hoka mach ss cover
RoadShoe ReviewsSite Feature

HOKA Mach Supersonic Review: Not Quite Super Nor Sonic

What You Need To Know

  • Weighs 8.3 oz. (235 g.) for a US M9 / 6.9 oz. (195 g.) for a US W7
  • You could probably tow Gravedigger out of quicksand with the passive pull tab
  • Can the updated PROFLY+ midsole reach Mach speeds?
  • Coming in March 2022 for $150

ROBBE: While I’m completely new to the Hoka Mach world (I’ve never run in a version of the Mach), I have used the Mach razor series (this mustache doesn’t groom itself), so I’m assuming that makes me an expert on anything Mach. It’s quite similar to someone with a PhD in Byzantine art calling themselves a “doctor.”

In any case, there was much ballyhoo about the Mach 4 last year when it came out, and it landed on many year-end lists (it almost made ours). At the time of its release, we were somewhat shocked at how good of a shoe it was, considering that the Mach line was fairly ho-hum throughout its history. So while I never tried that shoe or any of its predecessors, I was very interested to get my feet into the redundant Mach Supersonic, especially with a new midsole compound. Would this break the sound barrier and have me feeling like Detlef Schrempf feeding Shawn Kemp on my way to another NBA Jam victory? Or would it simply crash and burn?

BRANDON: To achieve Supersonic speed, you would have to run around 343 meters per second. Hoka seems to think that maybe, just maybe, the Mach Supersonic can take you one step closer to it. Going into testing, I have to admit, I had really high hopes. With all the hype around the Hoka Mach 4, I figured the Mach Supersonic would be an upgrade, right? Before we move forward, it’s important to note that this isn’t the Hoka Mach 5. The Supersonic is more of a stepping stone shoe. This is more of a Hoka Mach 4.5 if you will.

So what’s new about this shoe and what’s supposed to make it so special? Well for starters the biggest change has to be the addition of the PROFLY+ midsole that’s stacked on top of a standard and more firm EVA foam and outsole. The upper is constructed of a traditional engineered jacquard mesh upper and an extremely aggressive pull tab in the heel. Looks-wise, I usually hate orange and blue together, but Hoka has been killing it in the color and design game lately, so I have to give them a win off the bat for designing a great-looking shoe. So, for $150 does this shoe live up to the impressive hype of the Mach 4? Maybe, maybe not.

THOMAS: The Hoka Mach 4 was a surprise in 2021. The Mach 4 is a smooth lower to the ground daily trainer that can feel fast when you want it. In addition, the upper fit is as good as anything on the market. As a result, we gave the Mach 4 an honorable mention in our 2021 Best In Gear Awards, which it deserved. I had high hopes for the Mach Supersonic, mostly because Hoka added a new supercritical layer of foam to the midsole. While Hoka’s EVA blend is fantastic for the first 100 miles, it starts to feel stale over time. The addition of a supercritical foam should extend the responsiveness of the shoe.

hoka mach ss top

The Good

ROBBE: Well, this shoe looks good as hell. I also can’t tell if it’s Hoka starting to look like other shoes, or other shoes all starting to look like Hoka, but this looks like… a normal running shoe. I love the design of it, the two-tone paint of the midsole, and that absurd pull tab that could double as a tow strap on a Ford Raptor Super Duty, if such a thing existed.

Full disclosure, my shoe was about a half-size too big which seems to be the trend of Hoka these days, but I was still able to use it fine, there was just extra room in the toe box.

I really liked the fit of this upper which is an engineered mesh and features a spongy tongue that wraps the foot nicely. It’s a slimmer Hoka, so it has a more narrow fit through the throat, which I fully approve of. It’s also very light for what’s going on here, so no issues with the weight at all.

On the run, it’s responsive in that it’s firm with little flexibility in the forefoot, so it does offer a nice pop off the toe when trying to pick it up. I’m not going to say Hoka listened to us as we asked for an update to their traditional EVA that’s been hanging around like a good habit turned bad sometime during the pandemic, but they did change it up.

The new Profly+ midsole with a supercritical composition is interesting. But it’s uninteresting. More on that later.

BRANDON: The fit of the shoe is pretty nice. With a gusseted tongue and narrow upper, this shoe feels like your standard tempo shoe. The lock and lacing system around the midfoot allow for a snug fit. For a shoe that doesn’t have any additional outsole rubber, the traction under the foot is well done. Even in the iciest of conditions, I found myself having no issues keeping stable. The PROFLY+ foam is well done. The foam offers an initial soft step-in feel. However, not everything after that is so pretty.

THOMAS: The Mach Supersonic’s upper fits very similar to the Mach 4, so much so they are relatively the same. The Supersonic gets a seatbelt-worthy pull tab added. The fit is good, and the heel counter works well at locking the ankle down. Overall, it is very comfortable. The gusseted tongue gets more padding this go around and sits up a little higher.

I was excited to see the addition of the supercritical foam on the top layer of the midsole. The change in foams is the significant difference between the Mach 4 and the Mach Supersonic. Typically, supercritical foams reduce weight and feel more responsive. The bottom layer of foam is EVA-based and has rubber mixed into the formula so that the bottom of the shoe can forego an outsole. I can see some wear on the outsole after 40-miles, but it is cosmetic and does not affect the ride or traction of the shoe.

The Mach Supersonic feels light on the foot at 9.1 oz/258 grams for my size 10.5. It may be that the shoe is tuned to feel faster than the Mach 4, but the Supersonic is firmer and less bouncy than the Mach 4. Overall, the Mach Supersonic rides smoothly through all stride phases with a less aggressive rocker than we are used to in shoes like the Hoka Clifton 8.

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hoka mach ss side

The Bad

ROBBE: I just didn’t like the ride of this shoe. At all. I tried, so many times. Probably took it out on at least five runs of 5-8 miles in length. It was neither super nor sonic to me, unless you’re talking about how I feel after eating Sonic, which is not great. But hey, no ragrets, a patty melt at closing time is always a good idea.

So how about this new Profly+ midsole? Being supercritical, I expected something along the lines of literally every supercritical/nitrogen-infused shoe we’ve tried– Brooks Hyperion Tempo, Skechers GOrun Razor 3, Puma Liberate Nitro. But nope, this is the first time I’ve actually been super critical of supercritical. This layer of Profly+ on top of EVA feels stiff, it’s super slappy, it’s firm, and holy shit, it’s loud as f***. This has to be the loudest shoe I’ve worn outside the Alphafly. Good news for dog walkers in front of me, bad news for runners who don’t want to sound like a clown trying to catch a bus. All-in-all it’s just very un-Hoka-like.

I’m not sure where the hollow sound comes from (maybe the cut-out in the rear foot area of the outsole), but the whole run sounds like you’re knocking on a wall looking for where the cartel hid their money.

As a follower on Instagram said: “Profly+, more like Profly-sus.”

BRANDON: And moving on to the bad. Sure, every shoe is going to have its cons and this one does too. The most noticeable issue with this shoe is how blocky it feels underfoot. The poor flexibility and rigid firm feeling of the standard EVA under the PROFLY+ ruins the step-in feel for me. If this shoe was all PROFLY+, we would have an incredible shoe on our hands. Because of that blocky EVA, the shoe never really provided that bounce or poppy feeling under the foot. Unfortunately, the shoe just felt a little flat. For a shoe that is meant to go fast, I certainly didn’t feel it.

THOMAS: Sigh, Supercritical foam should make a shoe lighter and more responsive. The Supersonic is heavier than the Mach 4, and I prefer the ride of the Mach 4. The Mach 4 is softer underfoot, more flexible, and has more rebound than the Supersonic. The Supersonic feels hollow, blocky, and less luxurious than the Mach 4.

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hoka mach ss sole tab

 

HOKA Mach Supersonic Conclusion

ROBBE: I had high hopes for this shoe. It looks phenonenal, it seems like it has everything we’d want, but it just fell flat. Is it the worst shoe ever? No. But for $150, there are plenty of other options out there.

Nevertheless, I do appreciate Hoka attempting to innovate with some new foams, because it was long overdue. And I think you’ll be very happy to see what comes of other experimentation in 2022, namely in the soon-to-be-reviewed Tecton X. You win some, you lose some. Detlef knows what’s up, he’s seen Muggsy Bogues on fire in the fourth quarter.

BRANDON: So does the Mach Supersonic live up to its name? For me, probably not. I went into this review wanting to love this shoe. This was my first experience in a Hoka. When I think of a Hoka, I think of a high stack, plush, and bouncy ride. I don’t feel the Mach Supersonic really provided those feelings for me. It was the most un-Hoka, Hoka shoe. This shoe is best for someone who prefers a firmer ride and wants an uptempo Hoka trainer.

THOMAS: The Mach Supersonic could be called the Mach 4.5. It is primarily an introduction to some new foam recipes. If you like the Mach 4 but want a faster firmer feel through the stride, the Mach Supersonic might be what you’re looking for. Other shoes I would compare it to would be the Saucony Kinvara 12, Brooks Launch 7, ASICS GT 2000 10, and the Puma Velocity Nitro. Some of the magic I found in the Mach 4 is missing. Scoop up the 4 if the shoe is one of your favorites.

You can pick up the Hoka Mach Supersonic in March 2022 for $150 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.

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Brandon is the video editor and fastest runner on the Believe in the Run core team. He’s from New Jersey but lives in Baltimore where he recently graduated from Loyola University.

Robbe is the Senior Editor/Review Manager for BITR. He lives in Baltimore with his wife and two sons and runs with the Faster Bastards. When he’s not running in weird places or getting injured in odd ways, he can be found hiking, camping, bikepacking, or hanging with friends.

2 Comments

  1. 343 miles per minute? Or roughly Mach 27 at sea level… Or 20600mph, getting close to escape velocity there cowboy.

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