The Inov-8 Road-X 233 boasts protective cushioning and a moderate offset in an otherwise low-profile package.
Though the 233 may appear to be a pretty low shoe, the midsole offers its fair share of leg-saving features. The injected EVA midsole offers a bit more cushioning and protection than compression molded foams, without significantly sacrificing feel for the road. A moderate 6mm heel-to-toe offset promotes a mid-to-forefoot strike while helping to reduce lower leg strain compared to a zero drop design.
Though the sticky rubber outsole features very fine siping to increase flexibility, we found the platform to be on the stiffer side, due to the Dynamic Fascia Band running through the midfoot and under the metatarsals. Our testers reported a snappy toe-off, aided by the rebound of the stiff band as it returned to shape.
We’re fans of the 233’s fit. A roomy toebox is non-constrictive and can provide refuge for those with a wider forefoot, while a snugger midfoot and heel fit keep your foot locked into the shoe to offer a secure and confident fit. There are few seams within the upper, and the soft material results in limited friction on the foot.
Though we liked the secure fit and responsive ride of the 233, we would like to see this shoe a bit lighter to serve as a speedwork or racing shoe. The 233 will serve well as a low-profile trainer or as a transitional shoe for runners looking to move into more minimal options, as the forgiving 6mm offset and relatively soft cushioning put this shoe in a middle ground between more barefoot-style options and traditional trainers.
The 233 isn’t the most flexible shoe; the rigid bands running through the midfoot stiffen the shoe up quite a bit but result in a nice snappy rebound during toe-off.
The injected EVA of the 233 feels denser than traditional midsoles. I found the cushioning to be softer than other shoes with similar stack heights.
Though the outsole lacks a tread pattern, the rubber used is very sticky and provides plenty of grip.