new balance rebel v3 cover
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New Balance FuelCell Rebel v3 Review: Still Rock ‘n’ Roll to Me

What You Need To Know

  • Weighs 8.1 oz. (230 g) for a US M10.5 / 6.3 oz. (180 g) for a US W7.5
  • The SuperComp Trainer’s capable little brother
  • Rockin’ a new knit upper that’s less prone to blowouts
  • A little more foam, but maybe a little less personality
  • Available now for $130

THOMAS: The rock and roll rebel is a cliche, but all cliches are born from truth. Billy Idol, for example, started as the lead singer in the London punk rock band Generation X. Then, Billy went solo and charted with pop-punk hits that found tremendous success on MTV. With a blond spiked head of hair, a permanently curled lip, and leather accessories, Billy still looked like a punk, but more like the punk you saw hanging outside a suburban mall. To be fair, Billy probably influenced the look of the fellas while Madonna and Cindy Lauper set the style for marginalized female teens — at least at the malls I was hitting up as a skate rat in the early 80s.

As the rebellion of the eighties gave way to the slacker nineties, Billy found God, his new releases sucked (to put it lightly), and his plastic surgery left you trying to figure out what happened to his face.

All this to say, it’s hard to stay a rebel once you go mainstream.

Take the New Balance FuelCell Rebel v3, for example. The updates are meant to make the shoe more palatable to the average runner but less punk rock in the process. The slimmed-down, rocket feel of the second version (nobody actually remembers the first one, except for Adrienne apparently), has now moved on to a more democratized shoe. A new upper improves on the durability of version two, but it’s certainly more traditional (it also takes inspiration from the SC Trainer). More FuelCell makes it a touch softer. A widened platform creates more stability.

The shoe still comes in at a featherlight weight of 8.1 oz./230g for my size 10.5.

Altogether, it’s more of a daily trainer than a tempo shoe this go around. All of this begs the question– is the New Balance Rebel v3 still smashing bottles and crowd surfing, or is it opening for Coldplay?

WIDE-FOOT JARRETT: The New Balance Rebel v3 had some big (and wide) shoes to fill as I gave it the best wide-foot running shoe in the 2021 Best in Gear awards. My expectations have been sky-high since I first saw the update at The Running Event last December.

New Balance didn’t make any radical changes, but there are some nice tweaks to change the shoe’s feel. This time, our favorite rule breaker is 1.5mm thicker in the midsole and a touch wider. The upper was also reinforced to cut down on the risk of blowouts.

Does it work for the wide foot fam? Let’s find out.

ADRIENNE: The Rebel. I’ve loved it since the first iteration (see, I remember it). I put countless miles on all kinds of runs from intervals to 16-milers in the OG edition. The second version was different — not as fast (to me, at least) but still light, fun, and a pair I naturally pulled off the rack for daily runs and wasn’t shy about banging out a tempo as well. Comfortable, versatile, and peppy, what more could you ask for? I was hoping New Balance wouldn’t ruin the formula that seemed to work with the Rebel series.

The V3 has cool styling, is lightweight, and has even more FuelCell in the midsole. Is there such a thing as too much as a good thing here? We’ll find out soon.

new balance rebel v3 laces

The Good

THOMAS: FuelCell comes in a few different flavors. It’s a different formula in the SC Trainer, SC Elite 3, the SC Pacer, and now the Rebel. What remains the same is the premium cushioning and energy return. The Rebel v3 has a soft underfoot ride with bounce that you can feel from the first mile to the last with an extra 1.5 mm of foam for a stack of 27.5 in the heel and 21.5 (6mm drop.) The midsole paired with the light, airy “lace knit” upper makes the Rebel v3 sail through your stride.

The upper construction is simple, especially compared to the original Rebel and the Rebel v2. The upper has everything you need, nothing you don’t. Gusseted tongue? Yep. Lightly padded collar? Yep. Secure fit with room in the toebox? Uh-huh.

Finally, the NDurance outsole covers the forefoot and hot spots on the heel. I was concerned that the exposed Fuelcell would either be slippery or get scuffed quickly. However, after getting to run in a downpour, I’m happy to report the grip was uncompromised, and the exposed foam looks nearly new after more than 25 miles.

Like the Rebels before this model, the v3 is fun, light, and nimble. The shoe can still rock.

WIDE-FOOT JARRETT: The New Balance Rebel v3 has a new lace knit upper, and while the tongue is similar to v2, it received the gusseted treatment (I’d bet the house on Thomas highlighting this as he’s a gusset lover).

I know some people had issues with blowing out the midfoot area of the upper on the v2, but I never experienced that. The third-generation Rebel feels more reinforced, thanks to a slightly thicker, more traditional upper.

The length of v3 seems just about the same as the v2. It runs a little short, so while I usually have a thumbs width of room in my shoes, this gives me about half of a thumb. The toe box is a little more rounded, and the upper on my wide version fits me wonderfully throughout.

The midsole is the FuelCell we came to love in the v2, but New Balance added an extra 1.5 mm of stack. The base is also wider to create a more user-friendly Rebel. This makes it feel like more of a daily trainer than just a speed day shoe.

The ride is both light and well-cushioned. We’re obviously not talking max cushion, though it is slightly softer than the v2. I took the v3 out for runs ranging from half marathon distance to shorter speedwork. I felt comfortable taking corners quickly, and while the fast miles had some pop, the slower paces were well cushioned.

ADRIENNE: FuelCell continues to bring the fire, as seen on the track recently with Sydney McLaughlin breaking her own world record and Scotsman Jake Wightman upsetting some kid from Norway in a pair of FuelCell spikes at Worlds recently (ok, they’re both insanely talented, but still). As for the New Balance Rebel v3, this shoe seems only to become more versatile while staying true to what it is: a fun, fast-feeling, lightweight daily trainer. As its name implies, it continues to defy physics and expectations. I enjoyed all my runs in the v3, and my legs felt great every time. Sadly, no world records were broken.

I’ve always been skeptical of knit uppers — minus the one in the OG Rebel — but this one is one of the best I’ve ever worn. They call it lace knit, perhaps because it’s as light as lace. Have no fear, though, this lace seems durable and holds my foot great, especially in the midfoot, thanks to the gusseted tongue. I dug the breathability of the v2 and was pleased to see that they didn’t take it away in the third version. Perforation abounds, and my heavy-sweating-in-the-Texas heat self was happy during any time of the day running in these. As for the style, it looks like its very tall sibling, the SC trainer, with simple and well-placed ‘N’ logos. I also found the upper-midsole interaction to be an upgrade from the previous versions.

FuelCell. Oh, yes. This could be my favorite midsole material. Something about it works well with my cadence, and the cushion always feels endless. New Balance adds a millimeter here and there, yet the weight is lighter than the v2. If you liked the v2, you will probably love the v3 — it’s even more forgiving and stable. New Balance designed this shoe to be more universal in midsole design, which still works great for me. Unlike the first version that catered to mid-forefoot strikers and supinators (basically me), the Rebel v3 allows you to strike pretty much anywhere and get some nice bounce. Also, the cushioning is near perfect: not too firm to wear you down later in a run, not too soft to feel unstable and mushy. It still feels peppy, and you can just roll down the road in these.

The outsole is NDurance blown rubber that also seems to bring some life to the ride of the shoe. Unlike its predecessors, I’ve noticed little wear in the 40-plus miles I’ve put on these bad boys.

Shop New Balance Rebel v3 – Men Shop New Balance Rebel v3 – Women

new balance rebel v3 logo

The Bad

THOMAS: The previous Rebels have looked experimental and exotic. They had the vibe of a shoe with a level of “do whatever you want, go have fun” freedom. Now, it looks like management said, “I like what you’re doing, but could you make it look like the rest of the line?” The equivalent of “the punk rock songs are cool, but could you include a ballad?” At first, I wasn’t a fan of the neon limeade color, but in the early dawn, the color glowed. I still wouldn’t roll with it casually.

WIDE-FOOT JARRETT: On my first 2-3 runs, the toe bumper was dimpling right on the sides of my big toes and caused a blister. Since then, however, the irritation has disappeared, so I guess there’s a breaking-in process.

I’m aware that New Balance aimed to make the Rebel more cohesive in looks to the rest of the FuelCell collection, but I was a huge fan of the Rebel v2 design and had a love affair with the mango habanero colorway. It was (and still probably is) the best-looking wide shoe I’ve ever had. Personally, I think the New Balance Rebel v3 doesn’t look nearly as good as its predecessor, and it loses some of its uniqueness as it blends in. This whole take is my personal opinion, though.

ADRIENNE: Aw, man. I’m struggling here because, if you can’t tell, I have some Rebel in my soul. If I could think of anything, I had minor irritation from the collar because I don’t wear socks in the summer. Wear socks like a normal person, and you should be just fine! Sockless friends, consider yourselves warned.

Shop New Balance Rebel v3 – Men Shop New Balance Rebel v3 – Women

new balance rebel v3 outsole

New Balance FuelCell Rebel v3 Conclusion

THOMAS: If you’re looking for a light, quick-on-the-feet, generously cushioned, streamlined trainer, this is it. I would put this shoe in the same category as the Saucony Kinvara, Brooks Hyperion Tempo, Atreyu Base Model, Nike Streakfly — the list goes on.

Last year the Rebel v2 was one of my favorite New Balance trainers. This year, the crown goes to the SC Trainer. The price difference may have you reaching for the Rebel at $130 instead of the SC Trainer’s $180. In my opinion, the SC Trainer is worth it, even though it weighs over three more ounces than the Rebel.

WIDE-FOOT JARRETT: The New Balance Rebel v3 continues to shine bright. While the v2 was more of a tempo shoe, v3 has now moved into the daily trainer category thanks to the extra midsole stack and wider, more stable base.

Some people may be struggling with all the New Balance daily trainer options, so I see the Rebel v3 fitting the runner who wants a versatile, lightweight, and minimal shoe, compared to the chonky More v4 or traditional 880. Plus, at $130, it’s a great value!

ADRIENNE: This shoe can do most things well and makes any run enjoyable. It’s cushioned enough to go the distance, and I wouldn’t hesitate to throw it on during marathon training — just like I did with the Rebel v2. At its light weight, you can probably take the Rebel v3 on tempos or even do some short-distance racing in it if you want something simpler or (substantially) cheaper than a super-shoe.

If you like the previous versions of this shoe, you should enjoy the v3 — I recommend this shoe to pretty much anyone looking to add some spice to their rotation. Thanks, New Balance, for staying true to what the Rebel is.

You can pick up the New Balance FuelCell Rebel v3 for $130 at New Balance by using the shop link below.

Shop New Balance Rebel v3 – Men Shop New Balance Rebel v3 – Women

1 Comment

  1. Adrienne, as a fellow midfoot supinator, any other slow pace trainer suggestions? I also thought I heard V2 bottomed out but not sure, and suppose you all would have to run further to find out with V3. Thanks!

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