Tag Archives: barefoot running

Vibram Five Finger Bikila

after a couple months of saving up $$ and doing my homework on them, i finally broke down and bought a pair of Vibram Five Finger Bikila last weekend (Aug. 2010).

Vibram Five Finger Bikila

having owned the KSO‘s and the Classics, and having nothing but wonderful and incredible things to say about them, it’s with no small disappointment that i tell you: i’m not impressed.

i wanted to love them. seriously. when i started running in my KSO’s back in 2009, i thought Vibram could do no wrong. i was floored at the minimalist nature of them and the other models of Five Fingers. i’ve been nothing but a cheerleader and salesman for much of what Vibram has put out, and have not worn regular shoes but once in the past year – Five Fingers all the way! running, work, walking, working out – it’s all good.

but the Bikila? i was concerned even as i tried them on, walked around Sunset Shoes (Destin, FL), and ran up the block in them before purchasing them. they were tight. constricting. the soles were thick. there was a lot more padding / fabric overall.

but i bought them thinking, “oh, you just need to wear them around a bit, run in them a while, get used to them! quit being a baby!” and having the owner of the shoe store tell me how the Bikila are “the next big thing, quickly outselling all other Five Finger shoes, blah blah blah” helped move me to purchase them, too.

a week into it, involving wearing them two full days, plus running in them five nights (2-3 miles a night), i’m just not completely satisfied.


  • these suckers are more narrow than the KSO’s and a bit shorter, too. i sized up from the KSO (size 43) when i bought the Bikila (size 44), but they’re still pretty tight all around. very constricting.
  • the “plates” on the bottom are thicker than i was expecting, and as a result, there’s much less natural feel to wearing them and they’re less flexible. the KSO’s have a more natural flow to them and are significantly more flexible.
  • those “plates” also give more support, and it’s not what i was looking for with regards to running.
  • there’s a significant increase in the amount of padding / fabric at the heel and side of the Bikila, giving it a more shoe-like feel.
  • i don’t feel nearly as “in touch” with the road in the Bikila given the factors above, and it’s a noticeable difference.

now, the Bikila are NOT uncomfortable to run in. i’m ok with them and their performance, but it feels like a move in the opposite direction of minimalist footwear (or how about: a step backward). i’m certainly no expert, and my running is kept to several miles a night at best – for others, these things might be the cat’s pajamas. for me? i’ll continue to wear them and hope my opinion changes, but i wish i had bought another pair of KSO’s to replace my green pair that got a hole in them during the Urban Adventure Race last month.

if things change, i’ll let you know. for now: KSO’s are still my favorite minimalist running shoe.

Sept 10, 2010 update: after almost a month with the Bikilas, having logged 50+ running miles in them, plus several more days of wearing them all day, my initial review stands. they’re not uncomfortable, but they’re not what i expected and they’re just too much shoe.

December 10, 2010 update: still running occasionally in the Bikilas and wear them to work frequently, but assessment stays the same: for running, KSO’s rock. Bikilas pander to those folks who want their VFF’s to be more shoe-like (including bells & whistles).

FiveFingers, Five Stars: Running, Pt. 1

after 3 weeks of wearing the Vibram FiveFinger KSO’s, it’s time to write a review and recap some highlights – but first, some history:

i started running back in august of this year (’09). i was nervous about running for several reasons:

  • i’ve not done any kind of running in the past 25 years (and i’m 41 now)
  • the few times this past summer that i’d tried to run, my knees / back would stop me
  • i’ve lost 40lbs since may but am still overweight – i didn’t want this to end up being a failure and get discouraged with the other things i’m doing to improve my health (at 245 right now, i’m shooting for another 25-30lbs to go)
  • i have a form of arthritis that can flare up unexpectedly, and has put me out of commission for days or weeks in years past when it hits my knees or ankles (in a physical mobility sense)
  • for most practical purposes, without my hearing aids, i hear nothing but extremely loud noises, and cannot wear them when i’m sweating (how to sense cars coming behind, etc)
  • it was something new and i wasn’t sure i really wanted to do it

but i realized that most of these were excuses. like with all the other changes i’ve made this past year, i did some extensive research on running, spoke to several people who are runners, plotted out my strategy, and went with it. i went and bought a pair of New Balance running shoes, took it slow (walking, then running, then more running and less walking, finally running 3 miles a night without walking), and really came to enjoy it.

well, kinda.

i was doing well with the act of running itself, but my ankles, knees, hips, and back were just exhausted after each run. i mean, i was wiped! and the next day these joints were hollering more than just soreness. i figured this came with the territory and decided to just run my way through it.

and finally i had to stop running for a couple weeks because it just hurt too much. my knees were killing me and i was losing sleep from the pain at night.

i did what i normally do: i brooded a couple days, then started researching what went wrong.

and the only answer i could come up with is that i was slamming down on my heels with each stride – it’s what i remember doing when i was playing sports, right? heel-to-toe? and all that weight slamming down, jolting the rest of me on the way back up.

now let me say this: i’m not here to argue proper form (and thank God for that – others more qualified can do that and actually give a damn). for me, it’s the only thing i could figure.

so i started looking into barefoot running – it seemed natural for me, both in form and comfort (i’ve worn only Birkenstocks for 12+ years now and when i’m not wearing my birks, i’m wearing nothing).

and this led me to Vibram FiveFinger KSO’s.

part two is coming right up!