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).
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).