New Balance SuperComp Elite v4 vs v3 Comparison Running Shoe Review
The main differences between the New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 and the New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 are that the SuperComp Elite v4 features a refined upper, re-imagined midsole geometry with energising PEBA foam, and a fresh take on the flex grooves in the outsole.
If you’re looking for a high mileage running shoe, look elsewhere because the New Balance SuperComp Elite v4 is all about speed – shaving off non-essential weight.
The philosophy behind this running shoe is “to make you run faster with less effort”, as Sportitude shoe expert Josh Willougby explains in his shoe review below. It’s an exciting addition to New Balance’s road racing and high performance shoe category.
Up top, a boost in breathability from the FantomFit upper and increased depth in terms of fit enhances your comfort, while staying honest to the lightweight engineering.
The full-length Energy Arc carbon plate provides a dash more rigidity than its predecessor and is complemented by the PEBA foam for optimal compression and a snappy toe-off.
Vertical outsole flex grooves in the forefoot contributes to the responsiveness, while a more filled out design ensures stability during high-speed runs.
A special mention needs to go out to the fact that it’s one of the first carbon plated running shoes available in a wide width offering – making this next evolution of speed more accessible to more foot types.
"This shoe is almost the perfect all-rounder [for interval training/racing]. It's balanced, it's stable, it's light and it's snappy." - Josh Willoughby
New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 - Mens Road Racing Shoes
New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 - Womens Road Racing Shoes
Check out the full review with transcript below.
This is a comparison running shoe review. We're going to look at the new version of this running shoe, compare it to last year's New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 and go over all the changes. There's been some significant updates with this new shoe.
We'll give you all the information that you need at home to potentially make this your next either race shoe or potentially your speed/tempo shoe in your shoe rotation. Without further ado, let's get stuck in.
Who Is The New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 Running Shoes For?
First things first, we need to point out the fact that this is a lightweight performance shoe. You can use the terminology ‘racing’ or use the terminology ‘performance’, it doesn't really matter. It is designed to go fast.
It's not a mileage shoe, it's not designed to go out and spend plenty of hours out on the road. It is engineered to the specifications to make you run faster with less effort.
With all that in mind, if you are purchasing this running shoe you need to know that you should not be doing everything in it. You should be using this as an interval shoe in your shoe rotation or to dial it in to chase those PBs out on the road.
Let's get stuck into the review. I'll go over the outsole, the midsole and the upper and at the end of this review I'm going to let you know how I personally have found this shoe to perform.
I was lucky enough to get a pair around 3 months ago to put some miles in, and this running shoe is launching in Australia the first week of February 2024. I've had a good chance to put them out on the road, get some clicks into them to give you the feedback that you need on how I felt and how this shoe performed for me.
First things first, let's jump to the outsole. There is a bit of change here with the outsole in comparison to last year. In the New Balance SuperComp Elite v3, you can see the little bit of outsole which sits on the exposed carbon plate through the forefoot (circled on the left above).
New Balance have filled out that forefoot with reference to the outsole and midsole in the New Balance SuperComp Elite v4 (right). However, you have plenty of decent rubber coverage.
It's all about protecting the asset which is the midsole, but the biggest change in respect to the outsole is the vertical flex grooves that run in line with the forefoot.
By having the cutaway in the New Balance SuperComp Elite v3, with that outsole pod sitting on the carbon plate to provide the protection, weight is reduced.
However, by New Balance filling out the outsole in the newest model through the forefoot, it provides more resilience and a more stable toe-off which is so important in a running shoe like this.
Coming back to the rear of the New Balance SuperComp Elite v4, there is a vertical decoupled line like last year. It is a bit narrower in the base. The carbon plate which is the Energy Arc execution from New Balance is exposed, so it's obviously inside the midsole.
Coming to the back half of the heel entry point for your heelstrikers, in the New Balance SuperComp Elite v4 running shoe, you have durable rubber on the medial and lateral side to provide some integrity and structure for the midsole.
I'll jump to the upper because this is a really good execution. Last year there was a bit of hit and miss regarding how some of our runners downstairs found this running shoe to perform for them.
For the most part it was a light and breathable engineered construction which you would expect in a lightweight performance shoe. There was a good structured heel counter at the back for a racing shoe.
A lot of times brands will go for a minimalist approach to the heel counter because the running shoe isn't necessarily about support and structure. It's about reducing the weight to get the athlete to enjoy the experience of a lighter, conformed fit.
Last year there was a heel counter at the back and this year it’s pretty similar to the overall heel counter experience. It is marginally deeper, the upper though is lighter and it's more breathable.
On paper it says they're both an engineered construction, but in this year's version they have really refined the upper in regards to the breathability, fit and feel on top of the foot.
One thing that is significantly different is the tongue. It feels a little bit like a suede finish which generally doesn't go that well with racing shoes. However, it didn't bother me too much regarding how it fit across the top of my arch.
The tongue itself is not gusseted, so therefore you don't get that real lockdown on top which is what we had last year.
The tongue was one piece with the upper in the New Balance SuperComp Elite v3. There was no gusted construction, but it had a lot more elasticity across your arch, so you got that pure lockdown through the tongue execution.
However, this year with the tongue in comparison to a one piece upper, there is that subtle variance regarding how the tongue sits on top of the arch. I would have liked to have seen potentially a few more holes to offer a bit more breathability, but for the most part it performed really well and breathed really well for me.
Let's jump into the midsole part of today's review. Focusing on the statistics first, in the New Balance SuperComp Elite v4, we have a 40mm stack in the heel and 36mm in the forefoot for an offset of 4mm.
Underneath the foot we have PEBA foam. To give you a reference point, there's a lot of different varieties of PEBA technology. PEBAX technically speaking is the company or the trademark technology that brands lean on to execute and manufacture their own versions of PEBA foam. You get a very soft, extremely squishy but resilient foam underneath the body.
The New Balance SuperComp Elite v3 was a nice fitting shoe. Coming from the New Balance SuperComp Elite v2 to the New Balance SuperComp Elite v3, I felt that they may have just missed the mark with the execution of the midsole.
A lot of people enjoyed the New Balance SuperComp Elite v3 for more of a training shoe experience, not necessarily racing. That being said, a lot of people enjoy it for racing of course, but this year I think they've taken some learnings from the New Balance SuperComp Elite v3 - really going after that high performance race day runner.
This year's model with that new execution in geometry and a subtle change in PEBA technologies underneath the foot, gives more compression on entry but a stabilised feel through midstance and a really explosive feel through the forefoot.
That's in combination with the full-length Energy Arc carbon plate that New Balance are executing in this running shoe. The carbon plate has an update. It's slightly lighter than last year's New Balance SuperComp Elite v3, and we have found it is a little bit more rigid through the forefoot.
When you're putting a softer foam underneath your foot on a more rigid plate, you're going to be able to compress the foam more to engage that plate. This allows you to exit out of your toe-off with more explosion or more pop.
The New Balance SuperComp Elite v4 running shoe certainly feels a lot nicer underneath the foot compared to the New Balance SuperComp Elite v3. The execution of overall geometry in this shoe has been well put together in combination with the outsole.
It's a very well thought out midsole and it's a running shoe that people are going to certainly gravitate towards.
Josh's Subjective Opinion
A couple of things to note, the upper has a FantomFit construction. FantomFit is New Balance’s technology that they use to really refine the upper construction to provide that lightweight, adaptable upper which they have executed in the new New Balance SuperComp Elite v4.
As for my subjective opinion, I absolutely love this shoe right now. If I was racing next weekend this would be the running shoe I'd have on my foot. It is very light, it's very snappy. I prefer the feel of this midsole in comparison to other racing shoes right now.
That may not be the case in 6 months time, we all change, we all like and experience different things, but right now this is the shoe that I would be putting on my foot for a half marathon next weekend.
We need to talk about the execution of the PEBA midsole. Racing shoes brands are trying to reduce the amount of energy lost in reference to the overall compression and release out of your gait cycle.
You are never going to get back what you put in. In terms of the vertical force you put through your foot on entry, you're never going to get that same amount of energy returned on release.
Regarding reducing the amount of energy lost, New Balance have executed that extremely well in the New Balance SuperComp Elite v4 in comparison to the New Balance SuperComp Elite v3.
There's a number of different ways brands are achieving this, but we don't need to go into that in a lot of detail. New Balance put a significant effort into executing that as a key objective for this shoe and they've nailed it.
In regards to what I liked about the New Balance SuperComp Elite v4 for me personally, I didn't really notice the weight of the shoe on the foot. To give you some context, the women’s size 7.5 is around 198 grams and a men's 9.5 which is what I am, came in at 238 grams.
That was using our kitchen scales. Please note there is always going to be a subtle variance between weights in reference to who's weighing them, the surface it's weighed on, or if it's coming directly from the brand. It's important to give or take 1-2 grams variance across all different reviewers.
That being said, with reference to the weight it is marginally heavier than some other running shoes on the market in this category. However, I didn't notice it on the foot. That's a good thing because if you start to get really fixated on a specific key statistics, it sometimes can throw you off a little bit.
I like to use the reference point in performance shoes of which shoe actually helps you run with less perceived effort as your subjective benchmark, and the New Balance SuperComp Elite v4 for me was effortless getting up to that threshold pace
Sustaining that pace for a long period of time was really easy. It didn't take much for me to get through to the midsole. I found it stable and balanced which is saying a bit because there is usually a trade-off with performance shoes.
I'll sacrifice some stability and a little bit of that overall ride or comfort to get a lighter, more snappy shoe on my foot.
I feel that this shoe is almost the perfect all-rounder. It's balanced, it's stable, it's light and it's snappy. That's not going to be the case for every single runner who comes in and puts this shoe on their foot, but for me personally it's a very exciting shoe this year.
I think New Balance are not only going to see some market share gained with the New Balance SuperComp Elite v4, but it creates a precedent and a baseline for them to then launch the New Balance SuperComp Elite v5. I've got no doubt that's going to be a very exciting shoe.
Similar Running Shoes To The New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4
To conclude, regarding similar shoes to the New Balance SuperComp Elite v4, obviously we're talking about performance.
Nike have led this space for a number of years, and market share tells us that with the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly (Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next% 3 shown above) and the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% as the two reference points.
You’ve got two shoes that talk to the same consumer or the same category. However, two different runners will gravitate towards one versus the other.
The New Balance SuperComp Elite v4 is almost like a perfect blend of both of those shoes, where it's offering a little bit of stability which is what the Nike Air Alphafly can do for a lot of runners who gravitate towards that shoe for your race day, half marathon or marathon distances.
At the same time, the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% is exceptionally light and really snappy which is why some athletes gravitate towards that shoe. I feel that the New Balance SuperComp Elite v4 is a happy hybrid between those two shoes.
I'll use the Hoka Rocket X as as a great example too. The midsole characteristics are so similar underneath the body, the stack is almost identical and the actual release out of gait is very similar with the New Balance SuperComp Elite v4 and the Hoka Rocket X.
The one thing that the New Balance SuperComp Elite v4 running shoe has over the Hoka Rocket X for me personally is it is a little bit more stable through the midstance transition.
That will come into play when getting towards that two-thirds mark into a long race, whether half marathon or full marathon, where you need to lean into the shoe to provide more stability.
I find the New Balance SuperComp Elite v4 to hold up better on the back third of a race versus what I feel the Hoka Rocket X would do for me in overall performance.
Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% 2 Flyknit - Mens Road Racing Shoes
Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% 3 - Womens Road Racing Shoes
Hoka Rocket X 2 - Unisex Running Shoes
The Wrap Up
New Balance absolutely nailed this shoe. I'm so excited, I can't wait to get this running shoe on a lot of athletes' feet, to have a chat about what it's all about and get that real feedback from you the running community.
If you have any questions about the New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 running shoes, if you've used version 2 or version 3 previously, please contact our Sportitude shoe experts and let us know what you thought.
Are you as excited as me about the New Balance FuelCell SC Elite v4? Let us know, we'd love to hear from you the running community all around the world.
Until next time, stay safe, be kind to one another, all the best chasing those PBs in 2024 and we'll see you out on the road. Take care.
- Support: Neutral, Road Racing
- Upper: Mesh
- Midsole: New Balance FuelCell
- Heel Height: 40mm
- Forefoot Height: 36mm
- Offset / Drop: 4mm
- Similar Shoes: Nike Air Zoom Alphafly, Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% & Hoka Rocket X
- Weight: 238g / 8.4oz (US 9.5)
- Width: D (standard), 2E (extra wide)
- Weight: 198g / 7oz (US 7)
- Width: B (standard)
New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 - Mens Road Racing Shoes
New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v4 - Womens Road Racing Shoes
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