You may remember toward the end of 2018 when New Balance incorporated their Fresh Foam technology into Milos Raonic’s Lav. Well, they’ve upped the ante again this year by bringing over their latest midsole technology from running into tennis: FuelCell. FuelCell delivers the highest energy return of any New Balance performance foams on the market today. It was designed through data-driven midsole shaping to offer optimized transitions, and help the fastest athletes in the game move even faster. The tech was well received by the running community, and is positioned to do the same in tennis, as it’s featured in New Balance’s new FuelCell 996v4 (released November 30th).
New Balance FuelCell 996v4 Tennis Shoes
The FuelCell 996v4 flips the script on the 996v3 through a completely reimagined construction. It sits lower to the court than past models, and is significantly lighter. I’m personally a big fan of this move because it separates the 996 line from the durable and stable 1296 and 1006. New Balance was missing a premium lightweight shoe in their lineup, but this shoe immediately fills that void. So what else is new with this update?
Hypowhat? Hypoknit is a new knit material that’s designed to keep the shoe lightweight and breathable, yet offer the support and protection needed for tennis. It’s reinforced by a PU Medial Guard around the toe and medial forefoot for durability.
While the tongue itself is a standard, padded tongue, it features “wings” to help keep your foot secured. Imagine a half-sleeve construction.
Like many tennis shoes, the 996v4 turns to the comfort, durability, and moisture management offered by Ortholite insoles. This is a removable piece to allow for the insertion of custom insoles and other orthotics.
The namesake of the shoe, FuelCell is all about propulsion. As explained above, this tech offers the highest energy return of any New Balance performance foams currently in production. While it’s featured in many of the brand’s top running shoes, within the 996v4, it’s obviously optimized for tennis.
While not a new tech, NDurance is New Balance’s standard outsole material designed for the rigorous demands of tennis. We’re mentioning it here because it’s now complemented by LWSR (Lightweight Solid Rubber) to allow for full ground contact with weight reduction.
Fit and Sizing
The width of the FuelCell 996v4 could be described as comfortable. By this, I mean our playtesters’ initial impressions are that a D width is a true D width, if not slightly wide. The shoe seems to have a medium arch, and is billed as having an 8mm heel-to-toe drop. Once fully in production, it will be available in men’s D (standard), 2E (wide), and 4E (extra wide) widths, as well as women’s B (standard) and D (wide) widths.
To check out all of the colorways for this high-performance tennis shoe, visit TennisExpress.com. Be sure to keep an eye out for our full review on this shoe in the coming weeks!
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