Having run in the new Vibram Bikila Five Finger shoes for a week, I wanted to write a short shoe review to share my thoughts, pros and cons, and what I think of Vibram’s newest minimalist shoe.
After almost two years of running off & on with the Vibram Sprints, I wanted a shoe that would get more use. I was using the Vibram Sprints for Cross Country season for off-road and trail running, but reverted back to my Nike Air Pegasus for road running. When I read about the added features that the new Bikilas have with added cushion and more durable sole, I really wanted to try them out.
I’ve taken the Vibram Bikilas on pavement-only runs so far, and I’m very happy with the way they feel. They’ve given me the same boyish running enjoyment with their near-barefoot feel as the Sprints, but they go on a lot quicker; there’s no need for socks; they are much more comfortable; and they keep the dirt out of my toes!
Another positive side of the Fivefinger Bikila is that they look more like a running shoe than a gorilla foot…not that I’m overly influenced by aesthetics…but it is nice to have a “barefoot shoe” that looks more like a running shoe. The added reflective stripes, the cooler lightweight fabric on top of the foot, and the added anatomically-contoured sole traction pieces all come together for a really great minimalist running shoe.
The only downside I’ve found with them so far is they slightly rub my left heel that requires a touch of BodyGlide or Vaseline to keep my heel happy….not a show-stopper from my perspective. I’ve been running on pot-hole laden streets, sidewalks and they have held up just fine. I was concerned about their durability after reading a few durability review comments, but I’ve found them to be very well made.
I also read some conflicting sizing advice for the Vibram Bikila and wanted to add my experience into the mix. Taking a ruler against the baseboard and measuring each foot (see below…graphic ugly toe pictures…sensitive eyes beware!) , my feet are approximately 11”. I bought a size 43 and they fit great. I wouldn’t want them any tighter or looser. The fact that they are snug allows me to pull on the stretchy top fabric to quickly get them on. This is a huge plus for me over the Sprints which took me several minutes to don as I guided each toe into place.
Where to buy (you ask?): The price for the Vibram Bikila seems to be consistent amongst the reputable vendors (EMS, REI, Travel Country, Birthday Shoes, etc…). BEWARE OF COUNTERFITS…as VFFs grow in popularity so has the marketplace been flooded with knock-offs. If the price seems too good to be true…it probably is.
In summary, the Vibram Bikila is a winner. They’ve finally made a shoe that I would consider my new daily running shoe. Like the Sprints, they encourage a mid-foot / fore-foot strike and offer all the feel & freedom of being barefoot without the worry of getting a tetanus shot. I still haven't taken them on multi-hour runs, but my distance and confidence is growing in them with each run. If you’ve been hesitant to try the barefoot-running-thing, the Bikilas are the perfect shoes to give it a whirl in…it’ll make your old trainers feel like wooden clogs. Check out my Vibram Sprints Review for some additional insights on the VFF shoes and the benefits of “barefoot” running. Happy running!