Winter, the seasonal menace to everything white from the waist down for runners. Even on the road, it’s surprising how dirty things get, from mud and oils being washed onto paths, to ground water and spray. When On Running sent me their updated Cloudflow they were sparkling white, how I wish I’d shot these before I ran in them.
The below shows how they once looked
The new Cloudflow is On Running’s performance, lightweight road shoe. With moderate cushioning and a neutral platform, they are aimed at those looking to run fast and cover distance. Having ran in the Cloudventure Peak in 2019, I’m now accustomed to the feel of On’s cloud pods and can switch between a traditional shoe and these, without a noticeable difference in my running.Above is the Citrus / Sea colour, you can also get them in a black or Rusty red/orange if you prefer things a little darker. As you can see, they have a low profile and scream run fast from their aesthetics.
*If you’d like to skip to the video – scroll to the bottom*
As I’m expecting the main thing you want to know about is the pods, On Running’s outsole, let’s start at the very bottom. 18 pods make up the outsole, a collection of foam and rubber coated pods, slimmer at the forefoot and more substantial as you move to the heel. The Helion™ Superfoam provides great support and cushioning throughout the stride and as you can see from the below image (taken 7th April 2020) on the whole has stood up well to around 425-450 miles of wear.The outside rubber pods on the forefoot have taken a beating, with 3 in some form of collapsing/broken state. I have a tendency to land like this, as is evident. However, the majority of the pods look fresh, still painting their grip and structure, regardless of whether coated in rubber or not. The rubber provides good grip, I wouldn’t put it as sticky as Continental’s black stuff, but for all but the worst conditions, its very predictable and has good overall durability. The pods themselves have different heights, dependant on their position, and those nearer the front have more pliability, give this is where the majority of the force is to be absorbed and then kicked off.Beneath the pods, the revised speedboard provides real snap. Watch my video at the bottom and you’ll see that the fore and mid foot snap back into place instantly, a result of the tension given by the board. This helps with energy transfer from strike to lift off and after running at steady plods to tempo sessions, I do find the Cloudflow is optimised when you have a good click and cadence. For me, 170-180 at 6.45-8 minute miles was my sweet spot……. I’m no speed demon. I can’t say my experience at a 9 minute mile pace was as rewarding and in comparison they had more of a wooden feel. My non scientific brain says the foam compound and speedboard have been designed around a high turnover and mid/forefoot runner.
A 6mm Heel to Toe drop keeps things comfortable at the longer distances, without being overbearing if you are used to something lower. Most shoes I run in tend to be between 4-6mm, so they didn’t feel out of place or higher up. As I’ve been getting back into longer distances, the 6mm definitely held fatigue of, than if I had done so in a 4mm or below shoe.Moving up and back, the heel cup is pretty substantial and locks your heel in place, without feeling overbearing and restrictive. When combined with the seamless upper, your entire foot holds a positive position, while still allowing your toes a little wiggle room.The upper has stood up well, with no visible marks of degradation. The welded tapes combine with the laces to offer support and that hugging like feeling I know a lot of us like in a shoe. Despite appearances, the burly looking tongue doesn’t get in the way or move around.
But as with all reviews or personal opinions, theres always something not so shiny. I will not tell that the laces don’t work, they do, in fact they offer exemplary locking capabilities, the likes few I have used. However, when they are locked, good luck undoing the laces to adjust tension, without fraying the weave of threads. This got me worried the first time I used them, as on the initial run, I got the fit wrong and then saw little threads fraying as I did my best to undo them. 400+ miles on and they are still in one piece, but its worth keeping an eye on.
Any other business?
Well, please On Running, no more white shoes?
And the elephant in the room? The spaces between the pods. Yes, I have had small stones get lodged in between. To remove, I break stride and slide my foot along the ground which normally does the trick. It isn’t a deal breaker or a big issue, this happened a handful of times over 400+ miles of road running. If you’re going to take these down gravel strewn lanes, you’ve done so knowingly.How would I summarise the Cloudflow?
A comfortable, neutral road shoe that is at its best at a high cadence, when you’re actively pushing rather than cruising in order to clock miles. It may not have the speed I find in other similarly positioned road shoes, but it handles most tasks I could throw at it and has stood up to some truly miserable conditions this winter.
If you want to the see the shoe clean and me ramble, my video review is below
To find out more about the On Running Cloudflow – CLICK HERE
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