Hoka One One Clifton Edge Review | Cushioned Road Running Shoes
The Hoka One One Clifton Edge is the latest shoe in Hoka’s road running range. It’s a neutral shoe designed to give the smoothest ride yet, even compared with flagships like the Clifton. By ‘smoothest ride’ they mean the shoe facilitates a quick landing to toe off, with most landing on their heel somewhat. The first thing that you notice about this shoe is that the midsole is longer than the shoe, with an extension at the back to form a kind of tail. This is to give an earlier ground contact and in turn speed up your gait cycles and cadence.
There have been lots of uncertain comments on social media about the different aesthetic of the Clifton Edge. These are similar comments though to the ones made when Hoka first entered the running market with their oversized midsoles. The advantages of the extra shock absorption and the posture helping rocker have been so successful that lots of other brands now make shoes with similar technologies. There will be some runners that will embrace this new technology in the Clifton Edge because it is new and want to try it for themselves and there will be other runners put off by the different look of the shoe. Hoka running shoes often have a kind of ‘Marmite’ reaction when put on for the first time and tested in our shop. This is because Hoka shoes usually feel very different to most other running shoes. The everyday training shoes like the Clifton and the Arahi (support) have a very soft feel to their cushioning. So, as described in their marketing, you feel like you are running on ‘pillows’ and have much less awareness of hitting the floor than you do in many other brands. When your foot touches the floor the curve of the midsole rolls your foot, increases your cadence, stops you leaning forward at the waist as you get tired, reduces heel strike. For some customers, this lack of feel for the ground and that controlling is not for them.
The Clifton Edge takes benefits of the Clifton and actually makes it feel a bit less ‘alien’, compared with many other running shoes. To those that felt the Hoka One One range was too soft and controlling, you may be pleasantly surprised. I have to admit that I was, and the Clifton Edge is not what I expected. It is well cushioned with a similar cushioning feel to the Hoka Carbon X but the initial impact isn’t super soft. The rocker is also a lot less noticeable. When you stand up in a Clifton or an Arahi you are immediately aware of the curve, which isn’t the case.
Furthermore, Hoka shoes tended to be on the narrower side. The Clifton Edge isn’t. The width is similar to the Carbon X and wider than the Rincon, Speedgoat and Clifton in my opinion. The toe box shape isn’t the rounded natural shape like Topo or Altra but not as ‘pointy’ as, say, a Hoka Speedgoat or the Rincon. Although my toes don’t have room to spread all the way, they also don’t feel restrained within the shoes, which was great.
The ‘smoothness’ Hoka describe is the right description for these. You aren’t as aware of the rocker technology like you are in other Hoka’s, but it is effective. There is an initial cushioned feel but the midsole doesn’t compress i.e. isn’t too squishy. The shoe definitely facilitates a more upright posture with more back kick, which gives the shoe a ‘snappy’ feel. I found that I could jog along quite happily in the shoes and when I wanted to speed my session up, I felt just as at home in them. This is quite rare, as usually the shoes that feel nice and comfortable when you are jogging along slowly are too soft i.e. not responsive enough to feel efficient at a fast pace.
The Clifton Edge feels a lot less controlling than many other shoes with a rocker. Hoka shoes are known for making running downhills quicker and reducing the pounding on your body, which is true with the Edge. The ride feels more fluid than some due to the lack of a deep compression of the midsole on landing. The shoe just guides your foot through the gait cycle, keeping your cadence quick and your posture more upright. This makes you lighter on your feet, so even on steep road descents I was unware of any pounding. The drawback to softer feeling cushioning systems, I find, is that when you get to a hill climb you sink into the cushioning, making it harder work. As the Hoka Clifton Edge doesn’t have a super soft midsole then this isn’t a problem. In fact I found them springy and snappy on the up-hills.
If you are a neutral runner that’s not looking for the widest fit, looking for a road running shoe designed to keep you moving quickly, encourage a better posture and form, with a soft yet not ‘squishy’ feel, give these a try. The Clifton Edge is quite unique, so at this point there are no close alternatives!
Charlie @ Northern Runner Newcastle