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Track & Cross Country Running Shoes • January 13, 2022

HOKA Cielo X LD Spike Performance Review

hoka cielo x ld spike side

What You Need To Know

  • Weighs 3.7 oz. (104.89 g.) for a US M9/ US W10.5
  • Best (and brightest) upper in the whole dang game
  • You already know — X means a carbon plate
  • Coming soon at Running Warehouse for $160

MERCER: The HOKA Cielo X LD, probably one of the worst kept secrets of prototype shoes in history (besides the Streakfly), has finally arrived. And after seeing it on the feet of Olympians such as Luis Grijalva, it begs the question, is there a new top-of-the-line spike? This spike takes a lot of inspiration from older spikes such as the Nike Matumbo and gives them a new light. Some may find they like it better than new age spikes like the Dragonfly or New Balance LDX.

JORDYNN: Let me introduce the Hoka Cielo X LD. The color is Radiant Yellow, but it’s more of a sun-kissed tangerine and grapefruit combination, with a faint baby blue sole and logo lettering. You will definitely have all eyes on your feet from the stands. This spike reminds me of my favorite state to run in — sunny, citrusy Florida!

The materials are 100% mesh upper, with a carbon fiber strike plate, foam sole, and 4-pattern spike placement. The laces are just the right size (which by now you know long laces are a pet peeve of mine), the spike has a heel forming lock, with just the right amount of venting along the sides and forefoot perfect for the airing out the buildup of the summer heat. The colors are just amazing, and the strike plate is a holographic material that will have your competitors admiring the back of your feet as you blaze past them. Overall, the Cielo has a nice snug feel with the right amount of leeway in the toebox and lots of flexibility.

hoka cielo x ld spike heel

The Good

MERCER: Starting with the upper that looks and feels like it was ripped straight off the Matumbo and Victory 3, the Hoka Cielo X LD provides the best fitting upper for spikes I have tried on in a long time. It is light and airy and disappears on foot, and the lacing system locks it down to a science. The upper is definitely the best part of this shoe, and I am hopeful that this style of engineered mesh comes back to the forefront of long-distance spikes.

And it’s so great that they used it for their mid-distance shoe, too.

Switching gears to the bottom of the shoe, the strike plate is reasonably standard with a horseshoe plate with teeth surrounding the outline of the shoe, which gave a fairly decent grip on the track and allowed for a quick turnover. There is a solid amount of exposed foam and the exposed plate, but you don’t really care unless you’re running on a gravel track, and it saves some weight. Hoka decided to add some more grippy plastic at the outer heel for some stability features, and I haven’t had any problems.

The carbon fiber used in this shoe is probably my favorite use of a plate, it isn’t too noticeable, but it keeps the legs moving when they are shredded.

JORDYNN: I loved that the spikes were so lightweight. These were probably some of the lightest distance spikes that I have worn. In the past, you sometimes had an extremely light shoe that ended up weighed down by its plate. This was not the case with the Hoka Cielo X LD. Even though the plate was light, there was still some durability and flexibility in the shoe, which helped at the end of my runs when I was using more propulsion to finish. Not to mention the beauty again, but the color is just so vibrant, like a succulent orange waiting to be picked.

Shop HOKA Racing Shoes – Men Shop HOKA Racing Shoes – Women hoka cielo x ld spike laces

The Bad

MERCER: The recent trend of distance spikes is getting more aggressive forefoot plates, and this shoe really needed that — the center of the ball of my foot just felt weak and useless because there was no plate filling that spot (internal or external).

The future is now, and every brand is leaving EVA out of their race shoes except HOKA, it seems. The midsole was a mushy mess at 70 degrees, yet a brick at 45 degrees and the only thing that barely got it moving was that plate.

I’m also slightly tearing the upper off of the foam in my right foot, but that might be just my model.

JORDYNN: Overall, the Hoka Cielo X LD were phenomenal. However, I feel like I would only be able to get in a few weekend races with the spike. My intuition says that it is not made for durability, and its useful life would be relatively short. I feel this way because of how light and airy the foam sole is. And one wrong step from myself or a competitor would tear it apart rather quickly. The goal with this spike would be to use the lightweight advantage to get out in front early and leave everyone else behind.

Shop HOKA Racing Shoes – Men Shop HOKA Racing Shoes – Women hoka cielo x ld spike side and sole

HOKA Cielo X LD Spike Conclusion

MERCER: If this shoe dropped at the 2016 Olympics, HOKA would have both the greatest spike in the world and probably a letter from Nike telling them to stop copying their upper. But we are here in 2022 now, and the midsole just doesn’t hold up to FuelCell or ZoomX. If you enjoyed spikes from the past, this will be your favorite thing ever, but if you crave that new technology, you might want to look at another brand.

JORDYNN: I would rate the HOKA Cielo X LD Spike in my top five choices for both race day ready and track fashionista. The spike is the perfect color for an energetic pick-me-up and has the perfect fit and function to help you win some races. I can’t wait to try the spike out during the season, so hopefully, you’ll see me out there soon lookin’ like a smooth orange flash around the track!

You can pick up the HOKA Cielo X LD soon at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.

Shop HOKA Racing Shoes – Men Shop HOKA Racing Shoes – Women


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Mercer Alden
College XC/Track Reviewer
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Mercer is a collegiate athlete at the University Of Lynchburg, majoring in being awesome. He’s also extremely talented at folding shirts during GRIT packing at the Believe in the Run HQ.

All-time favorite shoes: Asics Gel-Kayano Lite, Hoka Clifton 6, On Cloudmonster

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