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Track & Cross Country Running Shoes • April 19, 2021

New Balance FuelCell MD-X Performance Review


What You Need To Know

  • Weighs 4.4 oz. (125 g) for a US M9.0
  • Loads of FuelCell goodness for max cushion
  • Carbon plate propels you around turns
  • Jordy shaved 5 seconds off her season-best for the 1600m – what else do we need to say?
  • Releases May 1 for $180

MERCER: Recently, people on the interwebs reignited the whole “is Vaporfly cheating” argument again, but for track. They claim that Nike athletes have an unfair advantage because their spikes are so insanely good. Well, innovation breeds innovation, and competition gets tight before it loosens up again. All that to say – New Balance is innovating.

The FuelCell MD-X and its slightly modified sibling in the SD-X are both shoes meant for pure speed on the track. We’re going to focus on the MD-X here. In a nutshell, what’s it about?

A sole unit with a high-rebound FuelCell midsole coupled with a carbon fiber spike plate is optimized for the 800m-5000m distances. Six titanium permanent pins are co-molded with carbon fiber to provide traction while reducing weight. A sock-like knit upper is designed for barefoot racing. According to New Balance, this shoe has been engineered for New Balance’s elite middle-distance athletes, designed for ultimate propulsion and efficiency for middle to long-distance track races.


The Good

MERCER: I don’t drive a stick shift, but I think these spikes give me a good idea of what that’s like. You’ve got all of the control in the world in the FuelCell MD-X. You’ll find yourself flying in this shoe and not even realize it.

The FCFuelCellMD-X sports a FuelCell midsole (obviously) that runs a bit firmer than what is found in the 5280, meaning more bounce in addition to the massive carbon plate. I love having this much foam underfoot as my legs don’t feel like absolute trash after a workout. The FuelCell is a blessing. It’s not as soft and the ZoomX foam of the Nike Dragonfly, but it does provide more bounce which is appreciated in the 800 and mile.

Like the Dragonfly, the MD-X has a full-length plate, but it works in a different way. Instead of rolling you along like the dragonfly, the MD-X gives a much harsher and snappy ride like the flinging you forward for a great start and closing speed. With that blazing speed, going around turns at fast paces is not an issue.

I love the knit upper and the overlays give it some nice structure. The heel cup holds your foot in place when you drop the hammer.

JORDYNN: I wore the New Balance FuelCell MD-X during a repeat 400m training session and during a 1600m race.

The goal of the 400 was to work towards hitting my goal mile time splits. From the very first few steps, I felt immediate traction, mostly in part due to the built-in 6-pin pattern and gripping teeth throughout the length of the carbon plate.  Coming fast into the turns and straightaways, I felt a bounce in every step, light on my feet, and could keep my momentum forward.

I saw even better results in the 1600 race in the FC MD-X. I ran my season-best mile time by five seconds. Mid-race foot fatigue was non-existent. These spikes felt fast and responsive and I was able to keep a bounce in my step throughout. There was also enough room in the toe box for some airflow and excellent breathability.

The FC MD-X is perfect for middle-distance racing. The cushioning and carbon plate give a sensation of speed and responsiveness, especially when it counted the most during the last lap when your feet and mind are fighting fatigue.

Shop New Balance Track – Men Shop New balance Track – Women new-balance-fc-md-x

The Bad

MERCER: The upper did have some downsides but it doesn’t ruin the shoe. The laces when tied press into your EDL tendons which was slightly annoying. The laces are finally getting shorter, but not short enough. 

The non-removable studs are really a bummer, as they seem to be a bit stronger than other needles but will eventually wear down. Also, that carbon fiber grip is not going to last forever.

JORDYNN: Compared to the New Balance MD800v6 and Sigma Aria, the FuelCell MD-X doesn’t have a sock liner or formed fit. This is the only gripe I had as the spikes didn’t feel as secure and locked around my heels and forefoot as the previous NB track spikes I tested did. The fit isn’t a deal-breaker, but it’s definitely a preference note.

Shop New Balance Track – Men Shop New balance Track – Women new-balance-fc-md-x

New Balance FC MD-X Conclusion

MERCER: New Balance is coming for Nike’s throat with the FC MD-X. This spike is for those looking to break hearts on the track as well as records.

JORDYNN: Like the clouds swiftly whisking away in the sky, the New Balance FC MD-X will help you fly away. I’d recommend these spikes because I loved the traction and propulsion of the carbon plate. I’ll for sure be gunning for another PR next time out in these.

You can pick up the New Balance FC MD-X on May 1 for $180 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.

Shop New Balance Track – Men

Shop New balance Track – Women

Have something to say? Leave a Comment

  1. Martin cuestas says:

    Hello I would like to buy the new new balance fuelcell md x that will be released on the first of May, could you pass me the purchase link or if there is pre-order

  2. Andrii says:

    An excellent overview of the running colors in the stadium. It was very interesting to read it.

  3. Patrick Smit says:

    I quote: “…Like the Dragonfly, the MD-X has a full-length carbon fiber plate, but it works in a different way.”

    The Nike Dragonfly has a full length pebax plate, it is not made from carbon yet provides for a very stiff shoe, The nike air zoom elite ois the spike with the carbon plate. A comparison should have been drawn to this shoe as it is much more suitable for middle distance track events compared to the dragonfly, which is a very nice shoe, but not for 800m and maybe not even for 1500m/mile depending the athlete.

    1. Mercer Alden says:

      Sorry about that! I also did not have the Air Zoom Victory at the time of me writing this review. But I would definitely compare the Victories to the MD-X for both distances and on foot feel!

  4. Eugene says:

    Can someone say how long the spikes are? Some meets have a 3/16ths length max, and I am trying to find out if these are that length or shorter. Thank you.

  5. Bethany says:

    This review was very informative. I have a quick question – how does the sizing compare between the NB Fuelcell compared to the NB MD800? I have heard that the fuelcell seems to run small but not sure if I need to size up from my MD800…
    Thanks 🙂

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