Swift Strides: Unleashing Speed with the Hoka Cielo Road

Alright, speed demons and race enthusiasts, gather ’round. The Hoka Cielo Road is here to amp up your performance game. Engineered with the fast and furious in mind, these kicks are a dream come true for those who eat up the miles, set records, and aim for that coveted podium spot.

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The Hoka Cielo Road is a testament to Hoka’s knack for crafting aesthetically pleasing footwear. With its vibrant aquatic colorway, it strikes a perfect balance between adding a touch of flair and maintaining a tasteful subtlety. The design exudes simplicity, a deliberate choice to prioritize lightweight construction. One side boasts the distinguished Hoka logo, while the other features a minimalist, scaled-down emblem. The tongue discreetly bears the name “Cielo Road,” offering a tasteful touch to the overall look.


The Hoka Cielo Road is purpose-built for one thing: speed. Designed with the need for pace and performance in mind, these shoes are here for the sprinters, the record-breakers, and the podium-seekers. While I may not always find myself in that category, having a pair ready and waiting for those impromptu races where speed reigns supreme is a reassuring thought.


When it comes to crafting a performance-focused shoe that sheds weight, the journey starts with the upper. Without a secure yet lightweight lockdown, you’re left with a shoe that feels loose and lacks the thrill of high-performance racing. The Cielo Road’s mesh upper not only delivers exceptional breathability—so much so that you can almost see right through it—it’s also reinforced internally, providing a steadfast embrace for your feet.

This allows them to breathe and move freely, ensuring no overheating or discomfort, just an indulgent, foot-cradling experience. Honestly, these rank among the most comfortable speed shoes we’ve had the pleasure of testing recently. It’s not my favorite heel collar in the world, and I did get some friction after about 7 miles on my first run. I’ve been lacing it a bit different since and haven’t had any other significant issues.


In an era where carbon plates dominate the speed shoe scene, there’s a ongoing debate (at least by me) about whether they’re truly necessary for most runners. The Cielo Road forgoes a carbon plate but instead features a well-balanced, lower stack of PEBA foam in its midsole—the same high-performance material found in the Rocket X 2. This translates to a buoyant, lightweight sensation without veering into extremes of plushness or rigidity. Prior to receiving these, I just completed the Columbia Gorge Half in the Rocket X2, so was very pleased to feel the similarities.

The 3mm drop, though one of the lower drops I’ve experienced in quite some time, didn’t present any significant issues, thankfully. I believe this modest drop, coupled with the relatively lower profile and stack, achieves an impressive equilibrium between cushioning and ground feel.


The outsole doesn’t offer much room for discussion, but it’s noteworthy nonetheless. It boasts a surprisingly generous application of strategically-placed rubber for a race day shoe. This gives a reassuring sense of durability, indicating it’s up for the demands of those swift running scenarios. All in all, it appears to be built to endure.

Final Thoughts:

While Hoka categorizes this as a race shoe, specifically tailored for 5k and 10k distances, I find its versatility to be far from limiting. It seems perfectly suited for the role of a lightweight daily trainer, particularly on runs when you’re aiming to maintain a more rapid pace. I’m even contemplating pushing it further, confidently considering it for my next half marathon, where I anticipate being ready to increase pace. That’s quite an endorsement for a shoe that clocks in at under 7 1/2 ounces.

Hoka Cielo Road $160


  • Weight: 7.5 oz (Size 9)
  • Drop: 3 mm (33mm/30mm)


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Thank you to Hoka for providing us with test shoes. Please read our transparency page for info on how we do our reviews.


About Author

Matt Rasmussen lives in Keizer, Ore. with his wife and three daughters. He enjoys watching hockey, going to as many breweries (618) and wineries (152) as he can, and all things Canada (he was born there). Matt was raised as a baseball player and officially transitioned over to running in 2010.

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