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Origin of Performance: Creating the Cloudboom Echo

When our fastest long distance athletes toe the starting line in Tokyo this summer, they’ll be wearing the Cloudboom Echo. It’s our lightest, fastest marathon shoe and it’s proven to perform better than any shoe we’ve ever made.


“We looked at literally every element of the shoe. We’ve gone further than we’ve ever gone and we think this shoe will take our athletes further than they’ve ever been.”


The Cloudboom Echo is the result of years of hard work, both in the lab and on run. In pursuit of pure performance, we took no shortcuts and made no compromises. Every element was carefully considered and we tested over one hundred prototypes in making this shoe. 


Thanks to the unique combination of a carbon Speedboard®, responsive CloudTec® cushioning, a barely-there upper and some serious Swiss engineering, it’s light, fast, comfortable and performs better over the marathon distance than any shoe we’ve ever made.


But don’t take our word for it. This claim is backed up not just by the elite athletes we work with but also by a rigorous study conducted at an independent external institute.


Tests show that the Cloudboom Echo induces outstanding running economy, allowing athletes to run at their usual speed while saving energy. It performs as well as, if not better than, leading marathon shoes in terms of efficiency and perceived comfort too.



“The Cloudboom Echo is a huge step forward for our racing shoes,” says Dathan Ritzenhein, OAC coach and three-time Olympian.


“It’s On's fastest shoe. While wearing it, I have noticed less foot and leg fatigue and a springier stride,” Tristin Van Ord (On ZAP Endurance)


When our fastest runners realize a career-long ambition of competing at the Games, they know they’ll be doing it in gear they can trust. Here’s how we made it.


Step 1. Get athletes involved


All of our performance shoes are a collaboration between our creators in the On lab and our athletes. Feedback from our elite runners informs all key decisions. Just collecting and collating their comments is a task itself.


But for the Cloudboom Echo, we made an even greater effort to make sure that input from world champions like Javi Gomez Noya and Helen Jenkins, Olympic gold winners like Nicola Spirig, marathon record breakers like Rachel Cliff and future Olympians like Jake Riley was at the heart of all that we did. In fact, we got input from 15 different athletes. 


“We compiled reports, data, insight — anything and everything that our athletes gave us we tried to use. Whether it was the shape of the heel, the materials, the foam, the tongue, the upper, the laces – you name it, we looked at it,” Olli Hirvonen, shoe designer. 


From their input, it became clear that they wanted a shoe with extra cushioning and impact absorption in the forefoot and heel, a curved Speedboard for increased propulsion and energy conversion, as well as a nearly weightless feel. With the key goals identified, our team got to work. 



Step 2. Make a Monster


The starting point for the Cloudboom Echo was our first marathon shoe, the Cloudboom. But looking at the shoes respective profiles, there’s a clear difference. And they perform as differently as they look.


“The Cloudboom performed exceptionally well but our athletes knew what they wanted. As always, we started with what we call a monster, which is a handmade shoe made up all sorts of different parts, often from different shoes,” says Kevin Deillon, Sports Science Lead. 


We took the shoe apart completely — measuring individual pieces, assessing the materials used versus the performance they offer, exploring the chance to use something lighter, something better.


“In this case, we added foam in the forefoot, curved the Speedboard and added the bottom unit of the Cloustratus, which is our performance shoe with maximum cushioning, to see how it worked. Once we get an initial feeling on how the shoe will perform, we start experimenting on a smaller level — moving Clouds, how much space in between, adjusting thickness of foam and so on.”



Step 3. Prototype Progress

Once our team is happy with the monster, they create a prototype for the athletes to test. Of course, lots changes are made before the shoe goes to market but the first prototype lays the groundwork and is a good indicator of how the shoe will perform once perfected.  


“The first moment we knew we had something special was after Matt Hansen’s incredible performance at the Challenge Daytona — he recorded the fastest running split of the day wearing our first prototype. It became clear that we’d taken a step in the right direction,” said Kevin.


“Many athletes notice the smallest of changes and can provide such precise feedback that it really helps us make improvement. Having a relationship with our athletes is vital as it helps us to make better products and helps them to feel confident in the product.”


“Performance was always at the top of the priority list but we produced different prototypes for our athletes to provide feedback on. They test them then we have meetings in person, over the phone, Google hangouts — whatever we could to make it work.”


The process continues until our team reaches a shoe they feel performs as needed and from this version we turn a prototype into a product. 


Every aspect of the shoe has been considered: the upper, the outsole, the Speedboard – even the placement of the On logo. 


Step 4. Test, Rest, Test


The final stage, of course, is seeing how our new creation performs. To make sure that we meet the exceptional standards of our exceptional athletes, we sent our shoe to an external institute to test it against our own shoes and competitors. 


As above, the results are very positive and the Cloudboom Echo induces outstanding running economy. Thankfully, our athletes seem happy with it too. And with Tokyo fast approaching, we can’t wait to see how it performs on the biggest stage of all. 


The Cloudboom Echo
The ultralight shoe with a carbon Speedboard® for your fastest marathons and road races. Built beside elite athletes.

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