Inov-8 X-Talon 260 Ultra v2 Review
The classic fell shoe is light, flexible so that they can bend to the shape of the ground to give maximum traction. The studs are small and pointed to bite into soft ground. The rubber is super soft to stick to wet rock. The fit is snug to prevent the shoes from moving around on your foot as you traverse uneven slippery terrain. This is great if you are racing over a short distance and have a narrow foot. If you are going to be out for longer then a thicker midsole offers a bit more underfoot protection. A stiffer sole also supports the feet. Larger studs are more durable. A broader fit is more comfortable if your out for a long time or have a wide foot. This is where the X-Talon 260 Ultra v2 comes in.
The X-Talon 260 Ultra replaced the popular X-Claw 275 and the v2 version now replaces those. The fundamental’s of the shoe stay the same. The X-Talon 260 Ultra v2 has the same outsole pattern , with 8mm long lugs made of a sticky grip rubber, as the original version and the same Powerflow midsole. The stack height is 16mm in the heel and 8mm in the forefoot giving them a heel to forefoot drop of 8mm.
The changes in the V2 version are in the fit and the upper. The toe box shape is a bit straighter and rounded. There is less volume in the toe box and the fit does feel more snug. The X-Talon 260 Ultra v2 is still made on Inov-8’s standard last which is their broadest. The width has been graded as 4 on Inov-8’s 1-5 scale with 5 being the widest. This was the same grade as Inov-8 gave to the original X-Talon 260 Ultra. However, when wearing the original 260 and the 260 v2 at the same time my opinion is that the new X-Talon 260 Ultra is slightly narrower than the previous version. This will only effect those with the broadest of feet. The fit of the upper generally is much better. It pulls in around your foot and so even when contouring on steep ground I found that my feet didn’t move around inside the shoes. The rounded shape to the toe box felt very comfortable. Giving my toes the room to spread.
I found the sizing to be small compared with other Inov-8’s and needed to go up half a size.
The upper is a tightly woven nylon. Designed to be abrasion resistant, absorb little to no water and keep out the mud and grit. The tongue is gusseted to prevent debri from getting into the shoes and is very thin to reduce absorption of water and improve fit.
The improved fit was very noticeable, and I enjoyed running in these more than the previous version for that reason. My foot is broad so I don’t need a lot of width but, I do like space for my feet to be able to function. The toe box felt much straighter than in other Inov-8 models so I felt like I a got a much better toe off. Especially on steep climbs. The cushioning isn’t super soft so you are still aware of what you are standing on. However, you have a lot more underfoot protection than you do from a racing type fell shoe.
The X-Talon 260 Ultra was originally designed for longer fell races or ultra trail races that where mainly run over soft ground. 2 Day Mountain Marathon’s like the OMM or the Saunders. However, I think that they are a lot more versatile than that and I have been using them for mixed runs where half of the run in on hard packed trails and the other half on really muddy, wet ground. The cushioning has been fine on the firmer ground and the shoe rides OK. You aren’t aware that the outsole is studded and I haven’t noticed and slipping on wet tarmac. The wear to the studs has been minimal on the 100 miles I have don’t in the shoes. Although it should be noted that if you run too much on the harder packed tracks the studs will wear faster than a flatter studded outsole. On the muddy wet ground the 8mm long studs give really good grip and I didn’t notice any clogging of the outsole. Which allowed me to really enjoy the ‘cross country’ sections of my run or the greasy muddy paths down by the river.
Charlie @ Northern Runner Newcastle
Great for: long distance fell running or trail races on softer ground.
Great for: handling some hard ground on the way to and from softer trails.