Inov8 founder, Wayne Edy, took Sports Trader through two of their new shoes for 2012, the Bare-X Lite 150 and another of their models specifically designed for Crossfit, at the Outdoor Friedrichshafen show.
The Inov-8 Bare-X Lite 150 is a shoe that I have had a great interest in for some time. I love performance shoes, and this shoe had all the appeal of a great performance shoe, so I had to get my hands on a pair. I’ve reviewed two shoes, the 195 & 155 , from Inov-8 on this site, and I’ve like them both. They each had things that I really liked and some things that I felt weren’t ideal, and the 150 is in the same boat as both of those. It’s a great shoe that has a lot of positives but still left me wondering if it could have been a little better. The issues I have with the shoe are also fairly personal so read on to hear more about what could be your new favorite performance shoe.
I have always liked wearing shoes that are thinner, lighter, and more flexible. Even when I competed I did all my training in my “racing” shoes. I was always wearing spikes, flats, or waffles to get my work in, and I never quite understood why shoes were getting thicker and thicker every year. In fact it kind of made it hard for me to find shoes to wear. That is why I have enjoyed this whole minimal shoe movement so much. There are so many more options for me to pick from with all of these shoe companies jumping in and making the kinds of shoes I’ve always loved the most. The Bare-X Lite 150 is another option to add to the list. It’s super light, flexible, and screams performance from all angles.
The 150 is light at a mere 5.3 ounces. There are some ultra-minimal shoes out there that weigh more than that. The sole is zeroed out at 7mm midsole with a 3mm insole. I put my calipers on them, and I basically got the same numbers so I’m calling those accurate measurements. It’s got a one piece mesh upper with quick laces and an injected EVA sole. It is not the most minimal shoe that Inov-8 makes as they now have a full line of ultra minimal options but this is a great middle of the pack shoe in terms of sole thickness and weight.
Like I just said, this shoe screams performance. The overall appearance of it says “I like to go fast and so will you”. My pair is a simple white shoe with red accents, but one of the cool things about this shoe from Inov-8 is that it comes in a selection of fun and bright colors, too. There aren’t a lot of lines on this shoe. The upper is one piece that wraps around the shoe so there aren’t any seams or overlays to clutter up the look. It’s just a big mesh sock with some lines and a logo down the side, which in this case makes this shoe look like it’s ready to compete.
This is where I have one of my biggest problems with the shoe, but this is a personal issue and not one that will affect the masses. For me this shoe is extremely tight. This shoe is built on their anatomic last so it’s considered to have a more natural shape to it like the 155’s . The issue for me with this shoe is the one piece upper doesn’t offer much adjustment. The tongue area has two slits cut into it, and there is some stretchy material added in the gap but for me it’s not enough so the shoe feels very tight. I think the average person will fit into this shoe really well, but for someone like me who has a very wide forefoot it might be an issue. The heel fits great, and I like the way it feels overall, but I can’t go long distances in it because of the tightness over the top of the ball of my foot, although taking the insole out made a big difference and helps it to have a lot more room. The material under the insole is a little rough but not anything that is really bothersome through a pair of socks. I was even able to get used to it without socks so it’s really not bad if want to take it out. The quick pull laces are a great touch, and they make the shoe very easy to adjust. This is a great sockless shoe as well. The one piece upper basically eliminates any seam issues you would have so it’s a very smooth and comfy feel for the feet.
This is what we’re all here to talk about, right? Inov-8 touts this as a great race day shoe as well as a great option for triathletes. I have to say I agree. Even with my foot not really wanting to fit into the shoe I loved the feel, even after taking it out on runs for both distance and speed work. The sole is roughly 7mm thick and the insole is 3mm so this is a thin shoe, but it rides like something thicker. The ground is slightly muted by the sole so even though it’s thin you don’t have to worry about where you are stepping, and that allows you to just go. The sole is also zeroed out so there is no elevation to the heel. There is no extra cushion to this shoe, and it’s got a firm feel. When you put your foot down you feel it, but it’s not jarring. I’ve always marveled at how Inov-8 does this. Ok I’ll admit that I know it’s because of the injected EVA, but it’s still cool. There is no blown rubber so this shoe isn’t going to be a million-miler or anything like that. If you’re using it for everyday running it might burn out a bit fast, but if you only break it out for speed work and races then you’ll get a good amount of use from it. I would say that just about anyone would be able to break this out for a 5k and run without any problems. If you’re not used to thinner flats or even minimal shoes then you might not want to jump into this shoe for longer races without some training and adaptation to strengthen your feet for it.
Overall I would recommend this shoe as a great performance shoe. It’s got a great feel to it and should definitely help you log some faster race times. I wish it had a bit more room in it for thick feet like mine but even with that problem I could throw this shoe on for a fast 5k and be happy. Inov-8 is definitely on the right track, and I can see a bright and exciting future for their road shoes.