I’ve tested quite a few inov-8 products over the years, the majority of which have been shoes. From running in mudclaws and X-Talons at the Ring of Steall, to RoadClaws at the London Marathon and countless adventures in-between, I’ve covered many miles in the Lakes based grip experts. Yet, I’ve never purchased or been sent Roclites. The all rounder of the arsenal, the one that has enough to tackle moderate mud, rock, grass and well, pretty much anything short of a swamp, I was intrigued as to how they would fare against their specialist siblings. Would a jack of all trades stack up?In short, I’ve used the Roclite G 275 on as many surfaces as possible, from Welsh slate, Chiltern’s flint and chalk, to local trails of grassy fields, sandy woodland and the odd patch of mud. After all, it’s been unseasonally dry around Milton Keynes. Yes, I’m complaining for a lack of rain. Trails have been at their fastest locally in December of all months, due to a small volume of water holding the dirt together.
One of the first times I donned the Roclite G’s was at Maverick Race Chiltern, where I took 5th in the short course. Coming back from illness which stripped my strength and endurance, and on the back of 2 days of intervals, I went for it, blew up spectacularly, took a wrong turn and battled with the hottest day of the year. All that said, I loved it.
The Roclite’s handled all that stood in their way to get to the finish line, the 6mm legs sunk into the softer parts of the course, the Powerflow provided a good and consistent cushion whether running the road or flatter, harder packed trails. Most of all, they kicked when required, happy to turn over a high cadence at speed. Clearly, they have some worthy attributes and have been used in anger. What’s the recipe?From the ground up, the 6mm lugs aren’t as few in number, deep and spread out as the Mudclaw, they aren’t designed to take on the gnarliest of open fell and mud, but to cover most bases and the lower, flatter lugs, in greater numbers, provide less resistance when contacting the ground and increased coverage on rock. Think of a challenger tank and its tracks, designed to allow 62 tonnes of metal to drive over all manner of terrain, preventing it from cutting through the ground and getting bogged down. The outsole dissipates your load wider, stopping you sink as far into the trail, allowing you to push on further and faster, with less effort. The angular lugs, like a character out of space invaders, provide directional grip, a braking edge against the Meta-flex, while the sips at the rear of each, allow the lug to conform with the terrain with less force and more efficiency. The compound is relatively tacky, infused with Graphene, which the labs say provides increased traction and durability over the other sticky compounds used by inov-8. In my experience, durability is improved, both from using the Mudclaw G, with a lot of road miles logged and the Roclites here today. For context, the above shot shows the little dimples left by the mould, which also provide greater friction, worn off on the leading edge I run on, but present elsewhere. With 70 miles so far in the shoes, which I would confidently say 25% have been on roads, 40% on hard packed trails, gravel or rock and the remainder grass/soft trails, in my opinion, the outsole is holding up very well indeed.
The Roclite is an 8mm drop shoe, 16mm heel to 8mm forefoot, which lends itself to longer runs, as it’ll be more forgiving on your feet. Combine this with the POWERFLOW™ midsole, which I first had a taste of back at the 2016 London Marathon and you can plod along or put the hammer down, in comfort. I ran 14 miles in the Roclite G 275 on the Sunday just gone, the final 3 miles being on road and they remained with a spring in their step. The POWERFLOW™ holds up from my numerous tests in inov-8 shoes very well to repeated runs, but most importantly, it’s consistent. This is no wallowing marshmallow, moreover, a precise tuned cushion, allowing you to push on hard terrain without shocks resonating through your legs like a tuning fork. Combined with their META-SHANK™ for speed and META-PLATE™ for rock protection, the shoe begs for you to go balls to the wall and perhaps risk it all when the start gun projects gas and wadding into the atmosphere.Up top, there is plenty of protection, as you come to expect from a brand famous for inspiring runners to express themselves in the fells. The rand provides ample toe protection and the upper is a harder wearing mesh then used by some of the competition. It is in no ways a hinderance. Your toes can splay and move around unhindered, but for those looking to keep your pair alive for months rather than a few adventures into wild untamed terrain, you’ll be pleased to hear, they have held up well, the pictures bearing the reality of 50 miles. The laces remind me of climbers and alpinism, with their paracord eyelets, while the laces are strong and hold firm when knotted. The structure to the upper is provided by the brands ADAPTERWEB™, which moulds around your foot and has enough flex in it, whilst remaining secure. For me, I prefer my mountain shoes a little narrower round the toe box, to keep my feet from shifting when the ground gets technical and the WEB hugs my foot, meaning I wasn’t swimming around inside when I took on a sharp, short and steep welsh mountain.
On inov-8s fit scale, the Roclite G 275 comes in at a 3, 1 being the narrowest and 5 the widest. They’re in that middle ground, no man’s land where opinions may argue for hours. The short answer is, I personally wouldn’t want them any wider, but that’s my preference. There is enough room to move your toes around and contour the sole the terrain below, without leaving you hunting for a stable platform on steeper terrain. If I was running on ridges, I may wish for them to be slightly narrower, but hey, we’re talking about an all rounder here.Heel Cup? It’s what you expect from the brand. Does the job efficiently.
Niggles or changes? I’d spice up the colour pallet, the brand do have some more out there options in other models and I see no reason why these can’t be the same. As I stated earlier, for me if I was using them on more steep and technical terrain for extended periods, I’d prefer the toe box to narrower – but for long or short flatter runs, I’ve been happy with the current width/depth.
And that’s it really, I raced and trained in the Roclite G 275, worn them to the office, to the pub, (the latter two didn’t count towards overall mileage) and they are holding up well. inov-8 call them their all rounder, and I would have to agree. It doesn’t have the outright aggressive grip of a X-Talon, yet has more than a TrailTalon, less cushioning than Terraultra… it reaches a sweet spot that puts it in a blurry central area. They do a good job at not being specialist, but being reliable, consistent, a work horse. Old faithful.
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