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 HOKA ONE ONE Clifton Edge Multiple Tester Review

     The HOKA ONE ONE Clifton Edge brings a new line of training to the table. This shoe is marketed as a slightly lighter and faster uptempo Clifton. In some ways the the Clifton Edge accomplishes this, and misses the mark in others. Overall the shoe is an interesting concept for a road only shoe and worth at least giving it a stride at the local running store. 


Specifications (per Running Warehouse)
Weight: 8.9 oz (Men's 9)
Stack Height: 33mm/28mm
Drop: 5mm
Classification: Uptempo Daily Trainer

HIGHLIGHTS

David: The HOKA ONE ONE Clifton Edge shows some signs of innovation from HOKA and an honest attempt to shake up how transition points through the gait cycle are normally felt in shoes. The shoe updates the midsole with High Resiliency Foam and features the extended heel as part of their Advanced Early Stage Meta Rocker Geometry. The shoe delivers in some areas and falls in others.

Matt: The Hoka One One Clifton Edge is a lighter weight trainer featuring several concepts the company is debuting. While none are truly new, the shoe is a unique one featuring a new HIgh Resiliency Foam, a large beveled posterior heel flare and an TPU yarn weave upper with target areas of support. This is an interesting design concept that still needs a great deal of refining. 

FIT

David: The Clifton Edge fits with a normal width heel and toe box, but narrow throughout the midfoot. The tongue hugs the dorsum of the foot well and runs a little short in length, though still efficient. The upper is very breathable and holds its structure well. The narrow midfoot region and high medial walls actually did become irritating for my foot and blistered after 2 runs. The heel has a retrocurve to it that does a good job of preventing Achilles irritation. The heel collar rides a little high and doesn't have padding at the top which I noticed initially, but faded after a few runs. Due to the heel collar it felt more comfortable to me to heel lock the shoe and not take a chance of translation of the foot. 

Matt: The Clifton Edge fits me true to size in my normal men's size 10. The fit is average to slightly narrow, particularly in the midfoot. The yarn based upper is very stiff, particularly in the midfoot and forefoot. The medial side walls are still present, although in combination with the stiff upper have given me several blisters on my toes. The heel is slightly snug, however there is a very stiff heel counter that curves in toward the calcaneus and digs into the heel. For those that are sensitive to heel counter, approach this shoe with a high level of caution. It sits low, can cause some irritation during events that require greater plantarflexion (pointing to foot), like picking up the pace. The heel collar was not very secure, so a lace lock was required which helped with security and mildly with the heel counter. The blistering stopped after 20 miles but I have continued to feel irritation from the heel counter the first several miles of each run.


RIDE
 
David: The intriguing part for many is the ride of this shoe. The extended portion of the heel catches the eye and the shoe has done well in the marketing world, promoting a more efficient strike pattern. Normally, adding a heel flare of that size isn't the best idea due to an early initial contact. The early contact may begin before the normal motor control of the stabilizing muscles of the foot and ankle kick in and prime the muscles for impact. More on this later though. I was expecting the shoe to come off much more clunky. I do heel strike at easier paces, but more on the light end with more of rear midfoot type of landing. I did not notice the flare too much and felt the transition was actually pretty smooth. The pace did have to be slightly faster than normal daily pace through. For me the shoe felt more flat in the forefoot region. No durable rubber or significant toe spring to stiffen up the region made the forefoot more comfortable at easier paces, and the geometry of the rearfoot more comfortable at slightly faster daily and/or slower workout type paces. The shoe feels like a training companion to the Clifton, but maybe not a stand alone trainer in its own right. The foam feels pretty good and I would like to see it incorporated into a shoe like the Rincon, especially with low weight profile. 
 
Matt: Hoka shoes traditionally ride a little awkward for me until I learn to use use them. The Clifton Edge is different in that it has a large extended heel, also called a posterior heel flare. I have discussed this extensively, but it is quite uncomfortable initially for those who land farther back. There are claims that this will soften the landing, but even with the heel bevel, causes an early landing. For those that are adaptable, this may make you start to land farther forward as landing posterior is very awkward. This is the only shoe in recent memory that has caused me anterior knee pain, although it went away after 50 miles as I got used to the shoe. For those with sensitive knees or have a history of anterior shin pain, approach this shoe with caution. The High Resiliency Foam is very stiff at first and takes time to break in. Once it does, it provides a very subtle bounce. It feels a little better when you pick up the pace as it seems to bring out the personality a bit more. It feels best when you land in the midfoot or forward as this is a stable place to land. The despite claims of an early stage metarocker, the rocker looks and feels like it starts quite late. The thick sole has very little flexibility, as common for maximal shoes. The late toe spring creates a stiff ride until the very end during which you are abruptly pitched off the front of the shoe. These design components make the Clifton Edge a very different shoe from the Clifton. I would not call it a counter part, but a different shoe for a very different population.


SPEED 
 
David: The speed section of the Clifton Edge has a niche. Is the shoe an uptempo Clifton? Kind of? For me it operated at paces slightly faster than daily mileage and on the slower end of workout ranges. The shoe is nice for fartleks, or rhythmic running. It definitely depends on cadence and the fluidity of the foot coming into the ground. Not a racing shoe, and not an easy day shoe. But if the run is slightly brisk the ride will feel more enjoyable. 
 
Matt: The Clifton edge feels best at moderate paces. Attempting to pick up the pace feels awkward as the forefoot has an odd pitch, the weight is distributed toward the heel and the clunkiness makes it difficult to run fast. Doing recovery runs are not comfortable as landing further back is very awkward. Keeping a moderate pace for a long period of time is the sweet spot for the Clifton Edge. So for those that land a little farther and are thinking of an uptempo shoe for a road ultra, this may be an option.


STABILITY

David: Stability of the Clifton Edge was pretty good for a road shoe. The wide base of the platform makes the ride more stable and the heel flare's bevel keeps it from being too involved. There is no blown or carbon rubber and the traction of the shoe is lost pretty quickly. The shoe definitely depends on the traction naturally provided by the road. Overall the stability is decent, but I wouldn't want to take it off road. 
 
Matt: The Clifton Edge is a really stable shoe. The firm upper, high side walls, wider last and large amount of ground contact area give the Clifton Edge stability throughout the shoe. There are no traditional methods of stability, but I have been able to do long runs without any issues from this area. While not meant as a trail shoe, I have been able to take this on well groomed trails without issue. However, technical trails are not advised. 


DURABILITY
 
David: Durability is probably the most problematic portion for the shoe. As stated earlier, the shoe feels more like a training companion to the Clifton than a true stand alone trainer. The outsole is rubberized EVA with no blown or carbon rubber anywhere throughout. The shoe shredded even after my first 7 miles. Thankfully the wear has been pretty steady since, but still notable. There is a lot of foam to blow through but I think the shoe will be capped out around 200 to 250 probably for those lighter on their feet. 
 
Matt: The durability of the outsole of the Clifton Edge is quite alarming. After 60 miles, I have chewed almost through the outsole and am getting close to the midsole at the posterior lateral heel. I am seeing significant wear at the forefoot as well that I would normally associate with 150-200 miles (if not more). While there is plenty of foam to wear through as this is a maximal shoe, I am seeing no signs of this wearing down. The upper however has remained stable and will remain quite durable over the life of the shoe (it took 50 miles to break in). The High Resiliency Foam has broken in and feels softer and better with each run I take them on. So for those who are light on your feet, you may get decent mileage on these. For those like me, these will not last long.

David: 36 Miles
David: 36 Miles



Matt: 40 miles

THOUGHTS AS A DPT
 
David: I see the Clifton Edge as an interesting concept that with the right adjustments can be turned into really great shoe. For the DPT section today I want to look at the Early Stage Meta Rocker design with the extended heel flare. In the ride section I alluded to this but adding an extended heel platform normally does not end well. In a normal gait cycle there are several rocker points that the foot goes through, including the heel, ankle/midfoot, and forefoot/toe off. When someone gets ready for initial contact (heel making contact with the ground) the nerves and muscles prime themselves to be ready for the landing. They do this to stabilize the foot and ankle as well as control the motion to prevent slapping or tripping of the foot. Thankfully the rocker in the Clifton Edge is beveled and helps with preventing the slapping sensation. Even so, for those who are harder heel strikers (like Matt) the extended platform may come off as a little rough or clunky. If someone is a lighter heel striker or midfoot striker the bevel will probably feel pretty nice, as it does for me. Overall the lever on the heel flare could be shortened while maintaining the bevel to keep the foot more stable and fluid throughout the gait cycle. 
 
Matt: I have discussed the issues with posterior flare extensively for those who are rearfoot strikers. This creates an early initial contact phase of gait, which loads the lower extremity prior to the muscles being ready for shock absorption. This may or may not place several different populations at risk for certain injuries. I did have some issues in this shoe that dissipated immediately when I switched to other shoes we were testing. I do understand that the flip side is that for non-rearfoot strikers, this increases the ground contact area and may improve stability. However, given the majority of the population rearfoot strikers (>70%) and many people will switch depending on how long they are into their race/run or the terrain, I cannot think of a great reason to have this design. I think the Clifton Edge has great potential, but they really need to get rid of this. Some may find some benefit with highly conditioned lower extremity tissue, but I fail to see the benefit for the majority of the population.  

Extended Heel Bevel

RECOMMENDATIONS
 
David: For future development I would recommend shifting the Advanced Early Stage Meta Rocker to their normal Meta Rocker geometry similar to the Rincon. This is mainly to prevent the hard heel strikers from landing prematurely before their muscles are primed and ready. I would adjust the midfoot region of the fit and liner to prevent irritation on the medial longitudinal arch. With those adjustments, the shoe could probably increase stack slightly more to differentiate it from the Rincon and make this a true uptempo Clifton. 
 
Matt: Get rid of the posterior heel flare. While that design may work for a small population, it may create a harsh ride for a large portion of the population. See my comments above and in many other reviews. Consider giving us back the traditional smooth and awesome HOKA heel bevel. The upper needs some serious work. The heel counter has caused pain and Achilles irritation. Either get rid of it or raise it higher so it cups the heel instead of digs into it. The yarn has potential, but is very stiff in what feels like the wrong spots. I would suggest putting that stiffness over the midfoot, which may further assist in lock down and stability. There is some serious potential in this shoe but it needs some tweaks.


CONCLUSION
 
David: The Clifton Edge is a road running shoe for someone looking for a slightly lower drop ratio and runs with a smooth rhythm. The shoe responds well to paces slightly faster than normal daily running/easy paces and just shy of workout paces. Durability is not the greatest but if used as a companion to another shoe will last. The shoe will also be received better to someone with a more narrow foot at the midfoot. Overall an interesting concept for a shoe, but the Early Stage Meta Rocker just might not be the best choice for the hard heel strikers. Those with a lighter rhythmic cadence in the midfoot or softer heel striking may respond better. 
 
Matt: For those looking for a shoe with a high level of ground contact, lands a little farther forward and is looking for a shoe that can hold moderate paces for a long time, the Clifton Edge is our shoe. Although not a very durable shoe, this shoe will shine for those who land at the mid/forefoot region and are looking for a very stable, mildly bouncy lightweight trainer. The upper is very stiff and contributes to the stability, but users need to be aware of the harsh heel counter and that breaking this shoe in takes a large number of miles. This shoe is a great example of innovation attempts at Hoka. While I applaud them, I hope this review pushes them in a direction that better serves a larger population. 

GRADING

David: 
Fit/Upper        8.5/10 (Narrow through midfoot, heel lockdown could be improved)
Ride/Midsole  8.5/10 (Smooth through the midfoot, flat at toe off, harsh for hard heel strike)
Stability           8.5/10 (Wide platform, slightly firm ride, minus points for traction loss)
Speed               8.5/10 (Dependent on rhythm and slightly faster cadence, not enough stiffness in forefoot and feels flat at fast speeds)
Durability        7/10 (Rubberized EVA shreds quickly, though there is a decent amount of foam)
 
Matt
Fit                    6.5 /10 (Hard upper and uncomfortable heel counter. Several blisters and +50 miles to break in. Good upper support though)
Ride                 7.5 /10 (Very awkward heel, toespring a bit too late. Nice midfoot transition)
Stability           9.5 /10 (High level of stability. -.5 for instability with downhill)
Speed               7.5 /10 (best for moderate paces, limited at others)
Durability        6.5 /10 (Outsole getting shredded. Upper and sole doing well though)


TOTAL: 78.5% (D: 8.2/10 M: 7.5/10)

TESTER PROFILES

Dr. Klein is a 140 lb male with notable PRs of 14:45 for 5k and 2:32:44 for the full marathon.  He typically runs 70-100 miles per week and trains at a variety of paces from 8min per mile recovery runs to 4:40 per mile 1k repeats.  He prefers firmer and responsive shoes with snug heels and medium to wide toe boxes.  He is particular to less cushioned shoes and close to the ground shoes, but can handle a little cushion when he gets beat up.  IG handle: @kleinrunsdpt

Dr. Salas is a 135 lb male with notable PRs ranging from 3:56 for 1500m to 1:08:36 for half marathon. He typically runs 40 to 50 miles per week and trains from about 7:30 recovery runs to fast shorter efforts at 4:30 pace. He normally prefers neutral shoes with a firmer ride, but is completely open to other types of shoes.  He is a footwear enthusiast at heart and will always appreciate a high quality shoe when it comes around. For updates on training or testing, IG handle: @docsofrundavid

Dr. Brown is a 155 lb male with notable PRs of 18:18 5K, 39:25 10K, 1:29:01 half marathon, and 3:54 marathon. He typically runs between 20-40 miles per week at a variety of paces from 7:30-8:30 min/mile for recovery runs to 6-6:45 min/mile for tempo runs. He typically prefers shoes that provide some cushioning underfoot but still maintain a more firm and responsive feel. Current goals for 2020 are to break the 1.5 hour half marathon and 3:30 marathon. IG handle: @nate.docsofrunning

Thanks for reading!

Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this website belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. This website should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking medical care. If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your local running physical therapist. If you are in the Los Angeles area, I am currently taking clients for running evaluations.

Matthew Klein, PT DPT OCS FAAOMPT
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist
Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists

Nathan Brown PT DPT MS
Doctor of Physical Therapy 
Masters in Anatomy and Clinical Health Science
Movement Performance Institute Certified in Advanced Functional Biomechanics 

David Salas PT DPT CSCS
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist

***Disclaimer: These shoes were provided free of charge in exchange for a review.  We thank the  people at HOKA ONE ONE for sending us a pair.  This in no way affected the honesty of this review. We put at least 35-75 miles on trainers and 10-25 miles on racing flats prior to reviewing them. Currently we have 36 miles (David) and 62 miles (Matt) on our pairs. Our views are based on my extensive history in the footwear industry and years testing and developing footwear. If you are a footwear rep looking for footwear reviews or consultations on development, we are currently looking to partner with companies to assist, discuss and promote footwear models. Partnership will not affect the honesty of our reviews.


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