Full Review of New Balance SC Elite v4  - The Running Channel Advertisement

Full Review of New Balance SC Elite v4 

BY: Mark Dredge
13 May 2024

New Balance SC Elite v4 is the brand’s latest carbon plate race day shoe. It’s a full redesign from the previous versions, but have the changes led to a better shoe for fast times? Three of the TRC team have tested the shoe and have shared their thoughts!

What we liked about New Balance SC Elite v4

  • All testers love how comfortable the shoe is
  • We think it’s a good option for runners who want a less aggressive super shoe 
  • Very striking design

Things to consider about New Balance SC Elite v4 

  • With a wide forefoot these might not suit all runners
  • They don’t feel as responsive as some other carbon plate shoes
  • At £260 it’s one of the most expensive race day shoes on the market

About The New Balance SC Elite v4 & The Stats 

The SC Elite v4 is New Balance’s top-end carbon plate race shoe, and it’s a complete change from the previous versions of this shoe. In fact, if you lined up the RC Elite v2, the SC Elite v3 and the SC Elite v4 you wouldn’t necessarily know they were related. This new SuperComp shoe features New Balance’s signature Fuelcell midsole, now updated to be made with PEBA, and between that is a full length carbon plate which the brand describes as giving “a fast-feeling, energetic ride that delivers energy return with every stride.”

  • Price: £260 / €280 / $250
  • Weight: Men’s UK10.5 270g / 9.5oz 
  • Stack & Drop: 40mm/36mm (4mm drop)
  • Fit: Accommodating and wide toe box
  • Reviewed by: Sarah, Meg and Mark

First Impressions

They look great! Really impactful colours (white with bleached lime glo and hot mango, if you were wondering) and a design which makes these stand out.

Hello comfort! As soon as you put them on you feel how comfortable they are, with your feet standing on a big wedge of foam. If you jump up and down on the spot you can immediately feel the bounce in the shoe, which we all liked. 

While they’re some of the heavier shoes in the category, they don’t feel too big or hefty when you put them.

They are wide in the forefoot and midfoot, so can be a great option for wide-footed runners. Mark has wide feet and wishes all shoes fitted like this, while Meg’s narrow feet still felt secure in the shoe. If you have a narrow foot then you may have to pull the laces quite tight to get a good lockdown, and this can sometimes lead to tightness on top of the foot, or the foot sliding within the shoe.

The fit can be a little short, so runners in the UK (where sizing is a little different to other brands) might want to size up 0.5 from what you usually wear (though if you’re used to running in New Balance then the sizing is consistent with the brand’s typical fit). 

Comfort

New Balance’s Fuelcell continues to be one of the most comfortable foams on the market and these are one of the most comfortable carbon plate road shoes currently available. They are soft on the step in, but not squidgy or spongy. “They are springy without being too aggressive,” says Sarah. Everyone enjoyed longer runs (22-26 miles) in the SC Elite v4, with the comfort helping to protect your legs.

It can take a few attempts to get the lockdown right in the shoe. Sarah and Mark both experienced some heel rubbing on early runs, but that didn’t last once they’d got the lacing right. A runner’s knot may sort the problem for some runners, but the tongue is short and thin so the laces may end up causing some tightness on the top of the foot. 

Meg had some issues with bruising to the toes and despite the shoe’s width, felt the volume in the toe box was low – this might be another reason to size up in the shoe. 

Performance

Sarah and Meg both ran marathon PBs in the SC Elite v4, so the shoes definitely worked as fast marathon shoes for them. “They are a very stable and comfy carbon option, not too aggressive but you get a lot out of them when you want to go fast!” says Meg.

Mark, however, says “I think these will work for lots of runners over the marathon distance because of their comfort, but they didn’t work for me.” He felt that he had to work harder than expected to maintain his goal marathon pace and didn’t feel the responsiveness that he wanted at faster paces (he feels like the New Balance Rebel v4’s are more responsive for the way he runs, and they are his current favourite daily trainer).

While these shoes were comfortable and worked well for a marathon, we feel they might not perform as well over shorter and faster runs, where runners might want something with a lower stack and more propulsive feel. 

The 4mm drop feels low and doesn’t naturally help you roll through the stride, and while the shoe has a slight rocker design, it doesn’t tip you forward onto your toes, meaning it will probably work best for midfoot and heel-strikers. 

The Fantomfit upper is light and breathable, which is great for warmer runs. We all feel that the shoe has good stability and feels good when cornering at race pace, while also performing well in wet conditions. The outsole also seems to have good durability so far, and we’d expect to get a lot of miles out of these. 

Comparisons

The SC Elite v4 doesn’t have the aggressive springy bounce of something like Nike’s Alphafly 3, and it doesn’t have the propulsive roll-through of a shoe like the Adidas Adios Pro 3, Saucony Endorphin Pro 4 or Mizuno Wave Rebellion Pro (it also doesn’t have the firmer feeling of something like the Brooks Hyperion Elite). Instead it seems to be built for steady cruising comfort which we feel makes this a more versatile and general carbon plate shoe which will work for more runners, especially those running in the middle of the pack. 

One consideration is that these shoes are one of the most expensive pairs on the market. As a comparison, you can find something like the Adios Pro 3 for around £150 when on sale. 

Sarah and Meg think the shoe felt light to run in, while Mark thinks they feel heavy and a bit clunky (as a weight comparison in Mark’s size, Alphafly 3’s are 240g/8.6oz compared to 270g/9.5oz in the SC Elite v4).

The shoe is bigger and heavier than the SC Elite v3, and while it feels bouncier than the previous shoe it loses some feeling of speed and ground-feel. The upper also fits very differently from the previous version, which had a foot-hugging fit. The SC Elite v4 has much more volume in the shoe. “It’s an improvement on the fit of v3 and is a shoe that suits everyone,” says Sarah. 

Conclusion

Finding the right carbon plate race shoe is an individual thing, and our own running style and pace goals will influence which shoes work best for us. While we all really liked the comfort in the shoe (we’ve said that a lot, we know!), and were happy running a marathon in them, we didn’t all get the responsive feeling that we’d like from a carbon plate racing shoe. We also think that the cost of these shoes is very high.

Overall, if you want to put on a race day shoe and feel like you’re running really fast, then this one might not be the shoe for you. But if you want something reliable that will give you a bit of an extra push forward (plus all that nice comfort!), then the SC Elite v4’s are a shoe you should consider – just try a pair on to make sure the width and the size is right for you. 

ABOUT THE REVIEWERS

  • Sarah: Ran a marathon PB of 3:44 in the SC Elite v4. 
  • Meg: Ran a marathon PB of 3:06 in the SC Elite v4. 
  • Mark: Big fan of the previous two New Balance carbon plate racing shoes, having run a 2:58 marathon in the RC Elite v2 and a 1:25 half in the SC Elite v3. 

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