That's not the case with ON Running who have developed a truly innovative sole that is comprised of clouds. There's an upper and some EVA (not a lot) then these clouds that sit along the sole and provide the ride. The tagline is land soft and take off hard.
I have seen these shoes being advertised more and more then heard that Rich Roll was wearing them for his this is 50 training stuff he's doing for Otillo. As i looked closer i found a review on the Ultrarunner Podcast that kind of finished the seduction.
The first thing i noticed about these shoes out of the box was that they do not feel like a traditional shoe. They feel rigid in the hand yet when you put your foot in they do not feel that way at all. The heel cup and shoe opening allow the foot to slide in very easily and more importantly out with minimal effort. This will be useful, incredibly so, at the end of a long run when you don't want to have to fight your footwear.
The Cloudsurfers i have are neutral and i wear them with my custom orthotics (for collapsing arches).
When i put them on initially the comfort strikes you immediately, i'm not a heel striker (when i run) but walking in these felt soft and easy. As i left the house this morning to run i felt a bit like one of those dogs that you see on the internet wearing shoes. It's unnatural and just plain odd.
As i started to jog i could feel the spring in the shoes. The landing was soft and the take off responsive. But the spring made it feel that my legs were flying about. They weren't but it felt like that. They also felt fast. I did wonder if my mile splits would show this and they don't so it was all perception. I guess on reflection they just felt different.
The upper is knitted and double layered. It's a very fine knit much more so than the Ultraboosts i have which are my only experience of knitted shoes. They have a squared off toe box that has some stiffer protection around the toe overlaid on the knitted upper. The double layer is red underneath with the grey on the top. The upper is grey with a red heel cup, tongue and sole. Nice styling. The shoes have nice detailing with the ON logo and some piping in highly reflective material.
Putting them on is easy, the foot just slides in. The lacing system is best described as traditional. This is the only drawback i can see really. That the shoes have lace-ups is fine, I have no problem with that but what i don't like is the supplied laces. They are super skinny and do not really get any purchase on each other. The laces are like the ones in the Salomon S-Lock system but without the locking. I would prefer them to have a thicker lace that would grip against the other when they were tied.
This is a small issue.
Running this morning, once i had settled down into my rhythm, felt great. The shoes are incredibly comfortable; they feel really soft on landing and responsive on take-off. I felt like my stride was being tuned, i was picking up my heels much more than normal. I try to do this but know i lapse into that inefficient shuffle that long distance runners at the back/middle of the pack do. I know this was happening this morning as for the remainder of the day i could feel the run in my calves.
They look good and they encourage good form - excellent!
They are eye catching too - i saw a couple of my running buddies and they immediately spotted the shoes and were inquisitive about them. They are that kind of shoe.
Its very easy to be seduced by new gear. New shoes in particular always feel great out of the box, a little less so after a few hundred miles. I also know that i am always seduced by kit and generally love everything i have to do with running.
This review is based on 5 miles of running, nowhere near enough to make a proper judgement but enough to say that i like them. I have a rest day tomorrow and then on Sunday am planning an 8 mile run in them. This will be a test of both the shoe and me. I'm pretty excited about this and have high hopes for the shoe and how it will perform and what impact it will have on my running.
I will provide an update once i have run a couple hundred miles. First impressions are that these are going to be a hit!