pavement in all weather conditions.
A couple pieces of flat rubber curve around the edges of the heel, but the main focus is on the midfoot and forefoot. The spaced out design and forefoot positioning also helps reduce weight, and, like the midsole flare, put the traction where you need it when you’re aiming to take down a PR.
Final Thoughts on the RC Elite
The New Balance FuelCell RC Elite is a fast, light and approachable carbon-fiber-plated running shoe for anyone who wants to run down their best times.
New Balance draped the RC Elite in a featherweight mesh upper that provides secure structure and breezy ventilation. Underneath, a plush and bouncy FuelCell midsole enhances the springy ride while a full-length carbon fiber plate adds a satisfying snap.
When you're running fast, the New Balance FuelCell RC Elite gives you exactly what you need—and nothing more.
Still not convinced? Don’t sweat it. Fleet Feet's return policy means you can test drive your shoes and gear without risk. If you’re not happy with the way your gear performs, looks or fits, we’ll take it back within 60 days. Plus, you’ll get free shipping on orders over $99 and free return shipping on all fleetfeet.com orders. That's our Happy Fit Guarantee.
By Evan Matsumoto. Evan played many sports growing up but didn’t go pro in any of them. Now, he’s the digital copywriter for fleetfeet.com and editor for the Fleet Feet blog where he writes about different foam densities and engineered mesh uppers.