When I got the box, I was greeted with the now familiar feeling of opening an Inov8 box; even the box feels good! When I pulled the shoes out, I didn't even get a chance to look at them before they were on my feet. That's the beauty of this shoe. You just want to put them on! However, once I'd had a chance to take them off and take a look, they feature much of the same innovations we're used to from Inov8; the Fascia Band and Metaflex feature prominently in most of their shoes, and likewise in the F-Lite 195. They are also surprisingly light (I know the 195 stands for 195grams, but just by looking at them, I expected a much more substantial shoe)
The midsole is the perfect blend of cushioning and low profile. They offer just enough to not be brutal on your feet, but still offer enough feel to really know what's going on underneath your feet. As you can see in the pictures above, they are thin enough to be very very flexible. One thing to note, and something that has changed on the newer 'non-classc' versions is the green pattern on the side. You can slightly feel that, especially if you take the insoles out, which is a very common thing to do in these shoes. I always keep them in though, so this was not a problem, but fair warning if you do; you may notice this in the classics.
The upper is made of a one-piece, lightweight mesh with plastic overlays. The overlays join the eyelets to offer security and support for your feet, and this was noticeable. My feet felt nicely held in for a shoe that is so light. The mesh is very breathable, which is excellent, specally if you want to wear them with barefeet, which I have found myself doing more and more lately. The protection around the toes is a nice touch, especially considering they were originally a lightweight trail shoe. The material on the toe-cap is surprisingly tough, but you don't feel it at all.
The outsole is very sticky, and when you look at it, you may not think much of it; however don't be fooled. As soon as you put these on, you can feel how well they have been designed. The rubber is however fairly soft, so I'm interested to see how this fares on the road, and in the gym. Aside from that, the flexibility remains a staple part of Inov8's philosophy - the foot controls the shoe.
As you can see from the photos I gave these a thorough testing. After 50 miles, they were still going strong. After 100 miles, they still were. After wearing them almost everyday to work, run and gym for 6 months, they are starting to wear. Which is fair enough. On the Classics, which is the version I have, the mesh seems to have a weak point where the toe-cap joins on. I am not the only one to experience this, as a lot of people I have spoken to have also had this. However, bear in mind, this is a lightweight, performance shoe. You should expect some wear and tear. And the new versions have addressed this, by changing the uppers and the toe-cap slightly. On my runs, they were light an comfortable, however, due to their performance last, my toes felt a little constricted to use these as an everyday shoe for training runs. The new versions also include an anatomic last in some models, which I think is an excellent addition to the range.. As a race shoe, they are spot on. In the gym, they are also great; doing leg work especially. Your feet feel very stable, but you still have some cushion. The outsole has worn, but it remains grippy, and since the triangular patterning has worn down, they are perhaps lasting a little longer than expected, as there is a larger surface area for the wear to occur on. Overall, I think the F-Lite 195 is a fantastic shoe, and now that the weak point in the mesh has been addressed, as well as the lasting, the series can only go from strength to strength.