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Review: Hoka One One Bondi B

18 11 2011

It has been awhile that I posted a shoe review for the past months. So, this new pair of shoes that hit the market early this year is making a lot of “noise” in the Internet among ultra trail runners. This is the reason why I was able to know beforehand about the existence of this “weird-looking” running shoes.

HOKA ONE ONE Bondi B

Two of the top US ultra trail runners, Dave Mackey and Karl Meltzer, had been using this kind of shoes in their runs and races as they are the primary and top endorsers of this shoes even if these shoes were invented and conceptualized by two French ultrarunners. These guys had been winning their races using these shoes. I’ve seen with my own eyes how Dave Mackey ran and glided on those shoes during this year’s MIWOK 100K Trail Run in Marin Headlands which he won easily from other top US ultra runners. Looking at Dave Mackey (with a height of more than 6 feet), the Hoka One One looks like an ordinary trail shoes and it is not noticeable as a clunky & thick soled shoes.

My observation brought an interest to have one of this pair of shoes just to find out what is special in them as each of them carry a higher price as compared with other trail shoes. The initial price was $ 179+ which has almost the same level price with the ASICS’ top end Gel-Kinsei series. However, the price has now gone down to $ 159+ as per my latest research in the Internet.

Last June, a simple question to the ARC Los Angeles owner, Joe Matias, if their store carry such shoes led me to have a new pair of Hoka One One Bondi B. He even posted on Facebook that the Bald Runner is ready to experience a “Time To Fly” with the new pair of shoes with the appropriate pictures. Thanks, Joe!

First thing that I’ve observed when I tried to wear them was that their sizing is one-half size smaller. Which means that if I am size 9 1/2 in my regualr running shoes, I should have ordered size 10 for the Hoka One One. I tried to compensate this little issue by using thinner running socks. Second, I found the shoe string to be bulky as it uses those stiff round-type shoe laces which tend to put more pressure on the top of my feet when I tie my shoes tightly. I changed the shoe laces with those flat and lighter shoe laces and I observed a great improvement on the comfortability of the shoes.

For one month, I’ve used them everyday in my runs along the paved streets and they are very soft to the feet because of the thick and spongy sole. It was very comfortable to run with as I was recovering from my knee injury. The pain on my left knee would go away as soon as I ran with them. The spongy and bouncy feeling as my feet hit the ground is totally different from using my other running shoes.

I tried to use them in my trail runs and the shoes forced me to run at a faster speed and pace on the downhill which I was trying to avoid and minimize because I was still recovering from my knee injury. If only I was not being safety and conservative conscious on my trail workouts, I could have experienced the full potentials of this shoes in my downhill runs which most of the users have liked about using them.

However, I would reveal that the thick sole gave some problems with the way I run. Since I am a “shuffler” who could barely lift my knees during my “push-off” at a higher level, my tendency is to trip with the shoes on the ground. It does not happen all the time but there are times that my rythym would be disturbed. Sometimes, my leading shoes would hit the other one when my legs are showing that they are getting tired and weary.

Shoes More Noticeable With Average-Height Runners

I used them during my WC 200 run lately and they were nice shoes to start with my daily runs but after 30+ kilometers, I have to use the thinner-soled shoes for faster leg turn-overs. I am not saying that these shoes are not light, they are lighter than the ASICS Gel-Kayano & Kinsei but they simply don’t suit to my style of running on paved roads.

My Hoka One One, for the meantime, is being used as my recovery workout shoes and it is still waiting to be used in an ultra trail run or in a road race.

Now, if you ask me if I am recommending this one for you. Of course! Get one pair of this shoe and experience what is like to wear a different one and be a standout from the rest. Just take note of the shoe sizing and the price. I really don’t know yet if they are available in the local running stores. However, I’ll give you a tip. Ask Raul, Perkins, and Mario of ARC Manila if you can have it ordered from Joe Matias of ARC Los Angeles. I know Joe will give you a nice deal on these shoes.

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