ON Cloudace Performance Review
Robbe: The new Cloudace from On is a stability shoe that features On’s signature sole with its most advanced version of CloudTec to date, with a new heel design to differentiate it from other models. The shoe features an injected TPU heel counter with precision-molded 3D heel pads to secure the foot within the shoe. This is a heavy shoe, coming in at 11.8 oz (335g) for a size 8.5. Additionally, it features a wishbone-shaped liquid-injected Speedboard running through the midsole, that begins at the heel before splitting off at the forefoot for extra stabilization. Heel to toe drop is 7mm.
Robbe: As a disclaimer, I should say that I’m absolutely not a stability shoe runner, so that will shadow my review to some degree. I’ve never much had an attraction to On shoes, but I really liked the look of this shoe out of the box. It’s obvious that the designers gave a lot of attention to detail, from both a design and functional standpoint. The initial step-in felt great; the shoe had just enough room in the toe box while still feeling snug throughout. I actually wore these to the office the first day I got them, just to break them in a bit, and they felt great all day (and looked surprisingly normal with street clothes). After a handful of runs in this shoe, I feel that On accomplished what it set out to do in creating a stability shoe that can last long miles. I have a few caveats about that, but I’ll save those for later. Overall, the Cloudace created a comfortable ride, especially for slight heel-strikers like myself. It features four “anti-gravity” pods under the heel that provide some incredible cushion on hard surfaces like city sidewalks, but without feeling at all mushy. I really enjoyed the actual ride of the shoe and felt it maintained a comfort level that could last for miles. I had no problems with breathability. The shoe features a sandwich mesh with two support strips overlays on each side to provide extra stability in the right places. Stability-wise, I felt that the shoe gave just enough to feel responsive but still didn’t budge when it shouldn’t have, and provided a great landing. I also found the shoe to have a nice pop when picking up the pace, which was surprising to me. That said, what pop it had was quickly slogged down by the overall weight.
Erin: Sometimes, with these reviews, I want to start with the bad, because, well…it’s a struggle to come up with the good. That’s especially true here, where much of what I like about the On Cloudace is aesthetic, and really, that isn’t all that helpful for someone who is looking for a shoe that feels good. A good-looking shoe is a bonus, but I’d guess that for many, it isn’t the most important criterion.
On seems to be enjoying a moment right now, and after trying two models (the other being the Cloudventure), I’m really struggling to understand why. We’ll get to that in a moment (oh, we will), but the one thing I can say unequivocally about the Cloudace (and the Cloudventure) is that they are incredibly well-made shoes. It is obvious that a lot of thought went into their design. They’re visually interesting. I’ve never had more questions about a shoe than when wearing the Cloudace. I received the Ruby/Lava colorway, and I love the colors.
The attention to detail, design-wise, is incredible. The lace aglets are printed with “put me On”, which is kinda cute, and the insole says “the Ace up your runner’s sleeve.” The upper is an engineered mesh, and there’s no stitching anywhere I could see. The On logos are reflective, and there’s the little Swiss flag on the outside of the right heel.
Step-in comfort is great, too. The tongue and the heel collar are well-padded, and the inside is smooth and seamless.Shop ON Cloudace
Robbe: Personally, I just couldn’t get past the weight of this shoe. If you’re a bigger/taller runner (I’m 5’6”/130 lb.) or someone who’s used to wearing a heavier stability shoe, then this won’t make as much of a difference to you. But my every-day shoe is a Brooks Launch 5, which puts the Cloudace at around 33% more weight. I did a few 6-mile runs in them, and every one was a struggle to keep up with my typical pace. It was disappointing for me because I really liked everything about this shoe, except for the weight. I felt like it wanted to go faster, the midsole popped like it did, but it just wouldn’t. Additionally, I felt that the overall fit was a little stiff, even after I wore them around a couple days and ran close to 20 miles in them. I just didn’t feel like they had broken in yet, even for a stability shoe. One last thing- a price tag of $200? That might be lunch money in the tri world, but where I’m from, that’s called “f*** it, just go for some 4%’s” money.
Erin: On’s tagline for the Cloudace is “maximum cushioning, support and speed in a shoe made for the demanding runner.” We can all probably agree that max cushioning, support, and speed are generally not all found in the same shoe, and the Cloudace is not an exception. This is classified as a stability shoe, though the lack of a medial post or any other visible support structure is confusing. The stability seems mostly to come from the rather substantial overlays on the upper. The overlay nearest the toebox in particular gave me some issues with rubbing and irritation, so if you have bunions, this may be an issue for you as well. There is also an aggressive toe bumper on the Cloudace, and I didn’t find the upper to be breathable; my feet got hot in these.
The maximum cushioning and support of the Cloudace unsurprisingly contribute to the hefty weight; these come in at 9.8 ounces for a women’s 8. I think the heaviest shoe I’ve run in lately is the Brooks Levitate (9.7 ounces), and even though they didn’t wow me, I’d choose the Levitate over the Cloudace every time. I just did not like the ride of these shoes, and I tried. I gave up two weeks of training for the Cloudace, cranking out sub-par runs that left me feeling dead and slow. I thought maybe they needed breaking in, but they never felt good for me. Heavy, dead, flat. Bleh. I don’t think it’s possible to run a sub 7 minute mile in these.
The midsole is, like all On models, made of those odd-looking CloudTec pods (“clouds”), with ZeroGravity clouds in the heel, and some lower profile rubber clouds in the forefoot. Running through the center of the midsole is the “speedboard”, which is wider than in other On models for stability purposes, though I can’t see how it provides stability. The speedboard is also supposed to promote a quicker toe-off, but, again. It was not noticeable to me.
I should mention that the Cloudace retails for $200, which I think is kind of insane. They probably last a long time, so maybe that price point isn’t too outrageous for you if you happen to really love these shoes. I will say that after 50 miles, my pair isn’t showing any wear, which is nice. But that comes at a cost in the form of both extra weight and actual cash money.
Oh, and for those of you who obsess over drop, these are 7 mm (30 mm heel/23 mm forefoot).Shop ON Cloudace
ON Cloudace Conclusion
Robbe: For those already running in stability shoes, or with a preference for On, this is a great shoe. It will do everything you need it to, and probably more than your shoe right now does. If you are not used to running in this type of shoe, beware the heaviness. These are not tempo or interval shoes. These are meant for long, stable miles.
Erin: There are several other reviews of the Cloudace floating (ha) around, and I’d encourage you to read them if you’re still intrigued by the shoe, because it seems like everyone else loves them. They aren’t for me, but they might be for you!Shop ON Cloudace