Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Hoka Mach Supersonic Multi Tester Review: a familiar yet very different Mach. 10 Comparisons

Article by Peter Stuart, Joost de Raeymaeker and Sam Winebaum

Hoka Mach Supersonic ($150)


Peter: The Supersonic is a sort of “new” shoe in the Hoka lineup, a limited release of the popular Mach 4. Word on the street and in the Hoka marketing is that it can be the racing partner/speed shoe sibling to the fabulous and mighty Mach 4. 

The Supersonic weighs 8.4 oz /238g in a men’s 9 with a 29mm / 24mm stack height, 5mm drop. The Supersonic comes in slightly heavier (0.2 oz) than the Mach 4. 

It sits in an interesting place in the Hoka lineup as it is not a daily trainer/long run shoe, and not a plated racer either. It’s sort of a workout day/tempo shoe. Some have mentioned that it might be Hoka’s answer to a NB 1400, so let’s figure all of that out…

Sam: The Supersonic is a limited release Mach, the Mach 4 continues in the line. It tweaks the Mach 4 with a new dense and thin jacquard mesh upper and a new ProFly+ construction featuring a new top layer bouncy foam. It is said by Hoka to be intended for  “explosive daily training.” The Mach 4 was a superb all around light daily trainer uptempo shoe but of the more mellow flexible variety and its fine upper while secure is on the more relaxed side. 

The rubberized foam lower midsole as outsole remains unchanged as does the overall tooling geometry of the lower portion of the shoe. Right out of the box, in hand, I could tell the forefoot was stiffer pointing to a more speed oriented ride for me. Please read on to find out if that was the case!

Joost: I am a huge fan of the Mach 4, so I was really looking forward to a faster version of the shoe with hopefully enough of the stuff that made the 4 my favorite of 2020. When I took it out of the box, it was apparent that most of the Mach 4 DNA was there, as was the superb weight/volume ratio. 


Great fitting upper: Peter/Sam

Snappy ride: Peter/Sam/Joost

Well measured responsiveness of entire stack:  Sam/Joost

Light and spry: Peter/ Sam/Joost

Broad, stable, well cushioned, smooth flowing without being mushy soft Sam/Joost

Versatile: Sam/Joost

HUGE pull loop: Peter


Forefoot is a little bit firm: Peter

Unlike Peter I think forefootfine and responsive but heel a bit firm/low at slower paces: Sam

My right shoe has a crease in the toe bumper that causes a nasty blister on the side of my right big toe. The left is ok. Probably a production issue and hopefully not there in final shipping version.

HUGE Pull loop. Peter/Joost

Tester Profiles

Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 64 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. 2022 will be Sam’s 50th year of running. He has a decades old 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the just sub 1:40 range training 30-40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah. He is 5’9” tall and weighs about 164 lbs if he is not enjoying too many fine New England IPA.

Peter lives in Austin, Texas and has been a sub 3 hour marathoner as well as a 1:25 half marathoner in recent years

Joost is a Belgian in his 50s living in Luanda, Angola, Africa, where he faces the heat, humidity and general chaos to run anything between 60-100 miles per week. He’s on a mission to win in his age group in the 6 marathon majors and has completed half of his project, with a 2:26:10 PB in Berlin in 2019 at 51. He ran in primary school, but then thought it would be a lot cooler to be a guitar player in a hard rock band, only picking up running again in 2012, gradually improving his results. His Strava is here:


Approx. Weight: men's oz 8.4 /  238g (US9)  

 Samples: men’s  8.13 /  231g US8.5, 9.35oz  / 265g US11, 8.64 oz / 245g US9.5

Stack Height: men’s heel 29mm / 24mm forefoot, 5mm drop

Available now. $150

First Impressions and Fit

Peter: Good looking orange shoe popped out of the box feeling light and looking great. Long gone are the clown shoe days of Hoka. The Supersonic continues Hoka’s evolution towards great and fairly simple looking shoes. There’s a bengal tiger vibe in the stripes that is subtle enough to look classy and fast. There’s a massive pull loop on the back of the shoe that will be great for triathletes, people who want to hang their shoes on a carabiner instead of in their bag, and possibly for the occasional game of horseshoes. Pun fully intended. Apologies. I love the Mach 4, so a faster feeling version sounds like a dream. Very exciting. Fit is excellent. True to size for me and a nice, snug hold of the foot. 

Sam: The look says fast, all in oranges with a shiny seriously raised gold “Hoka” logo that adds class but maybe also fractions of grams. The webbing strap ending in the big pull is visually appealing but again as with the big the big raised logo–is it really functional? Regardless it is a great looking visual design.

The fit is true to size with a slightly more rounded front of the toe box compared to Mach 4 and slightly more height over the toes with overall a more secure hold. 

I noticed right away a more secure midfoot and forefoot hold than the Mach 4 as we now have a denser less pliable mesh and a short well padded tongue instead of the prior thin leatherette tongue. Both retain a gusset tongue. And I can say the fit works as I ran a 10K race in very wet conditions and never thought once about the upper or its hold as it did not stretch, didn't absorb too much water and kept me on track.

On foot there is an unmistakable sense of a broad stable platform that feels low slung and ready to move forward and this even as we have a big 29/24 stack here.

Joost: Right out of the box, there’s more in common with the Mach 4 than there are differences, but they’re definitely there. The upper fits snugly and is more secure over the midfoot and forefoot as Sam mentioned. Hoka also seems to have listened in regard to the length of the laces. The ones shipping with the Supersonic are almost on the short side, compared to the incredibly long ones that came with the Mach 4. The Supersonic feels a little denser, stiffer in the forefoot and fits true to size, although in typical Hoka fashion, a little on the narrow side. I also have my doubts about the utility of the pull tab on the heel. The heel counter has more than enough grip to get your feet into the shoe.


Peter: The upper is a totally vegan, engineered Jacquard mesh. Everything about it falls into the “just right” category for me. The mesh is breathable, there’s a little give without being stretchy or sloppy and there’s just enough overlay to help secure the lockdown. The tongue is a nice thickness and is strapped in on both sides with an elastic gusset so it doesn’t go wandering around the shoe. There’s a relatively large golden HOKA overlay on the outside of the shoe. The ankle collar is nicely padded and holds the foot just right. I’ve had fit and blister issues with some Hokas previously but absolutely no problems with the Supersonic. 

About the pull tab. I like it. It’s big. It’s very big. It doesn’t get in the way of anything though and it’s an interesting visual element of the shoe. I honestly don’t wind up using it to pull the shoe on though–It’s easy enough to pull on from the heel of the shoe. Is it necessary? No. Is it practical? Not really, But it’s kind of fun.  

Sam: I don’t have much to add to Peter’s upper comments. This is a superb upper and well “fitted” in my experience to the purpose of faster daily training losing the slight bagginess of the thinner more pliable upper of the Mach 4.

Joost: The upper is well but narrow fitting, breathable and secure with a collar that’s just right in terms of padding. 

There’s no heel slippage, the tongue stays in place, is the right size and has the right amount of padding. 

My right shoe (but not my left) has a crease in the toe bumper and the fold in the crease gives me a nasty blood blister on the side of my big toe, right at the edge of the toenail if I run anything longer than a 10k with it. I’ve included a photo below to show what the crease looks like. 

Hopefully, this is a pre-production pandemic related sample issue and doesn’t happen with production versions.


Peter: Hoka describes the midsole as an “all new resilient foam and ProFly + construction”. There’s a layer of blue foam under the foot, which is also visible under sections of the outsole. 

The foot sits atop an EVA insole and rests just below the level of the blue sidewalls. The foot feels solidly enveloped by the sidewalls. The midsole foam is relatively soft–though it gets firmed up considerably by the midsole as outsole rubberized foam layer, the white. There is an early stage meta-rocker to help propel the foot through the gait cycle. Between the rocker and the foam there’s a little bit of give and a pretty decent snap forward. The rocker feels pretty natural overall. 

Sam: There are no changes to the stack height of 29mm heel / 24mm forefoot, the midsole geometry or the tooling that creates the midsole shape but I noticed changes to both the top layer and the flex of the midsole. 

The new top layer of “bouncy” foam clearly delivers more squish than the Mach 4. A pleasant landing and softer feel there if not a deep deep one as the foot quickly gets to the thick layer of firmer rubberized foam. The rubberized foam midsole as outsole is maybe slightly firmer and the shoe is clearly stiffer than Mach 4 even after multiple runs in both.

This combination delivers a clearly more performance oriented feel than Mach 4 and that is what Hoka intended. Supersonic now has a smoother more decisive roll with the rocker playing very nicely with the stiffer profile for a snappier toe off.  While somewhat firm overall ( I have run them in temps at about freezing and somewhat above) 

I found the midsole very leg friendly not only during runs but after. I had zero soreness after a 10K race. Yes, I could have picked a “faster” more race oriented plated shoe but I chose the Supersonic as I knew the course’s pavement was very bumpy and wet and through my glasses I would not see well in the rain. The stability from the broad platform and very consistent feel was notable and appreciated given the conditions but also never got in the way.

Joost: Familiar, and yet different. It is definitely an evolution or different version of the Mach 4, but still feels like a Mach 4. The differences in midsole are mainly due to the inclusion of the new Profly+ construction and foam, which makes it decidedly (a lot) snappier. My personal experience is that the Supersonic has a nice vibration dampened feel, while providing a responsive, stable platform. The rocker adds to the sensation and makes it effortless to pick up the pace.


Peter: The outsole is rubberized EVA. There are flex grooves under the forefoot that help keep the ride from feeling too stiff and there’s a nice big opening under the rear mid-foot that helps keep the weight of the shoe down. I expect the wear on the rubber will be similar to the Mach 4–it will probably smooth out relatively quickly but deliver a nice long life for the outsole. 

Sam: Peter describes the “outsole” well. Plenty of thickness of durable rubberized foam. The outsole, given it is also a big part of the midsole, gives the shoe an all of a piece feel on the road, relatively firm through the stack but very well cushioned with noticed denser rubbery rebound again through the entire stack.

Joost: The outsole is actually part of the midsole, in fairly typical Hoka fashion. For those afraid of excessive wear, fear not. 

My Mach 4 (and the Supersonic is no different) shows almost no signs of wear after 350 miles or so. Grip is also good in all situations I tested it in. 


Peter: So, the ride. I’ll say from the top that the Supersonic is not the New Balance 1400. If you are in the cult of the 1400 (pour one out for the 1400, the 1400 is dead), you won’t find exactly the same snap and speedy fun here in the Supersonic…BUT…it’s not that far off. 

On the positive side, the Supersonic is light, snappy, relatively fun to run in and likes to go fast. 

On the negative side, it’s not as fun as some other shoes are and I find the ride just a tiny bit firm. The forefoot in particular is just slightly too firm for my liking. They are totally pleasant for a tempo run, but I’m not sure I’d race a half marathon in them. For me the ride falls a little bit in between some other shoes and I’d gravitate to those shoes instead. It is definitely a cousin of the Mach 4, and shares some of the Mach 4’s excellent qualities–but for me it just doesn’t quite thrill me as a speed shoe and isn’t quite cushioned enough for an all-around daily shoe or long run shoe. 

Sam: The ride is closer to a trainer’s than a racer’s but is also now closer to a racer than Mach 4’s is. There is a good responsive feel and measured firmer rebound through the entire stack. Stiffer, snappier, with a more upper secure compared to Mach 4, the Supersonic does not lean plush and soft as the Clifton, its closest other comparison in the Hoka line up and it tones down the lighter by an ounce the cruder riding and firmer Rincon 3 with its single density compression molded EVA midsole and narrower platform. Note all three share the same 29/24 stack height yet deliver very different experiences.  

The ride can be said to be multi-purpose from racing to daily training with its strength for me faster daily training and its potential weaknesses long and recovery runs although I would not hesitate and have taken them out for both of those run types as the stable ride and its consistency play well there for me.  I agree with Peter that while snappier than Mach 4 or Clifton,  it is not my first choice for a speed work shoe as the rubberized foam and high stack reduces that quicker snap I like when I try to step on the gas

Joost: The ride of the Supersonic reminds me mostly of the Mach 4, which I really really like, but a bit firmer, snappier and wanting to go faster. Its extremely stable platform makes it easier on your feet and ankles for tempo runs and races over uneven terrain than some of the supershoes, so I see a place for it there, but like Sam and Peter, they wouldn’t be the first shoes I’d pick up when going for a race. It is fairly softly cushioned, but still makes you run with a more natural gait than most high stack shoes, which is another  plus for me.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Peter: The Supersonic is a good light tempo shoe that is a lighter, snappier cousin of the Hoka Mach 4. For me it falls between categories in a way that makes it hard to rave about it. If I want a distance shoe or long run shoe, the Hoka Mach 4 does the job better. If I want a race day shoe or a real speedster I’d steer towards the NB 1400 or any of the plated speed shoes that are around at the moment. For those reasons, the Supersonic is a good shoe for me, but not a great one. The fit is terrific, it looks great, it’s a nice shoe to wear on workout days, but it doesn’t scream GO FAST. 

Peter’s Score: 8.5  Nothing terrible about it. A really good shoe that just falls in the middle between some other shoes and doesn’t thrill me. 

Sam: Agreeing with Peter not a speedster such as the 1400, Takumi Sen 7 or any of the plated options but...disagreeing with Peter somewhat. The Supersonic is a great light, faster, all around trainer that for a hilly half or full marathon or half on bumpy pavement or dirt roads would be a great choice. 

It’s strengths are a consistent, stable, and notably forgiving if somewhat firmer ride. The stiffer (but not rigid) profile really makes the rocker shine for this not particularly high knee lift runner, (something I have struggled with in many Hoka) with a smooth consistent flow at all paces except super fast where I wish for more explosive pop. I do prefer its flow and ride feel to the stiffer shoes such as the Carbon X 3,  Rincon, Fresh Foam Beacon, ASICS Evoride, and to the mushier and softer Clifton. No, you will not get the wild bounce of the Fuel Cell Rebel v2 or Nike Invincible either here so the fun factor is reduced with Supersonic is a safer more stable light and fast bet. 

The upper is superb in its comfort and hold and perfectly matched to the shoe’s purpose and an improvement over Mach 4’s more relaxed upper.

Value suffers a bit, especially compared to the Mach 4, as we go to $150 for this version vs $130 for the continuing Mach 4. Understanding the challenges to supply chains during the pandemic where all shoes seem to be going up in price, the increase seems a bit steep for what is essentially, it seems, a super fine if a bit “over fancified” upper update and a well executed foams tweak.

I wonder what substituting a layer of Hoka’s new lighter supercritical foam as in the upcoming Carbon X 3 and trail Tecton X (reviews of both soon) and reducing the thickness of rubberized foam (or substitute real rubber for the outsole)  would do here to reduce weight and give the ride more energy and the toe off more snap. 

Not quite as mellow and forgiving as the Mach 4 but faster feeling, this limited release provides a solid option for Hoka fans seeking such a ride with a touch more turbo in the mix.

In an era of increasingly specialized faster shoes the Supersonic takes an effective middle ground that allows it to be a solid and very light daily trainer while ranging into faster training and even racing if you aren’t a fan of rigid plated and seek a fast, stable and consistent riding shoe. 

Sam’s Score: 9.3 /10

Ride: 9.3 (50%) Fit: 9.6 (30%) Value: 8.7 (15%) Style: 9.2 (5%)

Joost: As a lighter runner, the amount of foam and the pop I get from the midsole is just fine, but doesn’t really excel in any way. I really hoped for a killer tempo shoe, as the Mach 4 was for me in the daily training department, but the toe bumper crease issue with my right shoe ruined that for me. Otherwise, I would have definitely given it a place in my rotation for my upcoming marathon as a light uptempo shoe that saves the feet and legs without the gait altering characteristics of a plated shoe.

Joost’s Score: 8.93 /10

Ride: 9.25 (50%) Fit: 8.5 (30%) Value: 8.5 (15%) Style: 9.5 (5%)


Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

Hoka Mach 4 (RTR Review)

Sam: Covered extensively above, the limited release Supersonic gives the Mach a somewhat edgier faster ride and a more secure upper. I prefer the Supersonic.

Peter: The Supersonic is definitely a snappier shoe more suited to tempo than the Mach 4, but the firmer forefoot makes it less of a daily trainer for me. 

Joost (M9.5 in both): I prefer the Mach 4, but mostly due to the toe blister issue I had with my Supersonic, making it a no-choice for anything over 10k. The Supersonic reminds me a lot of the Mach 4, in a snappier, faster way.

Hoka Carbon X 3 (RTR Review soon, Initial Impressions and Comparison to Supersonic)

Sam: Along with the Rincon Hoka’s other light trainer racer, the Carbon X 3 is almost as light as the Supersonic weighing 8.29g / 234g US men's 8.5 and sits on a somewhat higher 32mm heel / 27mm platform. Instead of a thick layer of rubberized foam as midsole/outsole as in the Mach the rubberized foam outsole is thinner with above that a new supercritical light and responsive foam and of course an embedded carbon plate. It has a more protective and much more rigid ride due to its plate and greater stack height. While I prefer the more flexible ride of the Supersonic to the more flat feeling, even ponderous feeling Carbon X "feelings" aside X 3 is a faster shoe with more and liviler springy cushioning and plate.

Hoka Clifton 8 (RTR Review)

Sam: The Clifton has a more comfort focused upper with not the lockdown and performance hold of the Supersonic. Softer, more flexible, more easy going the Clifton lacks the front spring of the Mach and its more agile and faster feel. This said if you seek a bit more cushion feel and plush in your Hoka trainer at not much more than 0.5 oz more weight with the same stack height the Clifton is a good choice. I will stick with Supersonic in this match up for its lighter weight, and its snappier and more stable ride despite its $20 price premium over the Clifton.

Hoka Rincon 3 (RTR Review)

Sam: At $35 less at the register and about 1 oz less in weight the Rincon is very similar in ride and purpose to the Supersonic if not quite as polished in upper, potential midsole durability and smoothness of ride. To get to its lighter weight it has a lower volume width platform at about the same stack height. It is somewhat stiffer with a more forward stiffer flex point than Supersonic so relies more on the rocker for propulsion. I prefer the Supersonic in this match up.

Fuel Cell Rebel v2 (RTR Review)

Sam: One of RTR favorite 2021 shoes, the flexible super rebounding, soft and lighter by 1 oz at close to the same stack height Rebel v2 is the wild child to the tamer and much more stable Supersonic. The Hoka is a much safer and versatile bet for a wider range of paces and distances while the Rebel v2 is pure fun but for me is more a shorter, faster run shoe than the Supersonic. A nice pairing if you like your trainers light. 

Peter: I’m the wrong guy to weigh in on this. It’s Rebel V2 all the way. Soft, bouncy and fun in a way the Supersonic isn’t. The supersonic has a better fitting upper I think, but the ride of the Rebel is the gold standard for me right now. 

Joost: I never officially reviewed the Rebel 2, but after all my fellow reviewers gushing over it and naming it their shoe of the year, I finally got myself a pair, and I’m already looking at getting a second pair. I’ve run long (around 17 miles/27k) in them and have also done track workouts. They do everything. So, given (again) my issues with the Supersonic, I would pick the Rebel almost anytime.

Endorphin Speed 2 (RTR Review)

Sam: The Speed has a relatively (compared to carbon) flexible plastic plate whereas Supersonic has none. It is more rigid and propulsive than the Supersonic with a higher stack height but it is also more prescriptive while Supersonic’s rocker is easier going and even slow pace friendly. The Hoka is more stable sitting on a broader platform which is lower in stack than the Saucony’s. The Speed is clearly a faster shoe for me and more fun as it can not only train but for sure race but is not as versatile as a do it all lighter trainer as Supersonic is. The uppers are quite similar in fit and materials are both very secure and comfortable.

Skechers Ride 9 (RTR Review)

Peter: The Ride 9 feels a bit more like a standard daily trainer and the Supersonic more of a tempo/workout shoe. The upper of the Supersonic is excellent and the shoe feels more balanced and works better for me as a whole. 

Sam: I agree with Peter’s take. While Hyperburst in the Ride 9 is great stuff it is on the firmer side and lacks the sophistication of the dual layers in the Hoka: soft bouncy top layer, responsive lower layer for a more all of a piece ride.

Skechers Razor Excess (RTR Review)

Peter: The Supersonic and the Razor Excess are actually pretty similar.. I find the upper better on the Supersonic and the ride to be pretty similar. I’d grab the Supersonic first, mostly because I fear blisters from the Excess.

Joost: As Peter said, the Excess is also a blister shoe for me. Unfortunately, Skechers’ uppers are no match for their excellent Hyperburst. I’d go with the Supersonic.

Diadora Equipe Atomo (RTR Review)

Peter: No real comparison here. The Atomo is a big, burly, relatively fun daily trainer and the Supersonic is a lower to the ground super stable tempo shoe. I’d grab the Supersonic because I find it a little more fun to run in. 

Sam: Yes big and burly with a higher stack and $45 higher price but...only 8.7 oz so barely heavier than the Supersonic at 8.4 oz.  The Atomo outclasses the Supersonic as a daily trainer for me but for tempo the Supersonic wins in a lean and is a better value.The upper fits are quite similar although the Diadora has a somewhat denser, snugger and more performance oriented fit especially at the toe box.

New Balance 1400 (RTR Review)

Peter: Since I mentioned it a bunch in the review, I thought I’d give the direct comparison here. It’s not really fair, because the 1400 is discontinued, but it’s what I wanted the supersonic to be, so I’ll talk about it. The 1400 is lighter (7.2 oz), has a higher drop (10mm) and has a super grippy outsole. All of this make it a snappy little rocketship. I just feel faster in the 1400 than I do in the Supersonic.

Joost: I was a really big fan of my pair of 1400 v6 and long after I’d run every last bit of rebound out of them, I kept on using them as a great looking casual shoe. Sorely missed and as Peter said, faster feeling than the Supersonic.

The Mach Supersonic is available now including at RTR's partners below. Thanks for considering shopping below.

Tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased through affiliate links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors.

Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and currently preferred shoes

RoadTrailRun receives a commission on purchases at the stores below.
Your purchases help support RoadTrailRun. Thanks!

Mach Supersonic available now!
USA  Men's & Women's SHOP HERE
EUROPE Men's & Women's SHOP HERE

Mach Supersonic available now!
Men's & Women's SHOP HERE

Mach Supersonic available now!
Men's and Women's SHOP HERE

Men's & Women's SHOP HERE
Use RTR code RTRTOP4 for 5% off all products, even sale products
FREE Shipping on orders over 99, 30 days return policy, no questions asked.

Men's & Women's SHOP HERE
FREE Shipping on most orders over $40

Men's & Women's  SHOP HERE

Men's & Women's SHOP HERE


Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by Following RoadTrailRun News Feed

Please Like and Follow RoadTrailRun
Facebook:  Instagram: @roadtrailrun
Twitter: @RoadTrailRun You Tube: @RoadTrailRun



Anonymous said...

Hi RTR team,

How would this compare to Saucony Ride 14 - seems kind of similar even though you didn't refer to it?

Hari Menon said...

The Mach 4 & the Endorphin Speed are my current go-to daily/faster-training shoes. I absolutely love both but wish the Mach had a tiny bit more drop (not happening, I imagine!) and a little more propulsion/rigidity when driving the pace beyond faster tempo. The Supersonic looks like it does the second well. The Speed does both. Now if only its toe-box weren't quite so narrow :)