Hoka One One Bondi B Review

Over the past couple years, few shoes brands have made such waves… or have been so noticeable as Hoka One One. With their super-sized midsoles and stand out performances on the feet of Karl Meltzer, Dave Mackey, and Diana Finkel, it’s easy to see why they’ve received so much attention. While the looks of the shoes are what grab your attention, the Hokas perform well enough that they’ve converted skeptics and sponsored runners alike. Although they take some getting used to, the cushioning and what it allows a runner to do is remarkable. In the following video review, find out what Travis Liles thinks about the Hoka One One Bondi B ($170), Hoka’s first road shoe offering that’s worn by many runners on the trail.

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Hoka One One Bondi B Review Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the video review section of iRunFar. My name is Travis Liles and in this review we’re going to take a look at the Hoka One One Bondi B. The running shoe industry has definitely favored its investments in minimal, low-profile, natural, low-to-the-ground feel in the last few years. And we’ve specifically seen that trend in the trail running world except for in the Hoka One One. This is the Bondi B edition. It weighs in at 11 ounces and has a 4.5mm drop. The stack height is rated at 35mm in the heel and 29mm at the toe. So what we’re going to do is get up close and personal. We’ll look at the shoe, look at its midsole, look at the traction, and talk about how it performed on various types of terrain including trail, nice easy rolling single track, technical trail, as well as road. Then we’ll come wrap things up at the end.

Outsole
We’ll start off by talking about our outsole. The outsole is definitely road specific, and this shoe by Hoka One One is listed as a road shoe. However, I felt it did admirably across pretty much anything I threw at it. It felt fine on the road as you would expect. On technical rocky trail that was dry, there were no issues in terms of grip or being able to catch onto something or climbing. I did have some issues when they were wet coming out of a creek crossing with very slick ground on the other side. They really didn’t do much at all, though most shoes aren’t going to help you out a ton in that situation. But these definitely with such a low profile outsole did not provide anything at all in terms of traction. You have two different types of tread patterns on here. These orange ones look like a little paw, I guess would be a good way to put it; these are slightly harder than these white ones. These white ones are sort of larger, stop-sign shapes and are a softer compound. So, it’s a little harder on the toe and the heel, which in most cases would be your highest areas of wear, to a softer foam or rubber here with the white, and then none on the inside of the shoe. So if you are a neutral runner, this tread pattern is pretty much set up for that. As you can see, it does have some scuffs and some scrapes from trails, but overall with the type of stuff I ran on being sharp limestone, these things came away really well without having a whole lot of wear being shown.

I’ll transition now to the heel, because if you look at the way this shoe works, it sort of rounds itself back. Hoka talks about on their website that this shoe has this sort of rocker type motion to it. This heel adds to that. Actually the whole midsole in general adds to that.

Midsole
So let’s talk about the midsole. The midsole has 2.5 times more of the normal cushioning of your regular running shoe. So this has 2.5 times more cushion. So think about that in terms of how much cushion does it actually have. It uses 30% softer foam. And that’s the one thing you’ll notice as soon as you step down in this shoe. You can go stand on top of a root, a rock, some sort of obstacle (throw your keys on the floor and stand on them) and you’ll notice you don’t feel much of them because the obstacles or the items sort of sink into this shoe, which is a really interesting feeling. As time goes on, it really adds a lot of confidence and you’ll find yourself bombing down hills and such in these. So if you look around the whole body of the midsole you’ll notice there isn’t anything like a pronation control, there’s no cage, there’s no post or anything along those lines, just foam. That’s the point of it. You’ll think, “This ride height is really high, I’m going to feel unstable.” There is a bit of that; however, the outsole of the shoe, this part here, is 25% wider than most shoes; so you have a very large piece of surface area. Again, if you’re thinking in the traditional sense of the shoe that might scare you away from the shoe because a wider shoe might not fit in such areas. However, because this midsole reacts and sort of sucks up the ground around it, you hardly notice that it is wide. It’s just surprising how well this shoe rides despite visually what it’s going to look like.

Upper and Insole
Now, when we move to the upper, this shoe, again, is a road running shoe, but I felt this thing fit very nice and tight. It fit to my foot really well in terms of how it fit versus a lot of road running shoes. A lot of road running shoes have a lot of mesh so when you’re doing downhills or you’re braking or you’re doing side-to-side movements, your foot moves around a lot in it. This shoe has these white overlays all over it which sort of wrap the foot all the way around so you wrap the foot and you get a nice feel. Then in the black parts of the shoe, mesh, so it breathes well, it drains well. As you can see, that mesh goes all the way to the midsole, so water has a path to go out. So I felt like this shoe breathed well; it fit my foot well. Then you’ve got lacing options up top if you need a tighter close on the heel or a looser close around the heel to wrap in. In the back, you have a full heel counter; so that is in there. It’s not hard, hard plastic; it is somewhat pliable, but it’s there. Then you have a slightly padded collar.

This shoe does have a removable insole. So I guess if you wanted to wear orthotics with these, you could fit them in, though I would say that would be a lot of support and stability in that. But you could do something along those lines if you’re someone that likes orthotics.

You have a relatively good toe bumper, again, for being a road shoe. This shoe rides higher, so you’re going to catch more of that grit, or rocks, or roots, or whatever you might kick with the toe of the shoe. But if you do go past that, you do have some of this hard nylon or fake leather up here in the front that’s going to break some of that. So over all what you get is, yes, a road shoe, but definitely something capable of trail that you can wear pretty much anywhere.

Conclusion
So to wrap things up, this shoe is way better than I thought it was going to be. When I looked at this shoe, I thought, “It’s big. It’s bulky. I’m not going to like the feel of this.” I just didn’t want to, I guess, believe in it. I would say after throwing everything at it that I could, I am in fact a believer in this shoe. This shoe could handle really anything I threw at it.

There are some caveats. It’s higher off the ground, so to me it felt less stable. I didn’t have that ground feel that I normally like, not that I’m a minimalist person, but I do like riding a little lower. It doesn’t transition as great as something you might find in a road shoe. But overall, for the things it doesn’t do well, it does one thing really well. It adds cushion, and I felt aided in recovery or at least aided in the amount of impact that my body felt over the long haul. I really noticed not feeling as beat up. I threw these on at the end of very big volume weeks for me and wore these as my last run of the week to really get a feel for it. Over and over again, I felt better than I did wearing my normal shoes that I would have worn for that. So I do think there is definitely something to this amount of cushioning.

Call for Comments
So with that, any questions or comments, place those below the video. Thanks for watching. We’ll catch you next time.


Travis Liles

resides in Portland, Oregon where he is a husband, father, and a technical specialist for a software company. In his spare time, he is exploring his new home in the Pacific Northwest, getting more vertical but still not living in the thin air, while producing “Trail Trials with Travis Liles” video gear reviews for iRunFar.

There are 79 comments

  1. Blair

    Wow, I need some serious help. Just pushing into the ultra distances and loving it. Planning rim-to-rim-to-rim of the Grand Canyon in October. Been running distances of 40-50 miles/week for 35 years. Now I'm pushing upwards of 60-70 miles/week so, yes…you might say an aspiring ultra runner, but making progress. I recently purchased the Evo Stinson shoe and loved it, up to the first 100 miles.

    Here's the problem. I was born with a slight deformity (external tibia torsion. Okay, I'm "Duck Footed", shoot me. This causes some fairly significant overpronation. Seriously, I look like the goofiest S.O.B. you have ever seen when I run. I get cat calls from passer-buys and the more aggressive spectators have actually hurled objects from their vehicles at me as they speed by yelling "Freeeek!". If is a modern miracle that I can actually link two miles together for a neighborhood fun run. Despite this deformity, and three and one-half decades of moderate distance running, I have been spared injury. I guess I would attribute this to my deformity which may be a blessing in disguise.

    I run mostly trails, and trails I would consider tough. Central Oregon Cascades, Sierra Nevada, anything steep and rocky. A lot of elevation, typically logging cumulative gain/loss of 6,000 to 8,000 feet on my weekend long run. I run much quicker than my peers, but am a bit of a big fish in a small pond.

    So that's the backstory. The problem is that after no more than 100 miles on my Hokas they're trashed. The inside soul of the shoe is completely compressed and rocks my foot significantly inward. A running partner following me on a morning trail run asked if my ankles didn't hurt like hell as they looked like they were going to snap in two from the stress. The toe pad area of the Hoka sole (concentrated around big toe and second toe) looks like someone has been banging on it with a hammer (totally concaved in). Oh, and yeah, I can qualify for the Clydesdale Division when I enter marathons (6'1", 185 lbs.)

    I love the cushion and feel of the Hoka, but at $170/pop I can't afford to replace them every 100 miles, I'd go broke quick. The one shoe that has never failed me is the Nike Pegasus, but I love the recovery on the Hoka.

    What is the consensus…give up on the Hoka, stick with the Pegasus, go to orthotic inserts, take up biking? Oh, and no need to mention an orthopedic surgeon. My high school coach thought I had promise if he could fix my stride. After several frustrating months of training and "special" exercises he sent me to the surgeon. Apparently the fix is sawing the tibia in half, rotating the bone to its normal orientation, pinning it back together, casting, rehab. One leg, then the other. That isn't in the cards.

    Thanks.

    1. Tom

      That's a tough scenario Blair. Obviously you can't replace the shoes every 100 miles. I'd recommend seeing a foot doctor for some orthotics. I've heard Hokas take them well. Good health to you.

  2. Mike D

    Hone, Sorry about your 2 hip surgeries. I that is a pretty good reason to switch your shoes out more frequently, though. Don't you? There may just be a method to the madness. Besides, $170 is way cheaper than having to replace both hips. Not to mention down time.

  3. Brian

    So I now I have 1200 miles on my pair. What I've done with them is only to swap out the insole and change the laces . I did have to reglue the soles twice.

    There has been no shift in the center of the shoe and there's been no uneven wearing.

    Most of my Trailrun's are on rugged terrain being either the long trail or the Appalachian Trail in Vermont.

    My only real disappointment and issue has been their lack of distribution and customer service. I have been trying to obtain a new pair of the comps for sometime now. I know that they're starting to bring in the women's style in the country and I may actually start running in that they're that good.

  4. joey

    I went to the hokas after my NB 1010's fell apart…..loved those shoes, but they didn't last. I did replace the speed laces with regular ones, and do get some numb toes from time to time, but nothing too serious. My down hills are way faster but have had some ankle rolls. The only thing is I have been getting a bad stitch in my side during the down hills! never had this problem in the past and is really frustrating. I hate to pass runners going down , only to have them pass me as I struggle on stretching out my side. Never seen anyone else posting this problem, just wanted to see if its just me

  5. Bill

    I picked up new Bondis this spring as i was working to increase mileage for a fall/winter string of ultras. I am 6' 2", ~200 lbs, mild overpronator (have custom orthotics), and while in "training" peak in the mid-40 miles/wk range on asphalt (not enough viable trails where I live :-( ). For me, ultra means 50K now.

    I used the Bondis almost exclusively for my long runs this spring/summer (Brooks stability shoes for the rest), got in multiple 20+ mile runs and one training marathon.

    I loved the Bondi ride at the start, even got in PB half marathon distance (in training!) at the start. Over time, in less than 100 miles (on the shoes), I noticed significant mid-sole wear – the softer mid-sole material gets completely chewed up on asphalt), but thought nothing of it as the ride still remained comparatively soft. After ~200 miles, i noticed that my ankles seemed to torque more as i was running, but blew it off. Then at around 250 miles, I had significant problems with my right IT band, hamstring, and ankle all at once that made me drop a race. When I got home, I checked the shoes and it was obvious that the right shoe was completely overpronated with the mid-sole significantly more chewed up than the left shoe.

    So much for these shoes lasting 700 miles.

    I switched back to my Brooks and was able to resume training after a few weeks off.

    The softness of this shoe's ride can mask other issues, like lack of stability control. Just be careful if you overpronate.

    After a couple months without the Bondis, I bought another pair to see whether I could use them on an upcoming marathon. Ran twice with them and my form did not feel right, so I'm taking no chances and sticking with the Brooks.

    That said, I will continue to experiment, including with Stinsons I bought to get me through the summer ultra and planned for next HAT.

    Love/hate the Hokas for now.

    Bought old-school Poron sheets and cut inserts for my shoes as a poor man's (heavy) approximation.

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