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Road Running Shoes • January 8, 2024

New Balance SC Elite v4 Review: Rainbow Roll on Race Day

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What You Need To Know


7 oz (198 g) for W7.5, 9.3 oz. (263 g) for men’s 10.5

Stack Height / Drop

40 mm in heel, 36 mm in forefoot (4 mm drop)

Best For

Race day and long runs with pop

Key Features

Thinner, rippled carbon fiber plate, Fantomfit upper, reshaped FuelCell midsole

On The Run
Smooth heel-toe transition More 'pop' than previous generations The tongue feels like an afterthought Sure ain't the lightest racer around
Price and Availability

$250, February 1, 2024

Introduction to the New Balance SC Elite v4

MEAGHAN: The SC Elite has always been a good shoe, but I felt it lacked the performance qualities of a true racer. The foam was a little too soft, and I never felt that true ‘pop’ from the plate. But that’s changed with v4, which is now designed with a 100% Peba FuelCell midsole and a lighter, newly designed carbon fiber plate. The geometric design of the midsole not only looks pretty cool, but it helps cut back on the overall weight (now 10% lighter than its predecessor). You still get plenty of stack (40 mm/36 mm) and the same 4 mm drop, but a more aggressive rocker meets with an updated outsole to improve stiffness.

The upper is a light mesh, designed with New Balance’s FantomFit to help secure the foot down. We received a “proto” pair, an all-white version of the shoe, to race the 2023 TCS New York City Marathon. I not only enjoyed every mile, but I was in no rush to take my shoes off post-marathon. You can probably tell where this review is going, but let’s get into it.

THOMAS: New Balance can be pretty confusing when it comes to naming conventions. Some shoes are just numbers like the 880, 1400, and 1080. Others have names like More, Elite, Trainer, and Rebel, but it’s tough to remember which category they fall into.

If we’re talking performance, the shoes use either Fresh Foam X or FuelCell. The New Balance FuelCell SC Elite v4 stems from the original FuelCell RC Elite. It went from Racing Comp to Super Comp. So this is the fourth version of their pinnacle race day shoe, but the second version of the SC Elite. Are you confused yet? It doesn’t matter; just remember that the FuelCell SC Elite v4 is the best race day shoe from New Balance. Ever.

CARYN: I ordered what I believe was the original version of this shoe when it came out several years ago — don’t fact-check me on that, because as Thomas alluded to above, there are plenty of reasons to give up on making sense of New Balance’s naming conventions. My ankle tendons absolutely did not vibe with the original New Balance super shoe, and it went back to the store after just one workout. Sometimes when I have one of those experiences with a shoe, it’s akin to getting food poisoning. That fear lingers indefinitely, and you’ll just never feel confident going back for sashimi ever again.

My first experience scarred me just enough to prevent me from trying future iterations of the shoe, despite my aggressive love of other New Balance classics like the 1080. When I was tagged to try this update, I was stoked to check out what appeared to be a markedly different, redesigned racer. Having seen this bad boy on the feet of numerous folks at the New York City Marathon, I had a feeling it could be a banger. Did I risk it all at the New Balance sushi bar again? Let’s find out.

RYAN: My love affair with New Balance’s racing shoe began like most of my favorite shoes — on generation two. I completely skipped the OG RC Elite, only to be drawn in by the purple launch colorway of the sequel. Heck, I liked it so much that I picked up the all-white version when New Balance collaborated with District Vision. Don’t worry, I’ve raced in both pairs, using the first to carry me through the Baltimore and NCR half marathons and the second to double up on Cherry Blossom and Broad Street the following spring.

Then, I skipped v3 altogether. I just didn’t see a need to add another carbon-plated shoe to my collection (a rare example of being responsible), and when I heard Robbe kept tearing the top lace stays on his pair, I felt justified in my decision. Then, I found out that I made the nice list and would be receiving version four. After a largely non-racing 2023, I was stoked to rock into 2024 with a new racer and a fully healthy foot.

Honestly, if the three intros before me didn’t set you up well enough, I won’t either, so let’s just roll along.

What we like about the New Balance SC Elite v4

MEAGHAN: If you’ve ever read one of my reviews, you know I love an all-white colorway, so we were off to a good start when the proto version of this shoe arrived. As soon as the box showed up, I took my pair out for some strides in my neighborhood. They felt good, much poppier than the previous version.

I was given a true prototype of this shoe back in 2022 to race the London Marathon, but the additional updates take it to another level. The simple lacing system and FantomFit wrapped upper did a nice job of securing my foot down, and I never had any hot spots or issues with the fit. Overall, it’s a very comfortable and accommodating upper, which isn’t always typical of race day shoes.

With that said, the new Peba FuelCell is the best and most impactful update of this shoe. It’s springy, and, paired with the slimmed-down carbon plate, provides a really fun, bouncy ride. I noticed this most in the forefoot, where I felt the previous version lacked some cushioning and bounce. Version four of this shoe provides a much smoother and poppier toe-off.

THOMAS: Like Meaghan, I got to run the London Marathon in the SC Elite v3 modified with the new Peba-based FuelCell foam. I had a good race in London, clocking a 3:32. At the time, it felt a little disappointing as I was aiming for sub 3:30, but in hindsight, I had a great day, especially when you compare the results to the train wreck of a race I had in the NYC Marathon. If you listen to the podcast, you already know.

The new foam felt noticeably better than the previous FuelCell. The most significant difference is the feeling of rebound. Now, the same Peba foam is in the FuelCell SC Elite v4. New Balance also fixed the upper issues that the previous model had. The SC Elite v4 has a more traditional, less stretchy upper, making it easy to get a solid fit. And let’s be honest, the shoe looks better too.

The key characteristics I enjoy are the soft landing and bounce back paired with the noticeable way the plate stabilizes and propels the shoe forward. The geometry of the midsole creates an extremely smooth transition. Finally, I’m a sucker for an aggressive toe spring. This update has it giving you that fast feeling when you lean forward.

CARYN: There’s no debate — this shoe looks awesome. The neon accents make it fun enough to get you excited, but it retains the sleek look of an all-white shoe. Like Meg, I have a closet full of white and off-white shoes, and that’s just the way I like it. When I laced up the FuelCell SC Elite v4, I had a 17-mile run on deck. I’ll admit I threw another pair of shoes in my trunk in case of a catastrophe, but what is it that the kids say? Go big or go home?

I didn’t need the second pair of shoes.

These shoes hummed along nicely the entire run thanks to the combination of a 100% Peba FuelCell midsole and a lighter carbon plate. I appreciated the bounty of space in the toe box and found the ride to be effortless and smooth to the point where I forgot about the shoe quite a bit — which, to me, is a sign of a great update. I was running uptempo most of the time, thanks to my running buddy, and the shoe shines at that end of the pace spectrum.

The position of the carbon plate also offers a lot of stability to the SC Elite v4, making it something I’d recommend to a runner who hasn’t tried a carbon-plated shoe before. I have over 50 miles on these shoes at this point, which is a pretty solid testament to how much New Balance has improved this model over the years.

RYAN: Well, once again, the rest of the team hit on a lot of the big changes in the SC Elite v4. So, instead of sounding like a broken record, I’ll just tell you the story of wearing this shoe for the Celtic Solstice 5-Miler through Druid Hill Park, a very hilly race here in Baltimore.

For starters, I hate the Celtic Solstice race. Every year, I sign up because every year, I forget about the hills — which is dumb because it’s in the name of the park. I always go, “How bad could a five-mile race be?” and I always forget that it’s somehow five miles of climbing. Yes, there’s a bit of downhill, but it’s not a balanced race by any stretch.

Well, this year, I decided to run it in the SC Elite v4. I hadn’t planned to really race hard, figuring I could just cruise through the hills like a bit of a workout. Then, I turned in a 6:30 first mile and decided I just kind of had to hold on. I ticked off runners — Faster Bastards, Believe Run Club-ers, and others — and let the FuelCell and rippled plate roll me along from start to finish. I finished with a nice, comfortable time of 33:44 and a lingering cough that’s still hanging around a month later. Oh, and I jumped up for a heel click at mile four and a half but managed to pick my speed back up to push runners through the finishing chute.

Shop New Balance SC Elite - Men Shop New Balance SC Elite - Women

What we don’t like about the New Balance SC Elite v4

MEAGHAN: I can’t help but compare race day shoes to my overall favorite, the Nike Alphafly. While I generally loved the ride of this shoe, I wish it was a little less squishy on landing. I felt like it was lacking a stiffening agent in the heel to really give you that truly fast race day feeling.

The other knock I have on this shoe is the weight. While it’s not really heavy, in comparison to that shoe I just mentioned, it’s nearly 2 ounces heavier. My US W7.5 came in at 7 oz.

THOMAS: Once we level the playing field with foams and plates, the only thing the design team can do is cut weight. The super shoe holy trinity of specs is weight, foam, and plate. Nail all three, and you’re at the top of the pile. Unfortunately, the FuelCell SC Elite v4 is tipping the scale in the wrong direction.

My size 10.5 weighs 9.3 oz. (263 g). That’s an ounce heavier than the previous SC Elite. There are daily trainers on the market that weigh less. The bounce and smooth transition of the shoe mitigate some of the weight, though. Finally, the tongue feels like an afterthought. Basically, it is just a thick piece of felt-like material. It doesn’t affect the fit or performance, it just feels unfinished.

CARYN: Considering what I’ve tried of New Balance’s super shoes, I can’t complain about much in the FuelCell SC Elite v4. The shoe is certainly heavier than other favorites like the Endorphin Elite and Vaporfly 3, and it lacks the aggressive toe-off and forefoot rocker I love so much. Finally, the tongue and laces just didn’t do it for me. I have no idea what material these laces are made of, why they’re so long and thin, and why they’re so flimsy!

The laces made it really hard to lock the shoe down to the point I had to stop a couple of times on the run to re-lace. I could have probably used the last eyelet and done a runner’s loop, but I always find myself riding the line of cutting off my ankle circulation. Anyway, I digress. The upper is a piece of felted foam, which wasn’t uncomfortable but just felt unfinished. Together, the upper and laces seemed a bit sloppy on an otherwise very well-done shoe.

RYAN: Yes, the SC Elite v4 is a little heavier than its predecessor, but as we’ve learned, weight isn’t everything. We were all nervous about the SC Trainer being too heavy, but it turned out to be a shoe we loved a few years back. I honestly think the geometry of the SC Elite v4 makes up for the weight at the end of the day.

My actual complaint about the SC Elite v4 isn’t a real flaw, just an observation. This shoe is different from its predecessors. I would have readily recommended the soft, squishy RC Elite v2 to anyone looking for their first marathon racer because it was mine. It was like running on marshmallows, and it kept me feeling great the whole time. Now, with a Peba midsole, the SC Elite v4 is a beast of a different breed. It has more pop and aggression but maybe a little less of the approachability that previous versions had.

Shop New Balance SC Elite - Men Shop New Balance SC Elite - Women

New Balance SC Elite v4 Conclusion

MEAGHAN: The New Balance SC Elite v4 is a really great update. It’s lighter, bouncier, and generally feels more like a racing shoe. It’s also a shoe that feels great at just about any pace.

If you enjoyed the previous iteration, you’re going to love this update. The SC Elite v4 easily makes it into my top three picks for race day right now.

THOMAS: This is the best New Balance marathon racer ever. The foam is forgiving and responsive. The Energy Arc carbon composite plate stiffens the ride and propels the runner forward. The New Balance SC Elite v4 will accommodate more runners than most race-day models with a broader base, a more familiar running shoe feeling, and an upper that can adjust to varying foot shapes. If New Balance can figure out how to remove a couple of ounces, the SC Elite will be a complete knockout.

CARYN: Have no fear ordering the Rainbow Roll special, the New Balance FuelCell SC Elite v4 is a completely updated shoe that offers bounce, a bit of roll, and a touch of stability — making for a smooth race day ride. Like Meg said, the SC Elite v4 feels great at any pace but especially shines in that uptempo range. With some adjustments to the upper and the weight, the FuelCell SC Elite v4 will be a true heavy hitter on any race day menu.

RYAN: Despite my concerns about recommending this as a first marathon shoe, I still think it’s a great option for most seasoned runners. I really enjoyed racing in the SC Elite v4 and felt like it pulled me through the miles with a gentle rocker and more pop than the previous generations. It’s tough to roll an ankle with this wide platform, which is high praise when it’s completed a loop through Druid Hill Park. I just wish New Balance hadn’t raised the price, but that seems to be the trend these days.

You can pick up the New Balance SC Elite v4 starting on February 1, 2024, for $250 directly from New Balance using the buttons below.

Shop New Balance SC Elite - Men Shop New Balance SC Elite - Women

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New Balance SC Elite v4 | Full Review


Have something to say? Leave a Comment

  1. Sam says:

    Do you guys happen to know if the insole is removable in this iteration or glued in?

  2. Blake says:

    Out of curiosity, what would you recommend as a first-time marathon shoe? As someone who has been running in the FuelCell SuperComp v2 trainer, I had been eyeing these as a logical next step up. But it would be for my first marathon.

    1. Robbe says:

      You should check out the Salomon S/Lab Spectur, though it’s not out until May.

  3. Blake says:

    Will do! Appreciate the response!

  4. Carsten says:

    I was super excited to get this shoe, love the looks and just finished a 15k at a bit more than marathon pace wearing them and while the weight wasn’t an issue it was the heel. I ended up with blisters on both feet something that never happened to me. Overall I felt like I had good lock down but the heel just didn’t work out … I think one of the guys from the Run Testers also had that issue … so definitely wear before racing.

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Thomas Neuberger
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As the founder of Believe in the Run, Thomas’s goal is to help runners pick the shoes and gear that will make their running experience the best that it can be. 

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Fav. Distance


  • 10:28

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  • 5:43

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meaghan nyc marathon
Meaghan Murray
Boss Lady
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Meaghan signed up for her first marathon three weeks before the race, because it was $10 more than the half she planned to run. She learned everything in running the hard way. Now a USATF & UESCA certified run coach, she loves encouraging friends to go for big goals as she continues to chase faster times. She enjoys a hot cup of coffee, a cold martini, and making bagels for friends and family.

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Caryn Just
Road Reviewer
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Caryn is a recovering ball sports athlete and native Baltimorean who used to cry before the timed mile in gym class. Discovered running somewhat reluctantly when her pants stopped fitting in college, now a big fan of the marathon– go figure! Pediatric ICU nurse and avid UVA sports fan. Can usually be found with her chocolate lab, Gus, looking for a good cup of coffee.

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  • 2:52

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Ryan Haines
Assistant Editor
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Ryan is kind of like Robbe’s Igor behind the scenes. He helps to compile and clean up everyone’s reviews, and finds time to get in a few miles of his own. When he’s not running or editing, Ryan writes and reviews for Android Authority, spending time with the latest tech and complaining when things don’t work quite right. If he’s not doing any of that, maybe you’ll find him nose-deep in a crossword puzzle or trying to catch up on an endless backlog of shows to stream.

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Fav. Distance


  • 3:54

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