Thursday, October 28, 2010

Inov-8 f-lite 230 Shoe Review

The Reviewer

weight: 153 lbs
height: 5’ 11”
Avg MPW: 30 - 35
Foot strike: Mid
Recent Shoe History: Mizuno Nirvana 5 (size 11.5), Mizuno Elixir 4 (size 11.5), Inov-8 Flyroc 310 (size 11.5)


The Shoe

Inov-8 f-lite 230 in the boxThe f-lite 230 is a great, lightweight shoe. I won’t repeat what you’ve likely read about the f-lite 230 on the Inov-8 website. I can confirm for you that the shoe is every bit as blue as it is in the pictures (unless you buy the black ones). The mesh upper material stretches nicely, which is one of this shoe’s best features. And, it truly has a slipper-like fit, seeming to wrap around my foot rather than encase it. The transition from mid-foot to toe-off is smooth and comfortable thanks to the shoe’s flexibility. In short, the shoe fits and rides wonderfully.

I was nervous about buying the f-lite 230, because it is a rather narrow shoe. I certainly didn’t want to have another cramped shoe that gives me black toenails (I should have ordered a half size larger in the Flyroc 310s). But, I’d read somewhere that the mesh upper is flexible enough to allow for a greater feeling of freedom than one might think. This is true.

I was surprised at how comfortably my average-to-wide forefeet fit into these shoes. When I first put the shoes on, they definitely felt snug. But, after walking around and going for a run in them, the f-lite 230s proved incredibly adaptable to a wider average width foot.

The Reason

Buying the f-lite 230 was a pretty big step for me (no pun intended). After running primarily in heavy stability shoes for a long time, I knew that picking up a pair of neutral flats would be risky. I’d been working my way from the hefty Mizuno Nirvana to the lighter Elixir while running my long trail runs in the Inov-8 Flyroc 310s. I chose to work towards a lower profile shoe after reading about the perceived benefits of running barefoot or in minimal shoes. And, the f-lite 230 had been lauded by minimalists for it’s 6mm heel-to-toe drop and flexibility. So, I went for it.

The Performance

Inov-8 f-lite 230 on my feetI transitioned slowly into these shoes. I first used them for short, three-mile runs on pavement. They felt great. And, I suppose my time in the Flyrocs conditioned my achilles well enough to handle the lower profile midsole. After a few short runs, I took the f-lites out for a long run on the trails. They were perfect the whole time. I’ve managed to go as far as 18 miles (on trails) in the f-lites before feeling like I could use a bit more support for a longer distance. (Enter the Inov-8 Roclite 285)

As one might expect, the f-lites have a relatively minimal tread. The shoes handle pavement and hard-packed trails perfectly. I’ve worn them over technical single-track trails, too. And, I’d pick something else for that kind of terrain if you’ll be running on it for a long time. The shoes handle the surface well. But, you definitely feel the pointy rocks jabbing into the thin outsole. Having slightly bigger lugs on the bottom is better for the technical trails.

Summary

I love the f-lite 230. Their flexible upper and slipper-like feel make them a pleasure to wear. Try a pair on if you can find them anywhere.

2 comments:

  1. These shoes made me try running. I bought them (as many others) for CrossFit workouts. As CrossFit has workouts with running in them I got to try them out. And loved the feeling. Since then I tried my hand on 4-6k runs on pavement and sand. Love 'em, absolutely love 'em.

    ReplyDelete
  2. McD: That's so great that the 230s inspired you to get into running more. You're already getting a great workout with CrossFit. So, I'm sure it feels great to put these shoes to even further use.
    Thanks for reading!

    ReplyDelete

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