Inov-8 Road-X Road Shoe Line Preview

Every once in a while, we’ll talk about road shoes here on iRunFar. This is one of those times. Why? Because trail shoe-specialist Inov-8 is launching the Road-X series, a line of road running shoes that will hit shelves in February 2011. Will Inov-8’s small, but fiercely loyal group of trail fans don the Road-Xs and hit the roads? Will the Road-Xs be the bridge that gets even more folks excited about the Inov-8 fit and feel? Only time will tell.

In the mean time, we’ll fill you in on the four forthcoming Road-X models, including two racing models and two gender-specific trainers. All of the models are sans posting or any other significant support. They are Inov-8’s attempt to bring natural running to the roads. Even so, Inov-8 recommends slowly stepping down in model number, as each subsequent model has less cushioning and, more important, a 3mm smaller heel-to-toe drop, which can take long periods to get used to. A year transition time would not be out of line between each step down. The Road-X line will cost between $100 and $110, with the lighter shoes costing more. (It looks as though they all have an MSRP £90 or £95 in the UK depending on the source.)

Inov-8 Road-X Lite 155 ($110)
You read it here first, folks. We have confirmed with Inov-8 that the company has replaced the Road-X 222 (pictured right and below), previously the lightest and lowest shoe in the Road-X line, with the Road-X Lite 155. Quite simply, Inov-8 felt they needed to better differentiate between the Road-X 222 and the Road-X 233, described below.

For the Road-X Lite 155, Inov-8 will keep the Road-X 222’s flashy white and yellow upper and combine it with a completely revamped the outsole that is more akin to Inov-8’s Recolite line. As for the specs on this shoe, a men’s US 9 will weigh in at a hair less than 5 1/2 ounces (155 grams). How do you make a shoe so light? Remove all the rubber from the outsole! That’s right, the Road-X Lite 155 will NOT include a rubber outsole. Instead, there’ll be a “one piece sole unit using a high density EVA foam.” Yes, Inov-8 realizes that this will cut down on durability, but the weight savings are what make this shoe unique.

The Road-X Lite 155 single-piece sole unit will provide a mere “1-arrow” of cushioning on Inov-8’s 0-to-4 arrow cushioning scale. This low to the ground shoe with a scant 3mm heel-to-toe drop is not targeted for everyday wear or the masses. The shoe also lacks Inov-8’s Dynamic Fascia Band, which means a runner’s foot will have to pick up the slack.

If the Road-X Lite 155 stays true to the Road-X 222’s design concept, then its narrow “performance” fit should suit men and women alike. However, rumor was that the 222 was wider than Inov-8’s current one-arrow shoe, the X-Talon 190. We’re not sure if that will carry through to the 155.

Despite its late addition, the Inov-8 Road-X Lite 155 will be released on-schedule with the rest of the Road-X line.

The forthcoming Inov-8 Road-X Lite 155 will feature the above-pictured, but never-to-be-released Inov-8 Road-X 222's upper. In addition, the Road-X 222's outsole and midsole were replaced by a single piece EVA sole in the Road-X Lite 155.

 

Inov-8 Road-X 233 ($105)
Looking for a bit more cushioning in a racing shoe? Then the Road-X 233 might be worth a look. The Road-X 233 adds a second arrow of cushioning with less than ounce of added weight. (The US men’s 9 weighs in at 8.2 ounces/233 grams). Again, there’s the narrow performance fit, but this time with a more moderate, though still less-than-standard 6mm heel-to-toe drop. Inov-8 added the Dynamic Fascia Band back in for the 233. With the added cushioning and foot assistance, this one would be more suitable to the masses for racing, while a subset of runners could use these as lightweight trainers. Like the Road-X Lite 155, this is a unisex shoe.

The forthcoming Inov-8 Road-X 233.

Inov-8 Road-X 238 (women’s) ($100)
One more step up shoe-wise and moving over to the women’s side, there’s the Inov-8 Road-X 238. Inov-8 designed this shoe especially for women. That means there’s a narrower fit and smaller, softer heel-cuff. As for the “more shoe” bit, the Road-X 238 is a 3-arrow shoe, meaning that there should be enough cushioning for most runners to use these on a daily basis. This shoe also features the Fascia Band while the heel-to-toe drop rises to 9mm. Sure, “barefooters” won’t like this, but they’ve got other options in the line. For the rest of us, the 9mm drop is a bit less than most current running shoes, so do ease into these if you’ve been running in standard road trainers. For the US ladies on iRunFar, 238 grams come out to 8.4 ounces of road fun.

The forthcoming Inov-8 Road-X 238.

Inov-8 Road-X 255 (men’s) ($100)
We’ll call this the men’s equivalent of the Road-X 238. (How do you like that, ladies?) Touted as “comfortable and super steady,” this three-arrow cushioning shoe with Inov-8’s Dynamic Fascia Band is a reasonably lightweight everyday road trainer. A pair of US men’s 9s weigh 9 ounces flat (255 grams). Like the 238, the Road-X 255 has a 9mm heel-toe drop, and, as such, those who’ve only worn standard running shoes should ease into these, while men with more experience in racing, minimalist, or barefoot shoes can jump right in. While we’d love to jump in whole hog with the Road-X 222, but we might heed Inov-8’s advice and give the 255 a whirl first.

The forthcoming Inov-8 Road-X 255.

Call for Comments
So what do YOU think of Inov-8’s Road-X road running shoes? Hit or miss? You gonna give the Road-X a try? If you’re one of the few who’s had a look at them, what did you think?

Bryon Powell: is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of iRunFar.com. Having spent nearly 20 years as an ultrarunner and three decades as a trail runner, he's also written Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons and co-wrote Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running. He calls Silverton, Colorado and Moab, Utah home.

View Comments (40)

  • These shoes look good and the specs on the 255s make them a good fit for me (on paper). But pricing could take them out of my reach. What would be a probable price point on these?

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    • Looks like they'll be within standard pricing in the US.

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      • That's good news. The $100 you mention below would be ok.

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  • I've heard great things about the Inov-8 orienteering shoes but I haven't tried them. Wish there were more of a selection on the womens side. It seems like many brands the specialize in the off-road are too wide for my feet. I just do my orienteering races / trail races in road shoes so keep the reviews coming!

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    • Carrie,

      I transitioned to inov-8 from Montrail Continental Divides a year ago. It actually took me almost a year for my feet to adjust, but it was well worth it. I wear the Roclite 264s and love them--they are very light but supportive and I can feel the difference in my turnover. I wear a women's size 9 in road shoe and the same in the inov-8, but if you need a narrower fit, perhaps go down a half size.

      Good luck!

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  • I am an Inov8 diehard and primarily run trails, but I find different enjoyment in road running so I am glad you guys bring this stuff to our attention. The Road X 255 looks great (except for the price)

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    • The Road-X 255 will be a reasonable $100 in the US.

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  • Sweet! I am a huge Inov-8 loyalist. Definitely will have to give the road shoes a go. Especially the 233 model.

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  • I have become a big fan of lighter shoes...lighter, the better and will definitely be trying INOV8 road and trail shoes.

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  • I wear the F-lite 230's for some short distance road already, but nothing over 6 miles or so. To date all of the inov-8's I've tried (and I've tried a lot) do not work well on the road at all (for me) so I am looking forward to these. Mainly, I've always felt like the current inov-8 just have a sloppy feel when taking to the pavement. The midsole profile on these looks more road friendly.

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  • I think I will definitely try a pair of the 255's as trainers for the road loop around my area.

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  • I wear the X talon 190's for the fells and flite 230's for the road (live in UK). The sizing is very difficult - I wear X Talons size 8 and F lites size 7.5. My feet are very wide but I find the fit of the X Talons perfect even though advertised as being narrow. I think it is because there is so little structure to these shoes and they do feel like slippers on your feet but stick like glue even on wet rock and in mud. I happily run long distances in these shoes but you do need to bear in mind that a lot of the inov8 shoes have sticky rubber so the trade of is they don't last long. presumably the road specific shoes will be more durable.

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  • Bryon,

    The word I got last month was the Road-X 222 was too similar to the Road-X 233. Inov8 decided to scrap the 222 and put out the Road-X lite 155. It is supposed to be lighter and more flexible.

    Sounds like we will be getting something very minimal for the roads.

    I got a chance to see the whole X-Road line a couple months ago and am impressed. It should be an interesting line. I hope to see more of it next month in Austin.

    Erik

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    • Thanks, Erik. I heard some rumors of the 155. Thanks for giving some more credence to them. I'll see what I can find out!

      Have fun in Austin. One of these years The Running Event will become media friendly.

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      • How are you doing the gram calculations??

        233g = 8.21oz

        222g = 7.83oz

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        • For the Road-X 222 and 233 weigh in ounces, I wrongly relied on an online store's data. I converted Road-X 238 and 255 numbers myself. Thanks for catching the errors.

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  • Bryon:

    Will they come in wide sizes? Normally I run in New Balances and wear a 2E.

    Thanks,

    Tony

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    • It does not appear that these will come in widths, at least initially.

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  • I am a big fan of INOV8 and had been anxiously waiting to hear more about their road line-up. One of my big "likes" with their trail shoes (as a midfoot/forefoot runner) is the forefoot area doesn't compress/channel as quickly (or as much) as other running shoes I wear. I hope INOV8's road shoes will act in a similar manner.

    Thanks so much Bryon, for sharing pics and additional insight.

    I do find it interesting that "less shoe" costs as much or more than the beefier shoes.

    Keep up the great work!

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    • Interesting thought re "less shoe," David. I have a tendency to think the opposite. Less shoe often means more expensive materials (if a bit less bulk of them) and more complicated fabrication. That's just speculation. It'd be interested to hear a more official take on that.

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      • I actually didn't give it too much thought, just an observation. :)

        I am sure there are a whole laundry list of reasons for determining a particular price and material/fabrication could definitely be one of them.

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        • I'd assume (yes, I used the word) that the current hype surrounding minimalism and barefoot running will also factor into an elevated price on this style of shoe.

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          • That seems like the case. In addition, Inov-8 is super popular among the Crossfit/Crossfit Endurance crowd, and is it just me or do they seem to produce a lot of different shoes, in fairly limited runs/numbers? They have such a variety given their relative specialization and seem to be rolling out new models constantly.

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          • Inov8 have until now specialized in off road running shoes, but have expanded that range over the years to take into account varied terrain such as the fells in the UK and trails int the states. They do have a huge range, but bear in mind that it covers a vast range of needs eg walkers, long distance runners, short distance fell racers etc. Then take in the varied terrain. The needs of each person are also very different, not to mention different feet - ie one model will be perfect on one foot and totally wrong for another. However I absolutely agree with your comment re availability and it is also a problem in the UK. As mentioned earlier - I also get very frustrated with the lack of width fittings as this excludes a huge number of people or limits them to only a couple of shoes - which are the models with very little structure ie the racing models which do not last long.

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  • I love the f-lite 230 (now 195) for trails. But the road-x 155 sounds kinda lame...I'll stick with the Nike Streak XC2 for half the price. They're also 5.4 oz and they have some rubber on the outsole...I'm on my 5th pair and I get 400-500+ miles per!

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  • I have been waiting for this to occur. I am a HUGE Inov-8 fan. I run in the 230's currently, but for more than a half marathon distance on the road I usually run into some issues. Love Inov-8......keep it coming! As usual; Bryon, great job on the review and keeping us up to date!

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  • The Road-X line will be priced in the $100.00 - $110.00 US dollar range (thanks for adding that info). Bryon you are correct that our more minimalist shoes (i.e. performance last) is a more complicated and detailed construction and that can add to the pricing. I think we are in-line with what others are pricing for their minimalist footwear if not better. Thanks for the great review!

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    • Thanks for the info, Mark!

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  • I like Inov-8's lightweight shoes and thin soles, but their toe boxes are so tight I would never buy a pair. They totally missed that part about minimal shoe running - the part where your toes splay out and feel the ground and aren't crammed in a box cutting each other up. I buy these Inov-8's and its back to bloody toes after a long run. Never again.

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    • I have a pretty wide foot and both X-talons, the F-lite 220, and F-lite 230 all fit and feel great on my foot. The inov-8 performance lasted shoes are supposed to fit a little more snug than the comfort/endurance last models. The one shoe that did not fit my foot to well in toe especially was the performance lasted Roclite 285 and the old Roclite 320 (endurance last). In the endurance/comfort last the new Roclite 319 and Roclite 295 have lots of toe room. We have 3mm inserts that also help with the fit. I do realize not all shoes are for everyone. I hope this helps a little.

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    • I totally agree. I didn't buy a pair, but did try one on for size. Way too narrow (one of their trail shoes). This is why I keep going back to New Balance, as they have wide sizes in so many of their models. If Inov-8's shoes came in wide sizes, I'd have bought a pair already.

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  • Hands-down Inov8 makes some of the best trail shoes. I ran two 50k's and Pikes Peak Marathon this year in my 295's, love them.

    Road....not sure....

    This look like a nice fit for the road crowd but there are plenty of "trainer" style shoes in the same light-weight and low-profile for much less.

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  • The shoes look great--many thanks for the reviews. I like running in the Inov-8 shoes, but their supply chain seems to have problems. I hope that these shoes will, indeed, be available and not just rumored to be.

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  • If you go to any fell race in the UK you will find that the majority of women are wearing the standard INOV-8 shoes. My wife is now on her third pair of mudclaws and she has been happy with the width of these. She also has a pair of X-talons. These seem to be a much narrower shoe. Trying these in her normal size she found them too tight and had to go up a size for the extra comfort. They are an excellent shoe for the peat bogs and footpaths in the peak district, but I am suspect they would wear quickly on harder trails. One of the roclite varieties of the ladies Terroc may be better bets for trails.

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  • I know this post is somewhat old, but if anyone has any comments on the road-x 233 vs the f-lite 230's as a (primarily) road shoe, please post.

    I'm an x-talon 212 user on the trails. Seems like the flites might be a better choice as they'd be good on roads and hardpack trail. Any thoughts on durability, fit, and comfort differences?

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  • Chris--I tried running in the 233s several times and I didn't like them. Granted, though, I've hurt my achilles and metatarsals so that may have something to do with it. (Seems to be a sudden epidemic around here with the achilles injuries...I'm starting to wonder about this minimalist stuff...). Before the achilles injury, I ran about a dozen shorter (less than 6 mile) runs in the f-lite 230s and they felt very different than the road-x 233--more like a very light race shoe--comfortable on the road, but not enough cushioning for longer runs for me. The road-x 233s seem to really promote much more of a forefoot landing than the f-lites do, but their cushioning is rather hard. Generally, I've liked the inov-8 trail shoes (not all, but most that I have). The road-x felt like a different animal from their previous shoes that I own and, frankly, from almost every other running shoe that I've owned. I'm sure that some people will go crazy over them, but not me. But, of course, everyone is different.

    By the way, the back of the box they came in says that to "register your product garantee" please go their website address. I went there and it was simply an email registration. I wrote their sales email address and asked if the shoes were really guaranteed and I heard nothing back--two weeks now. I don't know what is up with all of this.

    And, running warehouse recommends that you go down a half size in the road-x 233s. I would agree with this. They are running big.

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