Monday, May 11, 2015

Initial Review: Hoka One One Speedgoat-Lively, Light, All Terrain Speedster

The Hoka One One Speedgoat is a 9.7oz 33mm heel/28mm forefoot stack(with insole), 5mm drop trail shoe inspired by the winningest 100 mile runner (36 and counting) in history, SpeedGoat Karl Meltzer.  It is resplendent in Red Bull livery, one of Karl's sponsors. This $140 shoe will be released on July 1st in both men's and women's models. See end of post for other colors and spec sheets.
Hoka One One SpeedGoat
Karl is meticulous in his gear selection having always preferred comfort over minimalism. In fact, as minimalism was all the rage, Karl was the first elite athlete to sign with Hoka, the original maximalist shoe company.  I have very much enjoyed seeing Hoka evolve from their early Mafate downhill monster truck to today's incredibly light and cushioned (reviews at the links) Clifton, Huaka, Challenger ATR and now SpeedGoat.
Build on the same last as the earlier Rapa Nui,  the SpeedGoat has a slightly softer midsole over a sticky, relatively soft, full Vibram outsole with 4mm lugs, a first for Hoka. Kind of ironic given Vibram's Five Fingers minimal history but one must not forget Vibram is first and foremost a great climbing boot, and now running shoe outsole company.

The upper is a minimal single layer mesh with underlay supports bonded into the mesh. My pair is at 8.5+, just above my true to size, and except for a tight area over my little toes it seems to still run a bit large especially around the mid foot. The SpeedGoat is a very lively, energetic bouncy shoe and for me, ideally suited to moderate trails, gravel roads, and paved roads. It actually runs very well on the road, soft with a distinct bounce the soft midsole compresses and then meets firmer outsole. Dare I might say more bounce than adidas Boost ? and this despite the lugs which while a bit noisy are not in the way. Outsole wear with about 33 miles evenly split between roads and trails has been minimal to date.  This is a special outsole material: soft, durable, sticky, but also road friendly.

Hoka One One SpeedGoat
The upper is a thin single layer mesh with most of the inside covered by underlays with uncoated mesh windows to the outside, 4 on each side.  Early prototypes and the brochures below show 5 eyelets but the last eyelet, by the toes, was eliminated based on feedback that it created too much pressure on  the metatarsals.The lightly padded tongue runs all  the way to the toe with the two sides of the upper wrapping over the foot. It runs a bit warm. Not much debris or water will sneak in. The toe cap is a sewn overlay protected  by a ground rubber toe layer.
The upper last is based on the Rapa Nui's with a bit more "space"according to Hoka.  My sense is this extra space is height back of the front of the toes. The fit is narrow especially around the little toe but actually also a bit baggy and lacking in hefty enough support in the mid foot with the supplied insole  I think a more substantial tongue and maybe wider laces would really help tie the two sides together and reduce the play in the midfoot. The upper when combined with the high stack will keep me from running super technical trails as I noticed some rotation of the foot on side cambers and while balancing on  rocks or roots with the supplied insole. I wonder why Hoka did not use the Challenger ATR excellent upper and last on this shoe.  Maybe this fits Karl's foot better, shades of a special shoe for a special runner as with the GoMeb from Skechers?
Update: Based on Hoka's suggestion I tried a variety of thicker insoles and have settled on the insole from my adidas Energy Boost. Skechers Performance insoles also seemed to work well. In contrast to the flimsy, thin Ortholite supplied with the SpeedGoat the adidas insole is firmer, thicker and most importantly has sidewalls at the heel and towards the mid foot. The little bit of extra volume and support along the medial side provided by the adidas insole has made all the difference in stability, eliminating the foot roll on rough terrain .
Hoka One One SpeedGoat

Hoka One One SpeedGoat
Midsole and Stack
Despite the 28mm of forefoot stack, the SpeedGoat flexes nicely due to the outsole and midsole grooves both longitudinal and across the shoe as well because of grooves in the midsole below the insole. Unlike Rapa Nui the forefoot landing midsole is stable on all terrain but compromised a bit by the rotation of the foot in the upper.  It has a stable responsive heel despite the 33mm of stack height there. While close in stack to the Challenger ATR, running 2mm less in heel and forefoot SpeedGoat runs quite differently for me, bouncier, softer with less of a rocker sensation, more like a normal run shoe yet stable and decently responsive due to the full coverage firmer outsole. It is somewhat softer than the Huaka and Challenger ATR overall.  The midsole is injection molded EVA and not the RMAT of the Huaka.

Hoka One One SpeedGoat

This is the first Hoka ,except maybe the earlier Rapa Nui, where "rocking" is not nearly as noticeable, runs more like a "normal" shoe and the forefoot does not feel wide and in the way as even the Huaka one of my all time favorites tends to feel, especially on the road.  It is slightly more flexible than the Rapa Nui and Challenger ATR with a bit more of distinct toe spring.  The carved out heel makes downhills on smoother terrain very pleasant while still very stable.

As my title says, this is a shoe for straight ahead fast running on Karl's home Wasatch trails and for sure in Park City where I spend a lot of time. It may not be for many mere mortals on the quite technical SpeedGoat 50K course he deviously devises at Snowbird, Utah unless a combination of thicker insoles, more padding on the tongue and or socks gives it more mid foot upper stability. Update: With my substitute adidas Energy Boost insole I now feel confident I can tackle rougher trails.

Highly Recommended. Versatile, Energetic, All Terrain Shoe.
Again as with the amazing Clifton, Challenger ATR and Huaka, Hoka has managed to develop a super cushioned shoe at very low weight, this time with a fully lugged, substantial outsole, good flexibility, and a very lively, energetic ride on all types of terrain.  While certainly a trail focused shoe, it also smoothly and comfortably handles the road. Wide feet may have issues with the front of the shoe. More impressions as I log more miles.

The SpeedGoat was provided to me free of charge. The opinions herein are entirely my own.

If you would like to try Speedgoat  they are available from Running Warehouse: Men's hereWomen's here

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harris said...

Sam great review. I had a question I noticed one of the laces on the speedgoats ( the black color) had speedlaces) I thought HOKA was doing away with them? Or is this just an old stock photo?

Sam Winebaum said...

No more speed laces on SG , thank goodness, from what I understand.

Anonymous said...

Thanks For All The Info On The SpeedGoat.When Out, I Will Have To Purchase On Line. Running Now In The Rapa Nui2, Size 10.5. Any Idea If I Should Stay In Same Size, Or Go To Size 11? Frank.

Sam Winebaum said...

Frank, Rapa Nui vs. SpeedGoat. I went the same size, true to size The upper is more minimal than Rapa Nui and unless you have a very wide foot you might swim around in the mid foot and have some front of foot rotating in a bigger size.

Ted said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ted said...

I wear a size 12 in the clifton. Its a decent fit (for road running, though like many Hoka's they run narrow). Wondering if a 12.5 is a better size for a trail shoe since you often need a bit more room up front when bounding down hills. Views?

Sam Winebaum said...

Tricky the SpeedGoat fit Ted. I found the Clifton 1 a bit roomy sloppy in the midfoot due to unpadded tongue at my true to size. The padded tongue and more overlays makes true to size fit me perfectly in the Clifton 2. With SpeedGoat you have a bit narrower front of the shoe compared to Cliftons and a fairly minimal upper in the midfoot and the same unpadded tongue as the Clifton 1. At my true to size length was fine but my foot rotated a bit on rougher terrain due to midfoot upper until I changed to a more substantial insole. I would stay true to size unless you have a very wide foot. One thing you don't want is to much slop in length or width going downhill IMO. Hope this helps.

Ted said...

Thanks Sam! I have been primarily running in Altra's. I like the forefoot. that said after a recent 50 with harder packed ground, my feet took a beating in my superior 2.0s. was looking at the Challenger ATR and now Speedgoat. read speedgoat might be wider. I heard about insole issues with both. Can you explain that some more and how you fixed it? try just had the Adidas insole laying around? you got/cut it to fit to both stay in place and not cause friction?

Sam Winebaum said...

I don't think SpeedGoat is wider than Challenger at the front, effectively anyway, as the Challenger upper is not a burrito kind of wrap of the foot. I think the Speedgoat may be the same width but due to the burrito wrap a touch snugger on top of the foot and a touch pointier upfront. Certainly neither is as wide as the Altra. Your feet will take far less of a beating in either if you can get the fit. The insoles... not great in the Hokas. The adidas as described in the review has side walls and was firmer and thicker which helped me improve the fit of the Speedgoat, less rolling of the foot. No trimming required. In the Challenger I am in the stock insoles and they are fine. I played around with lots of insoles for the Speedgoat and the adidas and Skechers of those i had seemed to work best for me.

Unknown said...

Hi Sam.
Nice review and very helpful. Ive been waiting for these puppies to come out.
You mentioned the latest version have 4 eyelets (which I like). However, on Hokas website and a few others they are shown w 5 eyelets. Any idea what's going on there?

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Bubba, thanks for reading! Hoka told me 4 eyelets in final version. Check with retailers to be sure. My friends at Park city Running Company (435) 731-8246 have them and could answer right away.

harris said...

Sam thanks for the tip on Park City Running Company I was able to score a pair of 11.5 in the blue color. I just got a pair of the black/grey color and took them out for a 8 mile run out of the box what a great shoe. I had to get another pair just based on that run. For size wise I take 11.5 in all of the Hoka models I have had to include the Clifton 2 and Challenger ATR.

Anonymous said...

My foot is a 12.5EE. Would some of the commenting individuals recommend going with a 13 or just looking elsewhere??

Sam Winebaum said...

Anonymous with 12EE, Have any Hokas been wide enough for you? What do you run in now? I think Speegoat will be too narrow for you in the toe box area. Not sure sizing up will help. You might consider the Bondi which now comes in widths. The Clifton 3 coming later this year will also have a 2mm wider platform upfront. These all being road shoes and it seems you are looking for a trail shoe. The Hoka Infinite while not having a trail outsole might be a possibility. Most roomy of standard Hoka uppers for me to date. Very stable on the road. You might also consider the New Balance 910v2 and Leadville v3 both come in widths.

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