Monday, 8 April 2013

Inov-8 Bare X-Lite 150 - The best running shoe review

The Inov-8 Bare X Lite 150s
If you've been following my blog you'll know I was rather keen on the new Inov-8 f-lite 232 and the amazing looking Road Extreme 138s. Both are part of the new 2013 range, offering the Inov-8s wider anatomical last and zero shock (0mm drop). 

So why did I use my hard earned coin on the older series, the Inov-8 Bare X-Lite 150? What made me go a little old school? 

It was the lure of the additional 3mm stack height, the total 7mm of blown evo foam that would offer my feet that little extra protection underfoot while out on the roads. While it is the lightest shoe in the Inov-8 Bare-X range, it's not the most minimalist, and I'm glad for that. That prize went to the Bare X-Lite 180, or now it's the Inov-8 Road Extreme 138. 

Ash at wrote a brilliant comparative review of the Bare X-Lite 150, 180 and 200 - the three shoes in the Inov-8 Bare-X range. It went along way to helping my decision as well:

Between the Skora Base offered at for $99 and the New Balance Minimus 10v2 at the I was almost drawn away from Inov-8, but I wanted to finish my natural running journey. 

Inov-8 Road Range - Red Road X 233, Black Road X-lite 155
and the Blue and Red Bare X Lite 150
I'm also at the point where I have no hesitation in pulling on my zero drop Inov-8 Trailroc 235s (Look in shoes and stuff to see my review) and hitting the trails for a 20km plus run. Time to make the move onto the roads. 

Over the Easter break I bit the bullet and ordered the Bare X- Lite 150. I was taking the first step to completing the natural running journey with Inov-8. I had read they were generously sized so I ordered a 7, down on my usual 7.5. Kudos to and AustPost for the great 2 day turn around from the Sydney warehouse to my doorstep. 

My initial impression was that I was stoked that I went with the blue with the red quicklace. They look amazing and felt feather light. Big ticks in a go fast shoe. Putting them on, they felt larger than anticipated, I was hoping for a more snug fit but I was soon able to adjust the quicklace system to get them feeling just right. The kids also loved the bones on the sole.

The quicklace system? For these shoes Inov-8 have ditched the traditional laces for a slightly elasticity lace that is embedded at the base of the midfoot area in the overlay (see the pic, it makes so much more sense than my guff).

Quick lace meets at the bottom of the blue mesh
The laces meet at the top and are neatly held together with a plastic clip which you squeeze and pull and magic, the laces are done! Not everyone has agreed with it, but so far I've found it very effective and... quick! 

So, shoes on, how do they feel? As I mentioned earlier, they are roomy, but as I wore them and my feet warmed the felt just right. I have a little length in my right foot, but when your left is a size bigger that'll happen. I have ample toe room, yet the mid foot feels just right. 

The mesh overlay and quicklace system work harmoniously together my feet are held nicely in place. 

A lot of people have talked about ground feel, especially in the more minimalist type shoes. At this stage of my running it is not a crucial aspect, and I got thinking about what it really is. So in the past few weeks I've taken extra notice while running in my Inov-8 X-Lite 155s. Yes, the road feels hard. I can feel the cracks in the pavement and little stones and pebbles on the footpaths as I run. So I devised a little side by side comparison test. 

The Bare X-lite 150s and the X-Lite 155 both have the same blown rubber, fusion sole. They are incredibly soft yet strangely firm. They bend and twist anyway that your foot does, even more so cause I don't know anyone who can bend their foot in half or squeeze to meet in the middle vertically. 

With one foot clad in black and the other in blue I threw some twigs and stones out on the footpath and went for a walk and a run. Walking along i could feel the cracks in the pavement, the twigs under-feet and the stones hurt, especially in the more tender mid foot areas when I stepped on them. 

I certainly felt more through the black X Lite 155s, which I was hoping as it has 4mm less in the sole. Remember I'm after that little extra cushioning. Score one to the Inov-8 Bare X Lite 150.

Not all paths are perfect
But these are running shoes. So lets run. I eventually found a rhythm that would let me hit the cracks in the pavement and I landed on the sticks and stones enough to break my bones. No, not really but if you want to go out and land on every stone you can find, these are not the shoes for you. Again, I got great feel and some pain from the black 155s, the blue 150s certainly gave me more cushioning from the stones. Score two to the Inov-8 Bare X Lite 150. 

So far the Inov-8 Bare X Lite 150s have had all the boxes ticked. Great fit, good cushioning but still sound road feel, awesome colours so now it's time for a run. 

My first run was a quick 4km. I varied the tempo from 5 min kms to as quick as 4:05 min kms and the felt fast. They rewarded a quicker tempo and cadence and I felt like a kid again. Just running because I can. But 4km is not very far now is it. How about 21km? In a half marathon race? 

Why? Why not? On the trail I would pull out the Trailroc 235s without a second thought. I'm comfortable with the Inov-8 range and essentially these are a very similar shoe with that additional cushioning. 

Out in the race they felt great. I hit a natural rhythmic pace quite quickly and they felt good. I was getting good feel off the trail/footpath and had to think about my form but it was positive thinking. After 7-8km they began to give a little and I felt more and more comfortable underfoot as the race went on. At this point there were no hot spots, no rubbing or slipping and I was very comfortable. 

By 15/16km I had begun to fatigue (I went into the race after two days in bed during the week) and I had to really work on my running. My quads we heavy and my hips became noticeable but my feet were still comfortable. When I was able to put in some quicker spurts I was again rewarded why a more natural run, so I know that I have to keep working on this. Perhaps for me I am still suited to 3 or 4mm underfoot in the longer races, but for 10kms and under the Inov-8 Bare X-Lite 150 will be the shoe I use. 
How cool is the bone pattern on the White Bare X?

So 25km is not all that far in a pair of shoes. I know that they will hold up as all the reviews I read prior to writing mine have praised their durability. My Inov-8 Road X-Lite 150s have done nearly 400km and although wearing at the high contact points of my running cycle, there is still a lot of life left in them. 

Speaking of soles, I had to race across wet brick pavement the other day and the 150s got me across safe and sound. On my recent runs in the rain they have be terrific - no grip problems at all. 

Well, I've now got a couple of hundred kms on my Bare X-lite 150s and I still love them. The sole has molded to my foot and the grip is wearing quite well. If you look at the tread it does wear according to how you land, I am obviously quite heavy on my right foot compared to my left. 
Cushioning wise they are good, I can do my 5 - 12km runs in them and the feet still feel fresh at the end. 

I would perhaps like a little more strength or firmness in the sole as I get a little underfoot muscle tension after the occasional run - perhaps these are a good training tool, rather than the race day beast I thought. Having said that I'm trying to get more track work into my routine and these are great for my speed work. 

If you like the sound of them, I'm part of Wiggles affiliate program, so why not head on there via my link and check them out :)

Cheers and happy running, Lachie

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  1. This really is a fantastic review, Lachie! I'm happy the 150s have impressed you thus far. And, your account of your initial impressions, especially in comparison to the Road X-lite 155, is really a nice perspective for people to read. I think the first impressions are important with this shoe, because it is somewhat different from what runners might expect. So, well done!

  2. Replies
    1. You're welcome. I'm hoping it's because you enjoyed the review :) Happy running.

  3. Hi Lachie, I'm new to running blogs, this is really informative, and I love your enthusiasm :o)

    I bought the X233s on a whim about 18 months ago, moving from very padded Nike Airs, and the X233s have caused me no harm at all, only good times. So I want to progress further in the minimalist range, sticking with inov-8, hence a great interest in your article. But one main thing conufuses me, which I'm hoping you can put right....

    I'm looking at the site, under Road shoes,and the X-Lite 150 says midsole = 'N/A', just as it does for the X180 and X200 products ==>

    You talked about the extra cushioning being what swayed towards the X150, so this is a pertinent point. The other reviewer that you referenced in your artcile (anotherfnrunner) also refers to the X150 having extra cushioning, but i cannot see that difference when looking at the specs on inov-8's own sites.

    The same goes for X155 too... you say you'd expect to feel more stones etc underfoot due to lack of cushioning, but inov-8 site sayd Midsole = EVA??

    Nor, in fact, can I see the colours of these particular products that you guys are using in your photos... I wonder if any of these dirrerences are down to our geographical locations?

    Hoping you can put me right on this, can't wait to buy some new shoes. I have a half marathon in the New Forest (England) in 2 months' time....

    1. Hi Rigler, I'm glad you enjoyed the read, and picked up the 233s. They are a great shoe.

      I now realise that the inov-8 bare x-150 and the Road x-lite 155 don't have a midsole, but that the Fusion rubber is actually the sole/midsole in one.

      This Fusion sole is about 11mm thick, which provides the cushioning that we usually find in the midsoles of other shoes. On other shoes the midsole is the white foam/rubber that we see and the sole is the thin strip of harder black rubber on the 'sole' of the shoe.

      As for the colour ways they do vary by country. The UK and seem to have the greatest range. I'd love some of the new colours, but if you look on the current Australian range is limited. Fingers crossed that we get the new colours at some stage. It is also possible that inov-8 may be phasing out the x-lite 155s for the new road extreme 178, which also have the 3mm drop.

      Hopefully this helps. Let me know how you go :) Good luck with the half marathon as well.

      Cheers, Lachie

  4. hi lachie. was just wondering what the sizing is like with the road x lite 155's? i usually wear a 10.5 in my shoes but ordered a 10 after hearing they run big. can you give me your input on the sizing of the 155's?

    1. Hi mate, hopefully this finds you in time :) Getting the 10 was a smart choice. My experience is that the 155s do run a 1/2 size larger than the rest of the inov-8 range. Interestingly, the 195s are longer still (well, according to my feet). Thanks for dropping by!

  5. Hi Anon, Great question. My first shoes were the Road X 233 and the 7.5 was nice and roomy. When I got the 155s in the same size they felt huge, definitely a half size bigger than the other pair. I think you're spot on getting a half size down. Fingers crossed they are the perfect fit.
    Cheers and happy running!

  6. I love my X Lite 150's although mainly use them for the gym. I find they're awesome for exercises like squats and any lifts which need a firm footing. I also picked mine up for just over £20 off eBay for a brand spanking new pair at 25% of the recommended retail price so grabbed myself an absolute bargain.

    Love the review.

    1. Hey Liam, thanks for the feedback. It sounds like you got a brilliant price on them! Nice buy on some shoes that sound like they are perfect for what you need. You've got some great write ups on your blog too.

  7. The bareX 150 is really nice. I put about 180 miles on it already, anywhere from track speedwork to 12 miles road runs.
    Not only they are light, they are so easy to put on. The toebox is roomy but not sloppy. Although the quoted stackheight isn't that
    thick, but surprisingly it feels extremely comfortable and protective during landing. The outsole material is also quite durable.
    I ran on Kinvara and worn out at a much faster rate (consider the Kinvara outsole is much thicker).

    I bought another pair because I like them so much, and before they discontinue it.

  8. I wish I had thought ahead and purchased a life-time supply of these shoes. My last pair is on it's way to shoe heaven and I need a new shoe to replace it with. Is there anything that comes close? The features I love are the tongueless design, the amazing fit when you cinch down the laces, the way the strong back cups your heel, the weight and the flexibility. Any suggestions would be appreciated; I thought this design would catch on but other than the Nike Free 3.0 I don't really see any tongueless shoes, and those are not my cup of tea.

    1. Hi Mike, thanks for reading! I was just thinking about going back to the x-lite 155s but like you, cannot find them anywhere. In the end I really wore the 150s for casual use but loved the quick on and off and the tight fit like yourself.

      As for a replacement, I've enjoyed the mizuno ekiden and saucony A6.

      I've done some searching in recent weeks to replace my casual bare x 150s, but found nothing, or nothing under $200! Where are you located. still have a limited number of the bare-x 150 in stock, and at $59AU! I hope this helps, good luck.

    2. Thanks so much! I'll check those shoes out for sure. I'm in the US but I sent the good people over at barefoorinc an email to see if they'd be willing to ship their last two size 9s across the Pacific. Thanks for the tips!