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New Balance Fuel Cell Propel – 50 Mile Review

This post was written for and first appeared on https://runnah.blog by Harold Shaw.

How I got them: The New Balance Fuel Cell Propel were a personal purchase through Amazon.

What are these shoe’s purpose in my rotation? The Propels have become my primary daily trainer. I use them for long, recovery and easy runs.

Short Version

The Propels have done everything I have asked of them so far.

The only negative that I have about them is I would like the front of the shoe to be less tapered and little more rounded like the Beacon. Because I do experience a little discomfort while running in them due to the taper and an ingrown toe-nail on my left big toe.

Other than that minor complaint that is more me than the shoes, I love them.

They are comfortable, have the cushioned feeling that I have been looking for, decent traction in a variety of conditions and while I primarily use them more as a daily trainer, the Propels can zip right along if I want to pick up the pace. Though I have other shoes that I would pick to run faster for me in before the Propels.

I was very impressed with the ride, fit and feel of the Propels through my first 50 miles. Now to see how they do over the next 150, which usually is the make or break point for me.

Long Version

Stats (if you think they are important)

Heel Height – 27mm

Forefoot – 21mm

Drop – 6mm

Published weight size 9.0 – 9.2 ounces

What kinds of runs have I done in them so far?

• From my first 7.0 mile run in them to my 4.0 mile recovery run today, they have done what I wanted.

Fit

Size: These are size 8.0 D and fit the way that I like my shoes to fit.

I have been measured on the Brannock Scale as having size 7.5 feet and have a Tailor’s Bunionette on my right foot that complicates my fit issues significantly.

Realistically, I have never been able to wear anything comfortably less than an size 8.0 in running shoes and typically find that 8.5D are my best starting point and sometimes a size 8.0 or 8.5 2EE fit even better.

Are they comfortable? I have found the Propels to be extremely comfortable and the only issue is that due to an in-grown toenail on my left big toe (which I have problems in other running shoes as well), the front taper of the shoe causes some discomfort.

However, on my tough to fit right foot with its Tailor’s Bunionette I have had zero issues with it bothering because it is too narrow or an overlay pressing against it.

I like the design of the rear of the shoe, my achilles area do not rub at all and I have not had any issues with heel lift, which can be a problem with my narrow heels.

Yes, they are comfortable.

Feel (different from fit)

The feel is a softer feel, but not at least in my opinion marshmallow soft. It cushions the landing, but it is more like a softer deceleration than a mushy landing. In many ways the Propel reminds me a lot of the Clifton v1, but has a more stable and refined ride.

• The Propel has a very smooth heel-to-toe transition pretty much on par with one my favorites the Pearl Izumi N1 v2. I usually land with a heel first stride and strangely with the Propel, the wear pattern indicates more of a mid foot landing??? Not sure what is going on there, but either way I am not slapping the ground and am very quiet when striding.

While I can run fast for me in the Propels, I prefer to use them for slower paced or recovery runs where the cushioned feel is more what I am looking for.

Sole

I like the more multi-purpose outsole that the Propels have. They will never be confused for trail shoes, but I would not hesitate to take them on groomed trails, light snow, rain or slimy dirt roads and feel confident about remaining upright. In deeper snow, more technical trails or mud they will not do well and I have better choices.

• I hate it when a shoe’s outsole collects rocks/pebbles and it is a consideration when I buy new shoes. Since I run a lot on dirt roads and we are in the midst of recovering from a series of ice, rain and re-freezing, so the local town crew has been putting down a LOT of sand on the roads.

Which in many shoes causes lots of little pebbles/rocks to get stuck in the outsole and after today’s run, as you can see in the photo there was very little evidence of rocks/pebbles getting stuck in the insole

• Is there apparent wear, where? Surprisingly, there is more wear in the midfoot area than in other shoes I have worn in a long time. The toe-off area is a normal wear area for me, so I was not surprised by the wear there.

However, it seems as though there is more wear on the outsole than I would expect or like for only 50 miles.

Upper

The tongue has just the right amount of cushioning in them so that I do not feel lace bite or soreness on the top of my feet.

• I have worn the Propels on the treadmill and didn’t notice my feet getting unusually warm, but I have a feeling that during a hot/humid summer day they might be a bit warm.

However, for running in the Fall/Winter/Spring, they seem to be just right for me. Not super warm, but warm enough plus there is enough room to wear thinner merino wool socks comfortably.

There is some stretch to the upper and after 20-30 miles I noticed the upper had formed around my foot and were much more comfortable than when I first started wearing them.

• Noticeable wear – there is no noticeable wear on the upper, but I am typically very easy on uppers – other than getting them pretty dirty from running down-back or in crappy weather.

• The laces on the Propel are good, I usually have to change out the laces on most shoes because they are too long or won’t stay tied. I have kept the stock laces in and have no plans to change them out.

Appearance

What colorways are available? While I got the gray/black colorway – not my favorite colors, but they are pretty classy looking. The dirt just let’s others know that they are actually bing used as running shoes. 🙂

There are some brighter colors and I can see me looking for a brighter pair next time.

Availability

The Propel was just released a few months ago and is readily available online and in running shops (that carry them). As new as they are, I am starting to see them for up to 50% off on some sites already.

The Reality is That

The New Balance Fuel Cell Propel is quickly becoming my go-to shoe for any run that I am not going to run faster for me. They have the right amount of cushion, feel comfortable and fit me well.

Would I get them again? Yes, in fact a pair of yellow/green/white New Balance Propels in a size 8EE showed up on my steps this week as a Christmas present from Bennie. He knows a good thing when he sees me wearing them all the time.

In my opinion the New Balance Fuel Cell Propel are doing everything that I have asked of them through their first 50 miles.

I can’t ask any more of a pair of running shoes. Now to see what my opinion will be at 200 miles.

Disclosure of Material Connection: The New Balance Fuel Cell Propel that I wrote about in this review were a personal purchase through Amazon. The opinions I have expressed are my own and your experience with the product might be different than mine. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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