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On Cloudflow 2.0 Review
Guest Written by Bach Pham

Welcome to the last On Cloudflow 2.0 review on the internet. Released in December 2019, the On Cloudflow 2.0 (simply On Cloudflow on the On Running website) comes with a handful of changes that helped streamline the second edition and fix some major problems with the first - particularly in the outsole area which was an absolute magnet for rocks.

The brand is in the midst of a big year full of updates for 2021, starting with the well-regarded On Cloudswift 2.0 (REVIEW), the newly-introduced On Cloudultra which provides a maximum cushion option for the trails for the brand, and updated On Cloudace, their max cushioned stability trainer. The new updates along with the upcoming Cyclon all represent a sustainability-focused direction for the brand, all of which hopefully will trickle down to the next edition of the Cloudflow.

That’s all future talk though. Let’s talk about the On Cloudflow, version two.



Specifications (per On Running)
Weight: 8.2 oz, 235 g (size 9), 7.2 oz 204 g (size 8)
Stack Height: 22mm (Heel), 16mm (Forefoot)
Drop: 6 mm
Classification: Lightweight daily trainer


RUNNING SHOE SUMMARY

The On Cloudflow is the brand’s lightweight trainer, putting it in a similar category as the Saucony Kinvara and Adidas Boston series in terms of weight and ride. The shoe features their signature cloudtec cushioning and "Helion" midsole foam. The Cloudflow also features their Speedboard plate which goes the full length of the shoe, providing a responsive push off that works well at a variety of paces. The shoe is light and nimble, with a protective ride that while firm, is comfortable at a variety of paces and distances. At 8.2 oz, 235 g, it’s light and versatile enough to handle everyday training and is protective enough for distances up to half marathon, potentially marathon if your biomechanics prefer a low profile shoe.



FIT (LENGTH / WIDTH / COMFORT)

The shoe I received was a half size down, and that ended up working out just right here as the shoe runs a touch long. The upper is an engineered mesh that’s light, airy, and gets the job done. I had no issues with hot spots of any kind and had ample room in the toe area despite being a size down.

The width of the shoe is a touch narrow in the midfoot, but with a fairly accommodating toe box. The heel counter is moderately structured with some mild cushioning, providing more than enough lock down and security. Two lacing straps across the midfoot help further provide a secure fit. The tongue is gusseted and relatively minimal with light padding. For as relatively minimal the shoe is, On did a nice job incorporating padding where they could to provide a comfortable experience on the upper.

The arch is noticeably aggressive here unlike any shoe I’ve had in recent memory. I have flat feet and felt it fairly prominently walking in the shoe the first time. The insole that comes with the Cloudflow is fairly thin and removable (note, there is a sock liner for those who enjoy sockless running). When you take the insole out, you can really feel the arch area and how firm it is. The high arch feeling does go away during the run after the first mile and over my runs has become less and less noticeable while running, but remains fairly prominent when standing or walking. I personally swapped it out for a more cushioned insole I had laying around and it honestly made all the difference in removing that feeling and making the shoe immensely more comfortable.



PERFORMANCE (RIDE / SPEED)

“Firm,” one of those terms that seems to have a pretty negative connotation when it comes to the ride of a shoe. The feeling the Cloudflow provides is a protective ride that is in fact firm, but in a way that’s great for those who want a very steady ride. The shoe has a very mild toe spring which provides a smooth, rolling transition along the pods. I played with a variety of foot strikes and found it to be consistently smooth throughout. The shoe is very reminiscent of the Adidas Boston series, with the Speedboard in the Cloudflow acting a bit like the Adidas torsion system to provide a touch of snappiness on the run. The Cloudflow overall doesn’t flash anything new or exciting, but is a solid workhorse for those who like a protective, lightweight shoe that’s the opposite of the max cushioned direction that many shoes are taking today.


The outsole of the On Cloudflow looks simple, but grips well. I took the Cloudflow out on several slick days and it handled the roads with confidence. I was also able to run it through fairly wet grass okay.
The rubber has been durable so far, showing little signs of wear through my 42 miles in the shoe. The outsole in version one of the Cloudflow is well-known to be a rock magnet. Fate must be a joker, because on my first step out of the door I noticed a giant stone stuck in my outsole immediately. After that incident, however, I never found it to be an issue during my runs. I found the shoe most comfortable as at my easy paces between 9:20 - 9:50 mins per mile, and was able to crank it down comfortably to my 10k pace of 8:00 - 8:30 per mile. Out of my different runs though, I enjoyed it most at my easy and recovery paces. It does "flow" effortless, and when turning up the pace it felt good in short bursts for strides, but to hit the paces I'd like for something in the 5k range I think I would look for a shoe that turned over just a bit faster. While most of my mileage was easy from 4-6 milers and doubles, I also took the shoe out for a long effort and enjoyed the shoe over the distance and felt protected the entire time.


STABILITY 

The Speedboard here, like in the Cloudswift 2.0, provides a decent amount of stiffness with the relatively firm Helion foam ride to make the shoe feel relatively controlled. Also similarly to the Cloudswift, the decoupled groove that travels through the center of the shoe helps provide some mild guidance.

I typically am a mild overpronator, but found the Cloudflow to be one of the easier neutral shoe to run in. The firm midsole helps provide enough rigidity on landing to keep my landing feeling supportive.  The relative lightness of the shoe also further helped provide the feeling of control during the run. I actually found the Cloudflow to be very similar to the Mizuno Wave Horizon 5 (REVIEW) that I’ve been putting a lot of miles in lately, which uses a variety of densities to create stability. The firm cloudtec elements helped the Cloudflow feel stable throughout while the Helion foam feels like it is providing more than enough protection and comfort for daily runs and longer efforts.



CULTURE CORNER
A Look into the History of On, and Understanding Swiss Design

On Running was founded by Swiss athlete Oliver Bernhard, a three-time World Champion in Duathalon, and his partners Casper Coppetti and David Allemann (formerly CMO of Vitro, a Swedish furniture brand) in 2010. The goal of Bernhard and team was to create a shoe that had a cushioned landing, but firm takeoff. We have to remember that 2010 was the midst of two shoe paradigms: traditional running shoes with stability like the DS Trainer, Kayanos, and more, and the minimalist movement. The goal of On, while it sounds relatively common today with super shoes creating that soft platform and rigid takeoff, was not as commonly seen then.

On particularly took off in 2014 when two things happened with a brand new model that’s come to define the brand: the On Cloud. The original intention of the shoe was based on running (pun intended), and led to Swiss triathlete Nicola Spring’s silver medal in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. The On Cloud also started to garner a cult status outside of running, with celebrities and sneaker fans taking appreciation of the sleek, modern design of the shoe. On has really embraced this, bringing a wide range of colorways to the Cloud model and continuing to evolve the shoe with both performance and aesthetic in mind. Since its running beginnings, the brand has involved in other areas, including hiking, lifestyle - embracing the On Cloud culture with new lifestyle specific entries - and most recently tennis in partnership with Roger Federer.
On has a couple of defining characteristics. There’s the cloudtec, those pods that are the basis for their entire line. The less discussed aspect of On that’s made them a worldwide success is the Swiss construction. While shoes have evolved and streamlined greatly in the past ten years, when you think about shoe models prior to 2010 you have a lot of big models like the Asics Kayano and Nimbus which embraced a construction or the absolute other end with things like the Vibram Five Fingers.  On, embracing its Swiss heritage, really brought to the table a stripped back design with its original On Cloud running shoe. Emerging out of the 1950s, Swiss graphic design schools emphasized a form following function, rather than over function mentality to their work. Their design is no surprise when it came to the Eastern European block of influence that was present in the country (Netherland’s De Stiji block geometry design, the squareness of Bauhaus architecture being two major influences). Over the years, “Swiss Engineering” and design only became more and more reformed, focusing on tight-knit, stripped back construction, solid colors and geometric patterns, and strong block writing that’s clear and efficient in delivering its messaging. This design nature is clearly seen in On’s running shoes. While there certainly is a simple, clean design aesthetic the shoe visually, upon closer examination you can see the functionality of the lines and colors to highlight the construction of the shoe. In this sea/petrol colorway, where the blue ends in the upper and the grey begins in the heel, you can feel the transition from the less structured forefoot area to the sturdy grey portion that protects the heel. The midsole coloration also signals a change going into the heel where a softer Helion midsole exists. The blue wrapping around the heel demonstrates where the heel padding ends and sturdy heel counter starts and ends. The upper design in general is shaved as far as it can go while still maintaining comfort, helping keep the weight down to as much as the material allows. The cloudtec even fall into the aesthetic, with the repeated square geometry throughout, cutting space where allowed while still maintaining symmetry. There isn't a part of the shoe that is overbuilt in anyway, which is a credit to On's construction. The Cloudflow is a good example of On taking Swiss engineering to the extreme to create a slick, dialed-in design from top to bottom. Sources Swedish Design: An Ethnography, Keith M. Murphy Modern Swedish Design: Three Founding Texts, edited by Uno Åhrén, Lucy Creagh, Mary Creagh, Helena Kåberg, Barbara Miller Lane, Kenneth Frampton What You Should Know About Swedish Design, aproposter On’s Future is Lifestyle, But It’s Not Moving From Performance, Highsnobiety Proper Interview: David Allemann Co-Founder of On, Proper


RECOMMENDATIONS

I would love to see the arch addressed, either in softening its aggressiveness or providing an insole that adds a touch more cushion to balance the arch out and provide a touch more comfort for everyday use. This might be personal as an overpronator, but increasing the width of the midfoot just ever-so-slightly on the medial side may help accommodate more runners, adding a touch of stability which could help provide more comfort over longer distances in particular. Finally, beveling the heel further as seen in the Cloudswift 2.0 to add an even more rockered feeling would potentially open the Cloudflow to faster transitions which would make for an even smoother experience up to marathon distance.


WHO THIS SHOE IS FOR (Conclusion)

In an age of max cushioned shoes, it’s becoming harder and harder to find shoes like the On Cloudflow that provides a simple, no frills running experience with a lot of ground contact feel. On hones in on what they do best here, providing a well constructed shoe that’s going to last many miles and provide a reliable experience. If you like a Boston, you’ll likely find a home in the Cloudflow for your easy to long runs with no problem. 
One criticism of the shoe I haven’t touched on is the price point. Coming in at $140, it definitely sits fair higher than some of its low profile competitors like the Boston and Kinvara. You are certainly getting a shoe that is like to last well past the 300 mile marker with the Cloudflow, but it is definitely a premium cost. If you are looking for a durable, firm, but protective shoe for easy to long runs that can occasionally pick up the pace and even be your racing shoe for 10k up, the Cloudflow is definitely worth a look on your list.


GRADING (SHOE CATEGORY)

Bach

Fit: B (Comfortable, supportive upper, runs slightly long. Arch is aggressive though which may bother some) Performance: B+ (A protective neutral road running shoe that works best at easy miles with some pop-off from the Speedboard when you want to pick up the pace. Not overly exciting, just a reliably smooth and simple) Stability: B+ (Combination of decoupled groove down the center, firmer landing, and decent lockdown from the heel counter and midfoot lacing.) Personal: B+ (The Adidas Boston was one of my favorite daily trainers, and I feel many of the things I liked about it is translated well into the On Cloudflow: a protective, lightweight ride that just gets the job done. A nice, grippy outsole helps provide the traction I like on the roads as well. Also for my taste, the design aesthetic is wonderful with the transitions in colors from the heel to forefoot and minimal design.) Overall: B+ (A solid, lightweight training shoe for those who love ground contact and a firm, protective landing. The arch is something you’ll want to try for yourself in stores, but if you can get past that you have a great training shoe that will handle many miles with ease)

Thanks for reading!

Interested in purchasing the On Cloudflow? Check out Running Warehouse here. Using the link to purchase helps support Doctors of Running. Thanks so much!

FURTHER READING

More from On Running
On Cloudswift 2.0 - A big update to their daily trainer, featuring sustainable materials
On Cloudboom - On's first attempt at carbon plated racing. Aggressive fun
On Cloudventure Peak - The brand's lightweight, nimble trail runner, with an extra sticky outsole
On Cloudflyer - On's light stability trainer

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Thanks for reading!

TESTER PROFILES:
Dr. Matthew Klein is a 140 lb male with notable PRs of 14:45 for 5k and 2:32:44 for the full marathon.  He typically runs 70-100 miles per week and trains at a variety of paces from 8min per mile recovery runs to 4:40 per mile 1k repeats.  He prefers firmer and responsive shoes with snug heels and medium to wide toe boxes.  He is particular to less cushioned shoes and close to the ground shoes, but can handle a little cushion when he gets beat up. IG handle @kleinrunsdpt

Dr. David Salas is a 135 lb male with notable PRs ranging from 3:54 in the 1500m to 1:08:36 for half marathon. He typically runs 60 to 70 miles per week and trains from about 7:30 recovery runs to fast shorter efforts at 4:30 pace. He normally prefers neutral shoes with a firmer ride, but is completely open to other types of shoes.  He is a footwear enthusiast at heart and will always appreciate a high quality shoe when it comes around. For updates on training or testing, IG handle: @docsofrundavid

Dr. Brown is a 155 lb male with notable PRs of 18:18 5K, 39:25 10K, 1:29:01 half marathon, and 3:54 marathon. He typically runs between 20-40 miles per week at a variety of paces from 7:30-8:30 min/mile for recovery runs to 6-6:45 min/mile for tempo runs. He typically prefers shoes that provide some cushioning underfoot but still maintain a more firm and responsive feel. Current goals for 2020 are to break the 1.5 hour half marathon and 3:30 marathon. IG handle: @nate.docsofrunning

Bach Pham is a 135 lb male with PRS of 23:13 in 5K and 52:42 in 10K. He typically runs 25-35 miles a week at 9:20-9:50 min/mile and occasionally faster for the hell of it. He typically prefers neutral shoes with a firm ride. A recreational runner, he enjoys working on distance and growing his base for future half and marathon efforts down the line.

Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this website belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. This website should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking medical care. If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your local running physical therapist. If you are in the Los Angeles area, I am currently taking clients for running evaluations.

Matthew Klein, PT DPT OCS FAAOMPT
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist
Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists

Nathan Brown PT DPT MS
Doctor of Physical Therapy 
Masters in Anatomy and Clinical Health Science
Movement Performance Institute Certified in Advanced Functional Biomechanics 

David Salas PT DPT CSCS
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist

***Disclaimer: These shoes were provided free of charge in exchange for a review.  We thank the  people at On Running for sending us a pair.  This in no way affected the honesty of this review. We systematically put each type of shoe through certain runs prior to review. For trainers and performance trainers, we take them on daily runs, workouts, recovery runs and a long run prior to review (often accumulating anywhere from 20-50 miles in the process). For racing flats we ensure that we have completed intervals, a tempo or steady state run run as well as a warm up and cool down in each pair prior to review. This systematic process is to ensure that we have experience with each shoe in a large variety of conditions to provide expansive and thorough reviews for the public and for companies. Our views are based on our extensive history in the footwear industry and years testing and developing footwear. If you are a footwear rep looking for footwear reviews or consultations on development, we are currently looking to partner with companies to assist, discuss and promote footwear models. Partnership will not affect the honesty of our reviews.

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