Sunday, October 14, 2012

Gear Review: ON Cloudracer

While down in Florida this past summer I noticed someone running in a pair of shoes that well, just looked different than any other running shoe I've come across.

When I was able to catch up to this gal (there was a red light!) I found out that the shoe was the ON CloudRacer. I never heard of ON befor that meeting, but a quick Google search later I found myself on the ON website reading up on these little beauties.

The technology on which these shoes are built is referred to as ON CloudTec technology.  I really find the story surrounding the development of this technology quite interesting, so I'm going to share it with you as it is posted on ONs website:

The wish for a pain-free and effortless running experience marked the beginning of the On CLoudTec (tm) technology: a Swiss engineer and running pioneer, who was struggling to continue to run because his knees had taken severe damage from years of using conventional running shoes, set out to change the physics of running.

He had realized that he felt much less pain when running on gravel or sand covered trails, which would allow his foot to softly glide into every step.  The engineer observed that there are two forces at work when running: the vertical and horizontal impact.  He discovered that it is the horizontal impact, which causes the most damage to muscle cells, ligaments and joints.  Oddly, existing running shoes only absorb the vertical impact.  The engineer wanted to create a running shoe, which would allow a runner to land as softly as on sand and to push off as effectively as on concrete.

The result was a surprisingly simple, yet highly functional cushioning element:  A piece of circular rubber, which absorbs both the vertical and the horizontal impact.  As the foot hits the ground with forward momentum, the CloudTech (tm) element folds back, effectively allowing the foot to glide to a softer halt.  After landing, the element is compressed by the weight of the runner, locks together and is fully firm for the push-off.  The Swiss Federal Laboratories for Material Testing and Research concluded that the On CloudTech (tm) cushioning system reduces impact force by 25 - 30 percent, and is even more active during push-off than a regular running shoe.
The company went as far as to ask the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) to test the ON against the favorite running shoe of athletes.  Check out this video (results of the study are posted towards the end):

Now, IMO, research is a funny thing.  You can likely find research that supports or negates an argument so unless you have multiple research studies conducted by third parties you have to take some of this with a grain of salt.  HOWEVER, the fact that these shoes were developed by an actual RUNNER and not a bunch of marketers goes a long way in my book.  There's something positive to be said about a running shoe company whose Founder is a 6-time Ironman winner!

Out Of The Box:

Now that I bashed marketeers (of which I am one), let me pass along big KUDOS to the ON Marketing Team.   The packaging is absolutely beautiful.  Included with the shoes are an extra pair of laces in a contrasting color and a membership ID card that gives you access to the company founder, Olivier Bernhard who really is a 3-time world champion and 6-time ironman winner.

The shoes are simply stunning.  Seriously, the nicest looking running shoe I've come across.

Most notable are the treads or "lugs" that provide the cushioning between the ground and foot.  The heel to toe ratio is 5 mm and the shoes weigh in at a mere 7 3/4 oz (Women, US 7).

The Run:

When I first put on the shoe I noticed a disc-like padding in the mid-foot area.  A little research and I was able to find out that this is called the "flight pad".  Its purpose is to stimulate the toes to splay out as to aide in a quicker toe off.

It also allows the runner to "feel" the ground, as these shoes are marketed as a minimalist shoe.  So, basically, the "flight pad" enables the runner to feel the connection with the pavement.

I wasn't a big fan of the "flight pad" when I first tried the shoes.  By my 3rd run it was a total non issue for me but did make me all that more appreciative of that technology that has gone in to the design of the CloudRunner.

Now, back to those circular rubber "lugs" that make up the sole of the shoe.  These lugs are what separates the CloudRacer from any other running shoe I've tried.  As previously mentioned, they're designed to not only absorb impact (you really do feel as if you're running on air), but they literally fold back on impact, helping you glide in to your stride and enabling you to push off on a solid surface.

For me, I feel as if this shoe provides this neutral gait runner with an even more efficient running stride.

So, What Would I Change?

Overall, I really enjoy running in the CloudRacer.  Being that it has the same 5mm drop differential as the PUMA Faas 250Trail shoe I ran in most of the summer, I'm not sure I've gotten closer to barefoot running, but I have a lot less knee pain than I've had in the past.

With that said, if I had to find something to nit-pick it would be

(1) The laces are a little long. Ok, they're alot long.  Shorter laces would be more than welcome and a simple upgrade.

(2) The mesh material took a little getting used to for me.  I've been known to run sock-less in the hot weather, especially if I'm just running intervals.  I found socks to be a must when wearing the CloudRacer.

Overall, I really give the CloudRacer two thumbs up.

If any CFB readers are running in ON Running Shoes, I'd LOVE to hear from you!  Also, for those of you considering ON, you can learn more about ON's complete line of running shoes HERE.


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19 Responses to "Gear Review: ON Cloudracer"
  1. Anonymous said...
    October 14, 2012 at 10:26 AM

    Did these run true to size?


  2. Susan said...
    October 14, 2012 at 12:01 PM

    Hi Grace, hope all is well!

    I typically wear either a 6 1/2 or 7 running shoe. The 6 1/2 fit, but I decided to go for a little more room and got the US Women's size 7.

    As always, I suggest trying on before purchasing (although I know that may not always be an option).

    ON has a good number of dealers throughout the US. You can see them here -

  3. Alex Wimbush said...
    October 16, 2012 at 3:37 AM

    Hey Susan, just saw this cross-posted by On on FB. Worlds colliding!

    This is Alex (from Datran days). I'm living in Zurich, just up the hill from ETH and have a pair of On Cloudracers which I absolutely love. As you can see from the pic at the link below I have been giving quite a beating.

    Hope you are doing well!

  4. Susan said...
    October 17, 2012 at 8:41 AM

    Alex, your ears must have been ringing! I was in Vegas at the DMA show this week and your name came up (all super positive!!). It's been eons .... I hope all is well with you too!!

    I LOVE the photo of you in your CloudRacer's!!!!! Thanks for sharing that. Figures the guy who lives in Switzerland would know about these awesome shoes.

    Please let me know if you find your way back to NYC anytime. I'd love to catch up in person!!

  5. Anonymous said...
    October 18, 2012 at 5:10 PM

    Susan, as you know, I've been running in Vibrams (LOVE THEM!) but have been looking for a minimalist shoe for like 2 months now. Just haven't found one I can fall in love with.

    I never heard of the Cloudracer so thanks for pointing me in this direction. Going to try them on and will see how it goes.


  6. Stephen David said...
    November 23, 2012 at 6:58 AM

    You introduce us with new technology. The ON CloudTec technology. It is great to read about it. Thanks for sharing the post.
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  7. Emily said...
    January 19, 2013 at 12:11 AM

    I still like my Nike's, but i tend to exercise only on my elliptical. I will have to look for these tennies soon. Thanks for the heads up!

  8. Susan said...
    January 19, 2013 at 9:44 AM

    Hi Emily! Just wanted to let you know that the more I've run in the ON Cloudracer, the more I love them! If you do try them out, I'd love to hear your thoughts!!

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  14. Easy Diet Plans said...
    April 15, 2013 at 8:46 AM

    I am glad it was an enjoyable experience for you. I think that you should definitely do it again sometime and hopefully I will be able to make it to that one.

  15. Megan Lynch said...
    May 5, 2013 at 9:40 AM

    The shoes are amazing and I saw some great reviews about it. My friends have this and they say that it is very comfortable and the new technology makes it really good for intense running.

  16. Susan said...
    May 5, 2013 at 9:43 AM

    Megan, they really, really are incredible running shoes. It's a different feel, so it does take a little getting used to (at least for me). But once you do, you'll fall in love with them!

  17. tatuya said...
    June 22, 2013 at 6:33 AM

    I am doing diet control so every day morning I need to go jogging. I am thinking I will buy this type of shoes ..

  18. Anonymous said...
    January 13, 2015 at 3:23 PM

    Laces too long. What kind of problem is that?

  19. Super P Force said...
    February 13, 2015 at 7:00 AM

    Really I Need this shoe for Jogging.It is Better for health.


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