|Update:||On Cloudflow 2.0|
|Weight:||Men: 220g | Women: 190g|
|Heel to toe drop:||Men: 6mm | Women: 6mm|
|Arch type:||High arch|
|Strike Pattern:||Midfoot strike|
|Release date:||Nov 2016|
|Width:||Normal | Normal|
|Colorways:||Beige, Black, Blue, Grey, Orange, Pink, Purple, Yellow|
|SKUs:||150001, 154005, 1599964, 1599990, 1599991, 2599746, 2599778, 2599779, 2599781, 2599782|
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88 / 100 based on 36 expert reviews
Will you run with the clouds in the On Cloudflow?More photos
According to the Running Warehouse, “The On Cloudflow is a lightweight neutral trainer that features 18 individual cloud pods underfoot for a high level of cushioning and responsiveness.”
Do we concur with this assessment? See the verdict below.
On Cloudflow has a lightweight mesh upper that fits comfortably. Why do I mention this first? I say this upfront because earlier, I was unsuccessful at attempting to wear test the On Cloudace model.
That stability shoe had a thick, heavy, and high rising ankle collar that rubbed painfully against my ankle bones with each and every step.
I came to slowly accept the fact that retaining skin on my ankle bones was a priority.
The upper of the Cloudflow is not just light; it’s well-ventilated. And, the rubbery tongue is a joy to behold. The Cloudflow also offers excellent reflectivity for dusk or early evening runs.
The squared-off front of the shoe is unique and works quite well. One’s toes have plenty of room in which to splay with glee.
However, some will find that there’s not enough room over the toes—the toe box is low, quite low.
(I asked for a pair a half-size larger than my usual running shoe size to ensure that my big toes and toenails were not crunched.)
Space is further reduced by the relatively thick insole which seems like it belongs in a more substantial shoe, not one that weighs just 8.2 ounces.
The Cloudflow is commendably flexible in one’s hands. (But, is it flexible on the road? We will get to that below.) The slip-lasted board under the insole, however, feels extremely firm.
Does it have to be this firm? And, oh, yeah, there’s the strange shoelaces. They are long. Ungainly long. Unnecessarily long. Disturbingly long.
The Cloudflow has a 6 mm drop and feels low to the ground whether you’re walking or jogging. Whether this is a positive or negative factor will depend on one’s personal preferences.
Appearance-wise, the Cloudflow is quite attractive, especially in the Lake/Fern (blue/green) colorway.
On the road
The pods (or pads) underneath the foot in the Cloudflow make the shoe awkward to walk in; I was reminded of a Newton running shoe.
It is unlikely that one would run in this shoe and then keep it on for knocking about or doing errands.
The seemingly highly flexible forefoot on the Cloudflow does not, unfortunately, translate on ground contact. The nine pods upfront negate the shoe’s ability to flex on the run.
And, the firm feeling forefoot combines with a soft—but sadly indistinct, heel strike. And so, the Cloudflow proves to be quite uninspiring on slow to mid-speed runs.
The cushioning feels vague and dull. It also feels retro, like you’re running in a shoe from the past. The shoe’s suspension feels firm.
As we know with automobiles, firm suspensions are not great on cars that are driven slowly. But, they can be great on cars that are driven fast! And, this is the key to the Cloudflow.
The Cloudflow transforms itself on speedy pace training runs. It goes from being a dull trainer to a performance trainer-slash-race day flat.
The previously mentioned low-to-the-ground feel puts one in mind of a racing flat and builds confidence, especially since this narrow shoe has enough wideness upfront to impart a sense of stability.
The flaws of the Cloudflow on slow to mid-speed runs disappear when one is running fast. The minimal cushioning and responsiveness of the shoe can be ignored as the firmness takes over.
You are no longer running in the equivalent of a Buick Regal automobile; You’re in a Porsche Boxster, and it feels just fine. In fact, more than fine.
I was honestly shocked to see that the Cloudflow retails for $140.00. I think a fair price for the shoe would run in the range of $110 to $120, with $125 being the absolute maximum.
The On Cloudflow is an interesting lightweight neutral trainer; one that suffers from a split personality.
For most runners, it will get the job done as a basic trainer, even though it lacks the excitement that other shoes at its price point can deliver.
The Cloudflow also lacks the feel of modern-day technology. The shoe looks attractively modern but performs like a shoe brought back from 1991 in a time travel machine.
All of this goes out the window for fast runners who can beneficially use the Cloudflow as a fast, reliable pace trainer and as a race day shoe.
But, I doubt that these runners—these Cheetahs, will want to pay $140 for the Cloudflow.
Consider, if you will, that the Asics Lyteracer performance trainer/racing flat can be purchased for just slightly more than half the price of the Cloudflow.
The Lyteracer, by the way, weighs the same 8.2 ounces as the Cloudflow.
In terms of the price to performance ratio, the Cloudflow seems deficient.
But, if you are willing to pay a premium for a very nice looking shoe providing “Swiss Engineering”—one that not everyone else is wearing—you may not mind making your wallet lighter.
(I would not pay $310 to $400 and more for a meal at The French Laundry restaurant in Yountville, California, but some people will do so without hesitation.)
On running shoes have always been unique, and for some, this will be enough.
On Cloudflow: Evolution and RevolutionMore photos
Full disclosure – I'm a huge fan of On Running, the innovative Swiss company which has been making waves since its founding just 7 years ago.
Over the past 3 years I've accumulated (through my own purchases) no less than 8 of their models and, while I've not loved everything about all of them, by and large they are my favorite shoes to run in, whether for long slow runs (Cloudrunner), racing 5ks to marathons (Cloudracer), or for going off-road (Cloudventure).
One of their models, the Cloud, actually looks more like loafers than runners, and don't look too out of place worn to the office with chinos.
With the introduction of each new model, the company has shown it is not afraid to think outside the box, whether it be in the design, upper material, lacing configuration or, perhaps most obviously and crucially, the outsole.
It has, quite frankly, been fascinating to observe the progression of the company's line-up, with each innovation and tweaking by and large for the better. This is refreshing to see in an industry which is dominated by a few established majors where sometimes new iterations bear change just for the sake of change and not always for the better.
My On running line-up. Shoe problems? What problems?
So, this brings us onto the Cloudflow, which is again a culmination of evolution along with new features and is targeted according to On for "runners looking for a very lightweight and responsive performance shoe."
The shoe is indeed light, weighing in at just 220gr for Men's US8.5 and with 6mm heel-toe offset, which is the default standard for On for their daily trainer range (vs 5mm drop for racing-oriented models).
Cloud-Tec is On's term for the outsole "pods" which is the most distinguishing feature of their shoes, and Cloudflow incorporates 18 of them, which is the most they've had on any model to date.
Less visible but just as important, is the Speedboard, a piece of rigid material which line their shoes and provide for a smoother transition and explosive lift-off, contributing to the overall "feel."
Pods seen closer up
Now, the pods. Being elite-level athletes themselves, the founders cottoned on to the fact that running on more forgiving surfaces such as sand and graveled to less post-run pain and impact-related injury over long-term.
This makes sense since softer surfaces should lead to softer landing. However, at a cost – more effort is then needed for takeoff. The pod is On's solution to this, to enable "cushioned landing, firm takeoff." All of this is much better explained on their website so I'll just say that it works – to varying degree of success, however.
From L to R: Cloudrunner, Cloud, Cloudflyer
Earlier pod designs as seen on previous models of Cloudsurfer and Cloudrunner suffered durability issues which to the company's credit they were quick to address, both by offering free replacements and through design improvement.
The Cloud showcased the new design and the subsequent Cloudflyer was akin to a hybrid between the two, with the ever-present aim of achieving both the feel and durability. The Cloudflow in a sense is the most evolved form, where the number of Cloud elements is increased from the 12 in the Flyer to 18 while retaining a similar shape to those in the Flyer.
Cloudflow's 18 pods
Putting them to the test
So the Cloudflow may represent the end-result of experimentation with both design and number of pods. The most important question remains though – does it work? And having put some 150km on them over a variety of distances and paces, I can conclude that they do.
The feel is, as you would expect, firmer than Cloudsurfer or the Runner but more cushioned than the Flyer while the upper feels as light and unobtrusive as the Cloud.
The fit is comfortable as I have found all of On's models to be (with the exception of new Cloudsurfer which I found a bit "sloppy" and with the laces running down pretty much the entire length of the foot I found it easy to dial in an ideal fit.
The attention paid to design and detail again does not disappoint and it is clear the company takes quality control seriously, with very little to fault in terms of the product and much to admire.
Proud attention to detail
Of particular note is the upper, which consists of overlays of "engineered mesh" where the absence of seams translates directly into comfort, whether socked or sock-less.
A minor gripe for Cloudflow and indeed all of the current generation models is the lace, which is too long and too thin, perhaps due to overzealous nod to aesthetics over function. The thinner laces do tend to untie themselves a bit too easy mid-run.
Fortunately, I had a solution at hand. Some of the older models used to come with two sets of laces, in different colors, and I simply swapped out the laces in Cloudflow with the spares from Cloudrunner.
Not only do they now stay tied better, but also look better, if I may say so. The other minor point is that the soles are not the grippiest in the wet, but that is probably true of most shoes barring the Adidas models bearing Continental rubber.
Original lace (L) vs customized (R)
Overall, I think for neutral runners looking for a daily trainer that can also be stretched to racing 10ks, half marathons or marathons in, the Cloudflow would be ideal. The super-breathable upper together with dubious grip also means these are better suited to drier warmer weather running.
What I can say as a long-time follower is that On Running continues to impress with each new offering, and Cloudflow has definitely found a place among my On collection. To be specific, between Cloudrunner for long slow runs and Cloudracer for well, racing.
Along with looking good, this shoe also performed well.
It is a lightweight shoe and the fit is really snug as well.