Now that the Inov-8 Bare-X Lite 150 is showing up in a variety of colorways across the shoe retailer webosphere, you may be curious about the shoe's level of awesomeness. Lucky for you, I'm in a position to provide a 100-plus-mile update review.
In my initial review of the Bare-X Lite 150, I wrote pretty positively about the shoe. (And, why wouldn't I? I mean, it's not like I'm going to waste much time reviewing a shoe that I'm sure I won't like as soon as I see it.)
It turns out that the Bare-X Lite 150 remains fantastic for pavement running well after 100 miles. And, I'd even venture to say that it's more awesome after 100 miles than it was when brand new. I'll explain.
Smarter Than the Average Sole
The majority of shoe retail websites, as well as the Inov-8 site itself, describe the Bare-X Lite outsole and midsole in vague terms—rubber, compound, fusion—without betraying enough detail for us to really know how the shoe's going to endure several hundred miles on pavement.
And, as is often the case with many shoes touting lightweight awesomeness, durability comes into question.
The Natural Running Store's Patton Gleason does a really nice job of explaining just how durable the Bare-X Lite 150 is after a bunch of miles. And, I'll agree with him. The outsoles of my 150s could easily last a few hundred more miles.
'Course, it's important to note that we're not expecting these shoes to take us over special terrain. They're made for pavement. And, that doesn't require much in the way of tread. So, as long as these don't wear down to smooth, slippery plastic, the cleverly compounded outsole material should remain sufficient for pavement running.
A unique aspect of this EVA-rubber-fusion-compound midsole/outsole is that it's a bit more rigid at first than one might expect. I based my expectations for this shoe on the f-lite line, which has a great degree of flexibility right out of the box. But, the Bare-X Lite's rather uniformly compounded, flat sole makes the shoe a smidgen more resistant to folding in half than the f-lites.
Bare-X Lite 150 outsole
when it was brand new
This doesn't impede running form at all. It's still delightfully more flexible than some other minimal-ish shoes. It's just not the most flexible shoe out there. And, some people looking for a barefoot replacement shoe might be disappointed by this one's somewhat rigid platform. (see instead the Bare-X 200 or Bare-X 180 [review forthcoming])
However, I should add that the subtle rigidity goes away after 50-or-so miles of running. And, I find that I enjoy the "ride" in the Bare-X 150 more now than several miles ago, especially while running up hills.
I'll point out that my right heel feels some special sensitivity to the ground when I'm walking in these shoes. I don't know why that is the case. It's as if I feel the outline of the curved margin that you see in the photo, the line delineating the shape of the heel in the tread. I don't have this sensation when running. Although, I might if I landed squarely on my heels. And, that's not the way to run in zero-drop shoes, now is it?
Bare-X Lite 150 outsole after about 100 miles
of running on asphalt and concrete
The Things You Think You Will Like Will Be the Things You Like
That "quick lace system" I pointed out in the initial review is better than I expected. My concerns about the securing tab working itself loose during a long run have not come to fruition. And, there's something so satisfying about simply slipping on the shoes and not tying the laces. (Does that make me lazy?)
I imagine that this quick-pull-tab lacing system will be especially useful to triathletes who have to change from biking shoes to running shoes as efficiently as possible. (If I have the order of that shoe change wrong, it's because I know practically nothing about triathlons)
When you see a tying system that involves this sort of pull-tab-noose thing, the laces are usually elastic. But, that's not the case with the Bare-X Lite 150. These laces are made of the stuff that most laces are made of. So, you don't have to worry about elastic material becoming overly stretched and useless after a while.
Likewise, the tongueless, one-piece upper is a dream! Without a tongue shifting to the side during your run, you'll wonder why other shoes don't employ this sort of design.
Another Bare-X Lite 150 feature that exceeds my expectations is the Anatomic Fit (or last). This is Inov-8's answer to popular demand for wider toe boxes on minimalish shoes. And, they've responded in spades, I say. The last is not so wide as to be sloppy and loose, but not too narrow as to be just another toe-scrunching shoe.
Moreover, the TPU lacing support works especially well in conjunction with the Anatomic Fit, because your midfoot remains secure in the shoe without feeling especially compressed.
I can't wait to try a trail shoe with the Anatomic fit.
Colors for the Rest of You
I remember my first visit to a specialty running shoe retailer several years ago. A home-made sign on the wall of this store proclaimed that "You can't choose a running shoe based on color!" The notion, of course, was that running was about exercise and health in lieu of fashion and aesthetics. So, a sensible person would wear whatever the salesperson handed him.
In a way, we're still at the mercy of fit preferences over color options. And, that's why I was willing to try the Bare-X Lite 150 in spite of the fact that Inov-8 released it first in bright white (not just white, bright white).
There are two kinds of runners: Those who like white shoes and those who don't. If you're of the latter persuasion, be advised that it takes more than 100 miles to get used to the bright whiteness. You'll accept the fact that you're wearing super white shoes. But, you won't be a bright-white-shoe convert.
Fortunately, the Bare-X Lite 150 is now available in three other brilliant colorways. So, those of you who are adverse to white shoes have a reason to try out the 150 without having to worry about people staring at your shoes as you run by them on the greenway. (And, you'll swear they're staring at your shoes).
The Bare-X Lite 150 is a great road running shoe after more than 100 miles of use. It fits comfortably and with versatility. And, it serves its purpose very well as a zero-drop training and racing shoe for paved terrain.
I think the hardened barefoot runner, or someone who prefers an especially minimal shoe with the flexibility of a moccasin, will want to look at other options. (Again, I'll suggest the Bare-X 180 or 200). I say this because the outsole and midsole composite on the 150 is more rigid than ultra-flexible shoe lovers would prefer.
But, what the Bare-X sole lacks in flexibility is more than compensated for in durability. Inov-8 managed to create a very lightweight racing shoe that lasts for (at least) hundreds of miles. That's pretty significant. And, I wouldn't be surprised if the Bare-X Lite 150 becomes almost as cultishly popular as the f-lite 195s and 230s.