The On Running Cloudneo is not great yet, the Cyclon program is
Owning shoes may not be a thing anymore. What will you be running with, you may ask? Well, shoes. But ones that you return after using them. And ones made from shoes other runners returned before you. How does that work? On Running has an answer.
On Cloudneo – Specs
Weight: Official: 260g in US9 – Actual: 298g (10.5oz) in size US11 / EU45
Stack height (forefoot/heel): 34/25mm – 9mm drop
Durometer score (0 to 100, soft to hard): 33/100 for the PEBAX midsole compound
So how does the On Running Cyclon program work?
The concept is the following: you subscribe to the program. A monthly subscription costs $30/€30. That puts you in the loop and you receive your first pair of shoes. Once you are done running in them (after approx. 6 months), you put them back in their package and return them to On Running. And here comes the magic of the Cyclon program developed by the Swiss brand. You instantly receive a new pair of fresh kicks and while you’re already enjoying them, your old ones are being recycled. The recycling process allows On Running to produce new shoes and the loop goes on and on (pun semi-intended).
Let’s dive into the cost aspect. With the intended 6-month lifespan, the Cloudneo comes at around $180/€180 for a cycle of use. It’s a similar pricing to the On Cloudmonster – which is not recycled nor recyclable. Note that On is claiming around 600km of durability, which amounts to 25km per week. It’s also important to flag that the 6-month cycle is not mandatory and you can return you pair whenever you feel like you need a new one.
On Running Cloudneo – unboxing and first impressions
What will strike you first if you subscribe to the program, is the delivery experience. The shipping label was attached directly on the white bag (see pictures). No safety whatsoever, opening the bag and running with the shoes takes only seconds. I’m highlighting this as it is very rare nowadays to get deliveries where the content is so explicit and not boxed.
When you open the white bag, you are welcomed by the “You’re in the loop” sign. Nice! Getting the shoes in my hands was a pleasant feeling as I was contemplating them for a long while. What a clean design. Some may say that they look like nurse shoes, others that they have some proto vibes. Next step is scanning the QR code attached on the shoes. You are redirected to the cyclon.com website, which explains you step by step the process to use and return the shoes.
Putting the shoes on for the first time allows to get more familiar with the upper (vegan like the whole shoe). It’s a rather thick jacquard-type upper which is flexible and not structured at all. Not much padding on the heel and tongue, which is fully gusseted. The fit is true to size but rather poor. The heel lockdown is minimal due to the absence of side bolsters or any other form of reinforcement in that are. The forefoot is average in terms of width but the toe box is quite generous in terms of volume. The very first steps with the shoes are putting the highlight on the forefoot rocker and again…poor fit.
A Pebax midsole but the Cloudneo disappoints
One point I did not mention yet is the Pebax based midsole. Yes, Pebax like in the Nike Vaporfly Next% for instance. The crazy light and bouncy midsole compound. On Running partnered up with Arkema and Pebax is great for the Cyclon program because it’s bio-sourced from castor beans. Does that raise the expectations for the ride of the shoe? Yes.
With a durometer score of 33/100, close to other TPE-A compounds, the midsole of the On Cloudneo should be able to deliver some compression, energy return and fun. But it simply doesn’t. No matter what you try the ride keeps on being muted. Is it the thickness of the speedboard (TPU based?) between the two layers of foam that kills the ride? Or is the flavor of Pebax that is not adequate? The fit certainly does not help but cannot be blamed for the whole experience.
On the positive side the geometry is friendly with that pronounced heel bevel and even more pronounced rocker in the forefoot. A bit more decoupling would certainly help to enjoy these features like they should.
The Cloudneo should not stop On to further develop Cyclon
Tricky point to begin with. Would I recommend the Cloudneo? Probably not for the shoe, but more for the Cyclon program. I literally love the idea of not owning your shoes and returning them. Recycling needs to be more present everywhere and as runners we can contribute to that.
However the Cloudneo does not pass the test yet. Its fit is not dialed in and accumulates flaws. The Pebax midsole is far from delivering anything you’d expect from such a compound. And even the outsole could be improved (lack grip and the exposed Pebax quickly shows wear).
I’m looking forward to the new models in the Cyclon lineup. And I may even subscribe down the road (imagine a Cloudmonster in the Cyclon program). For now it’s time for me to return my pair so that others can enjoy theirs.
5% OFF with code AFILITTI