Published on September 13, 2016
Hoka One One Speed Instinct
Built for trail – indeed quite technical trail – the Hoka One One Speed Instinct is the latest in the ever-expanding range from the oversized shoe specialists. Where once it may have been that Hoka were a love-em-hate-em brand, their acceptance amongst the running community (in particular the ultra running community) means that the big question now is which model to try out first.
RunningMonkey has previously stated that from amongst the range the three key components are: Hoka Clifton 2 for road, the Challenger ATR 2 the best bet for mixed terrain running, and the Hoka Speedgoat for pure trail. Whilst we’ll come on to specifics of why shortly; we’ll hit a spoiler in saying that’s likely still the case even given the Speed Instincts impressive performance on test. If you’re looking beyond those three recommendations – or even the Speed Instinct – you’re not short of options with Hoka any more and broadly speaking we’ve yet to find a model we couldn’t wholeheartedly recommend.
It may be the colour options but the Speed Instinct looks slightly less dramatic than the Speedgoat, a little less ‘out there’ and closer to a ‘regular’ off-roader. Perhaps we’re just getting used to the look and, either way, don’t be fooled as these still sport a very substantial 23mm heel and 20mm forefoot pad for the men’s iteration and 22mm heel / 19mm forefoot for the Women’s. In case maths isn’t a strong point that’s a minimalist 3mm drop and the forward motion this encourages (along with the Hoka rocker design) can be felt straight out of the box.
One of the key USPs with Hoka has always been the dramatic lack of weight and the Speed Instinct is no slouch here, coming in at 225g (450g pair, UK 8.5). That’s 60g per shoe lighter than the Speedgoat, with it’s slightly larger 4mm differential. For a shoe designed to tear up technical trail, that’s impressively light and if you’re concerned about lug deterioration our test pair have stood up (so far) to more than 70miles of pounding with little in the way of abrasion and no other superficial damage. Not quite in the league of the Speedgoat but, again, we’ll come to that…
Construction and comfort
The upper of the Instinct is a seamless construction of mesh, overprinted in such a way as to create structure and stability whilst keeping weight to an absolute minimum. The tongue (non-gusseted, something we’d still like to see in an Hoka trail) is well padded, as is the heel cuff that feels well judged for long-distance comfort – enough to feel the protection, not so much as to create unwanted friction. The lack of weight, of course, makes for a more comfortable run and is something we always appreciate with an Hoka as the miles start to clock up.
The Speed Instinct has an outsole with ‘strategically placed’ hi-abrasion rubber to increase durability; the multi-directional 4mm lugs provide good forward propulsion whilst keeping things stable on uneven terrain and adverse cambers. The ride feels low to the ground and responsive and, on test, they have tackled a variety of terrain and weather with ease.
Why the Goat still wins
So, why would RunningMonkey still opt for Speedgoats? In all honesty it is a close run thing – the decrease in weight is appreciated with the Speed Instincts, but the far tougher outsole on the Speedgoat, with its Vibram ‘Megagrip’, just tips the balance in the older shoe’s favour. When it comes down to it, we’ll take a little more longevity along with the additional weight.
Take your pick
Our own preference for the Speedgoat certainly isn’t to say that you shouldn’t take the plunge with the Speed Instinct – there’s a lot to recommend with this shoe and if something truly light on the foot and with a minimalist drop is what you’re after then you’ve almost certainly found it. It might also be argued that the Instinct makes for a better race day shoe, the nimbleness being a plus and the quicker-wearing lugs less of an issue.
In the men’s model the Speed Instinct is available in Metallic Silver / Cayenne, Nightshade / Acid (red and yellow), and a modest two-tone blue. For women there’s Neon Coral / Plum or Ultramarine / Aurora (a non-neon yellow.)
The Hoka One One Speed Instinct retails at £120 – further details at hokaoneone.eu