Hoka One One Bondi B Review

An in-depth video review of the Hoka One One Bondi B road running shoe.

By on July 19, 2012 | Comments

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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.

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.

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.

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

Travis Liles is a gear reviewer at iRunFar. He’s been reviewing trail running and ultrarunning gear (and occasionally penning an article) for over 15 years. He is married to his Junior High sweetheart, has two amazing daughters, and works as a solution architect for a large software company. Originally from the Midwest but now based in Portland, Oregon, Travis is an avid trail runner and ultrarunner. Over the past 18 years, he has competed in many ultra-distance races and has completed 15 100-mile races, including Ozark Trail, Leadville, Big Horn, and HURT 100. He is a recovering RD and enjoys pacing friends, trail work, and volunteering at local events.