In 2018 Hoka One One launched the Fly collection consisting of the Elevon, the Mach and the Cavu. The three shoes in the Fly collection are all light, yet cushioned shoes. The most cushioned shoe in the collection is the Hoka Elevon, which is a bit similar to the Hoka One One Vanquish. The Elevon is a neutral running shoe and has a 5 mm drop with a 33 mm heel height and a 28 mm forefoot height and weighs 244 grams. It comes in quite bright and bold colours. Mine were white with cherry red, but needless to say the white didn’t stay that way for long.
I’ve tried the Hoka Bondi 4 before, but that was not the right shoe for me. It didn’t have enough room in the toe box and it wasn’t responsive enough. I don’t seem to be the only one who had that experience with the Bondi; the New York Times even showed that the Bondi actually makes you 3% slower, so I guess that wasn’t just me. Hoka promotes the new Fly collection as being very responsive, so I was curious, but also a little sceptical when I first put on the Hoka One One Elevon. When I started running I was pleasantly surprised at how responsive the shoes actually were. They are definitely way more responsive than the Bondi 4. With the Bondi 4 I had the feeling I needed to put in extra effort to propel myself forward. I don’t have that feeling at all while running in the Elevon.
What I also noticed right away was that the stitching on the upper looked a bit sloppy. Especially around the area where the laces go. Another thing I noticed with the laces was that the shoelace holes weren’t the best design feature of this shoe. The shoelace holes on the Elevon aren’t really holes, they are slits. Which isn’t a huge problem, unless you have to lace your shoes. It’s very difficult to get the laces through, since the slits are so narrow and the end of a lace is thicker because of the plastic protection. Some of the slits weren’t even punched out properly. I have a small heel, so I often have to use the extra shoelace hole to lace my running shoes differently and lock in my heel a bit better. Normally this isn’t an issue, but it was with the Hoka Elevon. Not only is it difficult to get the laces through, I also noticed that when I laced through the extra hole this would create a pressure (since the shoelace itself can’t really move around in the tiny slit, while your foot does move). This would create a hotspot on the top of both of my feet. So, in the end I had to lace them in the regular way to avoid this from happening.
The upper is made of a breathable, seamless and somewhat flexible double knit mesh. The toe box isn’t super roomy, although roomier than in the Bondi 4, but the mesh does give you quite a bit of vertical space. However, the front of the shoe doesn’t provide much stability. While running the front of your foot moves around quite a bit in the front of this shoe, especially laterally.
The back of the shoe is made of a bit more tightly knit mesh and a Thermoplastic Polyurethane heel cup that protects your heel. It does provide some stability, but can’t make up for the lack of stability in the rest of the shoe. However, the padded tongue and collar of the shoe are very comfortable.
The midsole allows you to sink into it a bit, instead of only sitting on top of the midsole. The midsole is made out of PROfly material which is a dual-density foam. It is firmer at the front of the shoe than at the heel. The midsole does provide enough medial support.
The sole has a meta-rocker shape, together with the low drop it helps you maintain a natural rolling movement and creates a smoother ride. The groove design does provide ample flexibility, but small stones or twigs will get stuck in the larger opening of the outsole.
The outsole is made of Zonal rubber to provide more durability, but this doesn’t seem to be very effective, since the outsole already showed signs of wear after approximately 50 miles run in the shoes.
The outsole definitely provides more traction on road than on easy trail. The shoe doesn’t perform that well on sand or gravel surfaces. It is a good shoe for speed work, but due to the lateral instability it is not easy to make a sharp turn in them. The rubber of the outsole provides enough traction to comfortably run on a wet surface.
I had my normal size, which was the right length (I only had one thumb width left in the front), but overall the shoe felt a bit too big. Maybe it just felt this way because of the instability of the forefoot.
The Hoka One One Elevon is indeed a light and responsive ride. Although it is a pretty bulky shoe, the grooves provide flexibility, but those do collect small stones. Even though the shoe is quite bold, I do like to look of it. I wish I could say the same thing of its performance. The upper is comfortable and so is the cushioning, but the instability and the problems with the durability and laces are a bit of a dealbreaker for me.