Published on December 8, 2015
The On Cloudflyer is the latest shoe from the award-winning Swiss running brand, a stability model that promises exceptional comfort and natural transition in remarkably light form. Having previous reviewed the On Cloudrunner, RunningMonkey laced up to put the latest On innovation to the test…
Out of the box
As we have said before it’s as if Hoka One One and On are in competition to produce the oddest (or perhaps just least conventional) running shoe on the market. Whilst Hoka have the edge on ‘over-sized’, the On Cloudflyer continues the brand’s somewhat futuristic aesthetic trend – you can certainly expect some murmuring from fellow runners whenever you take them for a ride.
As with Hoka it’s not a case of aesthetic abnormality for the sake of it, but rather one of innovative sole design. The On Cloudflyer features 12 ‘clouds’ at the base – semi-decoupled cushioning pods that are intended to adapt to individual running style and gait.
The first few miles
So if the weird (sorry, but it is) sole is the first thing you notice, the weight – or lack thereof – will certainly be the second. Coming in at 560g (pair, UK 8.5) they compare reasonably well to the similarly specced Hoka Clifton 2 at 480g or the more conventional NB Vazee Rush at 460g; not spectacularly light, but noticeable and much appreciated, particularly for runners who like to ‘go long’.
The offset between heel and toe is a medium 7mm, so there’s noticeable heel-strike and a slightly flatfooted experience to the run. In fact 7mm is standard across the On range) a necessity of the sole innovation?), so there’s nothing much to appeal to the more minimalist barefoot equivalent runner.
Comfort across the first few runs impressed us. The Achilles and tongue are both well padded, the mesh vents perfectly and the traditional lacing system was more than adequate for a tight enough fit. The On Cloudflyer do take some getting used to and those first few miles will prove their testing-ground for those new to the brand and its tech. There’s a distinct feeling of disconnect between the foot and the running surface; as if you are running on the ‘cloud’ pods and they, in turn, are running on the road. That, of course, makes responsiveness an issue, but bear with them, it could well be worth it.
With 20 or so miles under the feet RunningMonkey had either adapted to the On Cloudflyer or they had adapted to us. Transition from strike to toe-off started to feel much more natural, responsiveness had improved exponentially with each run and we had stopped caring that people stopped and pointed.
The On Cloudflyer has a relatively wide fit and is generous through the toe-box; that’s not going to agree with all runners (ha! What shoe does?), but for longer distances, marathon and beyond in particular where foot swell can be an issue, the Cloudflyer certainly accommodates.
The Achilles padding that we had much admired on initial runs actually proved to be a slight distraction longer term. As we’ve said many times before, RunningMonkey has a personal preference for a defined ‘Achilles notch’, particularly where substantial hills are involved, and the lack of this on the Cloudflyer combined with the extra padding actually served up some unwanted hot spots particularly in wet conditions when the padding had become saturated.
The pros and cons
The benefits of lack of weight in the On Cloudflyer goes a long way to offsetting slight (ironic) discomfort from deep padding and that, after all, is down to personal shoe fit and requirement. Overall they provide excellent comfort, with room for swell or ‘toe spread’ through transition and responsiveness – once you’re used to the slightly removed sensation of ground contact – is actually very good.
The biggest weakness with the On Cloudflyer is the lack of meaningful grip. The deep ridges between the cloud pods obviously serves up fairly decent forward traction, but there’s really nothing (besides some millimetre-deep slits) to help with lateral slide or help to cope with adverse cambers. On wet pavements and rock there’s noticeable slip and any off-road adventures result in muddy clogging between the pods.
Options and price
The On Cloudflyer comes in ‘Water and Flame’ (red/dark blue) or ‘Iron and Sky’ (light blue/slate grey) for men and ‘Maui and Lemon’ (light blue/yellow) or ‘Purple and Rose’ (self-explanatory?) for women. Sizes 6.5-13 for men and 4-12 for women – no width options, so take note of our comments above about spaciousness.
The On Cloudflyer retails at £130 with further details and online purchase at on-running.com