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Hoka Cielo Road Review (2024): Top Pick for Short Races?

Hoka Cielo Road review
The Hoka Cielo Road is a fast, lightweight shoe with a simple design for your fast training sessions and races.

What You Need to Know

9Overall Score

A great competition shoe with a simple, effective design for short distances and beyond.

Don’t have time to read the full review? Here’s what you need to know.

The launch of the Hoka Cielo Road adds to the brand’s series in the specific short-distance racer competition segment (5-10 km). This super shoe is advertised as “minimalist” for experienced runners.

Its main components are a highly responsive PEBA foam and a breathable upper with an integrated “chassis” system that gives a fairly “softer” ride for good, bouncy, and pleasant propulsion. However, the softness of the platform can reduce performance over short-distance races.

The rubber overlays on the outsole ensure the durability and grip of this lightweight trainer shoe.

In short, this Hoka racing shoe aims to help runners in their speed training and racing on 10K and half marathon.

Please read our full review of the Hoka Cielo Road for more information.

Foot lockdown and protection


  • Soft, stable, and responsive cushioning
  • Improved lockdown
  • Highly versatile, lightweight option
  • Effective traction and durable outsole
  • Lower drop and moderate stack height


  • Fragile upper
  • The sole’s flexibility may limit short-distance performance


With the Cielo Road, Hoka competes in a specific running segment: shorter distances.

In the age of new foams, yesteryear’s “wooden plank” competition models are a thing of the past. The Hoka Cielo Road follows the current trend, with surprising features for this category: 33 mm stack height in the heel and 30 mm in the toes.

Among the various running offerings, this shoe reminds me of other brands like the Nike Streakfly or the Adidas Takumi Sen 9. How does it stack up against them? We’ll find out in this analysis.

Hoka Ceilo road without a carbon plate


The midsole uses PEBA foam, a material found on many models with favorable reviews. This pick delivers more protection with a high stack and medium density, providing a pronounced bounce and a “soft” ground feel.

With a heel-to-toe drop of 3 mm, you’ll have to be careful if you’re used to the more classic 8-12 mm drop, as this is much lower. However, the shock absorption is good.

Although I prefer the 10K or a half marathon distance with these running shoes, I think it’s possible to push them all the way to a full marathon and even longer distances, depending on the runner’s weight, stride, and experience.

A fun shoe with an optimal midsole made of super foam - PEBA.

Energy return

As the Hoka Cielo Road is not a carbon-plated shoe, there’s less propulsion than on the more elite models. There’s also less stiffness, which gives a very comfortable ride. Plus, the energy return is satisfactory, making for a smooth transition from back to front.

The rocker is more moderate than on some Hoka models but still present as you can feel the incentive to tilt your stride towards the forefoot. However, a sturdy heel counter would have helped even more.

The weight announced by Hoka is 7.5 oz / 213 g, but I find 6.3 oz / 179 g in 40 2/3 with my pair. This is very light and consistent with Hoka’s goal.

Please note that this model is unisex.

Run fast with Hoka's Road racing flat

Support and stability

Ground contact is gentle, but you don’t crash either. And with the right foot lock, it gives optimal stability.

Simply put, the Hoka Cielo Road are racing shoes designed for neutral runners. As such, it doesn’t offer any stability features.

Foot Lockdown

The upper of this racing shoe is a very thin, airy, breathable mesh and has an internal frame that acts as a lock. The result is a comfortable fit and, above all, good lockdown (in both midfoot and forefoot). So, apart from its fragility, the open mesh upper is a success!

Moreover, it’s well-ventilated for breathability in summer – perhaps less so in cold winter weather.

In terms of size, these shoes run a bit long for a traditional racing flat. So you may have to go for a half size down from your usual. In width, the Hoka Cielo is within the norm, neither too wide nor too narrow.

Hoka Cielo Road features a wide toe box


As usual, the outsole of Hoka Cielo Road features a layer of rubber placed at wear points to increase longevity for when you hit the ground. This works well with good traction on the road or track, even in rainy conditions. Plus, curves and slippery white lines are no problem.

For easy trails, this training shoe will do just fine. However, it will be more complicated on more technical trails since it’s a shoe designed specifically for asphalt.

Hoka Cielo Road shoe heel collar has room for improvement


In simple words, it’s a versatile ride! The fairly flexible Peba midsole allows this super shoe to be used at various paces without the plates. And, for a model dedicated to speed, it goes without saying that sprint sessions are a breeze. It facilitates lower-volume fast-paced training pretty well.

But what’s less expected is for Hoka Cielo Road to perform exceptionally in tempo or active endurance sessions. This running shoe is responsive at all paces!

hoka cielo road with lower stack in underfoot and midfoot

You can feel the running economy with the shoe’s lightness and bounce, which helps to propel yourself forward and allows for a smooth roll-off. This is less pronounced than on some carbon-plated shoes but similar to what we find with the Nike Streakfly.

On the other hand, some runners had one complaint: the loss of efficiency at toe-off due to the forefoot flexibility. In my opinion, it only concerns those who go at very fast paces over distances of 5 or 10K, at least 11-12 mi/hour.

Road shoe for a fast and snappy ride and also a great option for a race day

Quality and Durability

The outsole is durable enough to last the standard lifetime of running shoes. You can count on between 500 and 600 miles, depending on your movement.

However, the air mesh upper is very thin, so you’ll need to be careful about the obstacles you encounter or the size you pick (not too tight). Therefore, the Cielo Road offers good value for money compared to similar models on the market.

Carbon footprint and animal welfare

The upper and tongue use 100% recycled polyester, and the Hoka Cielo Road is 100% vegan.

Big fan of Hoka Cielo Road's PEBA midsole


Originating from the old Hoka Cielo Track Spike, these Cielo road running shoes are an interesting development in the series, complementing the short-distance segment.

For beginners, the lightness and flexibility of the midsole will limit it to this use, and it will be a good, accessible, and fast shoe.

For experienced runners, the shoe’s versatility may make it more suitable as a fast daily trainer and a good racing shoe for breaking records in competitions up to the half marathon.


Technical Specs

Pronation typeNeutral
Drop3 mm
Heel height33 mm
Forefoot height30 mm
Weight (men)213 g/7.5 oz
Weight (women)213 g/7.5 oz
FeaturesVegan, Recycled materials, Unisex
Release year2023
PriceCheck prices




OutsoleRubber on strategic zones
MidsoleEVA foam
UpperLightweight mesh and tongue


SpeedModerate, Fast
DistanceShort, 5K, Mid, 10K, Half marathon
WorkoutDaily running, Racing
Julien Guyod

Julien Guyod

Julien Guyod, 40, is a math teacher and freelance writer. He took up running in 2015 and specializes in marathons, clocking in with a 2:38 personal best at the La Rochelle marathon in France. He's passionate about running shoes and loves to share his impressions of the models he's tested, always pushing the mileage further to discover more insights!

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