Energy. It’s the key ingredient in any sport. More energy means more speed. More distance. More fun. So when On set out to revolutionize running, our engineers sought a way to harness the energy produced by a runner’s motion like nothing else out there. A technology that would reduce the kinetic energy lost in the transition between strides. That would more efficiently convert your energy into forward motion. Hours of experimentation, numerous prototypes and countless test runners later, the On Speedboard™ was the answer.
The Speedboard™ explained
The Speedboard™ is a liquid-injected plate of thermoplastic polymer sitting between the CloudTec® midsole and the upper. Look between the Cloud elements on the sole of any On shoe and you’ll see the underside of its Speedboard™. In some models, like the Cloudace, Cloudflash and new Cloudsurfer, the Speedboard™ extends the full width of the shoe so that the outer edge is also visible.
The Speedboard™ engages every step of your run, working in synch with the Cloudtec® outsole. Every time your foot strikes the ground, the Cloud elements compress to soften the landing. At the same time, the Speedboard™ flexes, loading with energy from the impact like an archer drawing a bow.
With the compressed Cloud elements acting as solid platform for the push-off, you transition into the take-off phase. This is where the Speedboard™ truly delivers, releasing its energy load to fire you explosively forward.
As On’s Head of Innovation Ilmarin Heitz describes it: “With the Speedboard, we make sure that the energy you generate on landing is captured, transitioned to the forefoot and returned at precisely the right moment during the push-off. The Speedboard works in harmony with the cushioning of CloudTec to deliver a smooth rolling movement that retains your energy in the system."
"The overall result is that you take more of the energy from your landing with you into the forward movement. In short, it helps you run faster with the same effort.”
Crafting the perfect ride
As the name suggests, the primary function of the Speedboard™ is to increase a runner’s velocity. But there’s also more to this technology. Every runner is different. That’s why every On Speedboard™ is crafted to deliver a specific sensation, guiding and protecting the foot at the same time as supporting increased speed.
The material, the shape, the thickness and the arc of the Speedboard™ are all engineered based on what a runner requires. When setting out to develop a Speedboard™, the team in the On Lab address four key variables:
Flexion relates to the amount of bow-like bend and release in the Speedboard™. Here, material choice, the thickness of the board and its shape all play a role in creating a balance between stiffness for high impact energy return and flexibility for added comfort.
Take the Cloudflash, a racing flat for well-trained runners. This shoe is Swiss Engineered for high-speed and has stood on elite podiums the world over. Made of high-performance Pebax®, the Speedboard™ of the Cloudflash is deliberately light on weight but big on propulsion, with a high level of stiffness to deliver maximum energy return for maximum speed.
Torsion refers to the amount that the Speedboard™ twists sideways when force is applied. The On engineers dial the level of torsion up or down depending on the goal of the shoe. In a support shoe, torsion can be limited for added stability, while in other models, high torsion is an advantage – like with the new Cloudventure trail shoe. The Speedboard™ of the Cloudventure narrows in the midsection, which allows for a greater level of torsion. This enables the forefoot and heel to move somewhat independently so that the foot can comfortably rock and roll over uneven trails.
By adjusting the material, shape and variations in the thickness of the Speedboard™, On engineers can manage the distribution of energy following the foot strike. In the Cloudace, the shoe made for maximum support, the Speedboard™ is made wider, working with the advanced combination of Rebound Rubber and Zero Gravity Cloud elements to deliver a smooth ride with maximum stability.
There is similar goal-specific shaping in the Speedboard™ of the fourth-generation Cloudsurfer. It features strategically placed cut-outs that allow seamless integration with the Cloudtec® outsole and keep weight to a minimum. The Cloudsurfer Speedboard™ also features a steeper curve than in previous models, further enhancing the take-off phase and the shoe’s renowned responsive ride.
4. Spiral dynamic
An ever-present structure in nature, the helix is also in the DNA of every On Speedboard™. From water running away in the sink to hurricanes and galaxies, when speed spirals, momentum increases. It’s for the same reason that no Speedboard™ is not engineered completely flat, but with a gentle helix shape. This mirrors the natural shape of the foot as it rolls and further supporting an efficient running economy for a smooth, fast transition.
Unique, multi-functional, carefully crafted and informed by several scientific principles – you might not always see the Speedboard™, but you feel it every step. As Ilmarin puts it, “In a way, we do not design shoes. We design how a runner feels. And the Speedboard helps to achieve the perfect feeling.”