Bigger is not always better but when it comes to running shoe midsoles, I’ve found that bigger IS better. A higher stack height results in more cushioning and a more aggressive rocker.
Take for example the Adidas Prime X which comes in at 52 mm in the heel. I enjoyed it much more than its little brother, the Adios Pro 2 which comes in under the 40 mm World Athletics limit. The Prime X felt more propulsive, more cushy and faster. It’s no wonder World Athletics has banned shoes higher than 40 mm from being used in their competitions.
Supercomp is a brand new premium, performance series from New Balance which consists of 3 shoes. The Supercomp Pacer is the lightweight, short distance racer, the Supercomp Elite Racer is the long distance racing shoe and the Supercomp Trainer is the max-cushioned training shoe. All of them have FuelCell midsoles and a carbon plate sandwiched in their soles.
The Supercomp Trainer is New Balance’s first venture into the above 40mm midsole stack height category. They already have 2 other carbon plated training shoes, the TC and the Lerato to complement their flagship racer but those are both much lower in stack height compared to the Supercomp Trainer.
The Supercomp Trainer replaces the FuelCell TC which was launched 2 years ago. At the time of launch, the FuelCell TC was unlike any other carbon-plated trainer on the market: its ride felt soft and bouncy while its flexible plate allowed it to have more natural transitions. It was my favourite carbon fibre shoe at the time.
Its one weakness was its instability due to the weird lateral wing and narrow base so running in it at slow paces felt awkward, especially if you were a pronator. The Supercomp Trainer has a much wider base which should help to make it more stable.
New Balance claims that the Supercomp Trainer has the ability to store and return 40% more energy than the FuelCell TC but I would take it with a grain of salt because there are other factors which come into play such as weight.
The Supercomp Trainer weighs 10.2 oz (289g) for a men’s standard size 9 and has a heel stack height of 47mm with a forefoot stack height of 39mm. It weighs 1.2 oz (34 g) more than the FuelCell TC and the US price is supposed to be 180 USD but this pair cost 320 Australian dollars (225 USD).
The Supercomp Trainer falls into a new, unique category: max-cushioned, carbon-fibre trainer. The Hoka Bondi X is also in this category which I found to be clunky, blocky and not very versatile due to its bland midsole foam. The Supercomp Trainer on the other hand uses New Balance’s FuelCell which is one of the softest and most responsive foams on the market.
New Balance FuelCell Supercomp Trainer First Impressions
When I opened the box, I immediately weighed it on my scale and I was really surprised how heavy it was. It’s heavier than other maximalist trainers such as the Invincible Run 2 and the Cloudmonster and it’s the same weight as the Infinity Run 3.
The first time I laced the SC Trainer up and walked around in it, the collar felt really stiff, especially in the front by the first row of eyelet holes. I felt a poking sensation into the base of my ankle and I was worried that it would result in chafing while running. Luckily, that wasn’t the case as it didn’t bother me during runs.
My first run was a steady-paced 10K. Within the first 500 m of running in it, I knew that the Supercomp Trainer was something special. The shoe felt extremely cushioned, bouncy and a lot of fun to run in. It reminded me a bit of the FuelCell TC but with a much stabler, plusher ride. The carbon plate in the midsole didn’t feel overly intrusive while transitions felt buttery smooth. I could feel the large canal in the middle of the outsole compress and return energy with each toe-off.
Towards the end of my run, 1 kilometre away from my apartment, I heard a crunching sound underneath my right shoe. WIth every footstrike, it sounded like the carbon plate was hitting the ground.
At the end of my run, when I inspected my shoe, I saw that there was a sharp stone lodged into one of the holes in the forefoot. This stone had pieced the soft midsole foam and was so deep that it was rubbing against the bottom-loaded plate. The stone was easy to remove and the damage didn’t affect the ride afterwards but this shows how soft FuelCell foam is.
It didn’t need a break in period and I was extremely excited to get more miles in the SC Trainer after my first run in it.
New Balance FuelCell Supercomp Trainer Sole Unit
The Supercomp Trainer is one of the softest and most cushioned shoes I’ve ever worn. The big difference between other jumbo midsole trainers like the Prime X and the Tempo Next% is that the SC Trainer uses an extremely soft, cushy foam in FuelCell and this allows your feet to sink down into the supercritical foam.
There’s a lot of things going on in the SC Trainer’s midsole but they all seem to gel. The carbon plate and the foam work cohesively together to create a forgiving, yet propulsive ride unlike the Hoka Bondi X which didn’t feel engaging at all.
The deep, wide decoupled groove underneath the Supercomp Trainer is its most unique feature and what gives it such a bouncy, energetic ride. If you loved the midsole geometry of the ASICS Novablast 3, then you’ll love the SC Trainer’s setup even more.
During footstrikes, when you load the shoe, your foot sinks downwards and the groove underneath splays. Then during toe-offs, the groove contracts and propels you upward and forward.
The carbon plate in the Supercomp Trainer is more flexible than the ones in the Fuelcell TC and the RC Elite v2 so this makes the ride more comfortable during slow, easy paces. The plate is unique because it is cambered, in other words it’s a convex shape that curves outwards. During transitions, the carbon plate flattens and when released, it snaps back to shape. This is a technology that New Balance has coined EnergyArc and it works in tandem with the wide outsole groove to store and return energy.
It doesn’t feel like 40% more energy return than the FuelCell TC to me but it’s still an extremely bouncy and lively ride which rivals the Invincible Run 2, Aurora BL and the Novablast 2. Every single run in the SC Trainer is energetic and fun.
I found the SC Trainer excelled at a variety of paces, from recovery paces above 6 mins per km (9 mins 39 secs per mile) down to uptempo paces around 4 minutes 30 per km (7 mins 14 secs per mile). I even did an interval speed workout in it and it could hang with the other carbon fibre super shoes at fast paces below 4 minutes per km (6 minutes 26 seconds per mile).
I also wouldn’t hesitate running a full marathon in the SC Trainer. The massive stack of midsole foam underneath your feet keeps your feet and legs fresh and will allow you to recover much quicker after the marathon.
The SC Trainer is a very stable shoe even though it has such a thick midsole. The main reason for this is that it has an extremely wide net base; this makes transitions feel planted and it makes it more long-distance friendly.
The outsole rubber placement of the SC Trainer takes inspiration from the RC Elite v2. It has a sheet of rubber covering its forefoot and 2 vertical strips of rubber protecting its rear foot.
The deep decoupled groove exposes the carbon plate and the front of the carbon plate at the forefoot is covered with rubber for protection from the road.
I’ve noticed above average outsole wear on my pair. This is due to the blown rubber and the exposed midsole foam being so soft. Not only is the outer lateral heel area worn down but the lips of the wide groove has also seen significant wear so I don’t expect the SC Trainer to be as durable as the FuelCell TC.
New Balance FuelCell Supercomp Trainer Upper Unit
The SC Trainer has a flawlessly constructed upper which is light, fits well and is highly breathable. It reminds me of the Zoom Fly 4’s upper but the SC Trainer’s is lighter and even more breathable.
The forefoot and toe box have large ventilation holes while the mesh used is very thin and rough to the touch on the outside with smooth insides. The SC Trainer’s upper feels like a racing upper but with the comfort of a training shoe.
It has a flat, knitted tongue which is attached on both sides. It wraps around your midfoot with no irritation and provides a really secure hold.
The collar of the shoe is also knitted and there is cushioning on the inside of the heel counter to lock your heel in. I didn’t experience any heel slippage in the SC Trainer.
The SC Trainer has a true to size fit with a roomy midfoot, forefoot and toe box. This is a trainer that I would definitely recommend to wide footed runners and runners with high volume feet.
New Balance FuelCell Supercomp Trainer Conclusion
The SC Trainer is a huge upgrade to the FuelCell TC. The new feature which I’m most excited about is the added stability which was the FuelCell TC’s biggest weakness.
The extra cushioning also makes it softer, more protective and a better long-distance trainer. It has a high toe spring rocker and a flexible carbon plate which makes the SC Trainer extremely efficient. This is the best long-distance training shoe I’ve ever run in.
The SC Trainer’s ride is something special and in my opinion deserving of its high price tag. This is a training shoe that can double up as a long-distance racing shoe if you want something super cushy and stable.
It’s not allowed to be used in World Athletics events but if you’re an elite or sub elite and you’re running in those types of races, you wouldn’t be looking at the SC Trainer anyway because it’s far too heavy and soft.
Due to its high versatility, the SC Trainer can wear many different hats.
I’ll be using it for long runs but also for tempo runs and speed workouts. It can replace the Nike Zoom Fly 4, Saucony Endorphin Speed 2 or Nike Tempo Next% if those trainers are not soft/stable enough for you.
I wish I could also use it for daily training but due to the low durability concerns, I’ll be saving it for key runs and workouts.
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We purchased this pair of New Balance FuelCell Supercomp Trainer at Running Warehouse with our own money.