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Behind the Scenes: Re-Engineering the Cloudflow

Deep dive into the story behind the shoe and discover how the Innovation and Design teams in the On Lab re-engineered the Cloudflow for even more comfort, more kick, and more speed over a four-year period.


How do you improve upon the most decorated On shoe? The record-breaker. The one loved by elite level athletes. That was the question facing the Innovation and Design teams in the On Lab.


We sit down with Senior Product Manager, Viktor for a simplified look at the complicated process that he and his team went through when re-engineering the Cloudflow.


Athlete Approved: How Elite Feedback Refined the New Cloudflow
The podium-topping, record-breaking Cloudflow has been refined and revamped using the input of elite On athletes. How exactly? We’ve recruited our Athlete Project Specialist and two of the world’s best, Javi Gómez Noya and Bart Aernouts, to tell you.
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The Cloudflow Conundrum 


“It was very hard to settle on what updates to implement because the original Cloudflow was so well liked. To help, we went to our athletes and asked them what they would improve about the shoe,” says Viktor.  


Almost four years of work and research have gone into this shoe.  



“But that was just one part of our investigation. At the same time, our team spoke to the official On testers, to our On colleagues, and to our sales teams. Feedback from elite athletes is great but we also really need to know what consumers think. At the end of the day, we can make the best shoe in the world but if it doesn’t feel or look good then people won’t buy it. 


“We went a step further too, spending hours watching reviews on YouTube or reading magazines and websites – anywhere we could get information about what people think about the shoe. Some On testers only test On shoes and we wanted as broad a spectrum as possible. Somebody who tests hundreds of shoes will have a different perspective. This gives us a clearer idea of what people really think about the shoe.”


Deciding on Details


In the case of the Cloudflow, the Lab decided to concentrate on boosting cushioning, speed, durability, push off and fit. With the focus clear, they got to work.


“Next, we start concepting ideas. We have different groups of people working on different things and we brainstorm. In this case, we started with the bottom unit. We considered closing the channel in the forefoot, making the Cloud walls thicker, making the Clouds bigger to increase cushioning, changing the foam, the list goes on and on."



“Once we have ideas, we have a workshop where we create “monsters” (or composite shoes made up of different materials and parts from other shoes) to try and to test before we go further. We did this near to Olivier’s home in the Alps, which was really nice.


“The testing process, we make a little competitive and really try to be honest about what works best and what we believe in the most.


“Hopefully, this process will make us aware of what the best ideas are, and then we can start creating proper concepts. This is where we define the details and information to bring these ideas to life with sketches and measurements for prototyping. It’s one thing making the monsters and another to do the prototyping.”



 Perfecting the Prototypes


“When we move on to the prototyping, we want to look at lots of different samples. One with Helion, one with EVA, different Speedboards, different Cloud shape and sizes, connected Clouds – there are so many variables and when combined with different compounds, the results can be so different. 


“For example, the first prototype had closed forefoot Clouds but we found that this affected the rolling motion too much. We consider the rolling motion to be part of what makes the Cloudflow, the Cloudflow so it was is something we definitely did not want to get rid of.”



The team produced multiple prototypes for testers to try. All were built around the same idea but, as explained above, featured different technology or materials. This way the Lab team can really discover the differences in terms of performance and feel.


By collecting feedback on a wide number of variables, they can take great strides towards the final product. Eliminating inefficient elements, confirming suspicions, filtering out the fluff. No aspect is overlooked.


How much detail we go into shocks everyone that comes from the footwear industry.


“It’s so much more complex with the Cloud elements. With other shoes that are made up of one unit, it’s more about the compound, the material. But, with ours, it’s about how the elements interact with each other as much as it about how the whole unit works together.


“We look at the shape and size of individual Cloud elements, which ones are not collapsing properly, which ones need a bigger radius to make them then more durable. Do they collapse together in synchronicity or do we need to alter them?


We’re talking millimeters but it’s something that runners will feel.



Test, tweak. Test, tweak. Test, tweak. The amount of data collected during the entire process is overwhelming but, to make our shoes as good as they can be, it is necessary. And, by going through this process of elimination, the shoe is properly refined and improved.


With every new prototype, less is changed and the finest of tuning reveals the optimal combination of materials and technology. The optimal Cloudflow. And you can get yours now.


The Cloudflow
The record-breaking shoe loved by elite athletes. Now refined with their input. More Comfort. More Kick. More Speed. Shortcut to runner's high.

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