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Shoe Review: New Balance FuelCell TC

The New Balance FuelCell TC running shoes

The New Balance FuelCell TC is here to take its place among the new wave of running shoes with carbon-fiber plates, and its performance and style don’t disappoint.

A full-length FuelCell midsole and carbon-fiber plate embedded into the foam work together to deliver a propulsive ride, and a minimal, lightweight upper provides the right mix of breathability and structure.

From heel to toe, the FuelCell TC is engineered for all your training and competition needs. The FuelCell TC is the cushier version of a lighter and faster race-specific shoe due out from New Balance later this year.

New Balance FuelCell TC highlights:

  • FuelCell foam. Super bouncy, lightweight cushioning that gets better with speed
  • Carbon-fiber plate. Adds stiffness for energy savings
  • Mesh upper. The single layer mesh upper is light and airy
  • Thoughtful details. Small touches add a premium feel

Fleet Feet runners got to test out the New Balance FuelCell TC to see how it fits and how it rides. Here’s what they thought of the latest New Balance running shoes.

Tech specs

New Balance FuelCell TC

Price

$200

Weight

10 oz (M9.5)

Durability

300+ miles

Use

Everyday trainer, races

Midsole

FuelCell

Surface

Road, track

New Balance FuelCell TC Fit and Materials

A pair of New Balance FuelCell TC running shoes

Premium materials and attention to details make the New Balance FuelCell TC a comfortable fit for any type of training or competition.

The TC is covered in a very thin upper made of a single layer of woven mesh. A subtle pattern flows across the mesh, but it has very little outward design other than a large New Balance logo overlay over the toe.

Fleet Feet testers appreciated small, but significant details about the FuelCell TC:

  • A single embroidered stitch runs the length of the shoe laces. It gives the laces a touch of texture to help them stay tied tightly.
  • Perforations on the tongue keep the shoe airy.
  • Slightly iridescent finish on the midsole sidewall glimmers in the light.
  • Suede-like material wraps around the collar and eyelets. Not only is the material soft to the touch, it also grips the laces a little to keep them from loosening.

Designers printed a pressure map on the stock insole that shows a bit of the data New Balance used to engineer the shoe. The print doesn’t affect how the shoe feels, and you can’t see it from the outside, but it’s a clever reminder about New Balance’s research and design process.

The New Balance FuelCell TC fits true to size. Testers liked how the internal heel counter locked-in the fit and how the slightly flared ankle collar angled away from the Achilles to keep from rubbing and causing blisters.

Beneath the shoe, New Balance tacked on a generous layer of grippy and durable rubber in the forefoot. Mimicking the pressure map printed inside the shoe, the rubber covers the entire forefoot and runs slightly farther down the lateral side of the shoe underneath the high-pressure zones.

Two smaller strips of rubber border each side of the heel, leaving an island of exposed FuelCell foam right in the middle. Exposed foam has become common in modern running shoes and rarely presents any durability problems, so we don’t expect that to be a problem here, either.

New Balance says runners should expect to get 300-plus miles out of the FuelCell TC.

New Balance FuelCell TC Ride and Performance

Pro runner Emma Coburn runs in the New Balance FuelCell TC running shoes

Cruising around in the New Balance FuelCell TC is great; it’s obviously well-cushioned, fits comfortably and doesn’t weigh much. But the shoe excels when you pick up the pace.

In other words, the FuelCell TC comes alive at high speed.

Designers used a full bed of New Balance's premium FuelCell foam to cushion—and power—the shoe. New Balance engineered FuelCell for the highest energy return of any New Balance cushioning yet, which gives the TC its high-speed life.

“It feels like the more you put into it, the more you get out of it,” one tester said. “I really felt the rebound during faster intervals.”

Part of the pop comes from the full-length carbon fiber plate embedded into the midsole. You can’t see or feel the plate on the outside of the shoe, but you’ll understand its effect if you try to bend the shoe with your hands.

The carbon-fiber plate increases the shoe’s stiffness, which in turn decreases the amount of energy you lose as you run.

New Balance also added a slight flare to the midsole on the lateral side of the shoe, similar to the New Balance FuelCell Rebel and the New Balance FuelCell 5280.

If you’re wearing the shoes and look down at your feet, you’ll see the flare on the lateral side (outside) of the shoe. It begins at about the ball of your foot and runs to about where your heel starts. But the flare isn't just a funky design element: it comes from data.

The flare is a functional component that comes from the data collected during development. The midsole flares out precisely where runners put the most pressure on the shoe (See: the pressure map printed on the insole) to provide additional foam where it’s needed.

With the liberal use of rubber on the forefoot, testers did not have any problems with traction on pavement.

Conclusion

The New Balance FuelCell TC doesn’t have a weakness.

With its ultra-bouncy foam and carbon-fiber plate technology, it’s a specialized piece of running equipment that delivers on its promises.

We loved the energetic feeling of the foam. It’s comfortable at cruising speeds, but it really shines when you pick up the pace, making each step feel like the shoe is springing you forward.

The carbon-fiber plate adds welcome stiffness, and the lightweight upper gives it an accommodating fit that our testers found true to length and width. Overall, runners looking for a speed boost for training or racing will find exactly what they need in the New Balance FuelCell TC.

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.

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