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"On" is a brand new shoe company set up by 6x IronMan champion Olivier Bernhard. The shoes are revolutionary in their deign and

Posted Nov 05 2011 12:00am
Posted in: Featured , Kit Reviews

An introduction to the ground breaking new shoe company and their Cloudsurfer running shoe.

I am very excited about these shoes and this company…and I don’t get excited about running shoes very often (well, not THAT often!). “On” are not only a new company that is taking the running world by storm with their revolutionary new outsole technology but they are also some of the best looking running shoes that I have had the pleasure of running in!

On Running Shoes  - The Cloudsurfer

On Running Shoes - The Cloudsurfer

The “On” Shoe Story

The story behind these shoes is basically a story of IronMan champion turned shoe engineer. Olivier Bernhard is a 3 x IronMan winner and has reached the podium six times in his career. After picking up a show stopping injury he decided that his running shoes must have been at fault and so he set out to engineer a running shoe that would reduce the chance of injury as well as being a performance shoe that both runners and triathletes could trust the world over.

The company “On” was born and after thousands of miles of testing and development, On’s new revolutionary technology has been granted international patents word wide and has one of the most rapidly growing fan base out of any new running shoe company. 2000 runners worldwide now run in the shoes and they are becoming more and more popular every day

More than two thirds of runners face minor or major injuries at some point in their running career. It took one Swiss engineer to realise that the main cause of all running shoe attributed injuries, lies with the fact that most conventional running shoes seek to combat vertical shock waves whilst controlling and restricting the foot in its horizontal movement. It is these control mechanisms that causes the key postural muscles in the foot, ankle and lower calf to become weakened as they relax and so actually increase the potential for injury.

The On Shoe Technology

The On running shoes (or ‘the ON’ as Olivier likes to call any of the two shoes he has developed) has been designed to activate these postural muscles at the same time as providing a revolutionary new fast and cushioned ride. Runners who have tried the shoes say that it is like running on sand during foot strike, but the push-off is like running on concrete.

So how do the On’s provide this revolutionary new feel?

The main technology is located on the outsole. The On’s feature a pattern of lugs on the sole of the shoe that are made out of a rubber compound that is both flexible and durable.

On Running Cloudsurfer Lugs

The outsole lugs are the key to this shoes speed and cushioning

During foot strike the lugs seamlessly absorb impact, whilst their elastic properties and shape, means that as soon as you cycle through the gait cycle and reach push-off, the elastic energy is released. This not only gives you a feeling of running on a surface with no give (concrete, road etc) but also gives you an added spring to your step as the shoes physically propel you through each and every step (kind of like mini springs).

It is these lugs that have resulted in the shoe being coined the fastest shoe in the word. How was this independently verified exactly? Well a collection of experienced runners were tested both with On shoes and conventional running shoes in a lab in Switzerland and the results are incredible. You can see the testing process your yourself in this video (it is an amazing video and is only 3mins long so it is definitely worth a watch).

The lab tests found that on average a runners heart beat was 2 beats slower per minute (sometimes up to 10) and their blood lactate acid levels were on average 5.4% lower, when compared to running with their normal running shoes.

Now when I see statistics as ground breaking as that I am immediately suspicious, but after reading the entire published paper on the shoes I am pleasantly surprised that the results check out. I studies economics at university and use econometrics in my day to day job so I can spot a dodgy test a mile off. Thankfully the On tests are statistically significant as advertised (99% level with the heart rate tests and 95% level with lactate threshold test). There are a few alterations that I would have liked to have made to the test such as having all the runners wearing new versions of their preferred running shoes (older shoes tend to deform and lose their structural strength) but these tests will no doubt be performed as the shoes and the brand become more established.

Anyway, the results speak for themselves and running in On’s is on average, more efficient than running in other running shoes. Not only that, but the Institute of Human Movement Sciences and Sport study showed that these benefits were more profound at higher speeds and so it will be interesting to see how these results translate into competition performance.

Another benefit of the On’s is that they keep things simple. There are no arch supports, or control mechanisms within the shoe that stop your foot from working as naturally as possible and so after a few weeks of running in these shoes your lower calves and ankles will be stronger then ever – ultimately protecting you against the horizontal injury causing impact that running generates.

The Cloudsurfer Review

The Cloudsurfer shoe by On incorporates all of the revolutionary technology as mentioned above.

The Cloudsurfer by On

The Cloudsurfer by On

The rubber lugs on the outsole provide cushioning during landing, and translates all of that elastic energy into forward propulsion during toe-off. This system has been called Cloudtec by On and features on both of their running shoe lines.

On's Cloudtec Technology

On's Cloudtec Technology

The Cloudsurfer also has a lightweight mesh upper to encourage ventilation and to keep the foot cool and dry even when running without socks and looks awesome in its bright colours (they look like a pair of Nike’s)


The Cloudsurfer features a breathable mesh upper to keep your foot dry when running barefoot

Importantly, the On cloudsurfer features an 8mm heel. This means that the shoe bridges the gap between conventional running shoes and truly barefoot running shoes as the lower heel (compared to the conventional 12mm) encourages you to land on your mid-foot instead of your heel. This immediately strips out some of the shock that running generates and the absence of any kind of control or support means that your injury preventing postural muscles are activated. By having an 8mm heel instead of anything lower, the shoes are perfect for those runners looking to move to a natural running shoe from their conventional 12mm heel shoes (Asics for example) and you shouldn’t feel the same level of soreness as if you were to jump straight into a pair of barefoot running shoes.

See the On website for more details here

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