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9.7 oz (275 g) for a US M9,
7.8 oz (221 g) for a US W8
40 mm in heel, 34 mm in forefoot (6 mm drop)
A little bit of everything, from easy miles to races
Slightly lower stack, lighter FuelCell formula, Energy Arc midsole, engineered mesh upper
MEAGHAN: I don’t think I’ve ever been more nervous for a shoe update. The original New Balance SC Trainer was my pick for daily trainer of the year (I was overridden by my fellow teammates), so when we learned about the updates (including a lower stack!?) at The Running Event in December, I had some heart palpitations. Did New Balance ruin this bouncy carbon-plated gem?
The most visually apparent update comes in the form of a new engineered mesh upper. There’s some additional padding and structure around the heel and collar, along with a more traditional gusseted tongue.
The SC Trainer v2’s midsole has been designed with a new formulation of FuelCell that’s lighter and less dense than the previous version. This is where the majority of the weight loss comes from — this version is about an ounce lighter than the original (7.9 oz. vs 8.7 oz. for my US W7.5 foot). And, of course, the stack has been reduced to sit right around the 40mm mark in the heel and 34mm in the forefoot.
With all these changes, does the SC Trainer still deserve a top spot? Let’s get into it.
THOMAS: When we saw the New Balance SC Trainer v2 last December, our team huddled up, and in low voices, we discussed our concerns. We had just watched New Balance neuter the FuelCell Rebel, and now, had their team destroyed one of our favorite shoes from 2022? The biggest problem was the lowering of the spongy stack of Fuel Cell foam, which Meg already covered.
I found the SC Trainer to be a unique gem. With shoes designed to fit into existing categories, we rarely get something out of left field that provides a new running experience. However, the SC Trainer was different. While it seemed to miss the mark on its original intent as a second-tier race day shoe for non-elites, the original shoe nailed being a plush cruiser that gobbled up miles in comfort.
Let’s see if the SC Trainer v2 can remain a wildcard worth your consideration.
CHAD: Unlike my cohorts in this review, I never ran in the OG SuperComp Trainer, despite hovering my cursor over the Checkout button on Running Warehouse on numerous occasions. Why did I not pull the trigger on the purchase, you might ask? Truth be told, despite being widely considered one of the most innovative shoes of 2022, it scared the living bejeezus out of me.
I know what you’re thinking, “What sort of podophobic nonsense is that, being scared of a shoe?” Well, when you’re a big guy like me with a surgically repaired ankle, 47 mm of stack height with a soft midsole foam like FuelCell and a sock-like upper is the perfect recipe for a trip to the orthopedist. It’s largely the same reasons I’ve steered clear of the Adidas Prime X and Prime X Strung.
But when I first saw the video from The Running Event (TRE) last December and learned that the SC Trainer v2 would be dropping the stack height by a whopping 7mm in the heel, my interest was piqued. I was stoked when I found out that I’d be getting this shoe to review, so much so that when I was told that a US M11.5 or M12 wasn’t available (my normal sizes), I opted to have New Balance send me a US M11. I most certainly did not want to miss out on being able to put test miles on a potential hit, even if it meant going down a full size. Was it worth risking my toenails? Read on to find out.
RYAN: Get ready because my review is probably gonna sound a whole lot like Meg’s. I, too, loved the original New Balance SC Trainer. So much so, in fact, that I saved a fresh, crispy pair to walk around in once I finished the Richmond Marathon last fall. I knew just how plush and bouncy that bed of FuelCell would feel underfoot when I started breaking it in — cuts and blisters from the sock-like upper be damned.
Then, I heard all of the early rumors coming out of TRE. I saw all the leaked renders and images on Instagram. It was enough to make me worry and think of that scene from The Godfather. I was worried that they massacred my sweet, unexpected boy. I projected my pessimism into my first few runs in the SC Trainer v2, almost willing it not to be as good. Maybe it’s not as good, at least not in the same ways as the original, but maybe it’s just as good in its own way.
Let’s get into it.
MEAGHAN: I’ve got really great news for the OG SC Trainer fans — it’s not ruined. It’s different, for sure, but it’s certainly not ruined. The new engineered mesh upper is a very welcome update, especially for those of us who were sliced up by the original tongue/collar configuration. IYKYK.
The additional padding around the collar and heel also provides more structure — it feels a lot more like your traditional daily trainer. While the previous version was a little snug for my liking (not a huge fan of the sock-like fitting uppers), these fit true to size with plenty of room in the toe box.
As noted earlier, the new midsole foam is lighter and less dense, but there is also less of it. The carbon fiber plate remains, so you still get a really great bouncy ride but with a little more stability. I’ve put over 50 miles in my pair, and it’s felt great at just about every pace. The lighter build is nice for picking up the pace, and the carbon plate adds to the recovery properties.
THOMAS: The fun is still there. It’s tamer, but you trade it off for some perks. First off, the SC Trainer v2 lost an ounce of weight. That trim takes the shoe from a slower cushy plodder to a shoe that matches the original brief. In addition, the new foam pairs beautifully with the Energy Arc to deliver a snappier ride. Don’t worry, the Trainer v2 still feels good at the recovery pace, but it won’t fight you if you want to pick it up. It isn’t featherweight at 10.4 oz. (295 g) for a US M10.5, but the foam and the plate work to make the shoe feel lighter.
Meg mentioned the upper, and for the most part, I agree with her. The New Balance team fixed some runners’ issues with the collar. This upper does feel more traditional and is probably more familiar to most runners, making it a safe choice for the runner that doesn’t want to experiment or be on the cutting edge.
Finally, even with all the foam and the plate, the SC Trainer v2 has excellent proprioception feedback. I could feel my foot’s contact and position on the terrain. During toe-off, I could feel the different running surfaces while the midsole protected my foot. I guess the partially exposed carbon plate acted like a tuning fork sending information back to the brain.
CHAD: When I was a heavyset teenager, I used to laugh when my friends who ran cross country would tell me that running is fun. Then I became a runner myself in my late 20s and learned that it’s true, running can very much be fun, even more so when you have the right shoes on your feet. This just in: the SC Trainer v2 is a really fun shoe to run in.
The ride is bouncy, thanks to the lighter and less dense FuelCell foam, with a propulsive feeling coming from the carbon plate that New Balance calls the shoe’s Energy Arc. I didn’t find it snappy per se but definitely felt like the shoe was giving me back a lot of what I was putting into it, even at an easy pace.
My first run out of the box was a 5.5-mile easy run, but as I got back to my house I just wanted to keep going because the shoes felt so damn good. I picked up the pace for the last half mile to my 5k pace, and while I wouldn’t consider this a tempo day shoe given its weight, the ride still felt great underfoot. My second run was done on the treadmill (ugh), and I’m not sure if it was Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire on TV or the SC Trainer v2, but it wasn’t as dreadful as it normally is. I’d wager five galleons that it was the shoe.
From a fit perspective, I found the SC Trainer v2 to be incredibly comfortable, even with going a full size down. The upper feels light but like what you’d find on a traditional daily trainer, with a thin gusseted tongue and a plush heel collar. As Meg and Thomas said, those areas were points of concern with the original, so it’s nice to see those were addressed in the v2. I had no issues with rubbing or discomfort in this version. Oh, and aesthetically, the colorway I got (light grey with orange and purple accents) is pleasing to the eye, including the colored specs on the laces. That was a nice touch.
Lastly, the stability of the SC Trainer v2 was surprisingly good for a shoe with a 40 mm stack in the heel. The base is decently wide, and combining it with the plate helps to keep the foot moving forward versus medially or laterally. This is a big plus for me.
RYAN: So, initial pessimism aside, the SC Trainer v2 finds a way to shine in areas that the original didn’t. I’ve been working my way back from a stress fracture in my foot, and the SC Trainer v2 was just what the doctor ordered. From the minute I put it on, I could tell that the new upper was a big improvement. No hotspots, no rubbing from the collar, and plenty of fresh new padding. The colorway might not be as good as the light green of the original, but I won’t hold that against New Balance too much.
Everyone has already pointed out that the fat stack of FuelCell isn’t quite as fat, but it’s still at a barely legal height. It’s not like New Balance came out and dropped the SC Trainer v2 as a minimalist shoe or anything ridiculous like that. The change, along with a midsole cavity that’s slightly wider than before, makes for a much more stable platform. I hadn’t realized just how much more stable the SC Trainer v2 was than the original until I really started giving corners some speed while working back from injury.
Oh, and both Thomas and Meg have pointed out that the SC Trainer v2 is closer to a do-it-all shoe than its predecessor. It’s true. So true, in fact, that it’s the only running shoe I took with me for a six-day trip to New York. I made it my goal to hit as many running clubs as I could (within reason) and took the SC Trainer v2 for its share of miles on the West Side Highway, the Williamsburg Bridge, and up around Roosevelt Island. Some of my miles were at a sub-8:00 pace (spicy for me on a recovering foot), some were at a comfortable 9:15, and even more were at a 10:00 party pace. Didn’t matter; the SC Trainer v2 rolled through my stride and adapted.Shop New Balance SC Trainer v2 - Men Shop New Balance SC Trainer v2 - Women
MEAGHAN: There’s something really fun about a super high stack shoe. The original SC Trainer gave me more Adidas Prime X Strung vibes. Did it feel slightly dangerous and unstable? Yes. But is it more fun? Also yes. Now, there’s a little bit of that fun missing in this update. It’s way more practical and certainly going to appeal to more runners, but I kind of miss the Bambi feeling on step-in.
THOMAS: Read Meg’s comments and paste them here. The SC Trainer lost a little bit of its wildness and some of its charm, but the trade-offs are worth it. The new upper is more what you expect from a trainer, but I like the original’s upper more. It worked on my foot, and I didn’t have the collar issues Meg had. The new upper will work better for most runners.
CHAD: I don’t know why this is, but I seem to have very sensitive extensor tendons on the top of my foot. This makes me incredibly susceptible to lace bite, which leaves the top of my foot achy for a couple of days and has me reaching for my CBD balm for relief. I experienced this with the SC Trainer v2, which is natural to expect with a thin tongue. I get that it’s a way to shed some weight, but would a little padding in the tongue be too much to ask for?
Also, after relatively few outdoor miles, I did notice that the exposed Fuelcell on the underside of the shoe was a bit chewed up. Could definitely be a mechanics issue on my part, but something I’m going to have to monitor.
RYAN: Alright, back to copying Meg. The New Balance SC Trainer v2 just isn’t quite as much fun as the first version. It doesn’t have that marshmallow trampoline feeling as soon as you slip it on for the first time, and it’s not quite as eye-catching of a shoe overall. Sure, the new version is more stable, the new upper is more comfortable, and the lighter weight is nice, but I like my max cushion shoes with fries and a side of danger.
Otherwise, like Chad, I noticed a bit of wear on the exposed FuelCell around the bottom of the shoe.Shop New Balance SC Trainer v2 - Men Shop New Balance SC Trainer v2 - Women
MEAGHAN: The New Balance SC Trainer v2 arrived a couple of weeks ago, and I find myself wanting to lace it up for just about every run. It’s a slimmed-down version of the original but maintains the bouncy ride and recovery properties. While the price point is on the higher side at $179, this is one of the more versatile shoes on the market. I’d take this out for recovery runs, easy runs, long runs, and even when picking up the pace. I think almost everyone is going to like this update.
THOMAS: I put a handful of shoes into the fun category: the Asics Superblast, the Adidas Prime X Strung, and the New Balance SC Trainer v2 (and the original, too). Fun is what I love most about running. Praise anything that makes running more fun. The SC Trainer v2 gets mine. The updates make the shoe more versatile too. This shoe can cover daily miles, tempo runs, race day, and recovery miles. I’m not saying I would pick it for all these categories, but I’m more spoiled than most. If I only had a $200 budget, I would spend the $180 on the SC Trainer v2 and use it to cover all my running needs and spend the last $20 on some rad socks.
CHAD: I’m with Meg on this one. After very little time spent with this shoe, I can see myself constantly reaching for it to churn out miles during summer training for my fall races. I think $179 is a pretty decent price for this shoe, as I think it has pretty unlimited potential to handle all of a runner’s miles during a training cycle, including race day, if comfort is your goal. I can’t speak as to whether this is a good update from v1 since I skipped it, but I can say that the SC Trainer v2 has secured itself a spot in my rotation.
RYAN: The New Balance SC Trainer v2 is safely not quite as fun as its predecessor. However, it’s a bit safer and a lot more flexible, which makes it a winner in my eyes. It’s become kind of like the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 in that you could take it out for just about any run you can imagine, though it might not be your first choice for all of them. The fact that you could totally run a race in the New Balance SC Trainer v2 for $179 is all the justification I need to recommend a pair. Just, please, New Balance, give us some more colorways with a little spice to ’em.
You can pick up the New Balance SC Trainer v2 for $179 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) using the buttons below.
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.More from Meaghan
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.More from Thomas
An attorney by day, Chad lives in Central Pennsylvania with his wife and three kids. Never much for running growing up, Chad began running as a way to improve his physical health. He went from his first 5k in 2015 to running the Paris Marathon in 2016. Given his larger physical build, Chad is the resident Clydesdale runner, providing shoe and gear insights for those with a bigger build and taller stature.More from Chad
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.
All-time favorite shoes: New Balance Rebel v2, Adidas Takumi Sen 8 (or 9), Saucony Endorphin Speed 3More from Ryan