This year, 2012, Hoka came out with a new version of the Bondi B. It is called the Bondi S. The S stands for Speed. So it is also known as the Bondi Speed. The speed factor refers to the speed lacing system and the addition of a pull strap on the heel to supposedly speed up the process of putting the shoes on. This shoe is targeted for triathletes that have to get their shoes on quickly during the transition. The speed lacing system is convenient and is quicker than tying conventional laces.
Since I have been a happy user of the original Bondi B as a training and therapy shoe, I thought I would give the Bondi S a whirl. I was happy with the conventional lacing system on the Bondi B so the speed laces were not a huge sale point for me. But some of the other claims for the Bondi S such as being lighter and more breathable than the Bondi B were of interest to me.
So when it came time to replace a worn out pair of the Bondi B, I took it as an opportunity to try the Bondi S.
The claims of the Bondi S being significantly (1.5 ounce) lighter than the Bondi B are unfortunately false. The people that make these claims must not actually ever weigh the shoes and just parrot what they heard.
I was disappointed that the Bondi S was nearly the same weight as the Bondi B being only an insignificant 0.2 ounces lighter. 11.5 ounces compared to 11.7 ounces. To be fair, I compared a 2011 version of the Bondi B in a size 10.5 to a 2012 version of the Bondi S in a size 10.
To those unfamiliar with the sizing mystery of the original Bondi B (prior to 2012) their size was labeled in error by a half size. A 2011 size 10.5 is equivalent in size to a 2012 size 10. So it is fair to compare the weight of a 2011 size 10.5 to a 2012 size 10.
The Bondi B Sizing Mystery
The original Bondi B ran small by a half size. In my opinion, they were just labeled wrong. If you pull out the insoles and look at the bottom, you can see the true size. The first pair of Bondi Bs I got in a size 10 according to the box and tongue label. In reality they were actually a size 9.5 and that is the size indicated on the insoles. They were slightly too small and gave me black and blue toe nails. The second pair I got in a size 10.5 (box and tongue label) and they were actually a size 10 (insole size) and fit like most other brands of shoes in a size 10.
This picture shows the bottom of the insole of a 2011 Bondi B size 10 on left and a size 10.5 on right. Notice that the size on the insole is a half size smaller than the size listed on the box or tongue label.
Starting in 2012, Hoka corrected the sizing error. So a 2012 Bondi B (or S) size 10 is equivalent to a size 10.5 in a 2011.
You can see the manufacturing date on the tongue label. A 2011 size 10.5 is identical in size to a 2012 size 10.
As far as I know, the sizing problems with the 2011 Bondi B were unique to it and none of the other Hoka models such as the Mafate were sized wrong and suffered from being labeled wrong.
If anyone out there has more accurate or detailed knowledge of the history of the sizing issues of the Bondi B and Hoka shoes in general, please leave a comment and clarify the mystery.
Is the Upper of the Bondi S more Breathable as Claimed?
Some reviewers complained about the upper on the orginal Bondi B not being very breathable and caused your feet to get hot and sweaty. I must admit I did not notice this. So I do not notice the Bondi S being any different as far as feeling more breathable and cool. The only differences between the uppers of the Bondi S and the Bondi B appear to be minor and mostly cosmetic.
The tongue of the Bondi S has less cushioning than the Bondi B. If you have a sensitive boney instep, this lack of cushioning may make the Bondi S less comfortable than the Bondi B.
The insoles (sock liners) of the Bondi S are a softer sponger open cell material than the insoles of the Bondi B (at least my 2011 models). When new, this makes the Bondi S feel slightly softer and even cushier than the Bondi B.
The speed lace system does make getting the Bondi S shoes on and off quick and easy. If this is important to you, then choose the Bondi S over the Bondi B. This is the only real significant difference between the two Bondi models.
For the most part, the Bondi S is the same shoe as the Bondi B. It runs and feels the same. So my review of the Bondi B applies just as well to the Bondi S.
The Bondi is a comfortable super cushy training shoe. If you have foot problems, depending upon the specifics of the foot troubles the Bondi can make running comfortable again. The Bondi is not a high performance responsive fast shoe.
Having over a year of experience doing part time running in the Bondi B and now in the Bondi S I would have to say that the high mileage claims of the Bondi B are over rated for most runners. Some people claim that they can get upwards of 1000 miles in Hokas and this justifies their high cost. My experience is that the Bondi (either the B or S as they have the same sole) is a fragile shoe. A single run on rugged rocky terrain can rip the outsoles right off them requiring regluing and repairing if possible. The thick cushy sole also tends to compress in non-uniform ways causing the shoe to have a tilt. Whether the sole on the inside or the outside of the foot compresses more depends upon an individual’s biomechanics. For me, I must be a pronator in my right foot as the inside of my right shoe compresses significantly faster than the left. Once it develops a significant tilt, the shoe is ready to be retired – as I start developing hip and knee irritation. This compression starts to become apparent after as little as 100 miles. So I don’t see how people are getting 1000 miles out of a pair of Bondis, unless they have totally neutral perfect running biomechanics.