On Cloudflyer review
In the Cloudflyer, On Running aimed to create a lightweight shoe that still provides cushioning, support, stability and reduces overpronation. This is a huge goal but there’s more, the Cloudflyer is designed to be used for any distance and by runners of any level of experience even if their feet are a little wide.
Is this possible in one pair of shoes? Have they achieved these sky-high goals? What amazing Swiss engineering have they used to attempt this gargantuan feat? Read on if you’re curious and I shall break it all down.
Before I do so, I will direct you to read my review on the Cloudace. The reason for this suggestion is that On is unique in their technology. They use the Speedboard and Clouds; these elements are part of the midsole.
In the aforementioned review, I introduce these pieces of tech and go into an explanation of their structure and purpose. In this review, I am going to consider details of these features assumed knowledge from here on. Now let’s take a look at the components of the Cloudflyer from the top down.
Plush, snug, supportive feel
The feel of the Cloudflyer as you slip your foot in for the first time and in fact, every time after that is plush, snug, and supportive. The Padding around the heel and ankle back to front is noticeably soft but not excessive, more than enough to provide that snug firm feels from a well-padded inner without volumes of weighty padding.
Even barefoot the ‘dual-density sock liner’ is silky, breathable and there are no pressure spots or seams rubbing on any part of my foot. The underfoot feel inside the shoe is also very cushioned and plush due to the ‘memory foam’ footbed On kindly provide (one of the best I’ve seen come inside a shoe).
The tongue is also soft and plush. It is connected to the inner layer of the upper lining from about halfway down the tongue which maximizes the opening yet prevents the tongue from sliding down the side of the foot.
The rest of the upper is comprised of a reinforced midfoot saddle which provides great midfoot support. There is a reinforced toe guard heat pressed over the mesh which itself has a nice loose weave look, and while being tough, it is also breathable.
On describe the star pattern lacing to allow a better fit with less restrictions. The only comment I can really offer on this is that my feet (especially the left one) are a little wider and I have had no issues with the width in this shoe, so I suppose it does work.
Overall, I love the feel and the look of this upper. All of its components work as a symphony to take me to the clouds!
No heel slip in the Cloudflyer
The 'V molded heel cap' is what I would consider semi-rigid, leaning slightly more in favor of rigid. Bear in mind that On is aiming to offer support and stability even for strong pronators at a lighter weight than their competitors. We need to examine whether or not this style of heel cup/counter does the job.
Well, I think it does 100%, the materials allow it to remain lightweight at the same time as holding my heel firmly in place over the midsole throughout my gait cycle. Stability achieved, my heel felt supported firmly from both medial and lateral aspects and with no heel slip.
As far as pronation goes (rolling in/flat feet), I have seen research evidence supporting that a semi-rigid heel counter is as effective as a rigid one at controlling calcaneal eversion. I tend to agree; this also holds true for my experiences as an overpronator wearing this shoe.
Mission accomplished! A tick in every box for the heel counter and all with a lightweight piece of kit.
In this area, On are especially unique. As described in my Cloudace review, they use medial and lateral rows of clouds with a hollow center that absorb impact multi-directionally and a speedboard to offer additional propulsion and support.
The goal in the Cloudflyer was to offer cushioning and flexibility while still offering propulsion and support for any level of a runner with or without pronation. First up, I want to clarify, On uses a neutral last for ALL of their shoes and does not attempt to passively correct pronation through dual density wedges or guide rails.
On aim to allow natural foot motion with additional support in some models such as this one. This, however, does indicate to me that although altering the natural motion On aims to achieve, you should be able to put your orthotics in these neutral lasted shoes.
The extra stability in the Cloudflyer comes through wider, larger and thicker clouds and flair on the medial border of the rearfoot midsole offering more stability underfoot. The heel is noticeably thicker and firmer than the forefoot, where you can feel a slight difference between the blue and white sections of the midsole.
This feature did not bother me, and I stopped noticing it after 1km or so. I ran distances between 5-10km in these shoes and found them ideal for either. I ran a combination of tempo, foundation and fartlek run, and I wasn’t disappointed.
The surfaces I ran on were road, gravel, and treadmill. The ground-feel in these is quite intimate so as you can imagine. They are not great on gravel with rocks larger than .5mm. This is no issue however as they are road running shoes and not designed to be used off road.
The other issue is that rocks get trapped between the clouds regularly, so I will reiterate, I do not suggest using them off road. I did notice that after 50km, the forefoot cushioning didn’t offer the same protection, lift and cushioning as they did initially.
I attribute this to the fact that I am 88kg. I’m probably a little bulkier than the average runner wearing lightweight, low profile runners. I would estimate that these shoes would not have this issue for any runner under 80kg.
Overall the midsole is well cushioned, supportive and lightweight.
Outsole performs well
The outsole is low profile and situated only where it is necessary to add minimal weight to the shoe. You can see the white and blue area clearly in the picture. The white is midsole, and the blue parts are the rubber outsole.
Typical of On road running shoes, this element of the shoe is divided centrally along the length and into segments at each cloud. I have found the outsole for serving its purpose perfectly, protecting the midsole, gripping the road and keeping the shoe light.
On have aimed to produce a supportive, stable, cushioned road running shoe all in a lightweight package that can be used over any distance by any level of runner. This is a massive endeavor for any shoe company even the Swiss-based up and comer On Running.
The Cloudflyer at my size 13 weighs only 313g and has a 7mm offset. The overall fit of the shoe is slightly generous in length for a 13 but not so that it affects the choice of size. My experience with this shoe began with a fantastic unboxing experience (see the video below).
Tip: see the best running shoes.