Like all Hoke One One shoes the Clifton road shoe employs considerably more underfoot cushioning than ‘traditional’ shoes, the enormous wedge of EVA foam gives the shoes a distinctive look guaranteed to attract attention from other runners and, if our experience is anything to go by, you’ll spend a lot of time trying to explain or justify them to others. But stick with it because there’s sound logic to this aesthetic madness.
Regardless of the disco stack look the curved wedge provides an incredibly naturalistic forward rock between strike and toe-off that helps propel the runner forward with greater ease – they may look the antithesis of a barefoot shoe but the technique and benefit is very similar. The Hoke Clifton also has a mere 5mm heel to toe differential (drop) so, again, close to a barefoot or transition shoe.
The sensation of running in the Clifton is initially odd to say the least, though not necessarily in a bad way. They feel fast and the rocking roll gives the impression of almost falling forward – something true barefooters and ‘chi runners’ will already understand. The best way to deal with it is simply to go with it and reap the benefits. On test we repeatedly found an easy 10-15% increase in pace without any increase in either perceived effort or heart rate; that’s the kind of result that speaks for itself.
And ‘going long’? Well despite the size the Hoka One One Clifton is exceptionally lightweight at 215g (430g pair, UK8) not much more than some true barefoot shoes – with the stripped-back mesh upper and thin (removable) inner bed all contributing. So far TriGear have tested this up to marathon distance with excellent comfort from start to end, and the slightly minimalist-looking grip coped admirably on both wet pavements and slick autumn leaves.
It may still take a leap of faith for some runners to buy into the oversized concept and the Hoka One One brand, but it’s one worth taking and with the Clifton retailing at £100 the previously high price points (upwards of £130 for some iterations) is no longer an excuse not to give these a go.
The Clifton is available in three colour options for men – blue/black/lime, black/grey/neon and lime/black/white – and three for women – plum/fushia (sic)/white, coral/white/yellow and aqua/grey/white.
Further details of the Hoka One One Clifton at hokaoneone.eu