On Cloudflow Racing Shoe - Reviewed
- In the years leading up to 2010 – A Swiss engineer plays about with a sole technology that cushions the landing and hardens for takeoff. Together with the world-class athlete and test runner Olivier Bernhard he perfects his basic idea to create the CloudTec® system, which gives the On its unique quality....
Weeks ago, I opened a box full of shoes from Swiss designers On. Nothing new....
Except - I rarely get on the treadmill and freak out about how comfy a shoe is.
I rarely go so far as to request a pair from the company rep immediately....
But that's exactly what happened with the Cloudflow.
The 'Flow' is designed as a racing shoe. Lightweight, responsive, lower drop than others in their range (though only by 1mm). It's a shoe with a little more volume (room inside the shoe) than some of their alterantives. So I could get my high arches in there quite easily.
Under foot, there's the usual array of 'Clouds' which soften and absorb the landing brilliantly. Then there's the firmer, more minimal (by comparison) midsole which allows for immediate and effective push off, resulting in movement for effort. Efficiency in your gait.
Nothing unexpected about that. Not from the intelligent, forward thinking Swiss. After all, they came up with the Swiss Army Knife! On are now 7 years into their stride and producing incredible footwear for those looking to run comfortably and efficiently over any distance or at any pace*.
The big surprise for me on this occasion, was just how versatile these shoes would prove to be.
Click on the above stats for a closer look
When first I ran in them, it was for a minute only, on our store's treadmill. Nothing too demanding. Since I was returning from long term injury, I was faced with a slow build, slow pace, miminum effort - so a racing shoe seemed like a bad idea.
But in practice, with the level of comfort and ample shock absorption, I could run slowly and still feel like was in a much deepr, higher mileage shoe for my 'little and often' commute to/from work routine.
As the frequency has increased and I'm running to work more and more, the Flow isn't outstaying its welcome at all, but rather - allowing me to swap slow steady runs, for something approaching what I like to call 'fast running'.
I think the reason this has been so successful lies in those Clouds. They're constructed of a slightly denser, firmer material than regular midsoles. In order to withstand the forces applied to them and for the tubes to flex long term, without just tearing apart. They seem to therefore react very simpathetically when I move more slowly, with less force going through them upon landing, mid-stance or push off.
But once that force increases, the shoes collapse just perfectly all the same, leaving me with nothing but solid shoe against which to push. So despite the miles already run in them, they feel every bit as responsive as they should be for a racing shoe.
The 6mm drop here seems to assist tired lazy feet. I can still rest on the shoe when fatigued, but they're still low enough in the rear to avoid blocking movement, or causing unwanted heel strike.
The torsional flexibility with the Flow is also a real plus in my opinion. Much easier for my mobile feet and high arches, with no restrictions. All the same, there's enough structure that they feel resilient and hard wearing. I don't ever feel as if I'm 'falling off my own shoe' for the softness of those Clouds. Stability appears to be constant, regardless of the speed I'm attempting, or the level of fatigue I'm suffering.
Weight wise, they're not the lightest racing shoes on the block, but for the occasions where I've left them on all day in the store and still run in/out of work - there appears to be very little sign of wear. I've even used them for general use at weekends/evenings, weekly shopping, errands, walks in the woods....
They lock nicely around the foot and feel every bit as stable as I'd like them too, while remaining so easy to move in they're slipper like for a very fleet of foot experience.
I've had a chance to wear them along with Microspikes in the frost/ice and although not the most convenient outsole upon which to apply snow chains, they performed all the same.
Given that we've had a few cold spells, some wet and windy weather and that I've so far run slow and fast, short distances and entire days without taking them off, I'd have to conclude the following:
1) These are genuinely among the most comfortable shoes I've ever owned, right from the first try.
2) They honestly seem to have defied expectation and proven effective for everything I've attempted (on road) in them so far.
3) They're resistent to cold and wet and have a comfort within the shoe that has allowed me to continue running in thin socks during the coldest days this winter (so far).
4) As Racing shoes they work perfectly, while as everyday training shoes, surprisingly - they actually hold their own against most of the higher mileage training shoes I've used in the past**
So - for me, the Swiss now produce a shoe that, like the knife, can be used for just about anything you like.
The On Cloudflow is also available to purchase in the Accelerate store.
* Where the terms 'distance' and 'pace' are restricted to long/short, or fast/slow and not counting anything reserved for the elite or clinically insane!
** Assuming that my preferences are the result of my gradual transition into a lower drop/more minimal style of footwear over several years of regular running and consistent strength work to compliment my running.
Monday 23rd of January 2017