Thursday, August 17, 2023

Hoka Cielo Road Multi Tester Review: 8 Comparisons

Article by Zack Dunn, Ryan Eiler, and Sam Winebaum

Hoka Cielo Road ($160)


Sam: The Cielo Road joins a new generation of plateless light racing/training shoes that take advantage of light weight and energy return supercritical foams without front or full plates. They deliver more deeply cushioned and friendly rides than the often punishing “race flats” of old. Shoes in its class include the Nike Zoom Streakfly, Saucony Sinister, and Topo Cyclone 2.

With a 30mm forefoot/ 33mm heel full stack height so a 3mm drop, the Cielo Road prioritizes forefoot cushion and stability over heel to toe drop. In Hoka’s line, it is nearly identical to the carbon plated Rocket X with 3 mm less heel and 1 mm less forefoot stack height, a slightly different midsole side wall geometry and a different upper.

Its close to full coverage outsole, especially at the front, provides structure and stability to the soft foam as well as a rocker profile with a moderate almost plate like spring and response off the road as it makes the shoe almost rigid.  

The upper is a single layer mesh with an extensive inner array of suede like underlays as well as some midfoot overlays. .

Zack: In this age of running shoes, one big development the past few years has been that of highly efficient marathon racing shoes, also known as super shoes. 

As most runners, I am a big fan and love most of these racing shoes, but as a short distance racer, I was definitely yearning for the “super shoe” makeover in shorter distance racers. Last year, Nike released the Streakfly, with Adidas giving a big makeover to their popular Takumi Sen line, which I see as the first mainstream 5k-10k “super shoe”. And since that time, we have seen other brands produce their own modern 5k-10k racers. 

With the release of the CIelo Road, Hoka has joined the fun and I am here along with Ryan and Sam to discover how it measured up to shoes in its class and where it fits in a race and training shoe world increasingly dominated by both plated shoes and supercritical foams. 


Energetic softer uptempo racer trainer: Sam/Zack/Ryan

Pleasant never harsh ride: Sam/Zack/Ryan

Low drop (3mm) but not low drop riding: Sam/Zack

Plateless racing alternative for 5K to half marathon: Sam/Zack

Semi rigid geometry: quick but more mellow (than if plated) response from the front outsole: Sam/Zack/Ryan

Secure enough, forget It’s on your foot, no fuss, very breathable and accommodating upper: Sam/Ryan

Approachable, playful, low inertia: Ryan

Outstanding forefoot traction: Ryan


Foam could be a touch firmer, shoe more flexible, drop higher, weight lower  to provide quicker response for short & fast efforts/racing: Sam/Ryan

After racing them out of the box 10 miles for me more light trainer than racer: Sam

Weight: in comparison to its direct competition Sam

Upper produced hotspots on the medial/top of foot Zack

Overly spacious forefoot: Ryan

Soft, supple nature decreases power at toe off: Ryan/Sam

Medial overlays caused minor rubbing: Ryan

Zack is a college distance runner with a 14:52 5K PR

Ryan has a 2:18 PR set in 2023

Sam is older and slower and is happy to run a half down close to 1:40 these days.

Please find the testers full run bios at the end of the article after Comparisons.


Approx. Weight: men's 7 oz /198g (US9) 

 Samples: men’s  6.8 oz  / 192g US8.5

Stack Height: 33mm heel / 30mm forefoot ( 3mm drop spec)

 $160. Available now.

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Sam: Simple, elegant and cheerful looking in teal, yellow, with some silver, the  Cielo Road colors telegraphed to me that it was a friendly fast shoe and not a hyper aggressive one and that is exactly what I found in test.

The upper is a single density open mesh. 

Open single layer mesh upper: pick your sock color and you change the shoe color!

It is not engineered mesh with multiple zones of support relying instead on an extensive array of underlays and long plunging overlays from the front of the heel to the forefoot on either side as well as rising midsole side walls toward the rear into which the foot sits. 

Pressing the upper at the medial midfoot one can feel the substance of the support there from the overlay with inside an underlay extending even higher than the top of the overlay. The lateral side is a bit more pliable as it should be. 

The tongue has no gusset and is essentially but for some bindings and a lateral side overlay of the same mesh as the rest of the upper. 

Beyond a bit of vertical stiffening at the achilles, and more than in the Rocket X, the heel counter while lined and with narrow quite prominent bolsters is essentially unstructured. I had no issues with heel hold but do wish for a touch more rear support. Unlike the others, I also had no medial blister issues in the lace up area of doubled underlays where the bolsters end or from the underlay below and this after taking them straight out of the box for a 10 mile race.

There is a moderately firm high toe bumper. 

There is plenty of well held front room that leans a touch away from all out racer snug. 

I was true to size with a bit overly generous room and for my narrower lower volume feet would try a half size down in a next pair.

Zack: Opening the box I definitely enjoyed the look of this shoe, as it had nice vibrant colors with a simple design. Putting the shoe on I did not have any problem with the fit or lacing, however I will say the shoe to me seems to run a half size long, but this did not pose any performance issues. 

I like a more snug fit in my racing shoes so I would go a half-size down. However, other than the length of the fit, the upper was very well engineered and I really love how minimalist it is. It has the needed support in the areas where lockdown and support is needed and in the areas where it is not it is basically open mesh which did a great job in terms of breathability. As well as that, the upper had a great lockdown in the heel, as well as mid foot lockdown, with no complaints in terms being secure. 

With all these positives, I had one big issue with the upper. By the end of my 12 mile run I had major hotspots in which the skin was rubbed off on both the medial / top of my foot, due to one stiffer support area right beneath the eyelet chain. 

The next run I had covered those spots with band-aids and there were no issues but the fact that that issue can occur is a gripe I have with the upper of this shoe. Now, is it the end of the world and completely dismays this shoe? No, but it definitely is not comfortable and can definitely be a turn off for some. 

Ryan: Initial step in reminded me a lot of the New Balance FuelCell Rebel v2 – soft, playful, and fairly supple. It seems like it strives for a “barely there” fit, with a light touch on foot and a pleasantly low inertia. This level of minimalism is immediately energizing, although I’m always wary of performance sacrifices when things are this pared down. Visually, it emits upbeat, Hoka-esque vibes, conveying a blend of performance and lifestyle in a package that appeals to any type of runner. 

As Sam mentioned, the upper relies on one particular type of mesh throughout to deliver foot containment, with a suede-like skeleton underneath to provide a touch of structure and make for a welcoming feel against the foot. Breathability is about as good as it gets. The tongue has a similar structure and could have benefitted from a gusseted design, but it works well enough for this use case.

Despite the heel cup being on the flimsy side, its shape, along with the pliability of the midsole, keeps the heel seated in place surprisingly well. I agree with Zack that lockdown at the rear is commendable, and showed no signs of weakness. Small interior bump-outs on either side of the achilles help in this department. The collar around the heel is an extension of the upper’s inner, “suede” material, and while it looks a little ragged after a few uses, it seems to achieve blister prevention.

On the critical side of things, the overlay on the medial side is an uninterrupted strip of laminate, and it tends to bunch up slightly when in the toe off position. 

I had an issue with this on my first run, where that bunching gave me a workout-ending blister on the inside of my foot. However, this only happened on one foot, and seems to be a non-issue now that I’ve broken them in. I just wish that this overlay wasn’t so chunky, and spread further up the medial side of the foot – more like what they did on the lateral side of the shoe.

Also of notes the width of the toe box. 

While it’s plenty comfortable and lively underfoot, I couldn’t find the amount of lockdown that I desired for quicker efforts. The pairing of a thin mesh, a lively midsole, and a spacious toe box aren’t exactly what I think of as 5k-racer material where I prefer to feel more locked in.

As Zack and Sam did, I found the fit to be about a half size long and I would consider sizing down given the shoe’s minimal nature. The Cielo’s sizing may have contributed to feelings of an overly-wide toe box.


Sam: The midsole is a single slab of PEBA supercritical foam which is the same as the foam in Hoka’s carbon plated Rocket X 2 (RTR Review) but a touch firmer to pressing. While there is no internal plate the shoe has an almost rigid rocker profile with the outsole providing the rigid structure.  This profile is unlike for example the Saucony Sinister which has pronounced front flex point or the similar flexing Nike ZoomX Streakfly which has a longer flex due to its shank and geometry. The result is a somewhat more stable forefoot than those two and a bit less sudden accelerative snappy feel.

Further support is provided by the trademark Hoka “bucket seat” now seen at other brands with the rear of the foot ahead of the heel sitting down in the midsole sidewalls.  The long racing focused Rocket X has a similar design with its bucket seat extended further forward and with more vertical rising sidewalls on the medial side while the Cielo Road’s are the same on both sides of the shoe.

The 33mm heel / 30 mm forefoot stack is forgiving and also energetic with plenty of response in the mix from the outsole. The feel for me is light trainer rather than all out racer.

Zack: In terms of the midsole, I thought it was really well constructed. I am a big fan of PEBA based midsole foams, and this one is no different. I also enjoyed that there is no plate or insert in this midsole, as I feel that would have made the ride too firm and stiff. Leaving it out allows for a better ground feel. 

The midsole also has a very generous amount of foam stack height, especially for a  5k-10k racer. I would even argue that Hoka could possibly cut the midsole perhaps 3mm or so for a 30 heel 27 forefoot stack height in order to cut weight. That said, I found that the midsole provided a super responsive and fairly soft ride that would do quite well in the 10k range of running and even for a half-marathon. 

Ryan: I was surprised by the fact that the Cielo’s midsole doesn’t contain a stability device or ‘plate’. While the toe is fairly pliable, the midfoot through the rear of the shoe remains plenty stiff. This is despite the midsole compound falling toward the more playful, bouncy side of the spectrum. While it isn’t nearly as tenacious as an Adidas Takumi Sen for 5k efforts, this softer feeling underfoot gives the Cielo more range, works for easier efforts, and is best suited for distances up to ~10 miles or so.

I agree with Sam’s comment, in that the Cielo’s midfoot is more stable than many of its competitors. However, the toe off is arguably underpowered given the lack of structure up front. 

There’s a surprising amount of heel protection here for a 5k/10k racer, and the high sidewalls are noticeable in their efforts to keep your heel centered during impact. The shoe’s moderate stack height paired with its soft foam and plateless design result in above average amount of ground feel. 

I’d describe it as somewhat of a modernized old-school racing flat, with a lot more bounce and protection, but retaining a high level of intimacy with the asphalt. And I deliberately said ‘modernized’, not ‘modern’, because as compared to some other plated racers, the Cielo doesn’t feel quite as ready to tackle a PR.

The downside of a foam this soft and unstructured is that it can feel like it splays out on the ground as your foot compresses it. This was most noticeable in the heel given its stack height and split outsole, with the rubber under the forefoot largely preventing this sensation. Although it isn’t necessarily a problem, it can make the platform feel a bit wobbly if you’re cornering or really hammering the pace.


Zack: The outsole of this shoe is very simple but worked really well. I feel that the pattern that the outsole uses provides really good traction, as it works really well on roads, track, and even on grass. 

After running 40 miles in the shoe, there is virtually no wear and tear, which for a short distance racer / speed trainer is a good thing. 

Sam: A fine outsole with generous coverage that likely adds to weight but should prove durable. The key plus of the front coverage is that it creates an almost rigid rocker profile. This is not a flexible race flat as say its direct competitors the Saucony Sinister and Nike Streakfly are. The forefoot is broad on the ground and stable despite the softness of the big stack of foam above. I personally prefer more flex in such a shoe for shorter racing as for example the competing Saucony Sinister and Nike Streakfly have. 

Ryan: The Cielo delivers a superb midsole, with plenty of rubberized coverage, and inspiring grip on a variety of surfaces thanks to its textured design. 

I found its forefoot grip to be especially commendable, as it delivered a nice, wide contact patch through every stride. 

The softness of the midsole above it can make things feel a little wobbly during hard efforts, especially in the heel, but the outsole itself leaves little room for critique. Despite its copious nature, the outsole’s ridges and cutouts prevent it from feeling harsh at footstrike.

Ride, Conclusions and Recommendations

Zack: In terms of the ride, I can say it was one that I really enjoyed and was pleased to have run in. I had used it for a variety of runs and no surprise, this definitely excelled at the faster workouts rather than easy or normal running. 

They really excelled during two runs. The first was a 10 mile progression run, in which I progressed from 6:15/mile to 5:30/ mile. The second was a track workout of 12 x 600m at 10k race pace (5:00/mile), with 200m jogs. During the longer 10 mile workout, the shoe actually performed much better than expected, as I had thought for a “5k-10k” racer the 10 miles would feel a little too much but that was not at all the case!

With the PEBA foam being responsive, and also cushioned, the shoe went through the distance no problem, which is why I could even see runners using this for a half marathon. However, I definitely think the track workout was where this shoe excelled, as it felt great on the track, especially at 10k race pace. I will say though, this shoe is not the lightest 5k-10k racing shoe, so once the legs got tired I could feel the “heavier” (relative to the other 5k racing shoes on the market) weight but it did not cause any issues with the workout and felt great underfoot. 

Even at the slightly heavy weight for a fast racer, the responsiveness and construction of the shoe made up for it. I also took this shoe on easy runs and had done my cooldowns and warmups with it and although it surprisingly didn't feel that bad, I would definitely just use this purely for faster running.  

Zack’s Score: 8.9/10


Ryan:  There’s no denying that this is one of the more enjoyable 5k/10k racing shoes in recent memory. Its midsole cuts out all of the harshness of a traditional racing flat, but still allows you to feel one with the ground beneath you. There’s a surprisingly pleasant amount of depth at the heel, although as I mentioned before, it can get a little squirrely when you’re on the limit and/or on tired legs.

After heel impact, the midfoot has enough stiffness to help transition onto the forefoot without any issues. You’re free to pronate, bounce, and roll in whatever direction you please given the lively midsole. The Cielo’s bouncy and squishy character is apparent throughout the entire stride, heel to toe. The sound of the outsole rubber gripping the road was especially noticeable as a result of the pliable, energetic foam to which it’s bonded.

There is a noticeable amount of flex in the front of the shoe, whereas the midfoot on back is relatively stiff. Due to this design, the sensation is that of sinking into the soft foam and rolling all the way through the transition. There isn’t a scrap of harshness, but the midfoot’s stiffness does help it to outperform the Streakfly in this regard. All in all, the Cielo’s minimalist makes this primarily a 5k-10mi trainer/racer, but it also happens to be flexible and comfortable enough to use on easier runs.

I wish the overlays were executed a bit differently, and that the toe box was more race-worthy, but overall this is a job well done by Hoka to offer up a modernized racing flat. The Cielo is a ton of fun for ripping short intervals without beating your legs up all that much. There’s plenty of road feel, tons of forefoot grip, and enough cushion to use for a variety of distances. If you don’t like the imposing feel of a carbon plate and want something more approachable, the Cielo is worth a peek.

Ryan’s Score: 8.7/10 (Deductions for overlay design, mushy midsole for racing, too-wide forefoot, weak toe-off)


Sam: Hoka says the Cielo is “a road racing flat tuned for higher tempo pickups. Designed for athletes who are speed training or racing 10k and under.” 

I agree it is a “racing flat”  in relative terms as the stacks of foams have increased in all shoes, even flats, and as it has no plate and a snappy if softer ride. It has a less flexible and more rocker based ride than more "traditional" new age flats such as the Saucony Sinister and Nike Streakfly and a more flexible less aggressive one than the Adizero Takumi Sen 8/9

It is for sure suitable for “higher tempo pickups” due to its semi rigid 30 mm forefoot with lots of rebounding soft and forgiving cushion and excellent forefoot and midfoot stability. 

I would argue it is less a 5K-10K race shoe than potentially a shoe for those seeking it a plateless, well cushioned and stable10K to Half race shoe with super foam. I was totally comfortable racing them in a 10 miler although I must say I missed the impulse of a plate in the mix and was not as fast as I wished. Yet, it is also a shoe where, even if you get tired you won’t get in “trouble” back on the heels getting through a plate to toe off . My legs were totally fresh and ready to go the next day pointing again to its up tempo training and workouts potential.

Continuing in the motif of tempo and longer races, I agree with Ryan that the forefoot is roomy and quite unstructured and could use more lockdown.  A gusset tongue as the Rocket X has i is clearly in order.  That said if you have a wider foot which struggled in traditional race flat fits you likely will be pleased with the foot hold. I do also think a more substantial heel counter would help here given the minimal upper and soft if stable enough midsole so as to better and more quickly direct landings.

I think a higher drop than its 3mm, with a resulting lower more flexible forefoot, would also drop some weight. It would better place it in the 5-10K race category as it now checks in at considerably more than an ounce more than its most direct competitors the Streakfly and Sinister. I had the sensation there was too much forefoot cushion for top speeds and agility here.

Back to the first part of my conclusion and how Hoka describes it. The Cielo is trying to do several things in being a tempo trainer and a 5K-10K racer.  For me it is more of a tempo trainer or a racer for those seeking a plateless, somewhat lower stack height supercritical foam powered, longer race or training shoe with a lower drop and plenty of forefoot cushion.

Sam’s Score: 9.03 /10

A versatile Ride but not a 5K to 10K racing one for me, leaning longer. Fit could use more lock down. Value in terms of non racing uses is decent but $170 is steep for a plateless shoe, albeit one with PEBA foam. Love the style. 


8 Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

Saucony Sinister (RTR Review)

Sam: Lower stack at 25/19, a staggering close to 2 oz  lighter the Sinister is a classic race flat geometry totally modernized. It sits on about the same heel width platform but is 17mm narrower at the midfoot and 10mm narrower upfront. It is considerably more agile feeling and can even handle trails. It has a full coverage outsole which helps stabilize its slightly firmer but quicker reacting supercritical Pb foam and relies on a snappy far front flex point for toe off while the Cielo has a rigid rocker profile.   Interestingly the big 8mm lower heel and 11 mm lower forefoot of the Sinister than the Cielo is not as noticed in terms of cushioning as I might have expected but for sure Cielo is more cushioned. 

The Sinister upper is clearly lower volume especially at midfoot with its total lock down webbing bands tied into the laces with not quite the front volume of the Cielo. It has a rear achilles stiffener with a single big bolster at the rear. It is a more race focused shoe than even Cielo as my fellow tester Adam and I found out the combination of super secure upper and outsole actually also makes it even a trails speedster on non technical terrain where I would not dream of taking the Cielo much. If you want a “flat” for multiple speedy purposes it is clearly superior unless you have a higher volume foot, need front stability or plan to use for longer tempo type runs where the Cielo becomes a better choice 

Nike Zoom X Streakfly (RTR Review)

Zack: When comparing these shoes, I would say these are very similar in overall construction, as well as feel. The main difference and I would say a quite significant one between the two is the Streakfly is much lighter than the Cielo Road, with the Streakfly weighing a very very light  6 oz, while the Cielo Road is 7.5 oz. The Streakfly has less stack height of foam upfront (26mm vs 30), so the shoe for me is much better racing 5k and 10k distances, while the Cielo Road feels much better for anything over 10k. Overall, if you're looking for the faster and lightweight option, then go for the Streakfly. However, if you prefer a fast shoe with a little more comfort underfoot, then the Cielo would be the choice. 

Sam: The Cielo is lower drop with 4mm more forefoot cushion, 1mm more heel cushion and is rocker based with a more rigid, 10mm broader more stable front of the shoe. The Streakfly is higher drop and has a snappier front flex helped by a small mid foot shank plate. The Streakfly has a real heel counter while Cielo essentially has none and thus the Nike is more rear upper stable. Overall fit is similar after the heel with the Streakfly midfoot a bit broader and its lacing more effective in holding the foot to what is an underlay and overlay free upper. Toe boxes widths are very similar with Streakfly a bit lower and for me more locked down.  Its Zoom X foam is springier and less dense if overall a bit less consistent and less stable. Overall the Streakfly has a more versatile ride, easily a trainer and a kind of mellow one at an incredibly light weight and then a decent non plated racer for 10K to even a half. Cielo has the advantage of a touch more stability and a denser more protective ride if not quite as fun a ride

Ryan: My biggest gripe with the Streakfly was its lack of rigidity and stability, which I argued delivered an underpowered racing shoe. The Hoka improves upon this with a stiffer and more stable midfoot , although toe off is still fairly flexible. I also prefer the outsole grip delivered by the Cielo, with its simpler grooved surface on a more stable midsole providing confidence in the last phase of the stride. The Streakfly wins on foot containment, with its upper doing a better job of holding things in their proper place, although its midfoot could still use some improvement. The Cielo feels like a modernized trainer from the past, whereas the ZoomX stack of the Nike delivers a taller, unstructured, and snappy ride. This is a close contest in my eyes, and will come down to personal preference. The Hoka fits about a half size longer than the Nike.

New Balance Rebel v2 (RTR Review) and v3 (RTR Review)

Ryan: The Rebel v2 is in many ways very similar to the Cielo – light, bouncy, tons of fun, versatile, and softly cushioned without a ton of supporting structure. Whereas the Rebel bills itself as more of a daily trainer, the Cielo sees itself as a racer, although I’d argue that it sits somewhere in between these labels. The Hoka is more stable overall, thanks to a more rigid midfoot, but the midsole bounce and rocker share several similar qualities here. As for their uppers, the Cielo takes a more minimalist approach, with its mesh and suede underlay saving weight and maximizing breathability. The Rebel takes a more engineered approach, and keeps lateral forces better in check, in my opinion. Both uppers are hard to knock on comfort, although the overlays of the Cielo caused Zack and I some minor issues during the break-in phase.

Their outsole designs are fairly similar, with a large patch of forefoot rubber doing its best to control the midsole behind it, and a split patch of rubber at the rear. As a result, grip from both is impressive, although a few of us were wary of the durability of the Rebel v2.

The Cielo is better suited for quicker efforts given its more structured midsole, but both shoes offer soft, wily midsoles that can do either slow or fast over short to middle distances. The Hoka fits slightly longer.

Topo Cyclone 2 (RTR Review)

Sam: A very close comparison in many ways. The Topo has a full PEBAX midsole and no plate as does Cielo and sits on a 28/23 platform, so it is 5mm lower at the heel and 7mm at the forefoot. It is clearly more flexible with its cleverly designed very durable outsole gives it just enough stability and response upfront and enough coverage out back to just not bottom out  while giving it more bounce and ground feel than Cielo. The Hoka is more forefoot stable and thus workouts and longer run suitable for me while the Cyclone 2 is more fun and energetic although it would not be my first pick for a shorter race, and neither would the Cielo. Both uppers are on the roomy side with the Topo’s and its broad anatomical toe box yet better for broader feet and overall at least as secure. I was a half size down in the Cyclone 2 and that was absolutely the right call and on the edge of heading down a half size in Cielo and likely would especially with thinner socks.

Hoka Rocket X 2 (RTR Review)

Sam: With its 36/31 stack height the X 2 has 3mm more heel cushion and 1mm more forefoot cushion of the same firmness foam as the Cielo with of course a full carbon plate. Its upper is considerably more secure and I would say far more 5K-10K race ready than the Cielo’s. It has a denser, thin mono mesh and gusset tongue and a fit that is jus,t if not a little under true to size for me upfront  with anything but thinnest socks but totally locked down. It’s a bit confusing.. as while positioned as Hoka long racer the Rocket X 2 for me a far more suitable 5K and up racer than the Cielo which clearly leans more mellow in fit and ride.

Hoka Mach X (RTR Review)

Sam: the 39/34 stack Mach X has a PEBAX nylon plate and a dual foam midsole with the same PEBA foam as the Cielo Road as its top layer and a dense and fairly firm compression molded EVA below. It is considerably more stable than Cielo, heavier and less energetic. It can serve as a daily trainer, tempo shoe or even long racing shoe for those seeking a stable secure ride with some moderate plate impulse. Not as much fun as Cielo, it is more practical day in day out unless you seek a lighter lower stack ride and a more fun one.

Hoka Mach 4/ 5 (RTR Review)

Ryan: The Mach 4 slots into this comparison as more of a daily trainer, while the Cielo is a pared-down, minimalist speedster. The midsoles have drastically different personalities, with the Cielo providing peppy, energetic bounciness and the Mach 4 toning things down and focusing more on elegant stability and predictable behavior. The Mach 4 is more solidly built and is constructed to handle higher mileage than the Cielo. As a result, the Cielo feels noticeably lighter on foot and breathes better, but its upper can feel a bit overrun when pushing the pace.

Grip on the Cielo is far superior, which comes as no surprise since the Mach 4 relies on one combined material to do the job of both the midsole and outsole. Whereas the Cielo’s rubber claws at the road as you push off, the sensation of the Mach 4 is much more quiet and refined, as the rubberized foam is more introverted than blown rubber.

The Mach 4 is a superb daily trainer that is to be used for cruising on easy to moderate efforts, while the Cielo is better suited for faster training and racing efforts.

Adidas Adizero Takumi Sen 7 (RTR Review)

Ryan: The Takumi Sen 7 stays closer to the personality of an old-school racing flat than perhaps any other comparison shoe here. Where it shines is on foot lockdown, which holds things in place amazingly well. Because of its low, firm stack, it’s highly responsive and stable, in contrast to the Hoka. A forefoot of sharp lugs on the Adidas makes it look something like an XC racing shoe, and while it isn’t as smooth on asphalt as the Cielo’s impressive patch of forefoot rubber, it still delivers superb grip.

The downside of the Takumi 7 is that it doesn’t provide nearly as much protection or lively bounce as the Hoka. Whereas I wouldn’t really even look to run the Takumi for anything longer than a 5k, it seems reasonable to push the Hoka all the way up to a half marathon distance, given its cushion. 

The Takumi is a low-slung racer with a no-BS attitude, whereas the Cielo takes a gentler, more well-rounded approach to things. I prefer the Takumi for my hardest efforts, and the Hoka for quicker training runs or any runs of a mellower pace.

The Hoka runs about a half size longer.

Adidas Adizero Takumi Sen 8/9 (RTR Review)

Ryan: While both the Takumi 8 and the Cielo Road are framed as best for 5-10k, these competitors take very different approaches in tackling their duties. From the moment of step in, it’s blatantly clear the Hoka is the more casual of the two. While you can lace up the Cielo and be out the door in a jiff, the Takumi Sen’s  more sculpted and less compliant upper takes some time to lace up and get situated. It’s no surprise then, that the lockdown of the Takumi is far superior to that of the Cielo. Its upper feels far more serious and holds the foot tenaciously, while the Hoka is much more accommodating. 

This stark contrast carries over into the midsole, where the Takumi’s Energy Rods create a stiffer platform with superior propulsion during intense efforts. By contrast, the Cielo’s PEBA-only midsole is more playful and approachable, but can feel wobbly at times. The Cielo’s outsole wins on grip, as its copious serving of textured forefoot rubber feels more trustworthy than the Takumi’s thinner, smoother design.

The Adidas is strictly a racing shoe , clearly focused on performance above all else. The Hoka’s plateless approach makes it a mellower shoe which can be used for racing as well as training, although I don’t see it as having the same racing prowess as the Takumi.

The Hoka fits about a half size longer.

Sam: Totally agree with Ryan. Takumi Sen pure short distance racer and for the faster runner, Cielo more mellow all around trainer to racer.

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Tester Profiles

Zack Dunn: is a college runner at Lewis University. I’ve been running for 8 years, and focused solely on running after giving up on years of baseball and wrestling. I race distances between 800 meters and 10K  whether it be on the track, the roads, or on cross country courses. I do most of my training on the roads, some training on the track, and occasionally run trails logging anywhere from 65-80 miles a week. My typical training consists of easy days, long days, workouts (fartleks, tempos, interval training, etc.). My typical training paces range from 7’30 a mile on easy days to sub-5 minutes a mile on fast interval days, and with many paces in between. My personal bests are 4:20 for 1600m, 8:42 for 3000m, 14:51 for 5K, and 25:24 for 8k.  

Ryan Eller A hopeless soccer career led Ryan to take up running, and after taking a decade-long break from competing, he is back racking up mileage whenever he can.  He calls the 2018 Boston Marathon the hardest race of his life, where he finished in 2:40, barely remembering his name at the finish line.  More recently he has solo time trialed the 2020-2021 super shoes, often sub 15 minutes for 5K. Ryan has a PR of 2:18:05  from the 2023 Vermont City Marathon.

Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 66 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. 2022 was 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 if he gets very very lucky, training 30-40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah be it on the run, hiking or on nordic skis. He is 5’9” tall and weighs about 164 lbs, if he is not enjoying too many fine New England IPA’s.

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

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Can you add a comparison to the Hyperion [Tempo] too?

Thanks and love the site!