The On Story

On: the story of an idea

A quest for the
 perfect running sensation

From a revolutionary idea a Swiss running shoe has evolved that is still amazing the sporting scene. The On provides a new running sensation, and one that puts fun firmly centre-stage.

It’s not just a love of running that former top athlete Olivier Bernhard and his friends David Allemann and Caspar Coppetti share. They’re all also dedicated to developing a perfect
product. And this is what has turned a revolutionary idea into a new running shoe that began by amazing the sporting scene and has since helped numerous top athletes to new personal bests at World Championship events.

After retiring from professional competition, three-times World Duathlon Champion and multiple Ironman Winner Olivier Bernhard devoted himself to finding a running shoe that would give him the perfect running sensation. In doing so he crossed paths with a like-minded Swiss engineer who had an idea for a new kind of running shoe. And it was this ideal symbiosis of running experience and engineering expertise that allowed this original idea to be steadily refined over the following years.

Cupboardfuls of prototypes were developed; but the basic concept – cushioned landing, firm take off – remained paramount throughout. It was this unique running sensation that convinced Caspar Coppetti and David Allemann to come aboard too. Together with Bernhard they formally established the On company in Zurich in January 2010 to develop a product range fully engineered in Switzerland using the latest technology.

After that, things started to move swiftly. In February the prototypes won the ISPO Brandnew Award, one of the most important prizes for innovation in sports. Test runners were enthusiastic and spoke of running on clouds. In July 2010 the first running stores had the On on their shelves.

Today, four years later, the shoe is available at over 1,200 specialist running stores in more than 25 countries and has won international design and technology awards. In addition to its European headquarters in Zurich, On has now opened a second head office in the USA in Portland, Oregon.

Because you are unique, On is breaking the norm.

How many times have you been told to fit in, to adhere to the norm, to continue how things have been done in the past, to buy into the one best way? After half a century of running axioms that have failed to produce a significant drop in running injuries, On suggests
 to simply run how you are meant to run. Forget about motion control, minimalism and maximalism or the proper way to land or to lift for that matter. Instead, let your individual running personality shine. What feels best to you is best for you. Interestingly, this is also the conclusion of the latest biomechanical research.1

On Core Belief 1

From focus on correction to focus on experience and comfort...

Running should be fun and not an exercise in self-control. Instead of correcting your movement, On lets you run how you are meant to run: The result is unmatched comfort and a more fun running experience. How it works? On’s patented CloudTec® cushioning cleverly takes the first heavy blow off the street and then lets you transition naturally to the forefoot, where the Cloud elements become firm for a stable stance and a powerful push-off. In other words: the On provides cushioning only when you need it and helps you delay fatigue, keep up your individual stride and not give in to the street.

On Core Belief 2

From one best way to run to billions of ways to run...

On shoes do not passively control your running motion with a rigid sole. Instead, a whole team of Cloud elements at the sole of the On shoe actively reacts to your individual running motion. They can act in unison or individually cushion your landing – however you need it. In fact, they have no predefined rolling line but empower each runner to run how he is meant to run. This means freedom for your feet, putting you back in control.

On Core Belief 3

From a look at the ankle to a look at the whole body...

Your running shoe should not stop you when landing but transform your motion into forward momentum. We take a holistic look at the running movement of your whole body, not just your feet. This is why On puts the landing sweet spot towards the midfoot stance, naturally centered under your body. Upon landing, your are immediately ready for takeoff – good running form in action.

On Core Belief 4

From a diagnosis for life to an evolution over time...

Running is a sport, not an illness. And as in other sports, you can train away your weakness to become a star performer. Flat feet and other deficiencies are not static but can be improved through training. Infants for example typically have flat feet and develop an arch through natural training in childhood. Neither is your individual running motion a diagnosis for life but can evolve with training. On provides a range of footwear that adapts to your individual stage of running and supports your training to propel you to the next level. Start with the On Cloudster, finish in the On Cloudracer.

[1] Nigg BM. (2001). The role of impact forces and foot pronation: A new paradigm. Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine 11 (1) 2-9.

The On timeline


February - With the On Cloud, On launches the world’s lightest, fully cushioned running shoe. With this, On lays the foundation for a new lightweight technology platform.

March - Runner’s World magazine ranks the On as one of the 20 most important running shoes in the USA, Great Britain and Germany. The Running Network – an association of leading American running media – chooses the recently launched On Cloud as the best performance shoe of 2014.

April - Daniel Kinyua Wanjiru from Kenya is the first On runner to run the 21.1 km half marathon distance in under an hour with a time of 59:59 mins.

May - On is selected by the Swiss Economic Forum as a finalist for the most important Swiss Entrepreneurship award.

June - In its fifth year on the market, On is available in over 1,200 specialist retailers and in over 25 countries. At some of the very first retailers On has become one of the best selling running shoes with the most loyal fans.


January - On wins the ISPO Gold Award for the best performance shoe 2013.

March - In addition to Zurich, On opens a second head office in the USA, in Portland, Oregon.

April - In the new Cloudrunner model, On launches an innovative flexplate called the Speedboard – the CloudTec® system is constantly being perfected by Olivier Bernhard using new Swiss technology.

May - On doubles its workforce to more than 30 employees and strengthens its management team with Martin Hoffmann (CFO) and Marc Maurer (Operations Director).

June - The Olympic Champion Nicola Spirig changes to On and uses the Swiss cushioning technology to make a career change to track and field athletics with more intensive running sessions.

September - Geoffrey Gikuni Ndungu from Kenya wins the Jungfrau Marathon in the On Cloudracer with a winning time of 2:50:28. The event is Europe’s most popular mountain marathon.

October - On and designer Thilo Alex Brunner are awarded the coveted Design Prize Switzerland by a high profile international jury for their pioneering running shoe design. The Swiss Sunday newspaper SonntagsZeitung describes the On as ‘cult’.

November - The Belgian Frederik Van Lierde wins the Ironman World Cham- pionships in Kona, Hawaii in the new Cloudracer 2014.


January - On expands its range of running shoes and launches the Cloudster, the model that puts the fun into running.

April - On launches the Cloudracer competition shoe. In its Science section, the German newspaper Die Zeit describes the On technology as ‘Doping through the sole’.

August – Frenchman David Hauss runs the third fastest running split in the Olympics Triathlon in London with 29:43 over the final 10 km and finishes the race in 4th place.

October - The Wall Street Journal describes On as a revolutionary running shoe.


January - On launches the Cloudrunner, the model with even more impact protection.

May - The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich publishes a study which demonstrates that test runners in the On run at significantly lower pulse rates and lower blood lactate levels. On continues to work with leading international researchers.

July – One year after its launch, On is already available in over 400 running shoe stores in 18 countries worldwide, including the USA, Australia, South Korea and Singapore.


January - David Allemann, Olivier Bernhard and Caspar Coppetti design the first On and create a company that aims to make running even more fun.

February - A prototype of the On wins the international ISPO Brandnew Award for innovation in sports.

April – Marathon legend Tegla Loroupe tests the On and becomes an enthusiastic ambassador. Many pro-athletes follow her lead. On begins its collaboration with the Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation for children and young athletes in Kenya.

July – The first On, the Cloudsurfer, hits the shelves of specialist running stores in Europe.

In the years leading up to 2010 – A Swiss engineer plays about with a sole technology that cushions the landing and hardens for takeoff. Together with the world-class athlete and test runner Olivier Bernhard he perfects his basic idea to create the CloudTec® system, which gives the On its unique quality.