New Balance FuelCell Impulse

The New Balance FuelCell Impulse is a low-drop neutral running shoe that features forefoot FuelCell cushioning and REVlite midsole. The sole will provide some underfoot protection but there’s no doubt that this is still a running shoe with a firm midsole. The responsiveness in enviable, as is durability, which makes this the perfect racing shoe for the forefoot striker that needs a shoe for short sprints and 5k to half marathon races. However, this isn’t an everyday running shoe and it definitely won’t suit joggers and heel-strikers – it just doesn’t have enough cushion.

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Pros & Cons
  • Lightweight
  • Extremely responsive
  • Great for forefoot strikers
  • Flexible forefoot
  • REVlite and FuelCell durable midsole
  • Appealing design
  • Good traction on dry surfaces
  • Breathable
  • Cons
    • Firm midsole that won’t suit everyone
    • Some comfort is sacrificed for responsiveness
    • A little heavier than your typical racing shoe
    • Bad traction on wet surfaces
    • Key Features
      The outsole of the New Balance FuelCell Impulse features numerous shallow flex grooves that encourage flexibility, allowing for a smooth and quick heel-to-toe transition. Aside from the flex grooves, there are the rectangular traction nodes that provide a good grip on the surface, but add on to the cushioning of the sole as a whole as well. Blown rubber is used in the rearfoot and forefoot area of the outsole – right where you need it the most in order to increase traction and longevity.
      As the name of the shoe clearly states, the forefoot area of the midsole features FuelCell, a nitrogen-infused TPU cushioning, intended to accelerate the toe-off phase of the gait cycle and increase explosiveness and speed. In the midfoot and rearfoot area is REVlite, the brand’s extremely durable foam that offers great responsiveness and has a 30% lighter weight than other foam midsoles of the same responsiveness and quality. This kind of combination of the REVlite foam and FuelCell technology sets a crystal clear intention for the shoe: it is aimed at providing impressive responsiveness and a fast toe-off. Another thing to note about the FuelCell forefoot is the noticeably high angle at which the forefoot is positioned, ideal for a fast launch forward while sprinting.
      The upper of the New Balance FuelCell Impulse is made out of two layers of mesh and 3D synthetic overlays, with Jacquard mesh acting as the top layer. This creates a really snug, tight feeling in the midfoot, but it isn’t restrictive in the forefoot area. The mesh used in this model could be best compared to a soft cloth, rather than a shiny, nylon-like mesh material we’re used to seeing in running shoes nowadays. The shoe doesn’t have a traditional tongue, but rather a low-cut bootie construction with one sole opening, which makes it reminiscent of a sock. This adds to the general snug and seamless fit of the entire upper. Unlike the tongue, the lacing system is traditional. Additionally, an external plastic heel counter is noticeable and sports the “NB” letters on it. This is a welcome addition, although most runners have agreed that with the upper as snug as this one, the external heel counter isn’t that necessary.
      The FuelCell Impulse weighs in at 232g or 8.2oz for a men’s half-pair and 190g or 6.7oz for women’s, which makes it a decidedly lightweight shoe. Most runners enjoyed the lightweight feeling of the FuelCell Impulse, although some have noticed that this weight is a little unusual for a running shoe that is made for speed. However, this weight point won’t make any significant difference in your racing performance.
      The mesh upper of the FuelCell Impulse has good breathability, despite the double mesh layer – there are so few synthetic overlays that the air ventilation is more than satisfactory. The ventilation holes in the upper contribute to the healthy foot environment and prevent overheating. The soft inner lining also prevents blisters, irritation and hot spots. The tongue area and collar are only lightly padded. Overall, this New Balance running shoe is well ventilated and most suitable for spring and summertime.
      The important thing to note is that the New Balance FuelCell Impulse isn’t a shoe made to win you over with its comfort. Rather, it’s made to go fast and go hard, with a little cushioning thrown in the mix just for it to be comfy enough for an average runner. The REVlite foam in the midfoot and rearfoot area is there to provide some cushion to the otherwise reasonably hard sole. The upper provides a snug fit, especially in the midfoot area, while the forefoot is roomy enough for your toes to stretch and splay without an issue. It’s recommended that you opt for a half-size bigger shoe if you don’t intend on trying it on before purchasing. As for the width, the men’s options are D – Medium and 2E – Wide and women’s version comes in B – Medium and D – Wide. The bootie construction isn’t high, so there isn’t any Achilles irritation with the FuelCell impulse, although one runner has said he experienced blistering near the instep due to the low-cut socks he’d worn.
      This running shoe sports a simple and colorful design that isn’t too aggressive nor too tame, making it a good option for a wide variety of tastes. The mesh ventilation holes make a tiger-fur-like pattern on the upper which makes the shoe feel well thought-out while looking speedy and sleek. The vast majority of customers have agreed that the shoe looks appealing and nice, which is quite enough for a running shoe.
      Usually, the issue about lightweight racing shoes is that the durability isn’t enviable – on the contrary. However, this isn’t the case with the New Balance FuelCell Impulse, which is an extremely durable shoe. The blown rubber in the forefoot and heel area is resilient and will protect the midsole from wearing out quickly. The FuelCell midsole has superior durability compared to regular EVA foams, and the upper has enviable longevity as well, which does come as a small surprise, seeing that it’s primarily made out of mesh. If you’re after a speed-running shoe that will last you for a long time, without losing out on the quality of build, the FuelCell Impulse has you covered.
      The New Balance FuelCell Impulse is a specific shoe, in a sense that it doesn’t play too much into cushioning and protection and instead favors responsiveness. While the REVlite midsole compound does provide some underfoot protection, the heel cushioning is still very firm. However, the REVlite heel and midfoot compound does disperse the impact forces, effectively protecting your feet from too much stress. However, this shoe definitely isn’t made for heel-strikers, joggers and lovers of long runs, because the heel cushioning isn’t enough to protect your feet from the impact forces when running in such a style.
      Responsiveness is where the FuelCell forefoot technology really shines. The toe-off phase of the gait cycle is encouraged by the responsive and flexible forefoot, making you go faster and faster by utilizing the kinetic energy created from your previous step. The sole of this New Balance running shoe is springy, snappy and gives plenty of bounce – so much so, that we’re free to say that the responsiveness is its most prominent feature. This is the kind of shoe that will encourage you to pick up your pace even if you just went on a casual run – which makes it ideal for speed workouts, sprints, and racing.
      When it comes to arch support, the New Balance FuelCell Impulse is a neutral running shoe, offering just enough support for runners with normal, medium-high and high arches, while it’s not recommended for over and underpronators to wear it, due to the fact that they require special type of arch support that can prevent various injuries. As for the lateral stability, the double mesh upper provides more than enough support even for the pickiest of runners out there. The midfoot area of the upper is so tight, yet unrestrictive, that you’ll feel your foot locked-in in place with really, really slim chances of twisting your foot or sliding around in the shoe box.
      The New Balance FuelCell Impulse is a running shoe made to pick up speed, making it a decent shoe for running on pavements and light gravel, but the track is where its potential really comes to prominence. This shoe is a great racing, fartlek, track and tempo run shoe, whether you’re running a 5k race or a half marathon. The supportive upper and slightly higher weight of the FuelCell Impulse really makes a difference when your feet feel too tired to wear some ultra-lightweight racing option.
      It’s hard to imagine that the affordable price of the New Balance FuelCell Impulse wouldn’t compel forefoot strikers looking for an ultra-responsive shoe to buy it immediately. The price point along with the really great durability that comes with the responsive midsole is really a good deal for most racers. If you can find the FuelCell Impulse on a discount – we wouldn’t be surprised if you bought two pairs at once.
      The traction nodes on the outsole and the blown rubber compound found in the heel and forefoot area result in good traction on dry, wet surfaces. The grip on the ground is good and allows enough ground feel, without sticking to the ground and slowing you down. However, the outsole doesn’t perform well in wet weather, so we recommend you pick a different pair of runners for rainy days.
      The most flexible part of the midsole is definitely the forefoot area, which makes sense, given that the entire shoe is made for forefoot strikers who don’t require much midfoot and heel flexibility, to begin with. The flexible forefoot will have a beneficial effect on your calves that won’t get tired trying to make up for the flexibility during toe-off. Additionally, the double mesh upper is made to adhere to your foot completely and feels like a very firm, yet flexible sock, that will move with your feet effortlessly.
      Unlike most race shoes on the market, the New Balance FuelCell Impulse has a wide forefoot, making the entire ride in them as stable as it’s flexible. Additionally, the shoe platform is a bit wider in the heel as well, while the midfoot section is expectedly narrow. The firmer midsole contributes to a more stable ride in general, although it is still very far from a proper stability shoe. The external heel counter and the tight upper (especially in the midfoot area) ensure your heel won’t move or slip, and your foot will stay in place for the entirety of the run, no matter how fast you end up going.
      The official drop of the FuelCell Impulse is stated to be 6mm, although some runners claim the shoe feels like it has a 4mm drop. No matter the exact number, this low-drop ensures that the heel won’t get in the way of forefoot strikers who will enjoy this running shoe the most. With the slight drop and the great forefoot responsiveness, your natural stride will be encouraged and you’ll get to your toes in no time, making this a great shoe for speed days.
      Key Features
      ● Blown rubber outsole
      ● Flex grooves and rectangular traction nodes for good grip and flexibility
      ● REVlite and FuelCell midsole
      ● Soft and snug double mesh upper
      ● Breathable
      ● Extremely durable
      ● Not comfortable enough for long and slow runs
      ● Affordable price
      ● Road, track and treadmill shoe best for speed work
      ● Good forefoot flexibility
      ● Fantastic responsiveness
      ● Neutral pronation
      ● 6mm drop
      ● Wider forefoot for increased stability
      Bottom Line
      The New Balance FuelCell Impulse is a neutral running shoe made for forefoot strikers who require a bit more cushioning than a regular, ultra-lightweight racing shoe. This shoe delivers, with the combination of the REVlite cushioning (that’s still pretty responsive and firm) and the nitrogen-infused TPU cushioning technology called FuelCell. The shoe will serve you well on days when you need a bit of underfoot protection and all the responsiveness you can get. The snug, double mesh upper is breathable and will keep your midfoot locked in place and enable natural toe splay in the forefoot for increased stability. The forefoot flexibility is really something to look forward to, and the durability of the materials is great. All in all, New Balance has made a great speed work and racing shoe best suitable for forefoot strikers.
      Where to Buy
      Backcountry Link
      See Deal
      Holabird Sports Link
      See Deal
      Road Runner Sports Link
      See Deal
      By Lizzy Pavlovic
      Last updated:
      Where to buy
      Best offer on: Jul. 29. 2021

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