Inov-8 X-Talon 225 Review and Wear Test

The Inov-8 X-Talon 225 is a new lightweight addition to Inov-8’s range of fell/cross country shoes. These are running shoes that are specifically designed to be used on soft muddy or broken ground. So, they have big sticky rubber ‘studs’ designed to give traction on everything from grass to wet slippy rocks. The shoe is also flexible, which means the sole will bend somewhat, hugging the ground over a larger surface area to improve traction. This flexibility also means your feet receive more ‘feedback’, helping them adapt on impact. The X-Talon 225 is made on Inov-8’s Precision Fit last, which gives the shoe a snug, narrower feel. Despite this, it does feel a touch broader in the forefoot than the current range of Precision Fit X-Talon 212’s. The 226 upper material is a very tough nylon and as such as survived unscathed pretty much on rough scree, heather etc.

Taking into consideration all of these important points, I was off to test them out!  I took my pair for a run around and over Blencathra, a hill in the Lake District that I used to train on once or twice a week (before life started getting in the way!). For those that haven’t run on Blencathra and don’t know the Lake District, this is the first hill you come to on the right hand side of the A66 into Keswick. You can pull over in one of the layby’s and get straight onto the hill, where you’ll fine a variety of terrain from steep rocky ridges like ‘Sharp Edge’ at the more extreme end and more gentle, single track or smooth gently sloping sheep cropped grass.

“…you can feel the extra spring that you get from the Dynamic Fascia Band…”

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Findings

The Inov-8 X-Talon 225 feels great from the box–it’s very light and flexible. When you first start running in it you can feel the extra spring in your step that you get from the Dynamic Fascia Band, which is a toe shaped piece of plastic inside the midsole designed to mimic the action of the planta fascia on the bottom of your foot. On the very steep climbs the Meta Flex pad in the forefoot allowed the shoe to bend enough to comfortably plod up the hill side. I also found the toe bumper soft enough not to rub on your toes when running up hill.

“…when descending very steep terrain but surprisingly I noticed no movement at all, which was great.”

As well as being tough, the X-Talon 225 upper is very flexible. I expected my foot to slide forward slightly in the shoe when descending very steep terrain but surprisingly I noticed no movement at all, which was great. This may be due to the good fitting upper or to the flexibility of the shoe allowing the foot to get the feedback it needs for you to maintain good form and a quick cadence while descending.

The grip (as expected) was superb and I never felt unsure of my footing on any type of terrain.

I believe the lightweight flexibility mentioned above will mean that some runners will find it unusual (initially) to have such a feel for the ground. Although this shoe isn’t as thin as the X-Talon 190 and offers quite a bit more protection than that shoe, it isn’t as thick and protective as something like the Mudclaw 300 or an X-Claw 275. However, with those you would definitely lose most of the feel for the ground and a chunk of the flexibility.

As the X-Talon 225 is 4mm from heel to forefoot and very flexible it is more suited to the mid or forefoot striker. If you are a heel striker looking for a similar type of shoe then take a look at the X-Talon 212 or Mudclaw 300. Both these shoes are 6mm from heel to toe and are stiffer, as above.

I hope this helps you guys on the fells, trails and everywhere else tricky!

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