I’ve put in almost 140 miles in the New Balance Fuel Cell SuperComp Trainer and it has been one of my favorite shoes for running long. It’s a max-cushioned carbon fiber-plated shoe designed as an everyday trainer. Read more for the full review.
by Dave Martinez
I’m going to refer to this model as the New Balance SuperComp Trainer as it is already a long name. This model was released at the end of 2022, and since I had a few long races on the horizon, it was one of the shoes I was looking forward to putting in a lot of miles. It’s a carbon-fiber plated shoe and that already sets some expectations for me. Straight out of the box, I ran 12 miles, took a day off, then 13 miles, another day off, and finished that first week with a 14-mile run. I was impressed at how soft it felt and unlike other carbon-plated shoes, I didn’t feel the firmness of the plate underfoot. I would probably say it feels similar to the Saucony Endorphin Speed/Pro 3. However, it probably is more comparable to the Hoka Bondi X.
New Balance SuperComp Trainer Specs
The SuperComp Trainer is designed for race day and high mileage training shoe. Fuel Cell is New Balance’s proprietary midsole foam that has its highest energy return performance while still feeling lively and responsive underfoot. The arched carbon fiber plate is sandwiched between the foam that they refer to as Energy Arc technology. There is a hollow channel on the bottom of the shoe and as the carbon plate is flattened into that channel during each foot strike, it returns energy as the plate reshapes creating a sense of propulsion. The New Balance SuperComp Trainer has an 8mm drop and a 47mm stack height. 40mm is the legal limit for competition shoes, so if you’re placing or winning prize money, these shoes are not legal. Many of the competition shoes have a stack height of 39 – 39.5mm just to meet the requirements for elite competition. There are a few brands that have made these super max-cushioned shoes to push the boundaries but also deliver a high-cushioned shoe to the everyday runner that wants that Uber plush ride.
Overall, I had no issues with the fit except for 2 minor instances but first, let’s talk about the upper. It’s a lightweight and breathable stretch upper. It provides a minimal amount of stretch, just enough to feel restrictive and accommodate your foot, especially in those longer runs when your foot will swell a bit. I feel that it is true to size and I didn’t have any issues with the heel slipping. There is no padding in the tongue and a small amount of padding in the heel collar. The tongue is gusseted and it feels like the upper and tongue are one piece largely due to both being the same color. It does have asymmetrical lacing which is usually designed to better accommodate the top part of the foot and relieve some pressure there. I did have two isolated and unrelated issues. The first came after several weeks of use so I was surprised that I got a blister on the base of my ankle that coincided with the upper most eyelet of laces. I’m not sure if it was related to the socks I was wearing or how I laced up that day. Was my lacing too tight or just a bit loose? Regardless, I got a blister. I know it was caused by the lace as it matched up to the blister but since there’s no padding in tongue or anywhere in that area and the upper being thin, I’m sure that contributed to the blister but I can’t say it was the cause. I took a few weeks off from running in the New Balance SuperComp Trainer and ran in them again but I was hyper aware of how I tightened the laces and if I felt any discomfort to stop and see what was going on but it never came up again. Several weeks later, I felt some irritation at the end of my toes during a 15-mile run. I did notice that I didn’t lace up the shoe snugly enough or it loosed a bit during my run. My foot was able to slide forward and back just enough that my toes started hitting the front of the shoes. I had plenty of space between the toes and tip of the shoe as long as my heel was properly seated in the heel cup of the shoe so sizing wasn’t the issue. I continued running a few days later and made sure the shoes were securely fastened with minimal movement and I never experienced the issue again. Overall, no issues with the fit but it’s possible how the user (in this case, me) laces the shoe can contribute to these issues.
As soon as I stepped into the New Balance SuperComp Trainer I noticed how soft and plush it felt. It made it very easy to ramp up my miles quickly. In the “do as I say, not as I do” camp, I went from running 12-15 miles a week to almost 40 miles the following weeks. I hate to say it but it’s almost like skipping several weeks of training. Of course, this is not something I would recommend that anyone do. I’ve been running and cycling consistently for the last 12 years so I can likely ramp up that quickly with less chance of injury. At the same time, I was going out doing easy 9-10 min/miles as opposed to tempo runs in the 8 min/mile pace that I was doing in those shorter runs. I was also taking a day off between runs. That all being said, the road disappeared underfoot. While it feels plush, it’s not a marshmallow feel either. It’s got a responsive feel without feeling firm. My legs never felt beat up or sore and neither did my feet. While I felt tired on those run, I never felt depleted even as I got up to 15-17 mile runs. I still had plenty of energy for the rest of the day and managed to do yard work and projects around the house. I’ve had plenty of long training runs in the past that I just wanted to sit on the couch all day.
It’s a comfortable ride for sure and has that premium or even luxurious ride you’d expect from a high-end sedan or SUV. The road disappears underneath and you experience all the best that running offers. Of course with a carbon-fiber plate, there are some high-performance characteristics that I needed to try out as well. While I had most of my experience putting in easy long miles, I did take it out for a tempo run with some of my Big Peach colleagues. It was supposed to be a friendly 6-mile run but in a group setting, the pace always starts easy and ramps ups. I was glad to have the New Balance SuperComp Trainer as I was not only able to keep up with the group, towards the end, I was leading the group running a sub 8 min/mile pace even hitting a 7:04 min/mile pace at the end. If you’ve got the fitness to push the pace, the SuperComp Trainer will respond and reward you for that effort. I would also say the effort didn’t feel extraneous. So while I pushed the pace, I didn’t feel completely spent at the end. That’s basically what these type of shoes are designed to do, improve running economy/efficiency.
Conclusion: New Balance SuperComp Trainer
While the New Balance SuperComp Trainer feels light, the specs state a weight of 11.3 oz for a men’s size 9. That’s not light but I never felt the weight of the shoe even after 17 miles. In comparison, the men’s Saucony Endorphin Pro 3 weighs 7.2 oz. I would say they both have a similar feel and ride, the biggest difference is the weight and price between the two. I’d also say that the New Balance SuperComp Trainer is probably more comparable to the Hoka Bondi X which has a carbon-fiber plate and weighs 11.0 oz. I do feel the SuperComp feels just a hair-softer. At $180, the New Balance SuperComp Trainer is the least expensive of any of the carbon fiber-plated shoes. It’s not a shoe for everyone especially at that price but if you’re looking for max comfort and you’re training for half marathon or longer, this shoe will make training a whole lot easier. New Balance has already announced the update to this model and it should be available by July or August. They’re stating that the stack height will be reduced to be legal and that it will also bring down the weight. They also state that the cushioning will feel the same. If that’s the case, the New Balance SuperComp Trainer v2 will make an excellent choice for a fall marathon.
The New Balance Super Comp Trainer is available at select Big Peach Running Co. locations but it is available online.