ON Running is a new and rapidly growing sports company based in Zurich, Switzerland. Founded by Olivier Bernhard, a triathlete with an impressive amount of wins in his 10 year career, ON Running presents now the Cloudsurfer: a training and racing shoe featuring their new – and quite interesting – technology.
The idea behing ON shoes is that current running shoes only absorb the vertical forces of an impact with the floor, but running exposes the runner to both vertical and horizontal forces. These are both taken care of by their Cloudtech system: 3 Dimensional elements in the outsole (called “Clouds”, you can’t miss them by looking at the pictures) that absorb both vertical and horizontal shocks and return both kinds of energy to the runner.
The result? A shoe that is both soft and fast. ON backs these claims with independent studies (here) that revealed that runners running in ON shoes saved on average 2 BPM vs running in their favourite running shoes and reduced lactate acid in their blood by an average 5.4%. This translates in a 9 minutes faster marathon time.
But… how do they feel ? Read on..
On Cloudsurfer First Impression
The first impression upon receiving and opening the ON Cloudsurfer box was very good. The Cloudsurfer comes in a very nice and sturdy black box that contains, in addition to the shoes, an “ownership card” and an extra pair of laces. The standard laces are in a lime green color, the extra ones are black in case you want to go for a more understated look. Little, great touch.
The shoes. The shoes look nice, they look great. Simple black with internal lining, laces and 3D Cloud elements in lime green. They look unusual and they did turn heads on my trial runs.
On Cloudsurfer Sole Unit
The Sole unit is where the magic of the Cloudsurfer is. Thirtheen “square tubes”, 4 in the heel and 9 in the forefoot are the cushioning and energy return system of this shoe.
There is no stability element. The midsole itself is quite sturdy and hard (it does not twist easily if squeezed with both hands).
I admit it is difficult to talk about this sole unit. It is unlike anything I have ever run in and I believe the pictures speak for themselves. The only thing to talk about is the ride. I want to talk more about it later (in the opinion section) but let me summarize it in one word: amazing.
On Cloudsurfer Upper
Consistent with the overall construction of the shoe, the upper is quite simple – and I believe this is the shoe’s major drawback.
Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with the upper itself. Very open mesh, little to none unnecessary overlays – great open toebox. A quite sturdy heel counter makes the heel feel securely locked in the shoe and the “o ring” clearly gives away that this shoe was designed by a triathlete: its function is to be able to quickly slip the shoe on during transition.
The Cloudsurfer includes a nicely cushioned and shaped insole with a mid to high arch shape.
On Cloudsurfer Opinion
I need to admit that I am usually skeptical when I read of new running shoes technologies that promise major performance improvement or breakthrough injury protection. So you can imagine my surprise when I put on my Cloudsurfers and went to a first 10km test run.
I was IN LOVE with the shoes. Nothing exceptional for the first 5k, but the more I was running the faster I wanted to run, and it felt quite effortless. It was actually a joy to run. So far I logged approximately 100 km in the Cloudsurfer, a good half of them behind the running stroller with my daugther in it, and I still enjoy them as much.
So what is my verdict on the Cloudsurfer? I am very glad I was given the chance to run in them. They are different and while I cannot test for myself the gains the company claims, I can surely say that they do feel fast and comfortable to run in.
I am an overpronator and I don’t feel the Cloudsurfer offers any relevant pronation control. That’s what keeps me from running more in them. I really enjoy 10km a week but I wish some degree of support could let me take them on a longer run. I don’t know how the company can adapt this technology to offer more support, but be sure I’ll keep a close eye on future releases.
The second, and main, issue I have with the shoe is that for 150$ the upper could be more “fancy”. I understand that you pay for the performance and not the bells and whistles, but for 150$ I would expect to find a seamless upper, softer lining and so on.. I know, simplicity and consistancy is part of the philosophy of the shoe and probably adding too many details would look of feel odd. But then I can’t justify the 150$ price tag.
Well, if the price is not an issue for you and you don’t need support – by all means give the Cloudsurfer a try. I really enjoy my pair and racing results from some the athletes the company sponsors make me believe we will hear more from ON – and we’ll definitely be listening.
We thank the peple at ON for sending us a pair of Cloudsurfer to test. This did not influence the review of these shoes, written after running more than 100km in them