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Gear Review: Are the new On CloudSurfer running shoes style over substance?

Posted Nov 09 2011 10:15am


Ok folks, I know, On running shoes look cool… In fact the pair of lime-green/black Cloudsurfers that arrived on my doorstep elicited many compliments from friends and
colleagues, which made wonder if these were yet another gimmick in the world of running shoes. You know, way to cool to be practical?
I had never heard of these shoes, and upon initial examination pressed down on the hollow green ovals under the sole. To my surprise they gave way really easily and I thought to myself, mmm…way too soft. My 180lb frame will beat my feet into submission in a few minutes running in these lightweight gimmicks. Well, I was about to find out.

To understand why the Swiss shoemaker uses this innovative and cool design, you need understand what the engineer that invented them set out to do. The flexible CloudTec 3D system is designed to absorb both vertical and lateral impacts, where normal shoe designs only absorb the vertical – or up and down impacts. The designer of the technology had also discovered that most of the muscle, ligament and tendon strain is caused by the horizontal impact, so he patented a system that could absorb forces in two opposing directions. This is the reason the rubber ovals move like the track of a bulldozer. They cushion and roll and help spring the foot off the ground at the end of the foot strike.
Sounds really impressive right? They also claim that running in these shoes feels like you’re running on a softer surface, like a trail, when in fact the surface beneath your soles is pavement.
Well after a few weeks of running in the Cloudsurfer this is what I concluded. For a 6ft 2” frame weighing 180lbs, this model does not provide sufficient cushioning. It was marginal on flat runs on pavement, but running up and down hills on the road caused some forefoot discomfort, which lingered for a few days after the run. I ended up running gingerly in the On Cloudsurfers, anticipating that running hard would bring discomfort or possible injury.
Looking at the list of pro-athletes that use their shoes, I would guess that one does not want to weigh more than 165 pounds to be able to really run hard in these. I would be curious to try the Cloud Runner models -which are said to be designed for high impact runs. 
I really like the style, the thought behind the innovation and the lightweight comfort of this shoe, but I need to shed 20lbs to feel comfy in the Cloudsurfer model. Priced around $150.00 they are not cheap, so make sure you are a lightweight runner if this 395gram shoe appeals, or alternately opt for the CloudRunner model, if like me, you are not a dainty runner!

*On CloudSurfer running shoes retail for $149.00 and are availabe at .

Paul Photojournalist Paul Shippey is a former elite triathlete and endurance sports competitor. He is also the gear editor for EverymanTri.

Shippey’s racing accomplishments are varied and include; Ironman SA, Comrades Ultra Marathon, Boston Marathon, ITU Worlds, Bar One Adventure Racing Series and the Nissan Xterra Series.

Follow on twitter @ everymantri or view latest videos on YouTube .

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