Overview: Contrary to the wave of fashion-first On ‘Cloud’ lifestyle shoes flooding the streets, ‘CloudFlyer’ is a rock solid purists’ training shoe. Firm, foamy CloudTec cushioned pods deliver a fluid heel-to-toe roll. If it’s a lightweight, stable, fully-cushioned natural feel you seek, then run ‘On Clouds’ with On Running’s stable road warrior, the ‘CloudFlyer’.
The Appeal: For starters, the aesthetic appeal is immense. Sleek, streamlined two-tone color silhouette induces a love at first sight attraction. Although slender by look, ‘CloudFlyer’ offers a broad, rounded foot stamp for an almost Altra-esque open toe splay. I find the platform offers adequately wide cushion comfort to accomodate my wide midfoot. Ample mesh is offered to canvas the wide toe box. At the base of the lacing lies a criss-crossed bundle of lace known as the ‘Star Lacing System’. This tangled mess of shoe lace integrates with a set of wire cables that dive downward into the shoe sole. This feature draws the upper close to the forefoot for a nesled feel at each and every tie.
“It’s almost unbelieveable these come standard issue straight from the box.”
The cushion experience combines a plush and fogiving step in, followed next by firm and lively Cloud cushioning below. Impact dispersion starts with the plush dual-density sockliner insole. It’s almost unbelieveable these come standard issue straight from of box. I’d pay top dollar to dress out my other shoes in these premium insoles. Initial impact is met with a squared-off, sturdy heel that sticks the landing to a stable foot plant. Underfoot further into midstance, the Cloud Elements compress sequentially as the foot rolls through to deliver a super smooth heel-to-toe transition that’s combined with a springy suspension sensation. The final act is the flared medial cloud elements along the inner border of the big toe, guiding the foot through to a balanced toe-off.
What’s Lacking?: Toe spring is lackluster. The propulsive, full-length ‘speed board’ found in the ‘CloudSurfer’, ‘CloudFlow’, and ‘Cloud Ace’ is absent from ‘CloudFlyer’ making it too flexible for speedy running. On the track I’d experienced muted energy return and minor shearing twinges my arch. Arguably, the upper may drown the foot as material bunches above the toes due to the high volume design. Narrow feet beware!
A word of caution regarding the support offered by ‘CloudFlyer’: If your gait is neutral-to-underpronated, you may find yourself dispoportionately running on the outter edge of the foot. Remember, this is a support model intended to guide inward rolling feet upright through a neutral gait pattern.
I hate to call this out because everybody knows by now, but the nuisance of debris capture by the grooved outersole is impossible not to note. It’s a systemic issue with On shoes that makes one self-conscious when treading over loose gravel, dirt clods, or sweet gum tree droppings. Minor concern if you keep these road sherpas strict to the asphault.
Takeaways: Genuinely unique combination of big cushion, light stability, and natural feel. High marks for innovative use of firm heel design, broad underfoot shaping, and flared medial forefoot design to incorporate a low-profile experience within a structured package. Use caution if transitioning from stiffer, structured models as abrupt shift in flexibility may strain arch.