The latest addition to inov-8’s growing graphene range is the Roclite. It has already enjoyed its moment in the limelight by being on Jasmin Paris’s feet during her historic Spine Race win in January. Apparently she wore just one pair for the whole of the race. We’ve been given a pair for review so we thought we’d bring you a first look, before doing a full review in the coming weeks.
The Roclite 275 – the version on Jasmin Paris’s feet – has an 8mm drop and weighs in at 275g, as the name suggests. It obviously has the graphene sole, which has 6mm lugs. It also boasts the Powerflow midsole for shock absorption and the Metaplate for underfoot protection.
It’s worth noting that while the 275 seems to be the main Roclite shoe inov-8 is promoting, there are two other graphene versions of the Roclite which are worth looking at to see which suits you best. There’s a 290 version, which has a lower drop (4mm) and, although it’s marginally heavier at 290g, it’s a bit more pared back and ‘racey’. The lugs are still 6mm and graphene infused, so the grip will be the same, it’s just a lower drop and there’s a bit less protection around the upper. There’s also a 315 GTX version for those wanting a Gore-Tex waterproof shoe.
Despite being light the Roclite 275 feels like a very sturdy shoe. There’s a lot of protection around the shoe, particularly round the toe bumper. The mesh on the top of the shoe seems very robust and the upper is designed not to absorb water and be quick draining. There are rubberised parts of the upper which feel very protective and heavy duty. It certainly feels a lot more solid than the previous version of the Roclite, which was already pretty solid (although the mesh did start to wear in places on mine). Another change from the previous version is that the laces are now held in place by blue paracord loops, which allow you to get a slightly closer fit on the top of the shoe. The laces are also rounded now, rather than flat, if you’re a lace geek.
The soles are very similar to the previous Roclite soles, except for the fact that they’re now made of rubber with graphene in. This makes them strong and more flexible but the key thing for me is that it should make them a lot tougher and last a lot longer. The Roclite is, inov-8 say, their most versatile run and fast-hike shoe range with an outsole that can master all terrains, but what I’m really interested in is how it performs and lasts on hard, rocky surfaces, which tend to be the harshest on soles. My pair of the previous version of Roclites has quite a lot of wear on the sole, particularly on the heel, so it’ll be interesting to see how these new soles compare. I’ve also been told they are grippier on wet rock – the trickiest of all surfaces – so I look forward to testing this out.
As well as being sturdy and having good grip, these shoes are also designed for comfort. It’s quite hard to pull off comfort and grip but they do feel very comfortable straight from the box. But we obviously need to get some long runs in before we can make a judgement on this. I did have to experiment a bit with the lacing on my first run with them, to get the top of my foot comfortable in the shoe, but otherwise the toe box is roomy and they feel cushioned on the run, as you’d expect.
We’ll be testing out the new Roclites over the coming weeks and putting as many miles on them as we can. We’re really interested to see what the grip is like on wet rock in particular, and how the upper stands up to weather, ground conditions and general abuse. The inov-8 graphene shoes do have a slightly higher price tag (these are £130) so they ideally need to be longer-lasting than their non-graphene counterparts to justify that. We look forward to finding out!
Find out more about the new inov-8 Roclite 275