Upon the release of the X-Talon 200, I was interested, they seemed the perfect fit for my Skyrunning and trail running plans in 2015.
Grip like a X-Talon 190, light like a X-Talon 190, fit like a Trail-roc and offer the support of a X-Talon 212. All the more reason to be interested, actually excited, excitement on that was on par with when my first ever pair of X-Talon 190 were in the mail.
For me I run in Inov-8 for one reason, they work for me. They serve a purpose and I can choose a pair that’ll suit every run I do, on road and trail. I love the trail range, the grip of the X-Talon and the comfort and durability of the Trail-roc. I have a pair for every race and training session I do, but there was a bit of an issue when I ran my first Skyrun in 2014 down at the Buffalo Stampede.
|My first and most recent pair of Inov-8's|
I wore the X-Talon 212, they gave me grip, support and the trail feel needed. I was very happy with them and I felt confident during the race but as I continued on the many long descents my toes were getting belted somewhat. The fit is narrow compared to the X-Talon 190 and over time and distance this eventuated in my first ever black toe (obviously the fit of the 212 is not right for me). While only a minor problem and not as horrific as some stories I felt a bit worried the same was going to continue down in the Victorian Alps when I visited for racing and training. Lucky for me at camps and in training the runs are shorter and I could rotate my shoes to reflect the particular trail if needed, so I was very happy to see the new model unveiled which solved this problem for me, the X-Talon range now offers a fit for everyone.
Testing these new shoes over the past week involved a range of trails, from my usual trails around Hassans Walls (single track, fire trail and downhill mountain bike track), to the Winburndale Range (rocky, steep and rough fire trail which is loose underfoot) and finally at Wentworth Falls in the Running Wild 16km Race today (a mix of all trail types including lots of wet areas and stairs). Lucky for me they also experienced a range of weather from bone dry to sopping wet conditions, so I got a look at how they performed across the board. All up I spent around 6.5hrs in them, running 45km with over 2500m of up/down.
|Inov-8 X-Talon 200|
Grip – the aggressive tread allows super grip on everything but wet boardwalks/wood (although I felt an increased sense of confidence on these surfaces than in previous X-Talons I have owned). On smooth firetrail they give good grip but get a bit nobbily underfoot, they aren’t really suited to easy fire trail, unless of course it is wet or sandy then they are pretty good as they lose the nobbily feel as they grip into the trail surface. On single track, rock, steep ups and steep downs they are in a league of their own, I have so much confidence in every step and was able to change direction easily and without slowing down or breaking stride.
Fit – the new wider fit of the X-Talon 200 is perfect, it is similar to that of a Trail-roc. My toes weren’t stuffed or smashed when descending the steep trails at Winburndale and they allowed my toes to spread on every step. They are a true size for me and I found the fit excellent.
|Rarely do I pause in a race today I|
did to take this view in (I didn't
take the photo though M. Crick did)
Trail Feel – I had a good feel for the trail under foot and was always getting the feedback needed from my foot but at no point did I get discomfort or pain from a sharp rock. The weight allows good running form and the tread and foot bed gives the minimal feel I love from Inov-8. All this along with a good amount of protection (including the new rubber toe guard) underneath gives more confidence on the trail.
New Features – the rubber toe box is awesome. I hit my foot a few times, it didn’t hurt and the rubber material almost bounced away from the rock/tree (a bit like a dodge em’ car) allowing my foot to go over the trip hazard and not stumble or fall. I was a little concerned that with the new toe box they wouldn’t drain as well but after several creek crossings and many puddles, they drain very well indeed. This along with the combination of the best features from other shoes in the Inov-8 trail range gives this new shoe a position on the trails of it’s own.
While I wouldn’t go for the X-Talon 200 on runs with mainly fire trail (Trail-rocs are the perfect fire trail shoe) they will be my choice in any mountain race, Sky Races such as Buffalo, for the Glow Worm Marathon, Sydney Trail Series and anything that is wet or technical. In both training and racing this will be my go to shoe, they are light, comfortable, durable, functional for my running and they look pretty good as well.