HOKA Cielo Road Review: An Affordable Racing Shoe For 10K Racing

With a low drop, low profile, light weight and great price, the HOKA Cielo Road running shoe is one to consider if you like to run fast 5k and 10ks.


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The key specifications

  • Price: $160 from HOKA.com
  • Sizing and fit: True to size. Medium width.
  • Weight: 7.1oz for a size US(M)9 (my pair).
  • Drop: 3mm
  • Toe box width: Regular – not too snug or wide on me
  • Stability: Neutral – no extra support or stability features added
  • Cushioning: Light
  • Best for: Speed-loving runners with good form, running up to 10k

The Cielo Road is a UNISEX running shoe, so there’s one version for both men and women’s.

Hey everyone, it’s Alastair here from Trail and Kale, bringing you my HOKA Cielo Road review, which is super timely as I only just reviewed the Cielo X1 super shoe a few days ago.

The first thing you should know about the HOKA Cielo Road is who these running shoes are designed for, because they wont be for everyone. The Cielo Road aimed squarely at those chasing podium finishes and personal bests, and it’s ideal for speed-loving runners, racing shorter distances, up to 10K.

HOKA Cielo Road review by Alastair | Trail & Kale
HOKA Cielo Road review by Alastair | Trail & Kale

Thanks to their firm cushioning and responsive feel, these shoes push you to unleash your speed potential. However, with a minimal 3mm drop, they demand effort for each stride, closely mimicking the sensation of a track spike shoe—minus the spikes, of course.

This design means they’re clearly targeted at 5K and 10K runners looking for that competitive edge. If that doesn’t sound like you, head over to our guide to the best HOKA running shoes to get matched up to a more suitable pair of HOKAs, we’ve reviewed all the latest and greatest editions!

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HOKA Cielo Road Video Review

HOKA Cielo Road Video Review

Head over to my HOKA Cielo Road video review post to watch it now.

The features of the HOKA Cielo Road that I like

As I mentioned earlier, these are very lightweight running shoes and feature a minimal 3mm drop from heel to toe, emphasizing their lightweight design at just 7.1 oz. It feels like you’re wearing almost nothing, which is incredible for those who love a lightweight shoe.

There are several standout features that caught my attention. First off, the shoe’s responsiveness is a game-changer. The low drop and slim profile encourage a swift pace. However, it requires a bit of adjustment, especially if you’re new to running in shoes with such a low drop.

You’ll find yourself running more on your toes or forefoot, which promotes a natural running form. This shift might put some strain on your calves initially, especially if you’re not accustomed to this style, but the effort pays off with noticeable performance gains.

Despite their focus on responsiveness, these shoes surprisingly offer a decent level of cushioning. They’re protective without sacrificing the feeling of speed, a balance not often found in racing shoes.

The absence of a carbon plate, relying solely on foam in the midsole, contributes to both the shoe’s lightness and its more accessible price point of $160.

The upper is another high point, it’s ultra-lightweight, minimal, and exceptionally breathable. You can literally see through the air holes in the knit upper, allowing for excellent ventilation and a bit of toe-wiggling freedom.

The shoe’s design is minimalist around the collar and tongue, with a gusseted tongue that enhances comfort.

The lacing system is reliable and easy to adjust for a snug fit.

Inside the shoe, cushioned pillows cradle the heel, providing a comfortable and secure hold, reminiscent of the Cielo X1‘s design that accommodates the Achilles nicely.

Lastly, the outsole deserves praise for its excellent grip. Even in wet conditions, the traction has been great, allowing for confident and efficient cornering without any slips. You can check out pictures of the outsole in the full image gallery at the end of this review.

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Features that I feel could be improved for the future Cielo Road 2

Moving onto a few drawbacks, it’s important to note that these are indeed firm shoes with a low drop, which, as mentioned earlier, means you’ll need to put in extra effort to achieve that top speed.

This characteristic is typical for shoes designed for speed, but it does require an adjustment period, especially if you’re not accustomed to running in low-drop footwear.

If you’ve invested in these shoes and are finding the transition challenging, hang in there. Over time, your calves and overall biomechanics will adapt, becoming stronger and more efficient.

Another aspect to consider is the shoe’s limitation due to its firm and responsive nature.

Personally, I wouldn’t recommend using these for races longer than 10km. The reason being, the cushioning, while sufficient for shorter distances, may not provide the comfort needed for longer runs.

Beyond 10km, you might start to feel the lack of cushioning. However, for anything up to that distance, they perform exceptionally well, and honestly, there’s not much else to fault with these shoes.

HOKA Cielo Road review summary

At $160 I think they’re very reasonably priced for a racing shoe like this… IF you’re the type of shorter-distance speedy runner they’re targeted at, you’ll really enjoy running in them.

Where to buy the Cielo Road

You can pick up a pair of these unisex Cielo Road shoes directly from HOKA on their website, HOKA.com:

Thank you for reading this review, If you found it helpful, please share it with friends who might also enjoy it, and don’t forget to subscribe to Newsletter for more insightful running shoe reviews, running 101 advice, and full access to our training plans. Your support is greatly appreciated!


Image gallery

As the founder of Trail & Kale, and seasoned marathoner & ultrarunner, Alastair loves bringing our readers independent running shoe reviews and gear insights to help you run your best. Learn more about Trail & Kale here.


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