An upgrade on the original X-Talon 212, inov-8's new X-Talon 230 claims to offer more grip and protection, on wet and rocky trails, than its predecessor while retaining its racing DNA. We sent Huw from our Customer Service Team to inov-8's training centre in Staveley to put the shoe through its paces and let us know how it performs.
Initial thoughts about the shoe
The shoe looks and feels great, really lightweight and fast. The fit could seem a bit snug for some initially, but as soon as you start moving the shoe is as comfortable as I have experienced.
- Ballistic nylon uppers
- Gusseted tongue
- Durable rand wraps around whole shoe
- 2 Arrow Shock Zone with a 6mm heel-forefoot differential (13mm/7mm)
- Meta-Flex forefoot groove enhances flexibility
- PowerFlow+ midsole
- Sticky Grip rubber delivers 50% better traction in the forefoot than its predecesso
- Met-cradle adapts to natural movement and swelling of the foot in motion
- 275g (single shoe size 8)
Super Grip Sticky Sole
The new Sticky Grip compound on the sole gives better traction on dry or wet hard surfaces. This extra grip allows you stride confidently and quickly across varied terrain whether it's mud or rocks.
The Powerflow+ midsole improves both shock absorption and energy return for runners. In the heel area of the shoe, the midsole absorbs up to 10% more shock than a traditional midsole, reducing the chance of stress injuries. Up in the front of the shoe and under the ball of your foot, the midsole returns up to 25% more energy, reducing fatigue and lengthening your stride.
Ballistic Nylon Uppers with DWR Coating
The uppers are made from a tough nylon that resists rock abrasion and sheds water utilising a DWR coating. At the heel of the shoe you'll find gaiter hooks (that are compatible with inov-8's gaiters) to help stop snow, water and small stones getting into your shoe. Team that up with the gusseted tongue, all-round rand and toe bumper and you have a lot of protection in a light-weight trainer.
X-Talon Sole 8mm Lugs
The 230's retain the original lug length, size and pattern of previous models; brilliantly digging into soft and loose ground.
The shank protects against sharp rocks giving you the confidence to attack your training run.
How did it score?
Foot Protection: 9/10
The slightly stiffer rubber on the toe box is the perfect amount for protecting against any toe stubs whilst not affecting the feel of the shoe in any way. The knit of the material is sturdy and surprisingly good at keeping water out, whilst also breathable.
The grip on both dry and wet rock is absolutely incredible, really confidence inspiring and is also super grippy in mud and grass. Since I have been running in the shoes I've only ever experienced one or two slight slips on really steep wet grass slopes.
Your foot feels really comfortable and stable in the shoe. From the heel to the toe, your foot feels in place and in control no matter how off-camber and steep things get. inov-8's ability to make a shoe that moves with your foot is fantastic.
Having narrow feet makes the X-Talon a natural choice, it's one of the comfiest trail shoes I've ever had. However, I know people with much wider feet than me, who while having doubts when first stepping into the shoe, once running, love the fit of the shoe.
Feels noticeably light when you first pick them up. Once they are on, if it is wasn't for the outstanding grip, stability and protection you wouldn't be able to tell you are wearing them.
Sensitivity / Trail Feel: 10/10
I've been blown away by the feel of these shoes. The balance between feeling what is underneath your foot and cushioning for protection is perfect. The movement of your foot over uneven and rocky ground feels completely natural and allows you to think/look metres ahead of where you usually would. As someone who is prone to their shins suffering on road running, I was also surprised at just how comfortable the X-Talons are on Tarmac given the lugs and profile of the shoe.
I've never experienced any uncomfortable folds or heat points from the fabric on these shoes. They feel really well built and sturdy. The upper meshing is really breathable but so closely knit that it takes quite a lot before water starts to leak in.
I love the look of the shoes. Simple styling for a shoe that is fast, grippy and comfortable.
Pros and Cons
- Incredible grip
- Look fantastic
- Confidence inspiring stability with the perfect amount of support
- May initially feel narrow for some
- The sole loses its sticky grip over time
Without a doubt, my favourite trail shoe I have ever worn. The grip and sensitivity of the shoe is truly outstanding and inspires confidence no matter how gnarly things get. I would recommend this shoe for any runner taking on mountainous and mixed terrain.