Inov-8 X-Talon 230 Review

History: The X-talon 212

The first Inov-8 X-Talon to hit the market was the X-Talon 212. This was launched as a cross country racing shoe. It was very flexible, had 8mm long studs on the outsole that were well spaced out, so they wouldn’t fill with mud and it was light and low profile. It wasn’t long before the top fell runners in the country where also using the X-Talon 212 for fell racing. The sticky rubber gave superb grip on wet rock and the flexibility of the shoe meant that there was a large surface area in contact with the rock.

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Over the years the X-Talon 212 has evolved as Inov-8 has listened to it’s customers. The shoe has become stiffer to give more underfoot protection. The upper has become tougher to be more durable and last longer. Which means that the current X-Talon 212 is not the same as the original shoe. So, Inov-8 has gone back to the drawing board to redesign the X-Talon 212 to make it more like the original model.

Introducing: The New X-Talon 230

The Inov-8 X-Talon 230 is the new improved X-Talon 212. The upper is made of a tough closed knit fabric designed to resist anything that British fells can throw at it. This material is wrapped in a tough rand that is thicker than that on the original shoe coming well back over the toes. The Powerflow+ midsole gives a higher degree of cushioning and energy return than the mid sole of the original X-Talon 212 but, the feel is much firmer and more responsive than the current X-Talon 212 which has a softer ride. The heel to forefoot drop is 6mm making it a shoe that could be worn by a heel striker or a mid foot striker. Although the mid foot striker would probably prefer the X-Talon 210 which is 3mm from heel to forefoot and much more flexible.

The X-Talon 230 also has a metashank which gives the shoe some stiffness and a bit more underfoot protection. The shoe is finished off with a sticky grip outsole. This is designed to grip on both wet and dry rock. To make the runner more shore footed so they can confidently ascend or descend the hillside. The X-Talon 230 comes in a Women’s and Men’s fit.

So, what’s it like to run in?

Fit & Feel

The first thing that you notice is the precision fit. The X-Talon 230 is very narrow. As the upper is tough and stiff and the rand quite thick it doesn’t instantly mould to your foot like the original upper. Although this stiffness and toughness with provide a higher degree of durability and protection in a mountain environment. The underneath feels firm and responsive. There is very little compression when your foot hits the ground even on a hard surface yet the shoe doesn’t feel hard and uncomfortable.

I did find the shoe quite stiff. The shoe hasn’t got more flexible in the hundred miles or so I have run in them. This stiffness works well for heel strikers as the shoe doesn’t collapse as the runner rolls their weight over the top of it but, it isn’t so good for midfoot strikers who need a more flexible shoe or one that bends a bit in the midfoot. So, I would suggest that the X-Talon 230 would be best suited to a heel striker and the more flexible X-Talon 210 would be better suited to the midfoot striker.

The stiffness of the X-Talon 230 is similar to that found in the current X-Talon 212 so if you get on well with that shoe then the X-Talon 230 should work well for you.

Grip
My first run in the X-Talon 230 was in the snow. The grip was superb. Lots of studded shoes work well in the snow but, what was different about the X-Talon 230 was that when you hit a wet bit of tarmac or road, that would normally be a bit slippy in a studded shoe, you could feel the sticky grip sticking to the ground. It was almost like you had to peel it off the floor. The sticky grip outsole provided good traction on dry rocks, wet wood and wet rock. The only thing that was a bit slippy was moss cover rocks that I encountered while cross streams. These remained quite slippy, which they are in all other shoes.

On muddy tracks and fields the grip was equally good as the studs don’t feel cumbersome and shed the mud well.  The outsole is definitely far stickier than the current X-Talon 212 and Mudclaw’s, so it is a good upgrade.

Other shoes to consider

The classic British made Walsh PB Trainer (snug fit) and the Walsh PB Ultra (wide fit). The Walsh shoes both have very soft uppers that very quickly mould to your feet to give a very comfortable fit. This material isn’t as durable as that on the X-Talon 230 but, it has served fell runners well since the 1970’s. The rubber of the Walsh is a soft compound but, not a sticky rubber like on the new X-Talon 230 and 210. Despite being made in the UK (Bolton) they are cheaper.

If you have broad feet or like a bit more wiggle room then also look at the Altra King MT. For more information click through to our review of the Altra King MT here.

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