Review – Hoka Bondi B Road Running Shoe
A few months ago I reviewed the Hoka’s Stinson Crossover running shoe, and came away very impressed. So when I had the opportunity to review Hoka’s road running shoe, I jumped at the chance.
The Hoka Bondi B appears to be very similar to the Stinson shoe. It has the Hoka “look” with plenty of cushion and width. And both versions are put together extremely well. The quality of their manufacturing process is evident. You have to look closely to see the differences. They are subtle, but important.
Here’s some quick information provided by Hoka:
RECOMMENDED: Road and smooth trail running for any distance.
COMFORT AND CUSHIONING: The midsole foam is 30% softer than the material used in traditional running shoes, and there is 2.5 times more volume than in most running shoes. The extra cushioning dissipates up to 80% of the shock associated with heel striking when running and allows for as much as 20mm of compression in the heel, plus extra protection allowing you to soar over asphalt surfaces.
ROCKERED MIDSOLE GEOMETRY & LOW HEEL-TOE DIFFERENTIAL: A 4.5mm heel to toe drop and rockered profile creates a unique rolling motion that encourages proper form by allowing a runner to easily strike the ground near the midfoot.
CONTROL: The unique, patented bucket seat is recessed up to 20mm within the midsole unit so as to best position your foot for optimum precision. This high degree of control also ensures you maintain responsive contact with the ground at all times
STABILITY: The 25% wider outsole platform is designed to counterbalance the excess height of the oversized midsole. This large surface area ensures that you will maintain a stable footing, no matter how hard you run.
SUPERIOR TRACTION: The outsole is specially designed for use on the road, the high surface volume of the lug pattern as well as the shallow treads ensure good grip on even wet surfaces and high levels of abrasion resistance even when you push your shoes to the limit.
FEATHERLIGHT WEIGHT: Relative to its size, lighter than most road running shoes at 10 ounces, they make running uphill as much fun as they make running downhill and with less body fatigue.
BENEFITS: Engineered for maximum cushioning, comfort, protection and energy return, while still offering lightweight, nimble performance and uninhibited movement. Run more efficiently with less injury and quicker recovery.
In my initial review of the Hoka Stinson B, I compared the Stinson Bs to my normal racing flats. This time I’ll compare the Bondi Bs to the Stinson Bs.
- The Bondi Bs fit my foot nearly perfectly, as do the Stinson Bs. Both have a wide toe-box, with the Bondi Bs ever so slightly smaller. This slight difference is good, as I don’t want any additional room in my road running shoe.
- Both shoes weigh approximately the same, which is good. They are both surprisingly lighter than average. If I was to get down to ounces, I might say the Bondi B is slightly lighter, but it’s hard to tell.
- The traction on the shoes differ, as shown in the picture to the right. However if you’re running on dry pavement, traction doesn’t really matter all that much. I couldn’t feel any difference while running.
- The width of the Stinson’s seems to be slightly wider. When you’re running on trails, this would make sense.
- The cushion of the Stinson’s seem to be “cushier”. Again, off-road running would require more cushion.
- The Bondi B seems to be more aggressive on my feet. The Stinson feels like the larger cousin that can do anything – sort of a sports car vs. an SUV feel. According to some documention on Hoka’s website, the Bondi B has 4.5 mm drop from heal to toe, while the Stinson has 4mm. That is a very slight difference, but I swear I can feel it. It’s a good feeling, that seems to help me roll off the toe easier in the Bondi Bs.
The first time I ran in these shoes I was impressed with how lightweight they were. The “footprint” is larger than my racing flats, but I honestly couldn’t feel much difference on my feet. I did feel the same “marshmallow” type landing with each step that I experienced with the Hoka Stinson shoes. I quickly ran 8 miles, and felt great the whole way. As with the Stinsons, I kind of feel like I’m bouncing down the road. It’s a peculiar feeling, and actually fun to wear. Seriously.
The Bondi B seems (ever so slightly) stiffer than the Stinson. It’s kind of like the Stinson’s smaller sibling. The one that tries harder -the scrappier one. Perhaps it has less cushion or the rubber is not as tender. This is probably a good thing though, since “feeling” the road on the Stinson is difficult. The Bondi B is a good mix between traditional road shoe, and the brilliance that Hoka shoes deliver. Just enough cushion where you need it.
I wore the Bondi Bs a few days later in a local 10k race. I usually don’t wear anything new in a race situation, but this race was only 5 minutes from my house, and I was just going to “run” it. As luck would have it, I was very late getting to the start, and with 1000 participants, getting up to the start line was difficult. I had about 30 seconds to stretch before the gun went off. Not ideal, but I took off with a small group of runners anyways. Since I didn’t harbor any dreams of winning today, I decided to just focus on my form. Everything felt really good and the Hokas were easy to run in. I knew my group was running fast, and at the 5k mark I recorded my FASTEST EVER 5k. Whoa. That’s not only my fastest ever 5k split – that’s the fastest I have ever run five kilometers, period. I held my pace through the final 5k and passed many runners that buried themselves in the first half of the race. My stride truly felt effortless, and I just kept “bouncing” down the road. Crossing the finish line in 5th place, I ended up knocking three minutes off my 10k PR. Disbelief? More like total shock.
How’d that happen? I did not prepare for this race at all. I just did this race because it was five minutes from my house. I haven’t done any real speed work in a year. The only real difference on this day were the Bondi Bs.
Now I’m not going to say these things were the only reason I rocked the race, but unquestionably, they played a big part. They really promote proper running form and help you maintain that form. When I run in them, I’m rolling off the toe without any effort. My legs seem much fresher at the end of long runs, and I swear I have a faster turnover rate for the duration of the run.
In short, I can’t exactly pinpoint how the Bondi Bs made me a faster runner. They just did.
These things rock. Plain and simple. They not only feel good while I run, but my body doesn’t hurt after I run either.
They just feel good when they’re on my feet. When I’m done running, I’m not in a hurry to remove my shoes.
According to the Hoka website, the Bondi B comes in some very cool color designs. The one I tried had the unisex color scheme, but there are male-oriented and female-oriented designs as well.
If I can knock 3 minutes off my 10k record, I can’t help but wonder what can I do in my next marathon? I am very, very excited to find out. I’ll be sure to let you know!
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