Currently in the running community there is a growing schism between the traditionalists and the minimalists – the haves (cushioning) and the have-nots (without cushioning). One camp shouts the wonders of minimalism while the other touts the more traditional. Who are we to believe?
What if I told you that one company is pioneering a new philosophy in running by trying to merge some of the positive attributes of both camps, forging a completely different kind of shoe. With the goal of designing shoes for optimal performance, comfort, and efficiency Hoka One One has incorporated key performance traits found in well-cushioned footwear while also paying heed to recent footwear advances that aid in natural foot motion and efficient running mechanics. Would you believe it?
Currently, tens of thousands of recreational and age-group runners, both young and old alike are making the transition to more minimalist running shoes or even running barefoot in the hopes of improving their biomechanics and reducing running-related injuries.
Running in shoes with minimal cushioning, however, may not be for everyone. Some people can adapt to a barefoot stride or the use of a shoe with minimal cushioning while others may not. Making the transition is a personal decision. For those wanting (or needing) cushioned performance running shoes that still aid in natural foot motion, the Hoka One One line of running shoes may be right for you.
Seeing is Believing…
As a gear reviewer there are moments that preconceptions get the better of you. Admittedly, from the moment the Bondi B’s were taken out of the box, we weren’t sure the puffy outsole and striking graphics would find favor with our field team. Yet from paved roads to gravel paths; from dirt trails and treadmills to podium finishes in 10Ks, the Bondi B handled it all. After 400 miles and countless hours in the Hoka One One Bondi B shoes – we believe.
The Bondi Bs are designed for maximum cushioning, comfort, protection and energy return, while still offering lightweight, nimble performance and uninhibited movement. According to Hoka One One, by using an EVA 30% softer and increasing its total volume to 2.5 times that of a typical trail running shoe, these shoes not only allow for more cushioning than any other shoe on the market today, they dissipate up to 80% of the shock associated with heal striking when running.
The innovative minds at Hoka One One also crafted a rockering profile 40mm high sole design enabled to design a 13cm rockering profile, representing 50% of the sole length. This design allows for fluid and natural stride transitions, lessening the movement of the knee by as much as 20%, increasing efficiency.
The design allows runners to engage their glutes and lower back as opposed to isolating their quads. Additionally, Hoka One One provides up to 50% more surface area on the outsole than the typical running shoe. Couple that with a design fit that sets the foot recessed into the midsole and each stride will be taken in greater confidence no matter what is underfoot. For our field tester the end result was a more relaxed body, efficient stride and a lot more fun on downhill runs.
Like a big blue 1970s Cadillac with soft suspension, there were moments the shoes felt a bit bouncy. Yet on flats, roads and even trails the Bondi B performed exceptionally well. Furthermore, our guru found that they excelled on hills – both up and down. Simply put, these shoes are like honey coated thunder. Sweet on the road, airy on the climb and booming like thunder on the downhill run. And unlike many of today’s minimalist styled shoes, the body requires very little break-in time to adjust to the Bondi B.
Room for Improvement…
The Bondi B’s exceeded any expectations our field team had for the shoes. Yet despite scoring high marks in virtually every category there were a few minor quibbles that our crew member had with the shoes:
- Breathability: The upper does not provide sufficient breathability, which may leave your feet with a slightly swampy feeling on long runs during warm days.
- Narrow: Unlike some shoes moving towards a more natural foot shape, the Bondi B has a narrow toe-box which may leave runners with a wider foot feeling slightly crowded. That being said, our field tester didn’t find that the fit inhibited performance or comfort.
- Feel: For those who desire a feeling of connectedness to the ground, the thickness of the sole does eliminate that sense of oneness. This shoe turns trails into roads. I love the connection to the terrain when running trails. That intimacy is completely lost in this shoe.
- Slippery when wet: When the pavement is wet beware of slipping.
Albert Szent-Gyorgyi once said, “Discovery is seeing what everybody else has seen, and thinking what nobody else thought.” That quote seems a perfect summation of Hoka One One’s design philosophy which has resulted in a solid performance road shoe that provides well-cushioned support while still allowing for a natural mid-foot strike. Perhaps more importantly, the Bondi B will make your runs a heck of a lot of fun.