The Cloudace is described by On Running to deliver ultimate cushioning and the smoothest ride ever while being agile no cost in speed. A claim worthy of the name “Ace.” But have they done this? And if so, how?
Well, this brand is around 8 years old (I’m told it's also the fastest growing running brand in the world) and uses Swiss engineering and Vietnamese tooling to create its unique technology.
At first glance, you can’t miss the signature “clouds” that comprise the body of the midsole, sitting atop the clouds and beneath another layer of the midsole is the “Speedboard.” These two pieces of tech are a good place to start.
Before I delve too far into these details, I want to go back to the start of my On experience with these shoes. First of all, each pair has an RFID chip within the shoes which allows On to protect their brand by ensuring discount vendors don't undermine their product value.
Secondly, in each box with the shoes is a unique ownership card a bit like a membership card that you can use to sign up to their website and register ownership of the product. This was cool and a bit fun, but I was hoping for more interaction once registered.
The website is also super cool I might add, definitely check it out. Upon opening the simple black box adorned with a large white “On” logo I loved the images of clouds lining the box.
Overall, the unboxing experience was probably the coolest by far of any shoe ever.
The shoe at first glance looks unique, to say the least, it kind of reminds me of that matt black batmobile, sleek but with a rugged edginess to it that screams “ready for action!”.
If you're all about slim, conventional shoes, this is not for you. Also, worth noting is the details - they’re beautiful. The “On” logos across the shoes are reflective, and there is an "O" on the back (left side) and an "N" on the back (right side), which I loved.
The tiny red and white Swiss flag on the side reminds me of the little Union Jack on the Reebok shoes. Alright, well if the detailed account of the opening and the finishing aesthetics hasn’t bored you to death.
I’m ready to break down the components of this shoe and tell you about my experiences of running in it.
The heel counter is comprised of a fairly rigid injection molded TPU external plastic cup. It reminds me very much of the heel counter seen on the Asics Kayano 25 in style and rigidity, very firm at the base and easier to compress closer to the top of the cup.
Overall, it does the job of holding the heel locked in place over the midsole perfectly. The upper is a thick piece of kit and the design adds a bit of weight, but for those of you need or enjoy that solid locked in the heel, Cloudace hits the mark.
Figure A (left) shows the Clouds from the side. The rear section constructed from Zero Gravity Foam and the forefoot section constructed from rebound rubber.
The number of pods partly determines the stiffness of the shoe, this being one of the more structured On shoes has 7 clouds and is thus more rigid than other On shoes.
The principle benefits of the clouds are:
- Weight reduction
- Reduced shear forces as the clouds compress multi-directionally
- Additional energy expression as the clouds expand during lift off
- Greater cushioning as the clouds compress and lock in place
- The Zero Gravity clouds offer cushion during landing
- The Rebound rubber offers energy return during toe-off
The liquid- injected Speedboard is another piece of kit unique to On footwear. In the Cloudace, it runs the full width and length of the shoe as marked in figure B the Speedboard is where I believe the additional spring you get from these shoes is generated.
Though the shoe is quite robust and a little weighty, I do not experience a reduction in speed or an increase in my running time. The claim that you get comfort and stability without a reduction in speed is accurate.
I especially noticed the propulsion of the springy Speedboard during the uphill sections of my runs. I really felt like the shoes were driving me forward. I did notice that the smooth transition and cushioning became more noticeable after the first 10 to 15 minutes of running.
If you have time, I do recommend warming up in the shoe prior to your run to warm up the midsole itself and get it in its ideal state for your run. Once warm, the smooth underfoot transition and explosiveness of this highly technical and unique midsole are undeniable and delivers a pleasurable experience time and again.
Aside on the midsole, I’d like to point out the section marked in figure C. This component is an element I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere. It is almost like a rubber doorstop. It’s fairly hard rubber, not like the rebound rubber of the forefoot or the zero-gravity foam of the clouds.
This piece of the shoe appears to be a harder rubber heel block that provides heel strikers like me. With the protection from the foam element of the midsole bottoming out on initial contact and preventing too much ground reaction force to travel into the calcaneus.
It complements the rest of the midsole blending smoothly with the rolling transition throughout the gait cycle. It’s a nice addition to the midsole and makes the shoe a better choice than softer midsole shoes for heavier runners especially if they are heel strikers.
Upper & inner lining
On describes the upper as “engineered sandwich mesh” designed to provide support where needed. I can confirm that this is an accurate statement. The upper is reinforced throughout the midfoot saddle, around the toe guard and at the sides of the toe-box.
There is a lot of upper; it is thick and tough. It feels like the kind of shoe you can put through anything. The precision molded 3D heel pads and cushioning lining the upper are snug and durable.
I’ve been working in these for 2 months and have run over 100km in them, and the upper is as good as new as is the inner lining. I don’t notice any slipping at the heel at all.
The tongue is padded though not too heavy and is traditional to about halfway down where it connects to the rest of the inner lining. The opening is in no way restricted like some semi-gusset type or full gusset tongues and does not slide down to the side during wear as some can.
The footbed is worthy of note, nicely cushioned and after all its use so far still plush and spongy. The only real downside to this gutsy and cushioned upper and the footbed is the extra weight that comes along with it all.
It is comfortable and snug, though regular in width does accommodate well for my slightly wider foot. It fits generously, not so much that it felt oversized; thus I would not recommend deviating from your regular size if you order online before you try it on.
If you have orthotics, Cloudace should accommodate for that nicely as it is a neutral shoe (this will be discussed later). My only concern for orthotic wearers would be if your orthotic is thick and you have a high instep, in this case, space may become a sparse commodity.
It’s pretty good to wear barefoot, but there is a scratchy seam just over the medial side of the base of the big toe (1st MTP joint). Overall, the upper is heavy duty and durable as well as comfortable and supportive.
The final note goes to the laces. I don’t really like them, they’re too thin and just not quite long enough if you use the additional eyelet.
This is the part of the Cloudace that becomes particularly interesting. The midsole has 3 layers, foam bifurcated by a Speedboard with the lower layer taking the form of Clouds (Figure A).
On describes this shoe to be a “support” shoe. It has the traditional medial posting you see in the stability models of other brands, the shoe is a neutral base. The stability comes from 2 elements. The Speedboard (Figure B) going the full width of the shoe and the solid TPU heel counter discussed above.
By stability, they mean precisely that as opposed to built-in correction for overpronation. Hence my comments above that the Cloudace can be worn with a corrective orthotic.
The outsole on the Cloudace is unique in its appearance with the large central cleft between the medial and lateral rows of clouds, and the gaps between the clouds themselves.
The Speedboard is visible from the bottom, and there is a middle section where there is no actual rubber over the zero-gravity foam (to save weight and where it is not as necessary).
There is not a lot of texture or depth to the outsole. This is not a negative as the Cloudace is designed as a road running shoe rather than for courts or off road or any other purpose.
By the time I have been using it, a flat spot has developed just over the lateral heel cloud. The rubber here is thick, however, and has not worn through to the midsole so is not a functionality or durability issue.
It’s more of a reflection of my running style as a heel striking pronator. Overall the outsole is spartan but functional, doing exactly what it needs to which is grip the road/footpath and protect the midsole from undue wear.
The Cloudace is on the verge of revolutionary. On has achieved its goal of creating a durable, supportive, comfortable and explosive running shoe. It is a pleasure to wear and run in for up to at least 10km.
I recommend this shoe for larger and heavier runners because of its level of support and durability. It does have a 7mm drop which is quite small compared to the average running shoe.
I didn’t have any issues, but I recommend if you have no experience with low drop shoes make sure you stretch your calves after using them and maybe cycle between the Cloudace and a more regular shoe until you get used to the lower heel-toe drop.
I love the look and feel of this shoe. Once warmed up, the midsole has a smooth and plush feel from strike to toe off and excels at uphill propulsion.
In this review, you may notice that I have not discussed varied terrain as I have not really tested it on anything other than the road, one run on sand and one run on light gravel.
The reason being that rocks get caught in the cleft between the rows of clouds and between the clouds themselves, it isn’t a trail shoe. The outsole is also not designed to grip on rocky or muddy surfaces, getting the mud out of it would be nightmarish.
It was ok on the sand and light gravel, but mainly I would recommend it for road and footpath running. I say the Cloudace is on the verge of revolutionary because although it does what On claims for all the tech it didn’t improve my time beyond other great running shoes.
I think this is due to the weight, it comes in at 392g for my size 13 and 335g for Men’s size 8 which is fairly weighty compared to its competitors. There were times where I felt the extra weight sapping my energy.
If they can successfully give this level of support, comfort, and propulsion without quite as much weight, then I think the Cloudace could change the game and make On a major player.
Sixty miles and I feel like these trainers have been a huge addition to my collection. From the very first run, they have been exceptionally comfortable, foot-hugging and have somehow improved my recovery time.
As an engineer myself, I love the design concept used by ON. The idea of multiple individual springs underfoot is an interesting concept, and it does work.
I imagine the mileage limit on these trainers is quite high as this design relies on the design and not the foam itself. I haven’t got there yet, but I intend to push them to their limits.
On this shoe, there are 14 separate Clouds which vary in size and comfort, but they add to the overall cushioning. In some reviews, I read people talked about stones getting stuck between the Clouds, but this is something I didn’t experience. The only issue I encountered was a buildup of mud which was a minor inconvenience.
I was very impressed with a number of things, so I’m going to break them down:
There is a snugness to the shoes – your heel feels planted in the shoe, and no number of hills or pushing causes any slippage. The design incorporates 3D heel pads which are designed to hold your foot in, and they do really work.
Upper & midsole
The toe box is roomy without being too roomy. There is plenty of room for your foot to swell on those longer runs. The very front of the shoe, the mid-section, and the rear sections all have a robust plastic designed to protect the foot.
The sections in between are a lightweight, breathable fabric which prevents any overheating of the foot. However, all my running has been done over winter so it will be interesting to try in summer. If you run through any puddles or similar, you do find moisture coming into the shoe, but it quickly dries.
Tongue & laces
The tongue is comfy and robust and tied to the base of the shoe with elastic fabric. This is another contributor to the snug feel.
The laces feel secure and grip the foot so well. I particularly like the use of the ON logo in the final lace holes of the shoe.
I’ve mainly used these shoes on canal paths and roads, but there has been the occasional muddy path or trail run.
Overall, they have performed faultlessly – no slippage or grip loss whatsoever which, considering the minimal tread on the bottom of each Cloud, is impressive.
Other notable features
I had the mist and stone color and quite like the blue – the off tone colors give it a nice look which is easy to clean and, in my opinion, a nicely designed shoe. The other benefit of this shoe is that there are a few reflective features on the shoe which make running at night less of a risk.
I was also impressed with the insole. It is more significant than any Nike shoe I’ve had, and it adds to the premium feel.
There are only two cons in my mind. One of which is the weight of the shoe. It comes in, for a size 11.5US/11UK, at just under 400g which is heavy.
My running technique isn’t perfect, and sometimes my heel catches my other leg, sometimes right on the ankle. With this weight, I can tell you from experience that this hurts. The solution is not to do it but if you are like me – be careful.
The second con is the cost at 170GBP these are not cheap. As premium as they feel, and without knowing the mileage limit, I’m not sure they’re worth the price point - time will tell.
Overall, I have been very impressed with this shoe. It is very comfortable and is my go-to shoe now for long distance training runs. I have not yet decided if they are suitable race day shoes or not, but time will tell. I may end up using them at the Brighton Marathon.
They are heavy, but I will continue to use them due to the reduced impact on the rest of my body. I have felt notably fresher after half marathon distance.
I have a lot of Nike trainers, but I am so impressed with this shoe that I am considering switching my allegiance. If I didn’t have a new pair of Zoom Fly’s to break in, I would be buying a pair of Cloudflow’s to use in parallel.
If you are looking for an excellent shoe, which is supportive and perfect for long distance running without any budget constraints then is the shoe for you – it will be a good investment long term.
ON Clouds’ newest fan!
Good to know
- The On Cloudace is a road running shoe that is strategically designed for those who need additional support during their activities. It features the engineered mesh which allows proper ventilation.
- The Liquid-Injected Speedboard is integrated into the shoe. This component of the shoe encourages stability throughout the gait cycle.
- With the use of the Cloudtec Elements, a well-cushioned foot strike is offered. As a result, a more comfortable ride is experienced by the user.
When it comes to the sizing scheme, standard measurements were used in the creation of the On Cloudace. The available width for the men and women’s versions is medium. With the shape of the shoe, it is sure to accommodate those who are medium-footed with ease and comfort.
Attached to the outsole of the shoe is the Liquid-Injected Speedboard. The goal of which is for lightweight stability. With its more extensive construction, it quickly advances the gait cycle. This advancement in every stride helps the runner to reduce overpronation. The Speedboard is also present in the On Cloud, which is the brand's most popular running shoe.
Lying in the heel area, the Zero Gravity foam on the Cloud elements aims to provide excellent cushioning. This foam is also significant in adding durability to the platform.
In the forefoot area lies the Rebound Rubber on the Cloud elements. This component of the footwear aims to deliver a more powerful toe-off phase.
With the use of the Cloudtec Elements, it has the ability to interlock for a stronger and firmer push-off. It also allows the runner to experience a more cushioned foot strike. The Cloudtec is composed of lateral and medial elements. The lateral elements utilize larger holes while the medial elements are described to be stiffer. The larger holes are responsible for providing a softer ride while the more rigid elements will help reduce overpronation.
For a plush underfoot-feel, the Ultra-light dual-density sock liner is used in the footwear. It utilizes an adaptive memory foam for added comfort and cushioning.
The Engineered mesh is integrated into the On Cloudace. This material is strategically designed to improve the inflow and outflow of air in the foot chamber. The mesh adds support to the platform as well.
Lying on the rearfoot area is the External TPU molded heel counter. The purpose of which is to provide added stability.
The On brand also added the no-Sew tape construction in the upper area. This is vital in delivering a seamless wrap and irritant free riding experience. It also provides increased support to the runner.
Aiming to achieve a more secure fit, the 3D molded heel pads are used in the On Cloudace. These heel pads are essential in lining the inside part of the heel. As a result, a softer and snugger fit is experienced by the user during the running session.