You may remember back in December, when I was able to share news of inov-8 working on a series of shoes, incorporating graphene into the outsole. Details were limited and despite several attempts, the team at inov-8 were tight lipped, not willing to say anything about their new products.
Well, it’s time to reveal all.Normally when I talk about new products, it can be a series of minor updates or a new product altogether, utilising current tech. The G-SERIES are a little different.
The G-SERIES are the World’s first sports shoes to utilise graphene, the strongest material on the planet. inov-8 have collaborated with the graphene experts from Manchester University, who rediscovered, isolated, and characterised the semi material in 2004 by Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov. Graphene has been infused into the rubber outsoles, which have been shown to outlast 1000 miles of running and scientifically proven to be 50% harder wearing.
Graphene is 200% stronger than steel, super lightweight and the thinnest material on earth.
Michael Price, inov-8 Product and Marketing Director, said: “Over the last 18 months we have worked with the National Graphene Institute at The University of Manchester to bring the world’s toughest grip to the sports footwear market. “Prior to this innovation, off-road runners and fitness athletes had to choose between a sticky rubber that works well in wet or sweaty conditions but wears down quicker and a harder rubber that is more durable but not quite as grippy. Through intensive research, hundreds of prototypes and thousands of hours of testing in both the field and laboratory, athletes now no longer need to compromise.”
The G-SERIES range is made up of three different shoes, each meticulously designed to meet the needs of athletes. THE MUDCLAW G 260 is for running over muddy mountains and obstacle courses. TERRAULTRA G 260 for running long distances on hard-packed trails F-LITE G 290 for cross fitters and functional strength athletes. Each includes graphene-enhanced rubber outsoles and Kevlar on the uppers. Commenting on the patent-pending technology and the collaboration with The University of Manchester, inov-8 CEO Ian Bailey said: “This powerhouse forged in Northern England is going to take the world of sports footwear by storm. We’re combining science and innovation together with entrepreneurial speed and agility to go up against the major sports brands – and we’re going to win. “We are at the forefront of a graphene sports footwear revolution and we’re not stopping at just rubber outsoles. This is a four-year innovation project which will see us incorporate graphene into 50% of our range and give us the potential to halve the weight of running/fitness shoes without compromising on performance or durability.”
Graphene is produced from graphite, which was first mined in the Lake District fells of Northern England more than 450 years ago. inov-8 too was forged in the same fells, albeit much more recently in 2003. The brand now trades in 68 countries worldwide.
The scientists who first isolated graphene from graphite were awarded the Nobel Prize in 2010. Building on their revolutionary work, a team of over 300 staff at The University of Manchester has pioneered projects into graphene-enhanced prototypes, from sports cars and medical devices to aeroplanes. Now the University can add graphene-enhanced sports footwear to its list of world-firsts. Dr Aravind Vijayaraghavan, Reader in Nanomaterials at The University of Manchester, said: “Using graphene we have developed G-SERIES outsole rubbers that are scientifically tested to be 50% stronger, 50% more elastic and 50% harder wearing.
“We are delighted to put graphene on the shelves of 250 retail stores all over the world and make it accessible to everyone. Graphene is a versatile material with limitless potential and in coming years we expect to deliver graphene technologies in composites, coatings and sensors, many of which will further revolutionise sports prod.
Let’s Get Factual
- Graphene is a sheet of carbon just one atom thick. It’s the world’s first two-dimensional material and unlike any other in the world.
- Graphene is the strongest material on the planet. It’s 200 times stronger than steel. It’s also the thinnest material in the world.
- Graphene is extraordinarily flexible, and can be bent and twisted, folded and stretched without any damage. It’s almost entirely transparent (97.3%)
- Graphene is closely related to a more well-known material – graphite, which is made of millions of graphene layers stacked on top of one another.
- Graphite was first discovered and mined in the valley of Borrowdale, Lake District (England), in 1555. The local farmers found it to be useful for marking sheep. It was mined there until the end of the 19th
- Graphene was isolated from graphite for the first time at The University of Manchester in 2004. The two scientists who did this, Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov, were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010.
Now – the reality
What does this mean to me, the consumer. First off, there is no hiding it, a higher price. Available to preorder from the 20th June and going on sale on the 12th July, the prices are as follows;
MUDCLAW G 260 – £140 | TERRAULTRA G 260 – £140 | F-Lite G 290 – £150
So there is a price rise, however, with promise of many more miles from every pair of shoes, through the use of graphene and kevlar, could this therefore make them cheaper in the long run? Also, are any of you thinking the same as me, what about the RoadTalon or RoadClaw….? Graphene is being utilised in tyres and all manner of products, some more successfully then others and this World first could be a game changer for both inov-8 and the wider industry.
Now, I’ve been speaking to the bods at inov-8 and though they can’t promise at this time I’ll be getting a pair of G-SERIES shoes to test, I’ll be doing my best to get a set on my feet and feedback how they stack up to their claims. Clearly, getting a standard inov-8 shoe and G-Series, strapping them to a belt sander and using a stop watch, isn’t going to give the most accurate of tests. Though, I know what you are thinking, it would be pretty different and cool to witness.
A brand known for their grip, how will the blend of compounds effect the grip in terms of outright grip in wet conditions, rock and what this will do for the ride. So many questions and only one way to find out….
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