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Photo credit: On-running.com.

ON Cloudace running shoe review

01-Aug-18

Last updated: 20-Aug-18

By Fiona Outdoors

The brand is called “ON”. They have brought out their new Cloudace shoe, which they claim offers: “Maximum cushioning, support and speed for the most demanding runner.”

And: “On’s patented CloudTec technology is engineered to deliver a soft landing followed by an explosive take-off. The result? An unbelievably light running sensation, with no compromise on cushioning and impact protection. In other words, running on clouds.”

I have to say I find this level of over-promotion a bit much but let’s put that aside and review the shoe.

The On Cloudace is a road running shoe, rather than a trail shoe, that has been built for long-distance training and racing. I have been running in the shoe on a mix of tarmac, gritty paths and some woodland trails.

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Features

  • CloudTec sole to “deliver the ultimate cushioning sensation without slowing you down
  • Zero-Gravity Clouds for “extreme heel comfort and protection” yet still with an “agile push-off
  • Snug and supportive heels created by injected TPU heel counter and 3D heel pads
  • Uppers created with mesh where needed for “ultimate ventilation
  • Liquid-injected Speedboard for “flow forward
  • Extra-wide sole design to “stabilise the foot throughout each phase of the rolling motion while also propelling your push-off
  • Heel-toe offset: 7 mm
  • Weight: 335g
  • Price: £170

Pros: What’s good about the On Cloudace shoe?

My first impression is that this is a robust and sturdy shoe. The upper looks to be high quality and solid. It’s almost like the Volvo of the running shoe world; “built to last and to protect”.

When I first tried on the shoe it felt more like a walking shoe or an office shoe because it is quite stiff, especially around the heel. There will be people who really like this and others who are not so sure. I was not so sure.

So, for a couple of weeks I walked in the shoe rather than ran. I felt like it need to be “worn in”, rather like a hiking boot.

I was surprised that the shoe did not rub my skin and when I did eventually go for a run in the shoes I was taken aback by how light  and comfortable they were to run in. This is not a lightweight shoe per se (see below) but it felt light and springy underfoot when running.

When you run you forget about how strongly built the upper is. Again, some people will really like this. The area around the back of the foot and the heel is robustly constructed. It is almost solid and resists any push and pull with the hands. If you are looking for a stiff, supportive and built-to-last shoe, this is it.

The upper also has a bumper at the front, over the vented mesh section. This adds to the look of durability.

The heel has a good level of cushioning inside the shoe and this means that while the upper is solid and quite stiff it doesn’t feel so against the heel.

The laces are a nice stretchy fabric which means that if you tie them tight they stay tied. Go for a double knot though to be sure. The tongue also stays in place.

And then there is the sole of the shoe. If you have not seen an On shoe before you will be intrigued by the sole. It is made of what looks like a series of small upside-down rubber cups, or a wavy length of rubber.

The “clouds” are meant to offer high levels of cushioning but without the extra weight  of a more solid sole. The footbed is also very cushioned. To me it looks like the rest of the sole is missing and there is a big groove along the middle length of the sole where normally there would be a base of rubber.

Really, the look and structure doesn't matter because it’s more about how the shoes perform. They are very cushioned, especially at the rear of the sole. If you tend to land flat on your foot you will like the way the sole cushions your step and rolls you forward for the next step. This is the most roll I have felt in a running shoe for years.

I did need to focus on my running style for the On Cloudace cushioning to have the best assistance. I tend to be a bit of a forefoot runner and for the best results I needed to run more flat-footed. I believe I should be doing this anyway, to save my calves from fatigue. When I ran more from the rear-to-front of my foot, I could feel the benefit of the rear-to-mid foot bounce.

Each step felt strong and stable and even on forest trail my foot felt stable and supported.

The ventilation is quite good, surprisingly so, and even in hot weather my feet were fairly well aired.

The shoes look unusual but in a good way and a few people asked me about them out of curiosity. It was fun to have a talking point among strangers when travelling recently.

The shoe is a UK8.5 and I would say it is true to size in length.

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Cons: What’s not so good about Cloudace shoe?

There is all the over-promotional language. I find it annoying when brands use words such as “ultimate”, “no compromise” and “running on clouds”. It means there is a lot to live up to and, in reality, it is a running shoe they are talking about not a mission to the moon. Sorry, it’s a bugbear of mine. I prefer a brand that is a little more modest in its descriptions.

While the shoe does feel bouncy and cushioned when running it still quite a heavy product. It is not like running on clouds. Well, actually, I have no idea what it feels like to run on clouds but if the brand is suggesting it feels as light as fluffy air I think this is misleading.

The shoe has good cushioning, for sure, but it’s not that extraordinary!

I think the shoe is better for me for shorter distance running because the extra weight might become an issue for long runs, causing muscle fatigue. Even with a lot of bounce the weight of a shoe will have some impact over long distances.

The shoe is quite a wide fit; not exceptionally so but wider than I like. You’ll like this if you have a wide foot but I do not. I would prefer a neater fit, or a choice of widths.

I don’t like my shoes to be so stiff at the heel area but I know other people who favour a sturdy and supportive shoe, so while it is not my favourite fit, it could be perfect for other people.

The price for a pair of the shoes is £170. That is a lot of money. However, I imagine the company will argue that they are built to last and that makes them more cost effective. While I can see the upper is built to last I am not so sure about the sole. Perhaps you are paying for the innovation and design?

I discovered that the stones that we have on our driveway are the perfect size for becoming trapped in the sole of the shoe, right down the middle where there is no cover for the sole.

I asked a random gentleman on a Swiss train (he was wearing a pair of On shoes) if it happened to him too, and he nodded. (There was a language barrier so we used sign language!)

I haven't found that any other stones become lodged in the sole of the shoe but the driveway stones seem to be the perfect size. Of course, there will be other stones that are a similar size and that might become annoying over time.

Conclusion

A Volvo car of the running shoe world, the On Cloudace is designed to be robust, durable, protective, supportive and stable. Saying this, it does offer a surprisingly light and bouncy run and with high levels of cushioning, so I can see why many runners are becoming enchanted with On.

There are other styles of On shoes and some for trail running, too, so you could choose a different type for different terrain. There are lighter versions of the On shoe as well. I suspect that heavier runners, especially men, might really like this Cloudace.

The shoe is expensive.

Score  
Design 9/10
Features 8/10
Performance 9/10
Value 7/10
Total 8.25/10

 

Other shoes you might want to try:

New Hoka One One Clifton 5
Hoka One One Elevon
On Cloud
Altra Olympus 2.5

About the writer: Fiona is a keen runner, preferring off-road and hilly to flat and road. She lives in Scotland where the weather is fickle so needs to be prepared for all conditions. See more of what she writes at Fiona Outdoors.

All images Fiona Outdoors except when stated.

Have you used the On Cloudace running shoes? Don’t agree with this review? What’s your opinion? Add your own comment to this review and share your experience and passion for running with others.

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Review ON Cloudace running shoe review

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