I’m a runner who tends to gravitate towards shoes that have, well, a lot less shoe to them. On the road I’ve always favoured something light, fast and fairly minimal such as the Adidas Adizero Adios Boost. Even when I’ve gone off road and into the desert I’ve opted for trail shoes with less heft, like the inov-8 Race Ultra 270. So when I saw the On Cloudflash I was instantly intrigued.
At 220g (for a US M 8.5) and 175g (for a US W size 7), it’s the lightest and fastest shoe to feature the Swiss brand’s pioneering CloudTec technology. The On Cloudflash is undoubtedly built for speed and it ticks a lot of my boxes.
First up it’s comfortable. I always say that you can tell when you’ve found a good pair of running shoes if you forget they’re there and that was very much the case from the moment I put these on. There’s plenty of room in the toe box and the super-light nano mesh uppers are flexible enough to allow for lots of freedom of movement for your toes, something that’s vital for a good running form. If your toes can’t do what they need to do the impact goes right up the chain.
The way On describes it “the upper of the Cloudflash has one goal; deliver everything with nothing.” By everything we take that to mean the support, protection and comfort you need in a running shoe. Does it pull it of? I think so. I’d say the Cloudflash upper feels more along the lines of a Nike Flyknit upper in terms of the support you get. It’s less rigid than a lot of uppers – in fact you can almost squash them flat to fit them into your bag – but there’s enough structure in the right places for stability at speed.
Then there’s the tiny 5mm heel-to-toe offset, no flabby cushions here forcing you into a certain running style, something I’m really not a big fan of.
Flip the Cloudfash over and the other thing you notice quite quickly is that there are fewer Clouds, 14 to be precise. That’s in comparison to the 18 you’ll find on the Cloudflow. Again this means less weight but each of the Cloud elements on the Cloudflash is also much shallower. For my money this makes the Cloudflash a little more conventional than some its older siblings.
One major difference from previous On shoes that you can’t see easily, is that the Cloudflash outsole, with its individual Cloud elements, is fixed directly to a thin and flexible Speedboard that’s made of a responsive material called Pebax. This doesn’t just save on weight but On argues that “no midsole: and that means more explosive push-offs than ever.”
But that’s not all, one of the main properties of Pebax is how energy responsive it is. Having a a plate of this running the entire length of the shoe acts a little bit like a bow, that you load, release and repeat with each, so basically extra spring and propulsion on toe-off.
Running in the On Cloudflash
My first outing in the Cloudflash was on a track in in Mallorca at the launch where I got to see how the shoes felt at their (or at least my) fastest, doing 200m sprints. And it certainly feels at home in those conditions, there’s more than a little not to the structure of a running spike here. Since then I’ve also run some 10kms on roads and a 4-hour, 20 mile training run for the the Centurion Thames 100 miler that covered a mix of road and compacted track.
I’m impressed by their versatility. They felt just as at home on the track over short distance as they did over the long haul and I’d feel very comfortable using these as a marathon race shoe.
In fact, this is probably the first shoe I’d consider ditching the Adidas Adizero Adois Boost for and that’s saying something because I’ve been running in those for four years now and I’ve owned five pairs.
While they did a good job over one 20 mile run if I have one question it’s definitely about durability over this distance over a longer period of time. From that perspective, I’m not convinced you’d want to be putting in huge monthly mileage in them on a regular basis.
They also don’t come cheap, a pair of Cloudflash will set you back £160.00. You can get two pairs of Adios Boost for that. But if you’re looking for something a bit different that’s capable across a range of distances then the Cloudflash are well worth a look.
At the moment they come in neon and white colourway and are available from 6 April 2017.
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