Tuesday, November 23, 2010

F-Lite 195 Shoe Review

Worlds Lightest Trail Racer?  I can't be sure that is true but I do know one thing...these new Inov-8 F-lite 195's are worth giving a try.  I didn't try them out until late in my 2010 season but when I finally did break them out of the box I instantly fell in love.

Basically they are a stripped down version of their predecessor F-lite 230's.  Some of the major differences are:  The F-lite 195's feature a 3mm differential between the forefoot and the heel (compared to the 6mm in the 230's) and a 3mm footbed inside of the shoe (instead of a 6mm).  Also this new model protects the underfoot with a shoc-zone of 1 rather than a 2 in the F-lite 230's.  (For more information on shoc-zone's click HERE).  The bottom of the shoes sport the same tread as their predecessor 230 that includes the sticky rubber for wet conditions.

The result of this "stripping down" process is having your foot even closer to the ground in its most stable and natural position like Inov-8 claims.  I must say I can attest to this claim after having run hundreds of miles in the F-lite 230's.  When I put on the F-lite 195's I could immediately tell the difference even before I ran a mile in them. 

In my last race of the season (The Lithia Loop Trail Marathon) I laced up the F-lite 195's and was extremely impressed by the level of comfort and super light weight (just under seven ounces).  In my opinion they are very aesthetically pleasing as well.   If you're in the market for a minimalist shoe for hard pack trails that allow your feet to hug the ground and do what they are supposed to then look no further.  These sleek slipper-like trail shoes definitely agree with my foot.  Here is a quick list of pros and cons:

Pros:  Lightweight, comfortable, very low profile, good for a variety of different trails and roads, very breathable and drain well, aesthetically pleasing 

Cons:  Sticky rubber wears out quickly, not great in soft, sloppy conditions, the uppers have been known to rip by the pinky toe

Enjoy this shoe and if you have any questions or would like to share your experience with them I'd love to hear from you!  :-)


David Henry said...

I would completely concur with your thoughts on these shoes Yassine. I've been using my pair more and more recently and have been impressed with their ability to be responsive and protective on both trails and road. They seem to work great for hardpack trails and mixed runs. I even ran in 12 degree temps in them today and they hooked up great on the snow and were stable enough with their low profile to enable me to feel the ground well, and yet still gave me enough warmth to be comfortable. The shoe does just about everything pretty well while not really specializing in any one application. My only concern with these has been tread wear life. It seems like a trade off for it being a sticky rubber. Have you run through a pair of these yet? How many miles did you get out of them?

Candice said...

Great report. The 195s were my first choice, but I was unable to find them in my size so I ordered the 230s which have been great! A big upgrade to the Nike free. I used the 230s at Cascade Locks/Eagle Creek 50K course James' will be putting on in March, it's mostly dry and in parts rocky trails (you are probably familiar with), the 230s were perfect.

Yassine said...

@David: I have not run through a pair yet....I only have about 100 miles on mine...Lookin' forward to putting some more miles on them soon :-)

@Candice: You will love this shoe...and yes I do know those trails...maybe I'll see you out there in March!

.:Ash:. said...

Thanks for this great review. I hadn't read a thorough one yet. And, the one you've written here definitely makes me want to purchase a pair of these sometime soon. My f-lite 230s are still holding together well for me. And, I love them every time I wear them. So, I'm looking forward to the day I finally get around to wearing the 195s. I wonder, though, if the 3mm drop in heel height will require some sort of transition period for me. What do you think?

Yassine said...

@ Ash: I don't think so...I think if you run in the 230's already that your foot is ready for the 195...maybe alternate them on runs at first...I usually rotate shoes that I wear anyway...but that's just me :-) thanks for reading...i checked out your site too!

Mark Lundblad said...

Nice review Yassine. I agree with you that the transition should not be too much of an issue from the 230 to the 195. Maybe trying the 6mm insert in the 195's every other run for a while but otherwise the rotation idea is also a good one.

Great year of racing, congrats!

Anonymous said...

ok so the shoe has a total drop of 6mm? 3 from the shoe itself and 3 from the insole?

Anonymous said...

How many miles did you end up getting out of these?

Anonymous said...

I have not owned the 195s, but have thoughts about the 230 which may assist those of you considering purchase of a shoe by Inov-8.

I have owned a pair of the Inov-8 F-lite 230s for well over a year. After gradually transitioning to them over a period of several months, they are now my primary shoe, getting 50-75mi month.

First off, I LOVE them. Favorite shoes I've ever owned. They are well suited to trail, road, lifting, and fashion (they still look nearly new despite having ~500 miles on them!). They may not do any one thing extraordinarily well, but they do everything well enough.

Some background on me...I'm an efficient runner and a fairly light ~160lbs at over 6ft tall. I log mileage similar to many of you out there, consistently 20-30mi week. Mostly road, once weekly track, and occasional trail.

Despite being lightish and efficient and despite loving this shoe, I can't imagine going down a step in cushioning.

I DO recommend you purchase Inov-8. However, if you have any concerns as to whether the 195 will provide adequate cushioning, go with the 230. It is still very light, has proven to be very durable, and has the versatility to run on road.