On Cloud X, built like a Swiss Watch but what makes them tick?
Posted on October 19 2018
So this is what On Cloud says about the X;
"Welcome to zero gravity — engineering for those on a mission. The Cloud X running shoe is the result of what happens when you take the sole of the Cloud and remix it for athletes who don’t define themselves by any one sport, or any one type of workout. Soft landings. Explosive take-offs. A knit-weave on top and a speedheel- cap to keep your heel on lock. Make no mistake, this is the lightest, fully cushioned running shoe the world, your gym, and your feet have ever seen. All you have to do is get out and mix it up."
So I decided to "get out and mix it up". (....really?!!) First things first, this is a very well made shoe, attention to detail and finish are fantastic, even to the little Swiss flag sewn into the heel counter.
I split my test run into two, party for lack of time but also because I wanted to test a number of different aspects of the shoe. Conditions were variable, dry/damp spots on both runs.
My test runs if you are interested are HERE, and HERE. The first, a run along Bowen and over Blacks Link that allowed a test of the shoes feel on flatter, faster sections and then run two, up to the Peak via Chatham Path and then a 2.5km, 20% descent down Old Peak Road to LKF, testing grip (Chatham must be the greasiest, most slippery pieces of path in HK) and then cushioning down OPR.
My comparison shoe is the adizero Adios Boost, an adidas shoe I have used since it evolved from the CS, to the ACE, (named after the leader of Running Business Line in adidas) and then to the Adios which became Gabreselassie's world record marathon shoe in 2008. Love the transition in the shoe (never quite matched since the CS version though sadly) and its feeling of speed, but been troubled recently by the softness of Boost ... why oh why change a good thing??!!. The firmer EVA of the earlier shoes was better in my view.
Both are about the same weight (229g for the On Cloud and 230g for the Adios). 6mm drop for the On Cloud and 9mm for the Adios.
The feeling of the ON Cloud X on first wearing is great, no problems with my usual size and my foot felt well supported and the shoe was a good fit. No sore or pressure points. Reports I have read point out the silly thin laces which is indeed true. The knit-weave vamp on the On-Cloud feels supportive and compares well with the now increasingly rare sewn upper of the adios. (the transition of shoe companies to knitted uppers by the way is to save labor, not to make you feel better in your shoes...some brands have made that transition better than others)
Given how I feel about Boost, by comparison the On Cloud midsole feels firm. They are supposed be a fast, trainer/racer so that's not surprising. They look and feel sleek and fast and of course are very light. On the flatter sections on Bowen and over Blacks link I liked the feel and there is a good transition in the shoe.
I noticed there is a 10cm greater toe-off on the ON Cloud than on the Adios (45mm v 35mm) and the plastic speed-plate that runs the length of the shoe does give a very nice roll-on, roll-off which helps it feel fast. I think the Adios compensates a bit for this because of the greater drop, but both are fast feeling shoes.
When up on my toes or mid foot striking I did think the forefront cushioning of the On Cloud X was harder that the Boost material in the Adios, and while I feel Boost is too soft in the heel, it does work well in the forefoot.
On the greasy climb up Chatham path its fair to say, both shoes slipped a bit. Neither worse than the other and always fairly predictable and controllable.
Where I did find the biggest difference was on the long steep descent down Old Peak Road. We have a lot of hills in HK and even when road training they are hard to avoid. Inevitably there is more heel striking and this is where adidas have spoiled the Adios in my view. The cushioning on the On Cloud X is so much better than the "straight through to the road" effect of the Boost. Even if you don't pound down 20% inclines like Old Peak Road, if you heel strike, you will feel a big difference here. And lets face it, we are all heel strikers some of the time.
I don't put much credence on the marketing bollocks of most shoe companies but in this case On Cloud have found a way to give good, supportive cushioning without weight and still keep a fast feeling shoe.
My conclusion therefore is that the ON Cloud X is a great shoe for all your fast racing/training road needs, especially if you are a bit of a heel striker and need a bit more cushioning than on a lot of road shoes targeting this sector. They are very well made so I am curious to see how well they age. adizero Adios' rarely make it past 400k, maybe the On Cloud will be better.