Well the long-awaited review for the Hoka One One Speedgoat is finally here. A lot of folks have requested this simply because the Speedgoat have a whole new look thats is new to Hoka’s lineup and it’s something a little more aggressive and honestly people are just curious how well it’s performing. With this review, we also want to change the way we handle our reviews a bit and while we casually did this before, we are really going to enforce it now. We are going to address the construction of the shoe from an outsole, midsole, and sole/lug perspective, we will then talk a little about aesthetics of the shoe and colorway availability, and finally we will talk about the performance of the shoe in run. We will touch on aspects like durability though the other sections. This should make the shoe reviews a little easier to read and digest and allow us to get a little deeper with aspect.
Before we jump into the shoe itself, I wanted to give a little backstory on the Speedgoat. The shoe was made in partnership with Karl Meltzer who has been nicknamed the Speedgoat. He is probably the best ultra marathoner in the US, if not the World at this point and has long been a Hoka athlete. This was a chance to build a shoe specifically to his specifications and to bring an athlete into the actual build process. The result of this is a shoe that bears his nickname, the Speedgoat. It’s a bit of a new direction for Hoka, but it is based on their Rapa Nui body. It’s been tweaked to the point of being indistinguishable, but know they started with a pretty solid and well known base.
The outsole is made of what seem to be all-new materials for Hoka and a lot of it goes back to the aggressive styling that they wanted to put into the shoe. First off, the upper is extremely durable and also incredibly stiff. The entire system up top is made out of incredibly strong material that will stand up to some of the harshest of terrains and last for literally hundreds of miles. That being said, that durability does lead to a certain level of inflexibility, meaning it can feel very stiff on your foot. Many of us who like a wider toebox will immediately notice that the Speedgoat is much more like the Huaka and less like the Clifton or Challenger ATR toebox in that it’s definitely a bit more narrow. The problem here is that the material used in the upper, especially in the toe box area, lacks flexibility. So if you like a wider toebox, then be forewarned that this one runs narrower and the material doesn’t give us much it might on other shoes so it will never open up all that much for you.
I don’t want to get lost too much here on the stiffness because the upper is also fantastic. The material used in the construction makes them a performance seeker’s dream, which leads me to my first thought about the Speedgoat in that they are a professional athletes’ shoe. This was Karl trying to design a shoe that he would want to wear and its not necessarily an everyday consumer shoe unless it fits your profile perfectly. The entire shoe is superlight and that it comes in around 9 ounces, so its one of the lightest trail shoes we have ever tested further enforcing its status as a performance tool.[
The midsole on the Speedgoat is fantastic. The first thing that both our testers found was that it was soft and not in that horrible giant pillow way, but more in that it’s reactive. It give you some bounce and stays plush throughout your entire run. It never gives in and keeps you your feet feeling happy and comfy throughout. It is an injected EVA instead of a full EVA like the Challenger, but overall just really enjoying the way the shoe reacts to the ground. Also, the rubber toe cap provides some level of additional protection upfront.
Sole and Lugs
The 4mm lugs on this are well disbursed and from the center of the shoe forward their position is in one direction and from the rear back they face the opposite. This gives you maximum control on up hills and control on down hills and I actually like the fact that the lugs are a little further apart. This makes the Speedgoat less likely to pick up a ton of mud and retain it. When you are done with even the gnarliest of runs, the sole is fairly clean. There is some strangeness to the entire base in that I feel there is some rocker from left to right side almost causing you to rotate to one side or another. This is probably to help enforce appropriate foot strike, but it just seems odd that they would emphasize it in the base to this degree.
Style and Aesthetics
The Speedgoats are mean looking, they just look aggressive. They also look incredibly fast and it’s such a departure from the rest of the Hoka lineup it almost feels like a different brand. I, for one, really enjoy the styling of the shoe, particularly the black and red colorway. The explanation for the blue and red version of the colorway is Karl’s sponsor is Redbull and this was in deference to that. It’s not for everyone, but I honestly think both look solid and our testers agreed. They just added a third color way as well which is real nice and features a navy, black, and yellow combo.
To say I was eager to run these is an understatement. The styling was crushing it, the midsole felt like heaven from the moment I put them on, so I was ready to run them into the ground. My first runs on them were short and I immediately felt the quickness that I expected from them given their very light weight and the design. The lugs gripped really well in both muddy and dry conditions and the shoes felt consistently responsive throughout. As I extended into longer runs, the midsole came into play and I noticed the rebound effect which left my legs much more comfortable then I have experienced before.
I did notice a couple things I wasn’t too happy with and that was the fact I found the tow to be a little narrow. As a hard-core Challenger ATR fan, the Speedgoat definitely felt less flexible upfront which gave me a strange sense of instability. It probably wasn’t real and I would get used to it over time, but this sensation existed. I did also notice a strange change to my footfall as I ran and I mentioned the rocker design in the base, but it became more pronounced when I ran. I feel like if I stayed in them consistently, then I would get used to all of this, but definitely threw me.
Lastly, I have to say that they are fast. My times on the trail dropped significantly in many cases and I really feel it’s due to this nimbleness I felt with the Speedgoats on. It could be a mental thing due to the weight where you just allow yourself to go a little faster, but my legs weren’t any worse for wear. I really grew to like them, but when I put back on the Challengers I could definitely sense the difference from a stability perspective. In the end, I felt I could wear both depending on the circumstance and would get used to any differences between them. They have their individual purposes, straight speed vs slower and controlled.
The Hoka One One Speedgoat is meant for fast technical trails and can eat through most terrains with no problems whatsoever. I’m not sure it’s for everyone simply because it runs a little narrow and lacks some level of flexibility in the upper, but when you get a solid fit then they are just awesome. The midsole is so responsive and comfortable that you feel like you could wear them outside every day. Everyone in the office enjoyed the new styling that comes with the Speedgoat and it definitely says a lot about Hoka to bring an athlete in house to help design a shoe.
The Hoka One One Speedboat is $140 and available direct from Hoka or are your local Hoka retailer.