Monday, March 4, 2013

Inov-8 Road-X Lite 155 Review

If you haven’t checked out an Inov-8 shoe, you should.
Pete Larson over at put it well when he said, “When I think of Inov-8, I think of shoes designed for a purpose,” and he’s right. Inov-8 is a British company known mostly for their trail shoes, but in recent years they have made quite a splash in the CrossFit and road running communities. While not a CrossFitter myself, I’ve heard of CF athletes waiting anxiously for the next shipment of super durable, super stable, rope guard equipped Inov-8 shoes.
Inov-8 burst onto the road running seen last year with its Road-X line of running shoes. They had something for everyone; from the 9mm drop Road-X 233 255 to the minimal 3mm drop Road-X Lite 155. When I first purchased the 155s I was looking for something just a little more substantial than my trusty Lems. After approximately 5 miles in Lems my feet start to want a little more between them and the ground. In September, after a very informative chat with Patton over at Optimal Run, I settled on the every-so-lightly cushioned Road-X 155.

First Impressions

When I first took these shoes out of the box, I thought they looked super sleek. I wasn’t a fan of the original canary yellow, so these stealthy low-pro shoes were right up my aesthetic alley. Trying them on, however, was a little jarring. I had only ever run in a zero drop shoe, so moving up even to 3mm was noticeable. Having tried on a greater variety of shoes since then I’ve come to believe that the drop in the Road-X Lite 155 feels unnecessarily pronounced. I felt like I was standing on a bar. I wasn’t going to let my initial impression of standing in a shoe stop me, though, so I went for a short two-mile run. Shoes often feel very different on a run than they do standing around in your apartment.
Suffice to say I almost sent them back after that run. Everything felt wrong. But the idea of sending them back made me feel like a quitter. So I took them on an another run, and then another, each run feeling more comfortable and natural than the last. I even ran the Albuquerque Turkey Trek 5K in them. Lesson: first impressions aren’t everything.

The Best Parts

  1. The weight. Coming in at a meager 6.1 oz. in my men’s size 9, this shoe is on the short list of shoes to look at for speed work and shorter races. The 155 was my daily trainer for five months and I never once got to the end of a run and thought “If only these shoes were lighter.”
  2. Flexibility. The flexibility enhanced by Inov-8’s Meta Flex grooves is exactly what I would look for in a daily trainer. In the forefoot the flexibility rivals Lems. One thing I absolutely hate is when a shoe is stiff, especially in the forefoot: I feel like the shoe won’t let my foot do what it wants, what it was designed to do. Thankfully, the 155 delivers and allows your foot the freedom to move and flex. It should be noted that there is a trade-off for that flexibility. It means great ground feel but also very little by way of protection. Once, while running at night, I stepped on a rock, full weight, forefoot strike, square on the ball of my foot at the second metatarsal. I finished out my run but my foot was bruised for a couple of days. I don't think I would have suffered that bruise had I been running in daylight, but I do think that the bruise serves to make the point that forefoot flexibility and ground-feel have a cost.
  3. Traction. Despite the slick-looking outsole and absence of strategically placed high abrasion rubber, the 155 is surprisingly “sticky.” I did not have much of an occasion in New Mexico’s sunny and dry weather to test the 155 in a variety of conditions, but I did go for a soggy, wet run in Boston. It had been raining all night and through my entire morning run. Roads, grass, a short dirt (muddy) path. This shoe conquered them all in the rain.
  4. Durability. The upper is super light weight but feels very sturdy. After eighty miles mine still look brand new. The sole is showing some signs of wear, but nothing that concerns me. I’ve heard of some people getting a mere 150 miles out of these shoes, but the blogosphere makes 500 miles seem more common with some getting four figures out them.
Note the meta-flex grooves in the forefoot
and the narrow midfoot

The Worst Parts

  1. The curved, “anatomical,” narrow last. Inov-8 calls the last on the 155 “anatomical.” That is a bit of a stretch. I think Inov-8 might just be throwing out a minimalist running buzz word. While the last does have a generous toe box, that’s not the same as being anatomical. Take a look at the lasts on shoes coming from Merrell, Altra, Lems, Vivobarefoot, etc. These lasts resemble a foot. The 155 last, not so much. On a personal note, I found the narrowing in the midfoot to be uncomfortable. I have not heard many complaints about this, though, so maybe it's just me.
Altra Instinct 1.5 (image from

Lems Primal Origin (Image from
Merrell Road Glove (Image from

Midfoot bump

2. Midfoot Bump. The heel of the shoe holds the heel of your foot like a cup and has a distinguishable “edge” toward the midfoot. I found this annoying. That little bump became less noticeable over time, but never went away. It contributes to the initial standing-on-a-bar sensation I felt when I first got the shoes.

3. Injury. After I ran a 5K in this shoe I came down with a case of what I suspect was peroneal tendinitis. I tried different at-home treatments for over a month and could not seem to shake it. Three times I repeated the cycle of rest for a week, run for a week, and have a flair up of pain. Narrowing down as many variables as I could, I stopped running in the shoes all together. As soon as I switched shoes, the pain never bothered me again. It is for that reason that this shoe will be nothing but a gym shoe for me from now on.


Most of the things I did not like about this shoe came down to personal preference or glitches that don’t seem to bother everyone. I feel comfortable admitting that while this shoe is not for me, overall I think this is a solid option for a shoe on the more minimal end of the spectrum. Ground feel, flexibility, and weight make this shoe a real contender for those interested in speed. 

If you’ve worn this shoe, did you love it? Did you hate it? Let us know in the comments!


  1. Good read and review.

    Just to clarify one small detail. The Road-x 233 is 6mm drop, it's the Road-x 255 that's 9mm. Other than that, a really well thought out and detailed review.

    1. Thanks, Matt. Good catch! All corrected now. =)

    2. No problem!

      I have the 233's myself and love them. Went with the 6mm drop for now as I transition and work up to my first Marathon (wanted at least some cushioning!).

  2. hello, think my first reply has not been sent, so to do simple : to resolve the bump in the midfoot, you just needed to replace the insole by another one that is more flat, and no more bump... very good shoes with this correction.