The previous incarnation of the X-Talon was the 230, which used their Sticky Grip compound and was a perfect match for when I ran the Ring of Steall for the second time in 2018. A year later and this very orange (iconic in the OCR community) shoe was launched, with several updates, welcoming it into the G family.
Of inov-8‘s offerings, the X-Talon has to date been my favourite, the one which if I have the option to run (when conditions dictate) I’m drawn to. Light, flexible, adapting to terrain and able to put up with shite ground conditions, you know you can rely on them.
*If you’d like to skip to the video – scroll to the bottom*
Designed to grip, with the little compromise for tame trails, inov-8’s X-Talon G 235 from the outset isn’t for groomed trails and hardback. Leave the path behind, bash through heather and bog, create your own path.
Comparing the outsole, it’s the compound that differentiates it from its predecessor. The Graphene infused rubber is both (according to the stats) more durable and grippy. Grip, I cant really comment on, I certainly wasn’t lacking it when running the Kong Mini Mountain Marathon in North Wales, on a mixture of slate, grassy tussocks and bog. However, durability is where I do know the ‘G’ set themselves apart from inov-8’s other compound choices. I’ve found all products I have so far used do last longer, simply put, the sole doesn’t wear away like a soft cheese rub repeatedly against a grater if subjecting it to repeated laps of tarmac. I’m less precious about where I run with the Graphene outsole, whereas before, you’d avoid tarmac and other hard surfaces where possible. When walking to the start for the Mini Mountain Marathon, a guy legging it downhill, having just dibbed in was the verge and shouted out “im saving my shoes.” I’m not about to tell you, run over anything and everything without a care in the world, however, I personally have been less mindful of what the 8mm lugs are coming into contact with.The 8mm lugs or should we say Talons, sink and penetrate all bar rock, providing sure footed confidence. The wide spacing allows the vast majority of trail crap to self clean and prevent you from running with an extra 200g+ of organic matter on each foot. The Meta-Flex on the fore foot maximises the flex in this area, allowing you to really kick, whilst maintaining grip. When things get steep, this is where the flexibility shines through.The X-Talon isn’t a stiff shoe by any standard, so off camber tech trail is swiftly dispatched, like a bird of prey to its quarry.
Now to where my love affair took a slight side step. I don’t think there is as much POWERFLOW+ midsole material or the formula has been tweaked. The G 235 doesn’t soak up hard pack/road running in the same way the 230 previous model did. This was the the cherry for me about the older sibling. My foot felt less when on the man made stuff. I noticed this a little at Kong MMM, but more so when I ran a rough version of the Pentland’s skyline route before the lockdown. Maybe I’ve got rosed tinted specs? I don’t know, but it’s the main area where mind and body sense a difference.
If anyone has run in both, I welcome your opinions in the comment box below.
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The Pentlands provided a break, a final piece of mental clarity from the ever evolving situation that finds us relinquishing our social freedoms in order for a greater future I’m sure there are some who will deem the above to reckless. Thankfully unlike many areas, the Petlands were quiet, very quiet – few people on the southern peaks, the north empty. Social distancing observed, the recommendations of Mountain Rescue observed & followed Races, events, group runs & rides – they’re a privilege, not a right. We have them because of decisions that were made by countless generations before us. I love all those things, they’ve been my work & social life for the past decade, but they aren’t everything. I’ve many friends who are race directors, media, involved directly who are all being hit hard financially, I want to support them where I can I struggled last week, working from home. Changing attitudes, habits & routines takes time, but they can and will be done. I live on my own, I’m single & my parents are self isolating due to my fathers medical conditions (they also spent a week in Spain when it went into lockdown). I haven’t seen them since January and now won’t till July earliest I never talk about her, but my younger sisters a nurse. Major gratitude for all frontline services & those involved both directly & indirectly Utilising a small space as an office, gym, place to unwind & stay connected isn’t easy, but has to be done Follow @ayrshiremtb for @gozwift / @elite_cycling tips & tricks for those who want to turbo these weeks away Im always here for a chat, keeping mentally well is paramount moving forward
The second generation META-PLATE came into its own, in North Wales, where I had to clamber over all manner of slate and other rock. On several times I felt I hadn’t quite got the foot placement correct and therefore, something was noticeably putting pressure on my foot. But, no pain, no bruising, no marks. It kept the Welsh dragon at bay.
The toe box has a new rubber print rand with those saw tooth like edge to encourage the shoe to still flex. So far so good, its stuck on and outside of one misplaced stride where I had to stop and wince like Peter Griffin on Family Guy, I’ve not had to put these to the test.Ballistic Nylon, I can feel the preppers and survival enthusiasts ears twitching at those two words combined. If you’re into ASMR, the video below has a little section for you, as the upper makes a pretty distinctive sound. These tough yarns look box fresh, taking everything in their stride and for those who want the uppers do keep moving through abrasive environments, like a Royal Marine leopard crawling through a gorse bush, you may well get on with these uppers.Welded overlays provide mid foot support, the laces lock and hold (they could be a bit shorter) and the tongue with its 3 flaps (don’t, don’t let your mind go there) forms a strong seal around your foot, to keep crud out. If, you want to go down scree slopes for endless scree surfing, there is a gaitor that can be bought, offering you greater protection and neatly attaches to two purpose built ports on the sides.The heel cup is what you expect from inov-8, hugging, supportive, yet unrestrictive. With a 6mm heel-toe drop, you’re close to the ground, while still getting a little support for longer runs. The furthest I ran in the X-Talon G 235 was 18 miles and my feet didn’t feel fatigued or beaten come the end.
For those who want width, these are Precision Fit, which I personally prefer from inov-8. The hold your foot and toes, without feeling like you’ve wedged them into a designer high heel (don’t ask) and keep you connected for the terrain. Let’s face it, shoe and foot need to be one unit on more extreme terrain.
As with pretty much all invo-8 shoes ive tested for the past 7 years, these were a size 10 (my go to size across all brands).
inov-8’s X-Talon G 235 – is it remarkably better than its predecessor? Yes and no. I feel in the 100 or so miles I’ve run it, it can hold up to far more, both from outsole and upper longevity, however, there’s an element on comfort on harder terrain that appears to have gone. This could be me, it could the shoe, it could the placebo. Has my love for its older, discontinued sibling muddied my eyes and thoughts? Perhaps.
What you have with the G 235 is a shoe which laughs at bog, rock, steep gradients, flowing water and mountains in general. A shoe designed to take the most direct route and leave you beaming at the pub come the end.
To find out more about the inov-8 X-Talon G 235 – CLICK HERE
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