The original version of the Hoka One One Speedgoat missed the mark for me. Big time. I won’t belabor the point here too much but I’ll just say that while I found the ride to be a lot of fun, the fit of the upper and some consistently annoying blistering turned me off. If you’d like to read my original review, give a click HERE. Now however, Hoka One One has launched the Speedgoat 2 and, to me, this is such a vastly different shoe so I won’t be doing very much comparing between the versions. So did things get better?
The outsole of the Hoka One One Speedgoat 2 is made using Vibram’s Megagrip rubber compound. In the first version of this shoe the lugs were a version of the Hoka One One logo which is fine but sometimes when branding takes center stage, design can find itself taking a secondary role. In the Speedgoat 2, the ~5mm deep lugs are a different shape (which I’m not going to even try to describe so take a look at the image below) which, in my opinion, are deeper and certainly improved. These lugs are mainly laid out to account for direction of travel and to grip in different spots of the outsole depending on whether ascending or descending. The front half of the shoe contains no truly visible flex grooves though the back half of the shoe does have a couple of grooves beginning at the midfoot ostensibly to maintain a modicum of flex despite the prodigious amount of foam in the rearfoot. There is also a significant cutaway of any outsole material just under the heel where exposed foam is plainly visible.
First, I love the Vibram Megagrip rubber which Hoka has chosen to use in the Speedgoat 2. This is a compound which I found to be fantastic in wet conditions (including a VERY late-season snowfield which I was able to come across in a high alpine adventure) and certainly in dry conditions. Its grip on dirt trail is excellent but it shines when rocks are underfoot and the rubber itself is the primary source of grip (rather than the edges of the lugs). Speaking of the lugs, the new, deeper design is excellent and truly enhances the grip of the underfoot material. The lack of forefoot flex grooves didn’t bother me and I actually felt that because of that the shoe didn’t fold/bend/buckle across a distinct line but rather, bent with a fairly uniform curve which enhanced the underfoot feel. Durability has also been a highlight for me in this shoe. With roughly 60 miles in the Speedgoat 2 there is very little wear of the outsole rubber and while there are quite a few more knicks and such in the exposed bits of foam, even they aren’t anything to write home about.
If you’re reading this you likely know about the whole, “maximalist” thing which Hoka One One running shoes tend to fall into. In the case of the Speedgoat 2, the stack of the midsole has lost a millimeter or so with stack heights of 32mm in the heel and 27.5mm in the forefoot for a net drop of 4.5mm. The midsole is made from injection molded EVA foam and seems/feels to be a single-density from front to back. In this version of the Speedgoat we also see a wider platform in the midsole which, as we’ll see in a second, enhances not only the overall stability of the shoe on off-camber terrain but also enhances the fit and movement of the shoe.
In version one of the Speedgoat, I commented how much I enjoyed the bouncy and not marshmallow-esque at all midsole of the shoe and how much fun it made the feel. In the case of the Speedgoat 2, I’m still impressed by the feel of the midsole material but in this case, there seem to have been some redesigned aspects which hold up the foot much better than in the previous iteration in which I found my first metatarsal head collapsing a bit into the material and thus, winding up with a troublesome hotspot and ultimately, a blister. Maybe it was the wider platform, or maybe a better laid-out midsole directly underfoot, but in any case, there was not even the slightest hint of a hotspot and certainly no blistering – even after more than 5 hours of moving in this shoe in one shot.
The upper of the Hoka One One Speedgoat 2 is much improved over version one of the shoe. First, the body of the upper itself is made from an engineered mesh which provides areas of breathability but also adding some base structure to the shoe for off-camber and technical terrain. On top of the mesh of the upper is a bonded TPU overlay which builds up a support system primarily in the midfoot but which extends fully to the front and rear of the shoe. These overlays tie the base of the upper to the midsole, up into the lacing area and around the perimeter of the shoe – all without sacrificing much in the way of breathability. Internally the shoe is quite seamless and those few seams which do peek through are so minimal as to have no affect on the foot within.
The tongue which in the first version of this shoe extended pretty much to the front end of the shoe has, in this case, been brought back up the shoe to a more traditional attachment at the top of the vamp/bottom of the laces. The laces do extend all the way down to the metatarsal heads for added customizability and run through tongue loops at the top and bottom of the tongue to prevent lateral slide. Foam in the upper of the Speedgoat 2 is a solid amount all the way around without being overstuffed or too minimal for comfort.
The upper of this shoe is so much better for me (a fact I’ll touch on a bit more below in the FIT section) that I seem to have pushed version one of the Speedgoat out of my mind. First, the materials have a much more cohesive feel to me. The fact that the mesh is the dominant material between the foot and the structure makes for a very consistent and supple feel. With that said though, the engineering of the mesh working in concert with the support overlays on top of the mesh offers a strong but gentle on-the-foot construction which tackles some very off-camber terrain quite well. This is especially important for a shoe with such a high stack where there is the potential for more roll on technical terrain.
Ok, let’s not mince words for a second here: the fit of the original Speedgoat was awful for me. But today we’re here to talk about the Speedgoat 2 so let’s just focus on that. In this version of the shoe, the sizing is right at industry standard so you should be good to go with your normal sizing. The wider platform of the midsole offers a lot more room for the foot to not only be comfortable simply sitting neutrally inside the shoe but even more so when technical terrain comes to play.
The rear foot with its flexible heel counter and good amount of foam combine with the lacing for a comfortable lockdown without feeling too constrictive. Moving into the midfoot I found the external structure provided a fantastic “hug” to the foot which is, once again, not overly constrictive and allowed a lot of ability for the foot to control the situation within the shoe as opposed to the shoe calling the shots and simply taking the foot along for the ride. The forefoot is probably where the Speedgoat 2’s fit has seen the most improvement. In this area there is a good amount of room across the metatarsal heads (thanks again, wider platform!) and while there is certainly room for some additional room on the lateral side of the toe box, I felt that there was a fairly adequate amount of room for the toes to do their thing with wiggle and splay.
Contrary to what you might think about my feelings on the OG Speedgoat, I actually enjoyed the ride. In the Hoka One One Speedgoat 2 the ride is a bit more stable on uneven terrain thanks to the wider midsole platform. The new outsole and midsole design work together well to provide a very secure and sure-footed ride. One thing of interest to me is that while the bounce of the ride from the first version is still there, there seems to be a bit less spring than in the SG1. For me, this actually adds a bit more in the way of control and foot response. Part of this is because the focus can more easily be on the function of the foot and part of it is a slightly increased ground feel and sense. This is still one of my favorite parts of the Speedgoat 2 as it was with version 1.
It’s not often that I find myself patting a brand on the back quite so enthusiastically but in the case of the Speedgoat 2, Hoka One One certainly deserves it. With the first version I was one of a chorus of voices asking for a lot of improvements and while it could easily have been that Hoka went to the drawing board by themselves without any consideration to those of us looking for improvement, it sure looks like they instead took the feedback given and ran (pardon the pun) with it. The Speedgoat 2 shoe isn’t simply a much-improved shoe, it’s a good shoe regardless of the leaps and bounds it has made in its evolution.
For this improvement, you are still going to pay the same price as with version one which, if you’re familiar with Hoka One One, won’t come as a surprise. At $140, I feel like while it is pricey, it’s not overly so. We’d love to hear what you think of the improvements in version two of the Speedgoat to see other perspectives of how things have changed!