The Bondi B is a trimmed down version of the Hoka One One Mafate. The Bondi B is advertised as a light weight road shoe, but it is still a maximalist highly cushioned shoe. Since the closest comparison to the Bondi B is its brother the Mafate, you may want to look at my previous post that reviews the Mafate.
An Improvement Over the Mafate
Although the Bondi B is still an extremely cushioned shoe, it is a step in the right direction as compared to the Mafate. The Bondi B is slightly lighter than the Mafate. It fits better. It has a better lacing system. And most important, it does not get in the way as much on side hills and rocky terrain as the Mafate.
I can actually use the Bondi B for trail running. On the other hand, the Mafate for me is more of a hiking shoe – not a running shoe.
Bondi B Size 10 Weighs in at 11.1 oz
The Bondi B is still a fairly heavy shoe at 11.1 oz. This is 1.4 oz or 12% lighter than the Mafate in the same size. Just visually comparing a size 10 Bondi B with a size 10 Mafate you can plainly see the Bondi B is much smaller. There just is less shoe with the Bondi B as compared to the Mafate. So you get 12% less material with the Bondi B. That is 12% you certainly do not need. In my opinion, the Hoka One One folks could get rid some more material and still have a super cushy shoe.
Bondi B fits Smaller than Mafate
The Bondi B in the same size as the Mafate, fits noticeably smaller. A size 10 Bondi B fits closer to a size 9.5 Mafate. The size difference is nearly a half size. Dave Mackey says the size difference is a quarter size. It is something to consider. So take some time in selecting the proper size.
Update on Sizing: Starting with shoes manufactured in 2012, Hoka corrected the sizing error with the Bondi. For more information on the sizing problems with the Bondi, see the review of the 2012 Bondi S.
Not for Fast Running
I took the Bondi B out for a track workout and was rather disappointed. It feels like running in spongy hiking boots on the beach. They really slow you down. It is not just the weight being nearly twice as much as a racing flat that made them slow, but the extra thick cushy sole seemed to make it feel like I was running in sand. They just did not transfer energy to the ground. The cush just absorbed energy and interfered with a quick push off. They want to slow your stride rate down.
It was not just a feeling that I was working hard. But using my heart rate monitor and doing a tempo run showed that I really had to work hard to go fast. I couldn’t even maintain my normal workout pace throughout my normal workout distance. I had to slow down just to finish. And I was exhausted. I guess you could use these for low impact strength workouts. But they certainly do not teach you how to be quick and efficient with minimal foot ground contact time.
A Long Slow Distance Shoe
The Bondi B is probably better suited to cruising along at a slow to moderate pace. And it may work well for long distances. From what I read, this shoe is supposedly intended for ultra-marathon distances. Plodding along trying to minimize the impact and pounding to your feet and legs in an ultra may just be what the Bondi B works well at.
A Better Trail Shoe than the Mafate
I’ve done the second half the Bridger Ridge Run course with the Bondi B. They worked pretty good. I’ve run in better shoes (especially for going fast in), but the Bondi Bs are better than most typical clunky trail shoes. They offer nearly as good as traction as the Mafate. The Bondi B’s major advantage is that the smaller profile does not get in the way and tilt your foot around as much when you step on rocks. The thick cushy sole does offer incredible protection from the sharp rocky footing.
Better Fit Results in No Blisters
The smaller volume of the Bondi B gives it a better fit than the Mafate. This resulted in me not getting any blisters. This is a huge welcome improvement over the Mafate. Unfortunately, the smaller fit saw my toes hitting the end of the shoe on the steep downhill near the M. I think with proper socks and insoles I can minimize this without having to move up a half size larger.
What About Using The Bondi B in the Ridge Run?
Under the right circumstances, I think the Bondi B would be a good shoe for the Ridge Run.
If my goals for the Ridge Run were to finish, enjoy myself and avoid pain, I would certainly consider them for the Ridge Run.
If my goals were to run a very competitive fast time, I would be reluctant to use them.
Doing the Ridge Run in the Bondi Bs may take a bit more effort (perhaps making you slower), but it would be less painful to your feet. The Bondi Bs thick sole also introduces the risk of an ankle sprain. So use some ankle braces or downhill techniques that mitigate that risk. I’m not sure how the traction on the Bondi B is in wet, muddy or snowy conditions so I can’t recommend them under those circumstances until I knew what they were like.
I could not find any place locally that sold the Bondi B so you may have to special order them or buy them online.
Given my experiences with the Mafate as compared to the Bondi B, I do not think there is any situation where I personally would use the Mafate for the Ridge Run.
My Final Thoughts on the Bondi B, Update 9-11-2011
I like the Bondi B for low impact cushy comfortable running. Foot pain has given me problems my entire life. The Bondi B is one of the gentlest shoes on my feet that I have ever used. I’m now in my mid 50’s age wise and am in a situation of managing (not curing) my foot pain (plantar fasciitis, metatarsal pain, and Achilles tendon pain). Sometimes, the Bondi B is the only shoe I can walk or run in as all other shoes are just too painful. The Bondi B has become my recovery and therapy shoe.
The Bondi B is a Fragile Shoe for Rugged Trails
I’ve had problems with the outsole on the Bondi B delaminating and getting ripped off the shoe. This occurs on rugged rocky terrain. It also happens right away even with new shoes within its first few trail miles. I glue the sole back together, but it rips apart as soon as I venture out on some rocky terrain.
No Rock Protection Plate
The Bondi B does not have a rock plate to protect your feet. You would think that the thick sole would protect your feet from rocks and for the most part it does. Nevertheless, I’ve felt some sharp rocks poke all the way through the thick sole and surprise my feet.
Life is Like a Pair of Hokas; You Never Know What You Are Going to Get
I have three pairs of Hoka Bondi Bs and they are like three different kinds of shoes. Where is the quality control on these things? My first pair is soft and mushy. Running on them is like running on slabs of wet sponge. My second pair is hard and stiff. Running on them is like running on chunks of Styrofoam. They have no give and feel like stiff racing flats except they make you taller. My third pair is somewhere in between. They are stiffer and firmer than the mushy ones, but way more flexible and cushy than the hard ones.
Why the difference? Perhaps variations in manufacturing; maybe the environment (temperature) the shoes experienced during shipping or storage. It is just speculation. The weight between the pairs also varies as much as 15% from lightest to heaviest. So when buying a pair of Hokas, bring your scale to weight them to find a light and matched pair. Also flex and compress them to get a sense of their stiffness. If you buy them sight unseen – you just never know what you are going to get.
Get it a Half Size Larger
The Bondi B runs a bit small – about a half size smaller than most shoes. Some runners like a tight fitting shoe and seem to take pride in getting black and blue toe nails. Not me. I do not like getting black and blue toes and have been successful at avoiding them for many, many years. The Bondi B is the first shoe that has given me black and blue toes in quite some time. I’ve been using a size 10 and I think I will try a size 10.5 next. The sizing issues have been corrected starting in 2012. For more information, see the review of the 2012 Bondi S.
Just for some background information
I’ve never been a very fast runner, but for my age (mid 50’s) I’m fairly competitive and can still run a marathon around 3 hours, a 5K in under 20 minutes and the Ridge Run under 4 hours. I’m not a skinny mini runner body type and never have been. Presently I’m a little over 5 foot 7 inches tall (I use to be nearly an inch taller, but seem to be shrinking already!) and weigh 145 pounds. I’ve been about this weight since junior high over 40 years ago! I’m not heavy, but I’m much heavier than the best competitive distance runners my height. They are typically 20 to 30 pounds lighter at 120 pounds compared to me at 145.
My preference is for light, flexible low heeled running shoes. On rocky trails I like a bit more cushioning and protection than the minimalist trail shoes like the NB MT101. On the track or when doing a short road race, I like a traditional racing flat like the Mizuno Wave Universe.
My volume of running is only moderate at 2 to 8 hours a week. This translates to 10 to 40 miles a week. I prefer running on trails instead of roads. For quality tempo and speed work, I do that on a track or treadmill, not roads. I do like participating in 5K road races for fun and as a way to get a quality workout.
Alpine Skiing / Ski Mountaineering is really the activity I do the most. Over the years, my feet have spent more time in ski boots than doing running. Perhaps that is a contributing factor for my feet troubles.