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New Balance Fresh Foam vs. Fresh Foam X vs. FuelCell: Differences and Reviews 2024

New Balance Fresh Foam vs. Fresh Foam X vs. FuelCell: Differences and Reviews 2024

    New Balance running shoes grace the feet of ambitious marathoners and novice runners alike thanks to a wide variety of styles, an accommodating range of sizes and their secret formula midsole technologies.Midsole foam is the heart and sole of every shoe.Are you wondering which New Balance shoe has the most cushioning.To figure that out we need to compare the three primary New Balance cushioning technologies, FuelCell ,Fresh Foam and DynaSoft.These midsole technologies are designed to provide a comfortable, responsive, and supportive ride, but they differ in their construction and characteristics.What is the difference between Fresh Foam and Fresh Foam X? What's the difference between Fresh Foam and FuelCell?Is FuelCell better than Fresh Foam?What's the difference between Fresh Foam and DynaSoft?Fresh Foam vs. Fresh Foam X vs. FuelCell vs. DynaSoft: which has the best New Balance cushioning?Today,I will compare these primary New Balance cushioning technologies and pick up the most popular models.


What is Fresh Foam (X)?

First graced the market in 2014,Fresh Foam is a unique cushioning material which is used in most midsoles of New Balance running shoes. It is designed by using cutting edge material science, 3D motion captured pressure mapping, and force application data gathered from real athlete. This scientific and data driven approach to midsole construction has manifested in a shock absorbing layer of foam that utilizes convex and concave geometric structures in the midsole and sidewall for optimized balance between cushioning and stability. New Balance is confident that their Fresh Foam Technology offers the pinnacle experience across the widest population of users.


Fresh Foam is made of small beads of foam which are very resilient and allow you to cover a good number of kilometers in a comfortable fashion.It’s designed to provide a cushioned and comfortable ride that reduces impact forces and leg fatigue.In both running and basketball, Fresh Foam aims to provide a smooth and stable ride. Fresh Foam also appears in baseball, softball, tennis, and golf shoes.

In 2020,New Balance further developed its Fresh Foam material. The updated Fresh Foam has become even lighter and softer and is now called Fresh Foam X.Fresh Foam X is perfect for long runs and recovery miles. 

>>Shop New Balance Fresh Foam Collection

Let's dig into current New Balance footwear utilizing Fresh Foam so you can figure out which model will best help you Run Your Way.

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v13

Price: $164.99

Review: New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 delivers top-of-the-line performance to every kind of runner, whether you’re training for world-class competition, or catching a rush hour train.

The 1080v13 is not only the most cushioned 1080 yet, but also one of the plushiest running shoes.This is a shoe that compares to the Asics Gel-Nimbus 25, Puma Magnify Nitro 2, Brooks Ghost Max, and Skechers Max Road 6.It is even lighter or as light as many of the more in-line daily trainers, making it a shoe certainly worth talking about.

Step into the New Balance 1080v13 and your feet are instantly welcomed by the plush, luxurious-feeling cushion underfoot. The midsole is where the 1080v13 shines, with even more soft, squishy Fresh Foam X.There is a thicker midsole than in v12. The heel drop in v12 was 8mm and this version it is now 6mm.Because of the change in foam, this version is lighter than the previous iteration as well – a weight difference that feels notable.There is a rocker technology that New Balance has added to this shoe to help with the ride. The shoe has a stiffer forefoot which is supposed to help with a faster transition from heel to toe. The traction on the outsole is good even in slick conditions. Plus, the shoe’s stretchy knit upper is able to accommodate a variety of different foot shapes.It’s a great all-around shoe that can handle high mileage along with the occasional speedier runs.


Fresh Foam X 1080v13 Pros and Cons

  • Lightweight on the foot.

  • Exceptional comfort.

  • High cushioning.

  • Incredibly soft ride.

  • Suitable for a wide range of foot shapes.

  • Long-lasting outsole.

  • Outstanding breathability.

  • Ideal for medium or long runs at a relaxed pace.

  • Lacks stability.

  • Not suitable for quick-paced running.

  • The EVA-based midsole falls short in energy return.

New Blance Fresh Foam X 880v14

Price: $139.99

Review: The New Balance Fresh Foam 880 has been a fan favorite amongst runners over the past decade.It is the classic daily workhorse in the New Balance stable of shoes.It can tackle cross-training just as well as it crushes daily miles. This reliable daily trainer is durable and stays comfortable over long miles.

The Fresh Foam X 880v14 is an evolution in everyday reliability, featuring superior underfoot cushioning and a structured, supportive upper.Fresh Foam X midsole foam with approximately 3% bio-based content delivers our most cushioned Fresh Foam experience for incredible comfort.The level of cushioning and durability is high enough to be used for your everyday training runs.The midsole is 29mm in the heel and 21 mm in the forefoot. The heel to forefoot drop of 8mm is 2mm less than the previous version. The reduces the heel strike and makes the gait of the runner a bit more efficient. 

There is no rocker/exaggerated curve to the midsole of the 880v14. This means that the runner is in complete control of how fast or slow they run in the shoe. You don’t put your foot on the floor and the shoe rocks you onto your forefoot. This makes the transition from heel to forefoot feel nice and smooth even at slow paces.Even with the new updates, I still classify the 880 v14 as a base-level trainer. It has enough cushioning to feel comfortable over long distances, but it’s not able to compete with maximally cushioned trainers like the New Balance 1080 or the More.

Knee-down view of two Fresh Foam 880v13 shoes

Fresh Foam X 880v14 Pros and Cons

  • Fresh and stylish aesthetic.

  • Smoother transitions on the run.

  • Wide widths available.

  • Lighter on-foot feel.

  • Firm and durable outer rubber – prevents wear and tear.

  • Stable.

  • Plush cushioning – designed for maximum comfort.

  • Could be more responsive.

  • Nothing stands out.

New Balance Fresh Foam X 860v13

Price: $139.99

Review: The New Balance 860 has always been a staple stability training shoe from NB. One of the best stability running shoes, the New Balance 860 provides reliable support and cushioning runners and walkers love.

The latest entry in the series, the Fresh Foam X 860v13 running shoe, augments the pinnacle cushioning experience of Fresh Foam X with a supportive medial post to provide essential stability. Fresh Foam X midsole foam with approximately 3% bio-based content delivers our most cushioned Fresh Foam experience for incredible comfort. Bio-based content is made from renewable resources to help reduce our carbon footprint.Dual density midsole uses two different foams for the ideal.Well-designed sidewalls and an integrated medial post provide integrated and non-obtrusive stability. A wider fitting, but secure upper sits up top, providing room for those who either want a wider fit or have wider feet. The 860v13 maintains a similar weight that keeps it mostly for easy mileage, but the updated midsole and stability improve comfort in the long run. 

The stability features in this New Balance shoe make it ideal for over-pronators or runners who need extra support due to previous injuries. The post’s positioning differs from previous models, as it sits higher up in the shoe. Because of this, the New Balance Fresh Foam X 860 v13 is more supportive than last year’s v12 and other former models.New Balance also updated the outsole of the 860. A new pattern increases grip while working with other stability features to provide more support than previous models.

Knees-down view of two Fresh Foam 860v13 shoes

Fresh Foam X 860v13 Pros and Cons

  • Sleek, sophisticated appearance.

  • Unique dual-density foam for comfort and responsiveness.

  • Ultra-comfortable Fresh Foam X cushioning.

  • Made with some recycled materials.

  • Breathable mesh upper.

  • Feel lighter on foot then they do in hand or on the scale.

  • Stable support bar in the arch area.

  • New gripper outsole.

  • They run like a shoe with a lower drop than 10mm.

  • Constrictive upper (might be sizing).

  • Tongue too short.

  • Doesn’t have all the technical features of some other popular new running shoes.

  • May feel heavy to some runners.

  • Slightly lacking energy return.

What is FuelCell?

FuelCell is a relatively new cushioning technology that was introduced by New Balance in 2019 with the reintroduction of New Balance basketball and the OMN1S (which was worn by Kawhi Leonard) and followed shortly thereafter by several running models including the New Balance FuelCell Propel.The aim of the FuelCell project was to help runners everywhere find their fast, whether they’re pushing top pace on the track or flying through the long miles in marathons.

FuelCell is made from a blend of nitrogen-injected TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) and EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate) foams. It’s a high-energy foam that’s designed to provide a quick and responsive ride.


At the heart of the innovation is the newly developed FuelCell performance EVA foam, which delivers New Balance’s highest energy return ever with a minimum of 55% rebound, despite being lighter than traditional foams. The ability of the material to maintain rebound across different levels of hardness is unlike anything New Balance has used before.

>>Shop New Balance FuelCell Collection

Let's dig into current New Balance footwear utilizing FuelCell so you can figure out which model will best help you Run Your Way.

New Balance FuelCell Rebel v4

Price: $139.99

Review: The FuelCell Rebel is a fan favorite and one of the most versatile shoes New Balance build. It’s a light, energy-efficient shoe that’s made for all levels of runners who want to train faster. The New Balance FuelCell Rebel v4 launched in the US in January 2024, with the global launch on February 29. It costs $140 in the US and £140 in the UK, which is a rise of $10/£10 on the price of the New Balance FuelCell Rebel v3.

The Rebel v4 introduces a new PEBA and FuelCell blended foam midsole with a higher stack and a broader overall platform, which not only makes the Rebel more protective and more inherently stable but better suited to long-distance runs as well. PEBA is an ultra-light, high-performance foam that’s typically seen in carbon-plated supershoes.Atop the newly formulated midsole is a reconfigured Fantom Fit engineered upper.Fantom Fit is an engineered mesh upper created by fusing two pieces of thin material together, creating ultralight support.And with an updated forefoot design, the Rebel v4 is more spacious than ever, allowing more than enough room for toes to splay comfortably. So even if you are a runner with a wider foot shape, the Rebel v4 has you covered. 

The Rebel v4 features a partially exposed outsole, meaning some sections of the midsole foam are left uncovered. This is done to reduce weightThe rest of the outsole is covered in a grippy rubber, with the forefoot area being a tad firmer for propulsive toe-offs.With a shoe this light, durability is always a concern.Overall,the New Balance FuelCell Rebel v4 is a more stable and comfortable shoe than its predecessors, but still very light, making it one of the most versatile plate-free running shoes available.


FuelCell Rebel v4 Pros and Cons

  • Stylish aesthetic.

  • Good value.

  • Lightweight upper with a roomy toebox.

  • Slightly taller and broader stack of lightweight cushioning.

  • Geometric midsole design is made with a new PEBA/EVA blend.

  • Improved protection with smooth transitions.

  • Responsive and fun ride for a variety of training runs.

  • Long-term durability.

  • Slightly unstable.

  • Some may want more cushioning.

  • Spacious upper might not work for narrower feet.

  • Some may want more cushioning.

  • No plate for faster runs.

New Balance FuelCell Propel v4

Price: $109.99

Review: The Propel, which was launched alongside the Rebel back in 2019 has been largely overshadowed by the faster, lighter, and more flashy Rebel.The Propel was designed to be the daily trainer while the Rebel was designed to be the speed shoe in this FuelCell training range. However, the Propel has a much wider upper over a softer midsole.

The New Balance Propel v4 brings high-budget features to a low-budget shoe. It is a running shoe that’s on par price-wise with most entry-mid-level running shoes on the market, but with some features that might also please more seasoned runners looking for a rotational pair.The Propel v4’s main, headline feature is a brand-new TPU plate in its midsole. It has a new formulation of FuelCell, which is the same density that’s in the much higher-priced New Balance SC Trainer. The upper and outsole have also been redesigned.The fit remains a little snug with an upper that stretches over time, providing a slightly performance-oriented fit.

Performance aside, it’s also worth noting that these shoes function pretty well as a pair of daily trainers, not only for running but also for other casual situations (university, office, etc), considering that they feature a silhouette that doesn’t look too flashy despite retaining a sporty appeal.Another major plus is that they also wear extremely comfortably, and feel extremely solid despite the foamy feel that’s present when on solid surfaces. 


FuelCell Propel v4 Pros and Cons

  • Seamlessly integrated TPU plate.

  • Well cushioned.

  • Stable, cushioned ride with some pep.

  • Wide toebox and forefoot.

  • High-quality upper material.

  • Great value for money.

  • Long-lasting outsole.

  • Perfect for midfoot and forefoot strikers.

  • Incredible versatility.

  • Weight increase.

  • Warm upper.

  • Not the best for heel strikers.

  • Tongue not gusseted.

  • Upper reflects the price.

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Trainer v2

Price: $179.99

Review: The New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Trainer is a high-stack neutral training shoe perfect for long runs and minimizing wear and tear on tired legs. Version 2 has a brand new upper and midsole which makes it more comfortable, and lighter but less cushioned.If you enjoy minimal speed trainers which have lots of ground feel, the SuperComp Trainer v2 is not for you.

The New Balance SuperComp Trainer v2 is an excellent, versatile maximalist trainer which delivers a plush, energetic ride. It’s capable of recovery, easy, long runs and uptempo workouts but it feels more comfortable at slower paces. It also had a convex-shaped carbon plate and a deep decoupled groove, resulting in an incredibly fun, bouncy ride.It also had a semi-bootie construction upper with a stiff collar that poked into your ankles so it wasn’t the most comfortable shoe.It has a spacious, accommodating fit in the midfoot, forefoot and toe box so this is a shoe that I would recommend for wide-footed runners. Even though it has lost significant stack height, the SuperComp Trainer v2 still feels very well cushioned and very soft. 


FuelCell SC Trainer v2 Pros and Cons

  • Incredibly plush midsole.

  • Better versatility.

  • More stable ride.

  • Rare wide-size availability for a supershoe.

  • Ideal for long-distance training.

  • Effective rockered ride.

  • Exceptionally durable outsole.

  • Compliant with World Athletics regulations.

  • Weight reduction.

  • Less bouncy than v1.

  • The upper lacks breathability and durability.

  • Energy return falls short compared to other supershoes.

  • More suited to slow paces than fast paces.

  • Less of a rockered ride.

  • Noticeable discrepancy from the stated drop.

The Comparison Table

Fresh Foam X 1080v13

Fresh Foam X 880v14

Fresh Foam X 860v13

FuelCell Rebel v4

FuelCell Propel v4

FuelCell SC Trainer v2
Engineered mesh upperEngineered knit upperEngineered mesh upperSynthetic/mesh upperEngineered upperKnit upper 
OutsoleSolid rubber outsoleNdurance rubberAggressive layer of blown rubberRubberThin layers of rubberRubber
Heel Drop6mm8mm10mm6mm6mm6mm
Weight 9.2 oz9.5 oz10.9 oz7.5 oz10.7 oz10 oz
Cushioning typePlush
Cushioning amountHighly cushionedMedium cushioningMedium cushioningMedium cushioningHighly cushionedHighly cushioned
StabilityNot particularly stableVery stableSome stabilitySome stabilityVery stableVery stable
SizingTrue to sizeTrue to sizeTrue to sizeTrue to sizeTrue to sizeTrue to size
Best forDaily training

All Day Wear


Everyday, Walking, Quick Runs, Long RunsLong runsEverydayLong runs,Race,Speedwork,Daily training

Where to Buy New Balance Fresh Foam and FuelCell Shoes?

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Fresh Foam vs. FuelCell: Which is Better?

As I mentioned above, the key differences between FuelCell and Fresh Foam are the raw materials and construction. New Balance uses distinct processes to create these foam cushions and the end result is a vastly different underfoot feel.

Fresh Foam offers softness underfoot to help keep you comfortable mile after mile. If you are looking for a comfortable, supportive, and quality pair of athletic shoes you should at least consider a pair from the New Balance Fresh Foam line.

FuelCell is the perfect combo of speed, rebound and energy return.Designed for victory, refined in the lab and proven on the roads, FuelCell was created using real athlete data.

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2024-04-18 02:11105