ROBBE: Ever since I tried the slow-burn Sativa science experiment known as the HOKA TenNine (“Dude, what if we just take like, the number ten, then subtract a number and like, put that on there, and call it that?”), I’d been wondering how that shoe’s Go-Go-Gadget extendo-heel would work on a road shoe. Because the thing is, I really loved the experience of running in the TenNine– it was HOKA’s beautiful dark twisted fantasy, but it was fun. Its weight was just absurd. However, I was hoping they’d make a lighter road version, and well, here we are.
At first glance, the Clifton Edge looks like a combination of the HOKA Elevon, TenNine, (is anyone noticing how we’re counting down right now?), and the Clifton, which isn’t a number…yet. Wait ‘til Elon Musk gets his hands on it. Part of me thinks the ‘Clifton’ in the Clifton Edge is only there for familiarity– dropping this shoe on its own with a new name would be quite the leap off the edge (you’re welcome).
So is it more like The Edge, guitarist of U2? Delayed and textured guitar riffs over Bono’s “I can save the world one song at a time” lyricism? Or more like the Razor’s Edge, a la Razor Ramon’s finishing move? Well, it’s a f**king shoe, so really, neither. But it’s certainly different than any road shoe out there.
It’s a lightweight road shoe (about the same weight as the regular ol’ Clifton at 8.9 oz./252 g for a US M9.0). The super-wide platform provides stability while featuring an extended heel segment, both on the sides and the rear. It’s jarring, much like HOKA’s maximalist design when it first emerged 8 years ago. In any case, the point of the extended heel segment is to provide an incredibly smooth and effortless transition throughout the stride.
HOKA is super excited about this technology and has already said you’ll start seeing it creep into other models. Will it win runners over? Only time will tell, but what we can tell is that it’s a shoe worth trying, if only to feel something different. We’re always chasing that first high.
THOMAS: Helluva an intro Robbe. It looks like I will have to choose my words well so that this write up doesn’t turn into a TL;DR War and Peace kinda thing. Grab a shot of vodka, here we go comrades…
ROBBE: Like I said, I was excited to see how or if the TenNine technology worked in a road shoe. Good news– it does. Now, the TenNine was marketed as a “downhill running shoe for light trails,” and still, nobody has any idea what that’s supposed to mean. It actually worked fine as a level-ground or uphill running shoe until its weight became an issue. But on downhills it did provide a weirdly smooth transition, where the heel segment almost acted a spring– instead of braking your stride, it threw it forward and rolled right through into the next step.
The Clifton Edge does the same. It’s honestly hard for me to describe, but the sensation truly is different. The midsole has an aggressive early-stage meta rocker– this, combined with the extended heel creates a seamless transition that almost seems like you’re gliding through each stride without trying. Personally, I loved it.
I’m not sure how they got the weight down to what they did, except for the fact that the midsole is pretty firm for a HOKA. It does not have the comfort of the Clifton but the new, high-resiliency foam used in the midsole provides enough comfort that you can log plenty of miles in.
I logged close to 30 miles in the shoe and have to say, it’s probably my favorite HOKA to date, outside of the Hupana Flow. I like the firm ride (firm for HOKA anyway), I really love the way it rolls, and you can even pick up the pace nicely in it, especially when going downhill. That said, I’ve come to the recent conclusion that I’m not a traditional HOKA fan (which is why the Hupana Flow is my favorite). More on why I’m not a fan in the next section.
The outsole features rubberized EVA that will hold up for a long time. It’s also stable as shit– I honestly think it’s impossible to roll your ankle in these because the surface area of the outsole is wider than even Baltimore potholes.
One last thing– it looks good, even in the Dunkin’ Donuts colorway, I don’t care what anyone says. The upper looks dope with an embossed TPU yarn and it’s really breathable. I especially liked the reflective elements on the tongue that really pop. And it has the elf-ear collar thing going, even though the people need a pull tab. I’ll forgive them since I don’t get any heel slippage.
THOMAS: First thought, donuts. The colorway has a strong Dunkin’ vibe as Robbe mentioned above. You quickly forget about the color combo as your attention is drawn to the extended heel; however, the heel protrusion is a decoy. When I lined up the Nike Turbo 2, the point off the midsole in its heel section isn’t much shorter. So while you are distracted by the slab you might miss the real innovation of the Clifton Edge.
Robbe and Meaghan will tell you the Clifton Edge’s extended heel helps with a “roll through your stride” sensation. I land midfoot. If you land midfoot, the feature you will notice is the wide stable platform. HOKA pioneered high stack and lighter cushioning, but what do you need when you go higher? You need a wide, stable platform to keep you from twisting ankles. The footprint of the Clifton Edge is massive for a road shoe. The stack height isn’t even that far off from your normal trainers at 29/24mm, 5 mm drop. So while the shoe looks unusual, it isn’t that crazy.
The upper is slick. The Clifton Edge can handle a wide foot– with my narrow foot I had to lace this shoe more snugly than I normally would. Once I had my foot strapped in, the Clifton Edge felt like an extension of my foot. The lacing works well with a very thin gusseted tongue and– although I’m in the minority– I like the padded heel collar with the elf-like peel away tab. The hidden reflective details are icing on the cake.
The ride of the Clifton Edge is cushioned but not mushy, Robbe refers to it as firm. I wouldn’t say it is “firm” especially if you compared to a shoe like the New Balance 890. It falls somewhere between the Clifton and the Elevon in cushion feel. It certainly will not beat your legs up. My size 10.5 weighs 9.5 oz./270 grams, damn light for this much shoe.
MEAGHAN: The Clifton Edge stays true to HOKA with its thick midsole and light build. What stands out the most (figuratively and literally) is the heel. Like the Clifton 7, the Clifton Edge is designed with a flared heel collar that keeps the shoe from rubbing the Achilles. But it also has a flared midsole at the heel. The foam juts out about an inch behind the shoe to create a huge landing zone for your foot. As a slight heel-striker, I really like it. It creates a smooth transition from landing to toe-off.
The midsole/outsole combo has a springy, but firmer feel underfoot. The early-stage meta rocker paired with the flared heel really encourages a forward momentum. It’s kinda like you have someone pushing you along on your run.
I love the fit of this shoe. The forefoot feels extra roomy, but I still get a nice secure fit through the midfoot. The upper is a simple, one piece mesh with some strategically placed TPU yarn that adds a little structure.
The Clifton Edge is surprisingly light. My W7.5 came in at 7.5 oz (213 grams).Shop Clifton Edge – Men Shop Clifton Edge – Women
ROBBE: Man, at first glance that upper looks beautiful, but in function, it was not vibing with me. Honestly, it probably needs a longer break-in period, but it felt a bit stiff. And it just felt a little off for my narrow foot. I couldn’t seem to get a good lockdown and it felt roomy in some spots. You know when you try on a pair of jeans and the inseam and waist are right, but there’s a little too much fabric in one area, and it sits not quite right on the waist (this is basically my experience with anything I’ve ever bought from J. Crew Factory Outlet)?. That’s what this upper felt like to me. Granted, I have a narrow foot (I’m a Nike boi through and through when it comes to fit), so take this all with a grain of salt.
Next, the stability thing. I know HOKA always has wide platforms, but like, the Clifton Edge is Jarret’s foot type wide. It’s so wide that it almost seems to correct your stride too early. Like it stabilizes on the ground before it actually should. This seems to throw off my natural motion at times and I’m not sure if long-term that’s a good thing.
Lastly, even though it weighs the same as the Clifton, after 6-8 miles it starts to feel bottom-heavy to me, which– I know– would make total sense. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it doesn’t feel like a sub-9 oz. shoe in those later miles.
THOMAS: While I don’t shop J. Crew outlets for jeans like my man Robbe, I get what he is expressing about the fit. I resolved that issue by going tighter than I normally would.
On the stability wide platform piece Robbe mentioned, I would agree. On a 10-mile run I noticed my knee was feeling a little fatigue, I attributed the wide platform interrupting my natural stride. The wear on the outsole corroborates my intuition.
MEAGHAN: I would like to start off by reiterating that the fit is amazing and that narrow footed humans like Robbe and Thomas are missing out on the magic.
My only real complaint is the wear on the rubberized EVA outsole. I’ve only put about 40 or so miles on my Clifton Edge, but the outsole looks pretty worn. So far it seems to be cosmetic, but traction may be an issue in slick conditions.Shop Clifton Edge – Men Shop Clifton Edge – Women
ROBBE: I’m giving this shoe a buy rating. Honestly, it will probably be my go-to HOKA. That said, for traditional HOKA fans, I’m not totally sure where it fits in a lineup that already has the Clifton and Rincon. I’d say if you’re looking for a fresh experience in a do-it-all HOKA that has an immense amount of built-in stability, then go for it. Also, if your tastes are that specific, good luck finding a soulmate who’s as weird as you.
Note: the shoe ran a bit big for me, so you may want to go a half-size down.
THOMAS: Do you like HOKA running shoes? Do you like standing out and looking a little left of center? Do you like a stable shoe? If you answered yes to all these questions, then the Clifton Edge is for you. I like it a lot for a daily trainer. It is on the lighter side with plenty of cushion. You could try these on and compare them to the Nike Pegasus 37, ASICS Kayano 27, New Balance 1080v10, Skechers GOrun 7+ Hyper, Saucony Endorphin Shift, and of course the HOKA ONE ONE Clifton 7.
MEAGHAN: I really like the Clifton Edge, but I am unsure of where it fits in or who I would recommend it for. I guess for anyone who feels that other HOKA models are too narrow… or as Thomas noted, if you like to stand out.
The HOKA ONE ONE Clifton Edge comes out on 7/1 for $160. You can pick up the at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.Shop Clifton Edge – Men Shop Clifton Edge – Women