Shoe Review: New Balance FuelCell Rebel v2

The women's New Balance FuelCell Rebel v2

By the Fleet Feet Review Team. With over 80 years of combined experience, our review team is dedicated to providing in-depth gear and shoe reviews to help you find the best shoes and gear for your next run.

The New Balance FuelCell Rebel v2 brings high-performance FuelCell foam to your everyday training shoe for a standout ride that won’t weigh you down.

New Balance engineered the Rebel v2 for a lightweight feel and low-profile fit, but they packed it full of high-end FuelCell foam for bouncy everyday miles. The feathery weight makes it perfect for top-end speed work, but the protective foam will keep your body feeling good after plenty of miles on pavement.

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The Rebel v2 is the second edition of the Rebel, and there are some big differences to point out. So, Fleet Feet runners put the Rebel through its paces to see how the updated shoe fits and rides. Here’s what you need to know.

Tech specs

New Balance FuelCell Rebel v2


5.9 oz (W), 7.2 oz (M)


6 mm




Everyday training


Road, track

Thin, Breathable Upper Minimizes Weight

The upper on the New Balance Rebel v2

Every ounce counts when you’re going fast, so New Balance designed the Rebel to keep weight down.

New Balance draped the Rebel in a very thin, very lightweight mesh upper. The single piece of mesh wraps all the way around the shoe for a seam-free look and smooth feel. The mesh is so thin that you need to think about what socks you’re going to wear because people will see them.

“The upper is pretty transparent,” one reviewer says. “I wore neon green socks the other day, and I could see the pattern right through the mesh.”

The Rebel v2 maintains the sleek look all the way through the shoe by not using any unnecessary padding or overlays. The shoe has a thin tongue that lies flat against the top of your foot, and the only overlay is the New Balance “N” on the side.

There’s a little bit of padding around the heel collar, and it’s covered in a silky fabric. Behind the fabric is a minimalist heel counter that provides just the right structure for a secure fit.

All our reviewers found the Rebel to be comfortable. One runner says it fit exactly like she expected it to.

“The fit feels consistently true to size for New Balance shoes, which are always a little roomy on my foot,” she says. “This upper is fitted in the forefoot but not too tight on my toes, and the heel is snug. It fits perfectly for me.”

Another reviewer with a slightly wider forefoot says the Rebel has plenty of room for his foot.

“I’m always a little wary of shoes that look fast because they’re sometimes too narrow for me, but these are perfect,” he says. “They’re snug around my midfoot without putting my foot to sleep, and my toes have room to move.”

Soft, Lively Midsole Handles All Your Miles

The New Balance Rebel v2

The unpadded tongue, the thin mesh and the streamlined silhouette all scream speed work, but the plush midsole and grippy outsole hold up to everyday training, too.

Designers powered the Rebel with FuelCell foam. It’s the same foam you’ll find in the fastest New Balance running shoes, like the FuelCell TC and FuelCell RC Elite. If you haven’t tried a FuelCell shoe yet, this is a good place to start.

“I spent a good five minutes just squeezing the foam in my hands because it’s so soft to the touch,” one reviewer says. “But once you put them on, it feels responsive and bouncy, which shows off the versatility.”

The Rebel v2 has similar design elements to those top-of-the-line shoes, like a slightly flared lateral midsole shape and a low-profile fit, but it doesn’t have a carbon-fiber plate. The plate creates more stiffness to increase efficiency, which is perfect for fast race times, but it can also make the shoe a little unwieldy at slower paces.

The Rebel’s all-foam midsole feels smooth and natural no matter how fast (or not so fast) you’re running.

“The landing is soft and the forefoot has a lot of flex, while the midfoot and heel feel nice and stable,” one reviewer says. “Some speedy shoes feel like they’re designed to influence my stride to make me run more on my mid or forefoot. But I don’t have to think about my landing or transition in these. I feel like I’m moving quickly and staying light on my feet.”

The FuelCell midsole and lightweight feel make the Rebel a great all-around running shoe that leans into speed work.

“I love the Rebel’s flexibility,” he says. “You get the same bounciness as the fastest race day shoes, but it feels much more manageable for everyday training runs because it doesn’t have the carbon-fiber plate.”

New Balance FuelCell Rebel vs. FuelCell Rebel v2

A side-by-side comparison of the New Balance FuelCell Rebel and FuelCell Rebel v2

The Rebel v2 looks and feels pretty different from the original Rebel. When you compare the shoes side by side, you can immediately spot the differences.

In the original model, New Balance integrated the tongue into the upper, which made it more like putting on a sock. They moved away from that design in the v2 and used a more traditional tongue with laces.

New Balance used a thinner, sleeker upper in the v2, and they stuck with standard eyelets for the laces rather than using a cord sewn into the upper.

The v1 was one of the first New Balance shoes to feature the flared midsole design on the lateral edge. Designers added the flare based on data they collected from runners when they were moving fast. The v2 maintains a similar shape, although it’s slightly less pronounced.

The biggest difference, though, is the feel of the midsole. The FuelCell midsole in the first version of the shoe felt denser than the new model; this second version feels lightweight, soft and bouncy.

Reviewers say all of the changes are a big improvement from the first version.

“I ran in the first version of this shoe in college and found that even though they were lightweight, the foam felt pretty dense,” one reviewer says. “That’s definitely not the case with the update. I will definitely be telling everyone I know to try these shoes.”

Final Thoughts

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The New Balance FuelCell Rebel v2 is an outstanding neutral running shoe that pairs the bounciness of top-tier race day shoes with the flexibility of an everyday trainer.

New Balance layered the Rebel with its FuelCell foam midsole, which provides a plush landing and a peppy response. A thin, breathable mesh upper keeps weight to a minimum, and the low-profile silhouette gives it a speedy look.

But don’t mistake the Rebel for a one-trick running shoe: You can wear this for just about any run you can imagine.

“Every run I’ve done in these shoes has been magical,” she says. “I’m obsessed. Because they’re not plated, it doesn’t feel like there’s too much influence on my gait which makes these shoes great for everyday mileage or speed work.”

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 orders. That's our Happy Fit Guarantee.

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