Review: Hoka One One Bondi.b

Hoka One One Bondi.b

Having used a MafateWP as one of my “snow running” shoes, and being generally happy with the cushy feel, I got a pair of the Bondi.B – a primarily street shoe that I’ve used on roads, trails, and treadmill for about 250 miles now.

In fact, right now it’s one of my favorite trail runners, and I’ve used it on every organized trail run, including 10k, half marathon, and marathon. Compared to the pic above, here’s how mine look now after about 100 miles offroad, and 150 miles other …

Bondi.b - on feet - dirty tops after 250 miles
Bondi.B from the top, on feet, showing wear and dirt
Bondi.B showing side on feet
Bondi.B from the side, on feet

In the two photos above, note the general wear and tear, including a crack near the left big toe joint I got during a trail 10K that I repaired with shoegoo. Also quite dirty compared to the marketing image at the top of the review.

Left shoe inside side view crack near toe
Left shoe inside side view - crack near toe repaired with shoegoo
Left outside side view
Left outside side view

Above two photos show side views. One of the most obvious differences in these shoes is the very thick, soft, cushy, foamy midsoles. Some people love them, others hate them. The foam has a lot of energy, and if you can try them on and run on pavement, you should totally feel it. Whether you like that feeling or not though …

Above in the video, I show the general characteristics of the sole. If you can’t really see what I’m doing, from the ball to the end is very soft, ball to instep medium soft, and heel fairly unsoft (though it will deform in twisting motions). Notice the speed with which it snaps back when I let go. Lots of energy, even after 250 miles (about half the life advertised, and I have no reason to doubt I’ll hit 500 miles).

For “anti-traditionalists” notice the sole is very rounded in shape (some people report being asked about their butt-augmenting workout shoes while wearing them). The hype implies that you’ll strike in the prominent middle foot area and roll off the toe without necessarily flexing your toes. Here are a few shots of my current sole wear at about 250 miles:

Middle sole zone
Middle sole zone - note moderate wear in white rubber, maximum wear in yellow foam area
Heel sole zone wear
Heel sole zone - note minimal wear in orange rubber, moderate wear in white rubber, maximum wear in foam area
Toe sole zone wear
Toe sole zone - note minimal wear in orange rubber, moderate wear in white rubber, maximum wear in foam area

Notice that there is minimal wear at the heel and toe, and a lot of wear in the middle instep area. So at least in my case it’s working as advertised.

Now down to the nitty gritty: the midsole is fat, thick, soft. If you need some type of support, it’s not there – this is majorly a “cushion-only” shoe. IMHO for my foot anyway, it seems to run about 1/3 size small.

Some people report very tired support and stabilizing muscles in their lower legs, and increased incidence of rolling because of the lack of support. I can’t dispute that, as I’ve felt the stress on the little support muscles as I got used to this shoe, and while I have rolled a few times in them, I normally do, so I can’t report that it’s any better or worse than any other shoe.

On a treadmill, the foam absorbs your impact quite a bit, which has one bad result – the belt feels like it stops just after your midfoot expands on it. It’s the weirdest feeling. Never read anyone else mention it though, so maybe it’s my wacked out gait?

Hype says the huge foam blob deforms to accept all terrain variations. I feel rocks, so I can’t really accept that. Maybe I’m just more sensitive? I mean, I really can’t walk across a normal concrete driveway barefoot without a lot of pain from the miscellaneous stuff that gathers on it.

Running uphill and downhill on the road is just freaking amazing. On the trail I had a lot of control issues on technical downhill. Took a major fall in the Aspen Backcountry Marathon, as well as a lot of sliding around that I managed to save. I talked to a few of the aid support crew who’d worn Mafate’s in the Leadville 100, and they said the same for that more popular offroad shoe with larger tread lugs.

I love this shoe, wear it frequently in my rotation, and despite the thin tread, it’s one of my favorite trail runners. One of my prime considerations in using it is the ease of recovery, probably from the impact absorption (though it appears I’m not a heel-striker, I’m big at 185 lb and 6’1″, and old, at 50+), not to mention the increase in strength I’ve noticed in my stabilizers.

Don’t take my word for it though, go try a pair on at a reputable running store and see if they’ll let you go outside (Boulder Running is where I got mine – nice people overall).