If you love the Rocket X 2 and you’re looking for a similar ride in a cheaper, more durable package, the Mach X is the perfect shoe for you.
If you’re looking for a trainer with a similar ride to the Mach 5, the Mach X is not for you. It’s softer, stiffer and a lot heavier than the Mach 5.
When it comes to shoe lineup, Hoka has a running shoe for almost every type of run. From easy runs (Clifton & Bondi), to speed training (Mach 5), to racing (Carbon X 3 & Rocket X 2), Hoka has it covered.
However, there is one type of shoe that’s missing: a plated speed trainer, a companion to their marathon racers.
This has become one of the most popular running shoe categories of today because they’re the plated shoes for the masses.
You could use the outstanding Hoka Mach 5 for speed training but it doesn’t offer as much propulsion as a regular training companion because it doesn’t have a plate in its midsole. It also feels nothing like the Rocket X 2.
Even though it shares the same name, the Mach X has very little in common with the Mach 5. It has more in common with the Rocket X 2; they both have Pebax foam in their midsoles and they both have rubber on their outsoles.
The Rocket X 2 is currently my favourite marathon racer and if it wasn’t for its price and durability, I would use it every single day. A cheaper, more durable version of the Rocket X 2 would be the dream.
The Mach X weighs 266 g (9.4 oz) for a men’s US 9. This is a lot heavier than the Mach 5 which weighs 232 g (8.2 oz) and the Rocket X 2 which weighs about the same as the Mach 5. It costs $180 which is above the price you would pay for most plated, speed trainers.
When I tried the Mach X on in the store, I tried my regular size and also a half size bigger because Hokas tend to have a narrow forefoot and toe box. The half size bigger felt much more comfortable so I bought it.
My first run was a 20 kilometre progression run which ranged from 5:45 per km (9:17 per mile) down to 4:30 (7:15 per mile). I was amazed with its performance. It felt cushy and plush at an easy pace while it felt nippy and agile at threshold.
It was softer than I predicted it to feel and the plate was more flexible than I expected. Transitions were smooth and the fit was excellent. I found it really easy to pick up the pace.
The Rocket X 2 because they both have the same super soft Profly X midsole foam and the Deviate Nitro 2 because it also has a flexible plate with an energetic midsole.
The Mach X’s upper is very good, provided you have medium or narrow width feet because the overall fit is on the narrow side and it doesn’t come in a wide version. I needed to go up a half size due to how narrow it is and I think most runner’s will need to size up.
The tongue is flat and semi-gusseted. It slides down slightly during runs but there’s no lacing pressure on the top of your feet so it’s not a problem. The collar is lightly padded and heel lockdown is excellent but I have to use a runner’s knot.
The upper mesh is light so breathability is good. The laces are flat, thick and wide- they feel like they belong on a max-cushioned trainer. I would prefer thinner laces like the ones on the Rocket X 2. The Hoka logo is reflective and there is also a reflective strip on the heel.
Hoka usually uses the “X” naming convention for shoes in the lineup which have a carbon plate in their midsole, however the Mach X only has a Pebax plate. I think a more appropriate name would have been the “Hoka Rocket” without the “X”.
When I reviewed the Bondi X, it found its carbon plate to be too stiff and its midsole too firm. The result was a really blocky ride which didn’t feel natural. The softer midsole of the Mach X combined with a more flexible Pebax plate is the perfect balance for a snappy, yet comfortable ride.
I would however like the Pebax plate to be slightly stiffer so that the ride is more similar to the Rocket X 2.
It’s still a lot stiffer than the plate in the Endorphin Speed 3 so it rides more like a speed trainer than a daily trainer which is what I want. Some training companions feel too relaxed, too sluggish when you want to pick up the pace- the Boston 12 and Endorphin Speed 3 are examples of this.
The Endorphin Speed is the category leader (in popularity) when it comes to training companions but where the Mach X beats it is in stability and propulsion. The Mach X has a wider base so it feels much more stable. The stiffer plate in the Mach X also helps with stability and makes the forefoot feel more snappy.
As far as versatility goes, the Mach X might be the most versatile shoe I’ve tested this year. I would race a marathon in it, I can do intervals in it, tempo runs and even easy runs but it performs best at speeds of 5 minutes per km (8:03 per mile) or faster because it has good energy return and you need to reach a certain speed to feel the plate assist you.
There are 2 foam layers in the Mach X midsole: Profly X on the top for sink-in comfort and liveliness with a layer of firmer CMEVA foam underneath it for extra durability and support.
There is more Profly X in the forefoot than the heel so the forefoot feels softer than the rearfoot and you feel a natural, forward rolling sensation during transitions. The CMEVA in the rearfoot extends upwards to provide more stability in the rear of the shoe.
The outsole is really well designed and it has perfect rubber placement. Usually, on the outer lateral heel area, the rubber stops short of the edge of the outsole but on the Mach X, the rubber wraps up over the edge of the midsole. This leads to better durability for heel strikers. I have almost no visible wear on my pair and I am normally very hard on outsoles.
I find outsole grip a bit lacking on wet surfaces. The outsole design is flat and the rubber is hard so it doesn’t grip onto wet surfaces very well.
Of all the shoes I’ve tested in the past year, the Mach X has been one that I’ve enjoyed most. It has everything that I look for in a speed trainer: it’s soft, durable, comfortable and it can easily pick up the pace.
The Mach X is now my favourite speed trainer. At $180, it’s $20 more than the average plated speed trainer but in my opinion, it’s worth it. The upper is really comfortable (in a half size up) and its performance during uptempo runs is impressive. Everything about it works cohesively and it feels extremely polished for a first generation running shoe.
It’s the perfect training companion to the Rocket X 2 racer if you like saving your super shoes for racing in. They both have that pleasant, squishy, energetic underfoot feel but the Mach X is much, much more durable due to its extra outsole coverage.
The Mach X rides very differently to the Mach 5, if you were thinking of upgrading. It has a softer, bouncier ride than the Mach 5 and landings are not as padded. The Mach X has better versatility and better durability but it costs $40 more.