Wednesday, October 05, 2022

On Cloudgo Review: Finally! Big Smiles about the Looks.. and the Ride. 7 Comparisons

Article by Jeremy Marie and Michael Ellenberger

On Cloudgo ($140)


Jeremy: The CloudGo is On Running’s new entry-level offering designed to appeal to all runners:  newcomers, recreational, seasoned…well, every runnerwho  might be looking for an easy do-it-all shoe that is not totally not focused on maximum performance. I must say that in this age of super-foamed, plated shoes and even in the trainer category, seeing an almost simple-looking shoe like the CloudGo is quite refreshing.

Even if my past experiences with On shoes haven’t been convincing (the way too firm CloudUltra, the really meh Cloudrunner - still too firm), I still have “something” with On’s offering. The quality of their shoes, the attention to details, the design sometimes leaning towards lifestyle…It’s the brand I’d love to like more!

The Cloudgo marks a break from their previous models (and I’m thinking specifically about the CloudRunner, the closest shoe in On’s quiver.  it’s said to be softer (yay!), the Speedboard TPU plate has been re-engineered to be more flexible and is relocated in the midsole, the Clouds have been redesigned,  and the rock grabbing holes in the outsole have been closed. One thing stays though: the fantastic looks of the shoe. Fingers crossed, let’s hop into the Cloudgo and go see how it rides.


Comfortable, easy but secure fit : Jeremy/Michael

Fairly priced: Jeremy/Michael

The Looks! Jeremy/Michael

Outsole grip: : Jeremy/Michael

Finally a not overly firm On! : Jeremy

Very natural flex, no matter the pace: Jeremy

Cushioned, lively ride at a reasonable weight: Jeremy


You might hesitate between running them or saving them as a lifestyle shoe: Jeremy

For that price? Not much… Jeremy

Dull at faster paces - Michael


  Sample: men’s  9.87oz  / 280 g (US10.5)

Stack Height: men’s 30mm heel / 19mm forefoot  - Drop 11mm

Available now $140

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Jeremy: On Running’s shoes are always real lookers. Curated design, smart looking, quality materials. Even this entry-level offering from the Swiss brand doesn’t use entry level materials, and doesn’t  look like a lower end shoe. 

The shiny bright orange color is flashy, but not “in your face” flashy. More like a fashion item bringing a color touch to a toned down outfit.

The striped white overlays used to bring some support around the fit add a very elegant design touch to their functional raison d’être. Compared to the recent CloudRunner, the upper is thinner, more refined, and as a consequence, lighter. 

The padding around the heel has been trimmed down but proved to be efficient: it feels like a loosely held heel, but I haven’t faced any heel slippage, even on uneven forest terrain.

The whole upper is made from a moderately thin mesh (let’s say…a midweight mesh), thinner than the one on the Cloudrunner, keeping the same softness and comfort. On claims 30% recycled materials are used to build the upper. The tongue is generously padded, and in combination with the laces that slide easily along the eyelet, makes for an easy adjustment from the first ride: just pull the laces from the top,and everything falls in place naturally, wrapping the foot with the padded upper without any pressure point nor discomfort.

The word that always came back to me with the Cloudgo is “Easy”: easy to put in, easy to adjust, to lace. No fuss nor complicated design gimmicks, the whole upper just works for me. And despite its thickness, it stays breathable and did not get soaked during a rainy run.

Michael: Undoubtedly, the Cloudgo looks deluxe - mine is a svelte gray and white model that is equally usable around town as it is on the roads. The upper is superb here - one of the most comfortable I’ve worn, not just on a running shoe, but on any shoe. I was actually wary of it at first - it looks almost too cushy and thick to fit a performance trainer, but on the run, I had no issues (and it helped that I tested them on some colder, 30s and 40s days in Chicago - fall is here!). No blisters, no irritations - terrific job by the team at On here.


Jeremy: This is where the two other On shoes I’ve tried felt short. Harsh, firm ride completely annihilating On’s claim of softness and energetic ride .

Well, better late than never: the Cloudgo has nailed the softness/firmness balance for me.

It’s not a soft shoe per se, but it has the adequate softness to avoid any unusual leg soreness. I personally lean a bit more towards firmer shoes, like the Adidas Adios (even the 6th) or Boston of old (before the revamped 10th edition), or Salomon shoes. 

Not harsh by any means, the Helion midsole foam has been re-worked for the better, and in combination with the new TPU Speedboard, makes the Cloudgo a really fun shoe to run in. 

The ride is dynamic for an everyday trainer , but stays comfortable and totally adequate for easy paces. Thanks to the somewhat more flexible Speedboard plate, the shoe is flexible, and it flexes in the right place, something the CloudRunner totally missed.

This Speedboard really copes with every pace I’ve thrown at the Cloudgo. It’s for sure not a speed demon like a dedicated tempo or racing shoe, but you can easily up the ante during your run and cruise along marathon pace without difficulties.

Michael: I’ll echo Jeremy’s write-up as to the relative softness of the Cloudgo - it is a shoe that you want to run in frequently, because you know there won’t be tax to your legs added. I found the midsole sufficiently rocker-ed, as well (I believe owing to the Speedboard), and generally just a comfortable and smooth ride. I tend to prefer a firmer, more kinetic ride underfoot, but I found the Cloudgo quite comfortable for a lot of running.

As I’ll touch on more in the Ride section, though, I struggled to engage the Cloudgo even at moderate (not tempo) paces - about a 45-60 seconds slower than marathon pace, for me. It wasn’t uncomfortable, but there just wasn’t any get-up that I expected from a traditional On platform.


Jeremy: The outsole uses what as far as I can tell is the same compound found on every other On road running shoe. It’s efficient on wet asphalt, grips well and is confidence-inspiring.

On uses“Closed channels” instead of their usual deep grooves. I think this is possible because the Speedboard itself flexes more so they don’t need to build deep grooves in the outsole/midsole to bring some flex to the shoe. One benefit for this is that pebbles and rocks at long last don’t get stuck in the outsole.

Michael: Terrific. I ran the Cloudgo on some of the trickiest fall conditions - slick, wet leaves, often at higher speeds - and had no issues. Plus, it’s unlikely that the Cloudgo will be the rock collector we’ve seen on previous On models. More of this, please!


Jeremy: I’ve already said this in the midsole section: the ride of the CloudGo is fun! Definitely an easy going shoe. It can handle daily training, from easy recovery runs to Z3 runs, with the peppy character brought by the slightly bouncy foam and, I think, the new Speedboard. It’s stable, handles long runs nicely, and I find them very protective despite the relatively low stack height - by today's standards.

Compared to the CloudRunner, it transitions  far better and way more naturally, and I did not feel any lack of support. The Cloudgo just runs naturally, grips well, holds the foot nicely, offers decent toe box room..It’s really this kind of shoe you can take when you’re just out running without a specific plan.

Michael: Here’s what I have mixed feelings. The Cloudgo is an engaging and comfortable cruiser, but I (as my Strava log will suggest) do a lot of running at medium to medium-hard paces, and thus I think the Cloudgo will have a relatively (and unfortunately!) limited role in my rotation. Why? For all its comfort, and all its ease at, well, easy running - I just did not find this shoe enjoyable to run fast in. Was it uncomfortable? No. But it just lacked any sort of pop or spark that some of our favorites - the NovaBlast 3, the Endorphin Speed, the Rebel v3 - are known for. 

That’s fine, too, of course - everyone should have a go-to, recovery-day shoe, and the On Cloudgo will slot perfectly into that spot in my lineup. But, for my “everyday trainer,” I wanted something peppier, and just didn’t find it here.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Jeremy: Despite the (huge) number of shoes on my shelves, I’ve reached for Cloudgo more than I thought I would, simply because it works. It’s comfy, reliable, cushioned enough to save my legs even on 25kms runs, and I can pick up the pace without  “fighting the shoe” as I had to with the CloudRunner.

As with other On shoes, it’s inherently stable thanks to a wide platform, the hair firm midsole foam and of course the full length Speedboard. 

Thanks to the new geometry of the outsole, I’ve even brought them to the forest trails without any rock collecting issues. In those circumstances, a foothold proved to be efficient despite the loose comfort you feel at first.

The CloudGo is a really nice surprise from On, They are “onto” something with the Cloudgo.

Jeremy’s Score: 9.35

(Ride:9 Fit:9.5 Value: 10 Style: 10)

Smile’s Score: 😊😊😊😊😊

Michael: As noted above, there is a lot to like about the Cloudgo. It’s a class-leading upper atop a smooth and easy-riding midsole and another terrific outsole. But sandwiched in there, I just couldn’t find the magic I wanted out of this little shoe. Is it good? Yep, absolutely. Is it great? Unfortunately, not for me. I’ll wear it for easy days, but it doesn’t meet that all-around criteria I so dearly wanted it to.

Michael’s Score: 9.0/10

Smile’s Score: 😊😊😊

8 Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews:  HERE

On CloudRunner (RTR Review)

Jeremy: The Cloudrunner was a huge miss for me. No doubt a comfortable shoe , but a heavy one, and ran as such. I had a hard time finding the sweet spot of pace, footstrike and usage for it, feeling disconnected from heel to toe-off, not transitioning well…and with a bit harsh landing. And even with quite a few kilometers, I have durability issues with a hole in the upper, near the flex point at the base of the toes. There’s no match here between the two.

New Balance FuelCell Rebel v3 (RTR Review)

Michael: While I think the Rebel v3 is a bit of a downgrade from the v2 (having now put over 100 miles on it), I still prefer the spring of the FuelCell foam to On’s composition here. If you’re looking for an easy-day trainer only, I do think the On’s fit and finish are better than NB’s. But if you want a shoe to go recovery-to-tempo, take the NB.

ASICS NovaBlast 3 (RTR Review)

Michael: The NovaBlast 3 is darn near the top of my favorite all-arounders this year, and probably on a lifetime top-25 list (if I had such a thing). Accordingly, I think the NovaBlast is a better choice for most runners than the On. Where the On scores some points is where you might expect - it fits better (more comfortable, and slightly more locked-in), and goes have a grippier outsole. But even for easy miles, I preferred the bounce of the ASICS to that of the On. You won’t regret the On, but you’ll have more fun in the ASICS!

Salomon Spectur (RTR Review)

Jeremy: The Spectur is far more energetic, with its dual-layer midsole and especially its firmer base layer, and the Energy blades creating a strong propulsion at toe off. Clearly more a tempo/up-tempo shoe, it lacks comfort and I found it to be quite harsh. The upper is unnecessary thick, heavy and lacks breathability. Despite its dynamic ride character, I have way more fun in the Cloudgo, and would choose it over the Spectur no matter the intent of the run.

Saucony Ride 15 (RTR Review)

Jeremy: An interesting comparison as I find the Ride 15 nails it in terms of comfort/firmness compromise, with a very comfortable upper and a lively ride. I find it more suitable than the Cloudgo for almost everything I can throw at it. The Cloudgo takes the price and looks prizes.

Salomon Sonic Accelerate (RTR Review)

Jeremy: Quite an old one, and the comparison may just appeal to a minority. The Accelerate can be seen as a heavier, less refined Ride 15, with an equally smooth transitioning from mid to forefoot. Its protection from impacts and vibration-reducing Optivibe tech was a real ace at the time, and I think I’d still choose it over the CloudGo for any “serious” run. The Cloudgo fit is more precise, more comfortable, and its “take it easy” vibe is something I value today.

Puma Liberate Nitro (RTR Review)

Jeremy: One of my favorite shoes from the past year, the LIberate Nitro still has its place in my rotation, when I go for a short up-paced run where I want to have fun and feel the ground. Incredibly flexible, it’s a shoe to make you practice your form and strengthen you feet, and the high-rebound Nitro foam is as good as during the first runs. It’s also lighter than the Cloudgo, but lacks protection and cushioning to go the distance. It can be a good complement to the Cloudgo actually.

Puma Velocity Nitro (RTR Review)

Jeremy: Heavier, slappy, the Velocity Nitro (v1) was a shoe I didn’t really get into. Uninspiring ride, muted Nitro Foam, heavy upper…Despite probably being a more efficient shoe for tempo runs, I’d take the Cloudgo any day.

The Cloudgo is available now including at our partners below and direct from On HERE

Tester Profile

Jeremy MARIE: Paris, France. 40y/o. Running since 2013 and quickly transitioned to trails, focused on ultras since 2015 : TDS, Maxi-Race, “100 miles du Sud”, 90kms du Mt Blanc, GRP 120kms, Some shorter mellow races (Saintelyon 45kms, Ecotrail Paris 45kms…) with always in the mix road and flat running, but not many road races. Recovery/easy runs ~4’45/km - 4’30/km. He has an un-official marathon PR of 2h54 (solo)  and 10K PR of 36’25. He does few timed road races.

Michael is a patent attorney and graduate of Northwestern University Law School. Prior to law school, he competed collegiately at Washington University in St. Louis (10,000m PR of 30:21). Michael’s PRs include a 67:43 half-marathon (Chicago Half-Marathon) and 2:22:18 marathon from the 2022 Chicago Marathon. Michael continues to race on the roads, and is chasing a sub-2:20 marathon and potential OTQ in the future.

Samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased via shopping links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'

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