The Hoka One One Carbon X 2 is an all-new version of the maximalist running shoe brand’s headline-catching carbon-plated design.
With the launch of the Carbon X 2, Hoka One One enters its second generation of shoes featuring a carbon plate. This running shoe technology is being increasingly used by brands having already been proven, in both studies and race results, to increase athletes’ running efficiency and outright speed.
It’s because of this that such carbon-plated shoes have courted so much interest. Indeed, the original Hoka Carbon X was launched in May 2019, in the midst of conversation and controversy regarding performance-enhancing shoes such as the Nike Alphafly.
But over 18 months later, the infamy of carbon-infused shoes has abated, largely because more brands such as Hoka have produced their own take on the design to help level the playing field.
The concept is that the carbon plate creates a spring effect while the foam positioned top and bottom can be softer for more cushioning, reducing fatigue. An increase in stack height – always a feature of Hoka’s shoes anyway – also increases effective leg length to improve running economy.
It’s these marginal – and in some cases not so marginal – gains that make the technology of shoes like the Carbon X 2 not just attractive, but crucial, for pro athletes to run at their best.
One such superstar looking forward to seeing how fast the technology can take him is three-time Ironman World Champion, Jan Frodeno, who signed to Hoka One One in spring 2020.
“Running shoes have changed so much technically, and it’s been eye-opening seeing that development,” says the German. “It means a shoe does so much more than protect your foot when you’re running and, over the years, I’ve learned to live for that last five percent of performance.”
As the months go by and such technology becomes more widespread, that tech starts to trickle down to make everyday runners – and triathletes – faster.
Hoka One One Carbon X 2 – What’s New?
For the Carbon X 2, Hoka One One has tackled some of the major criticisms of other carbon-plated race shoes while reinforcing the the brand’s own ethos as the go-to choice for long-distance runners.
In short, the Carbon X 2 is designed to be more comfortable and harder wearing than the raceday-only models from other brands, some of which have very limited useful lives. At £160 (USD$180), they’re also considerably cheaper than Nike’s flagship models.
The centrepiece of the shoe remains its patent-pending carbon fibre plate, sandwiched within the midsole foam. It’s a component designed to aid propulsion on every footstrike, returning energy to keep that springy feel and forward momentum even as the miles wear on.
Hoka has also focused on providing this tech in an inherently stable and supportive package that’s designed to withstand training miles as well as races. The extra support, without the need for medial posts or plastic outsole features will be a boon for Ironman athletes tackling long runs on tired legs.
The carbon is also complemented by an ‘aggressive’ meta-rocker design, which helps to promote a fast, smooth transition through the midfoot and toe-off.
The shoe retains the previous model’s harder-wearing rubberised EVA outsole for durability while there’s more cushioning than before thanks to the Profly midsole foam.
This makes the new model more forgiving on the feet without sacrificing any of the momentum inducing carbon plate tech. Also aiding this is the reshaped sole, which now features an extended, angled heel to help take the sting out of heel striking deep into long runs and races.
The upper has also undergone a complete redesign with a less-is-more approach. There’s a single breathable mesh layer with a bonded, flat gusseted tongue and high-rise heel collar that hugs the achilles. All this means the shoe should provide a more secure wrap of the foot than its predecessor.
At 238g for men’s size 8UK, they’re not lightweights but neither are they hefty, especially considering all the tech and cushioning on offer here.
We can’t wait to see how fast Frodo and other triathletes in the Hoka One One stable can go with this new design. It’ll be fun to follow
Project Carbon X 2
To highlight the new shoe’s promise of ‘going the distance – fast’, Hoka athletes will attempt to break both the men’s and women’s 100k world records with Project Carbon X 2 on 23 January.
The records currently stand at 6:09:14 for the men – set by Japan’s Nao Kazami in 2018 – and 6:33:11 for the women, set by Japan’s Tomoe Abe in 2000.
Two-dozen Hoka athletes in Phoenix, Arizona, will take on the challenge. The group of long-distance stars is headlined by Jim Walmsley, Camille Herron, Elov Olsson and Caitriona Jennings – as well as Great Britain’s Landsend-John O’Groats record holder Carla Molinaro – will make the attempt.
The event will be live-streamed on hokaoneone.com/project-carbon-x-2 at 2pm GMT (7am MST) on 23 January.