The Mach is one of the best well-rounded road shoes we’ve tested and as one tester put it, “If I could only have one road shoe this would be the one.” It had the whole package; it’s lightweight, responsive, cushioned and just whole lot of fun to run in. A direct descendant of the Clayton, the Mach maintained everything people enjoyed about the Clayton, while fixing everything people didn’t like. Hoka’s new dual density ProFly midsole delivers seemingly opposing forces of a soft landing with a firm take off.
In its first generation, the Mach is one of three shoes in Hoka’s all-new Fly Collection, a new line of shoes that stays true to Hoka’s classical soft, smooth with oversized cushioning model, however with an added twist, putting more of an emphasizes on performance. Derived as a direct descendant from the Hoka One One Clayton, the Mach maintains all the positive attributes of the Clayton; a light, fast and responsive ride, but built on a new last with an improved fit. Even our testers who were hesitant the Mach was nothing more than a marketing name change, agreed, “The Mach is definitely a rewrite on the Clayton,” adding, “The shoe is way simpler and really benefited from high cushion and lightweight.”
Of the three all-new shoes that compromise the Fly Collection (Mach, Cavu and Elevon), the Mach is the most performance-oriented. Its winning combination of ProFly midsole layered with RMAT outside is the perfect marriage between a smooth, soft cushioning and responsive ride. Hoka’s new ProFly midsole, which spans across all three models in the Fly Collection uses dual density foam, strategically placing softer foam under the heel to soften the landings while a firmer more responsive foam is placed on the forefoot for a more propulsive exit.
The Mach’s biggest change over the Clayton comes in the fit, which is a huge upgrade. Built from an entirely different last from the Clayton, the Mach’s upper offers more volume and made with a softer, more breathable material.
From the get-go the Mach is an easy-to-wear shoe, light, airy and very comfortable. Despite the Clayton bloodline, the Mach feels nothing like the Clayton. All issues surrounding the Clayton’s stiff and tight fitting uncomfortable upper have been resolved.
The engineered mesh upper is completely free of overlays and collapses completely flat. This free-form design to the upper combined with an ultra light midsole gives it a light, flexible comfortable fit as if the shoe disappears once on your feet. As one tester put it, “The feather lightness combined with maximal cushion feel makes the running experience so much fun everyone should try it.”
A premium liner with minimal padded highlighted the backend to prevent irritation surrounding the ankle collar however the thin tongue became somewhat of an issue when laced in tight. This lack of sufficient cushioning in the tongue did cause undue pressure.
Despite its Clayton’s roots, the Mach is a completely different fitting shoe. Hoka firmly addressed every design issue with the Clayton, to make a much better fitting trainer. Starting off a completely new last then the Clayton, the Mach has much more volume and a wider platform then the Clayton had. The upper is softer and much more pliable, accommodating a wider range of foot widths. Even one tester, who was turned off by how poorly the Clayton fit, noted how improved the fit was.
All testers agreed the Mach to fit true to size in both length and width. As compare to other shoes tested the Mach accommodates a wide variety of feet. Both the upper and toe box are spacious, but can easily be synced down by a six-eyelet lacing system for those with narrow feet. Once in the saddle and locked in, the upper securely wraps the midfoot giving the runner a good ability to control the shoe. The ankle collar and Achilles tab sits fairly low around ankle, but never allowed any heel lift during the run. Just behind the heel a small tab of the midsole extends up the backend acting as a bumper as the heel approaches the ground, giving the Mach added rear-end structure and support.
Like peanut butter and jelly, Hoka’s dual density ProFly midsole is a perfect marriage. Seemingly opposing forces of firm and soft are packed into the dual density ProFly technology where softer density foam is placed under the heel for a cushioned landing while firmer density foam under the forefoot helps makes the forefoot even more stable, the feeling should be that of enhanced propulsion. Testers agreed the dual density ProFly midsole to be one of the most responsive bottom unit tested, as one noted, “The shoe is light, agile, and has a huge energy return The denser forefoot makes a crisp toe off, and unlike some of the max cushioned Hoka’s, I felt a lot of forward momentum and power at the start of each stride.”
Of all the Hoka models the Mach has a low-profile feeling. At no point does the shoe feel excessively elevated off the ground. This low to the ground feeling allows the runner to feel more connected to the ground and able to respond faster. Mach was snappy, eager to please. Upon immediate ground contact, the ProFly midsole absorbed and then gave back, pushing you forward.
Of all the shoes tested this season the Mach was the go-to shoe for any faster running as one tester put it, “By far the fasted HOKA I have ever tried.” Its sweet spot ranged from easy recovery runs to race day. A light build, sturdy platform and response ride made getting up to faster paces easy.
The Mach was one of the best riding shoes tested and best described as light, smooth and responsive. It has a big sweet spot making it well suited for heel, mid or forefoot strikers for anything from a slow recovery run to race day. All our testers raved about how well rounded, smooth and fun riding the Mach was, and as one tester put it, “The ride quality is so good in these shoe that I can go out feeling over-trained, sore and tired and comeback feeling like a took Advil and a nap. I am not joking. They are that good.”
Hoka streaks a winning combination with their dual density ProFly midsole and RMAT outside. This mighty pairing of foam allows a softer backend for landing and then a smooth transition to a firmer, more responsive frontend for a stronger more propulsive toe off. Often times the outsole will steal some of the cushioning from the midsole, giving the shoe a less cushioned and perhaps dead feel. This was not the case with Mach. The RMAT outsole is seamless with the ProFly midsole with absolutely no hint of degrading ride quality.
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HOW WE TESTED
Each summer and winter when shoe companies release their latest models Gear Institute receives the top shoes and puts each through an extensive testing process. A team of five male and female testers put each shoe through the test of miles over terrain such as concrete, asphalt, grass, dirt and track. Each shoe is judged on five categories: Comfort, Fit, Responsiveness, Speed and Ride Quality and given a score of 1 to 10, with 10 being perfect.
Testing protocol for road running shoes involves an extensive hands-on process across multiple testers over a period of at least two months. Each tester is avid runner, running over 30 miles per week over varying terrain including but not limited to concrete, asphalt, grass, track and dirt. The testing team is structured with a team lead and several wear testers.