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Nick Harris-Fry

Hoka’s Cielo X1 Is Its Most Ambitious Carbon Racing Shoe Yet

Hoka Cielo X1.

Hoka was one of the first brands to release a carbon plate racing shoe, with the original Carbon X coming out not long after the original Nike Vaporfly debuted at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. However, the three Carbon X models to date, along with the first Rocket X, didn’t make it into my selection of the best carbon plate running shoes, lacking the bounce and propulsion of the top racers.

(Image credit: Hoka)

Last year the Hoka Rocket X 2 came out and, for me, was the brand’s first proper super-shoe, with a lightweight and bouncy Peba-based midsole foam. Today sees the launch of the Hoka Cielo X1, which has a bolder, more innovative design than the Rocket X 2, and could well be Hoka’s best racing shoe yet.

The Cielo X1 has a 39mm stack height and a 7mm drop. Its midsole is made from two layers of Peba-based foams that sandwich a winged carbon plate. The shoe is bigger and heavier than the Rocket X 2, but designed to deliver a more propulsive ride to offset that weight gain.

(Image credit: Hoka)

There are cutouts in the midsole that reduce the weight of the shoe, which has a lightweight knit upper and minimal rubber on the outsole. The shoe has a pronounced rocker design, which is another key difference with the Hoka Rocket X 2.

In many ways, the Hoka Cielo X1 looks to be the Nike Alphafly 3 equivalent in the Hoka range, while the Rocket X 2 is more akin to the Nike Vaporfly 3. The Cielo X1 is the bouncier, more propulsive shoe and might be better suited to the marathon, while the Rocket X 2 is lighter and more agile, giving it an edge in shorter events. I’m speculating for now because I’ve yet to run in the Cielo X1, though my review sample is arriving soon.

(Image credit: Hoka)

The Hoka Cielo X1 is Hoka’s most expensive carbon shoe to date, costing $275 in the US and £250 in the UK, which is $25/£30 more than the Rocket X 2. It will be exciting to test the shoe and see if it can live up to a price that makes it one of the more expensive carbon shoes—though it’s still cheaper than the Nike Alphafly 3.

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