The On Cloudsurfer may be the biggest achievement ever for On
Our team started testing this shoe a month ago or so. The initial excitement was high and it is still up there as the shoe keeps on delivering session after session. But before revealing all the goodness, we need to provide you with some background information. Puma told us that they imagined this shoe as a pair of long-distance spikes albeit for the road. The target population is made of elite and sub-elite athletes (without further details on what constitutes the latter category). But essentially faster runners on the 5k distance. Because numbers matter to backup some serious claims, Puma partnered up with Chemnitz University in Germany for their lab testing phase of development. They conducted a study trying to demonstrate the benefits of the Fast FWD on lactate levels at or around 5k paces. While the study isn’t available yet, we will certainly update this article later in 2023 when the data will be out.
On Cloudsurfer – Specs
Weight: Actual: 255g (8.9oz) in size US11 / EU45 and 225g (7.9oz) in size US8.5
Stack height (forefoot/heel): unknown, drop is 10mm
The platform is average in terms of width. Nothing super narrow for a top end short distance racer. For specific values, please check the Shoe Comparator in which you can compare the width for the forefoot, midfoot and heel against other shoes.
The upper of the Cloudsurfer will keep most feet (very) happy
Tim: The Cloudsurfer 7 is this type of shoe that not only looks comfortable but also is comfortable. But don’t get me wrong, comfortable for this shoe doesn’t mean “too much”. On worked smartly to add the right amount of padding only where it’s needed and as a consequence avoid the shoe to be too heavy. The heel cup but also the collar as well as the tongue are perfectly padded for my feet. The forefoot geometry is wide and the mesh soft enough to avoid any chafing. Speaking about the mesh, it is really breathable. It could even be too breathable if you live in a place where it’s raining a lot. There I would not be surprised if your feet are totally wet from the moment the rain starts.
Moving to the eyelets (which are unusual looking) and laces, it works pretty well to secure my foot inside the shoe without doing a specific knot. By the way, and it’s rare enough to mention it, I never needed to lace them again in the middle of a run. To all those good points, you can add the nice design of the shoe (which is very personal) and a new colouring process to reduce water consumption. In a nutshell I give a big YES to this upper.
Ivan: I have found the upper to be fairly simple but really comfortable. It is made up of two layers of thin mesh with plenty of ventilation holes in the top layer. However, the gusseted tongue is quite thick and attached to the inner mesh layer. That creates a nice midfoot wrap but could potentially turn a bit hot when we reach summertime here in Scandinavia. The padding around the heel collar is just perfect for my liking with no heel slip. Some overlays connecting the front eye-row to the midsole helps with the structure from this otherwise very light and soft upper. Despite the overlays, there is sufficient width around the toe box to avoid any pressure points around the pinky toes. Finally, there is a strip of fabric over the laces which I don’t think has any other purpose than the aesthetic. Overall, this is a nice and soft upper with a comfortable fit for a daily trainer that is definitely true-to-size.
On enters a whole new world with a smooth and soft ride
Tim: The Couldsurfer 7 is the first On shoe that benefits from the “new clouds”. These new clouds come with a whole new technology “CloudTech Phase” which include a new foam geometry as well as the loss of the well-known Speedboard (TPU plate). But let’s stop about technical information, if you want to know more go read our dedicated article, and focus on how this impacts the ride! On wants this shoe to be soft and easy to ride. Is that the case? Definitely. It’s the softest On shoe I ever tried (even more than the Cloudmonster which I had the opportunity to test while in Zurich last week) and I could admit that thanks to the geometry and the pronounced rocker, the ride is easy for my gait cycle. Even if the shoe isn’t made for speed work, I appreciate the ride from recovery (5’/km – 8’/mile) to tempo paces (3’45/km – 6’/mile). Faster than that the shoe is too mushy for me and I miss a bit of energy return.
Unfortunately, those good points also come with an annoying issue for me, and that’s stability. I like the ride and the softness as much as I hate the instability of this shoe. For runs over 30min, I really feel that my ankles and knees work a lot more than they’re used to. Much more than the vast majority of shoes I tested recently. I therefore have a mixed and confusing feeling about this shoe. Without this stability issue it would already be a real contender for my daily trainer of the year. Knowing this issue and the fact that I injure myself easily makes me reconsider this shoe for more than just easy jogs.
Ivan: The midsole is where this shoe completely differs from everything I have ever experienced before in an ON shoe. Ok, I must admit that I haven’t run in that many pairs of ON shoes, but I am pretty sure that the new Cloudsurfer 7 is the first model with this particular setup. Not only is the foam significantly softer than what I’m used to. But the so-called cloud technology is also executed differently. The angled clouds/holes create an incredibly smooth transition. Helped along by a new soft and squishy foam compound and the aggressive rocker. While some ON loyalists might be missing the usual dense/firm and snappy ride, I am just really enjoying the squishy and forgiving nature of this new midsole setup. It does lack some rigidity to really work at faster paces. The softness and flexibility also end up being somewhat demanding for feet and ankles on longer runs. Lastly, it makes the ride a bit unstable which might be a deal breaker for some. Despite all of this, I keep reaching out for the Cloudsurfer for short and mid-distance easy runs as I find the ride very comfortable and enjoyable.
A decent outsole and a likely good durability
Tim: When it comes to outsole, I will mainly speak about grip and durability. For the former, nothing very specific to say. It’s not really grippy without being a total disaster. For durability I only have 50km with them but I feel that the shoe can last for a while. Like its older sister, the Monster, the foam is made of Helion (EVA + OBC – Olefin block copolymers) and should last for hundreds of kilometres / miles.
Ivan: The outsole contributes to the overall light feeling of this shoe. It runs “silent as a ninja” which I appreciate a lot. A noisy shoe always makes the ride feel more unnatural and clunky. The outsole is simple and fairly minimal. We get a thin layer in the heel and front part of the shoe with some exposed foam under the midfoot section. I have not had any issues with grip but I am yet to test it in demanding conditions.
Conclusion – the Cloudsurfer is a special shoe and you have to try it on
Tim: Will the Cloudsurfer 7 enter my rotation shoe? Unfortunately, no. It’s nearly heart-breaking to write it down as I really enjoy the ride and the softness of the shoe. However, knowing myself, this shoe is too unstable and will not provide me with what I need. Nevertheless, it’s definitely a great shoe and I consider that On made a huge step forward with this shoe. Therefore, I will not be surprises to see it on a lot of runners this spring or summer especially considering that at €170 the price is affordable for a daily trainer.
Ivan: As you can probably tell, I’m really enjoying the latest Cloudsurfer so far. The upper is light, accommodating and is just pretty unnoticeable on foot, which is a good thing in my opinion. I don’t think it will be a shoe for everyone and it definitely sets itself apart from earlier iterations. I can see how especially a heavy or unstable runner will need more structure and support. Also, it is not the most versatile trainer out there. It just lacks some stiffness and stability for faster or longer runs. But where it really shines, is for those “in-between” days at easy to moderate paces. It just makes those kinds of runs joyful and I guess the whole look of the shoe also supports the impression of having fun.
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