Land as soft as on sand, but push off solid like you’re running barefoot on hard ground.
That’s the promise from a Swiss startup company called On AG, which recently unveiled an unusual running shoe with rubber shock absorbers on the sole.
The company’s line includes four high-price models with absorbers referred to as “clouds.” The small rubber circles act as tread but also flex and cave in to absorb shock when you land on each stride.
In the realm of running shoes, a soft landing is nothing new. But often thick-padded shoes create an inefficient stride. On AG (www.on-running.com) aims to take back some of that efficiency while maintaining a level of “cush.”
The shoes are unique in the push-off phase of a runner’s gait – after the “clouds” are compressed during a step, the runner has a solid platform to push from. In my tests, the shoes felt like minimal or barefoot-style footwear on the push-off, which is to say they were solid and low to the ground underfoot. This made for quicker foot-to-foot turnover and a faster pace. Yet unlike most minimal footwear I run in, the On AG shoes offered substantial absorption on gravel and concrete. For a couple weeks I ran in the company’s Cloudracer and Cloudsurfer models, the former built for racing as the name implies. The absorption was more noticeable on the Cloudsurfer shoes, which are made for training, not competition.
Each pair costs $139, but for that price you get a high-quality product.
The clouds may sound like a gimmick at first. To me, I also envisioned the rubber absorbers impeding my stride. But after a couple weeks I was still running in the shoes every day and enjoying the unique, padded-but-solid experience along the way.
Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of www. gearjunkie.com. Find Regenold at Facebook.com/The GearJunkie or on Twitter via @TheGearJunkie or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.