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Negative Reviews of Vibram FiveFinger Bikilas

Over the last couple months I have been doing extensive research on Vibram Five Fingers for running, and VFFs in general and I have come across a lot of really positive reviews. I have a friend who swears by his KSOs and another who practically sleeps in his Treks. (Strange, I don’t have any female friends who have converted to Vibram FiveFingers yet.) However, I am the only person I know who has Bikilas, which I bought specifically for the purpose of finding a running shoe that contributed to proper form, lessening back and knee pain. So far, and mind you, it’s only been just over a week of running in Five Finger shoes and about a month of barefoot running, I am pleased with the results. I am a fan of Bikila FiveFingers for running, and I know I’m not alone.

However, recently I came across two reviews of Vibram Five Fingers that specifically focused on the Bikila model, and were not positive.

The first Vibram Bikila review comes from Corey Nagle and was originally posted on MyFiveFingers.com. His first complaint against the Bikila model is the additional padding and increased design, which “perpetuate the myth that more is better than less.” He says, “My favorite pair of “not shoes” are beginning to look more and more like regular shoes with every new lineup. Before you know it, we’ll have FiveFingers with no toes.”

I can see Corey’s point. The article also explains how he is having trouble finding models other than Bikilas at local running shops, which is surely adding to his frustration. As someone who is trying to be as minimalist and barefoot as possible, Bikilas are a far cry from the Vibram classics (according to the specs, as you know at this point I only own the Bikilas).

The next FiveFinger review, which I found linked in one of the comments on Corey’s post comes from RustyPants.net. He lists the following reasons for not liking the Bikila model:

  • 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.

The post goes on to explain that running in FiveFingers has always been about the minimalist experience; mimicking barefoot as closely as possible. But, Bikilas, with additional padding and a thicker sole, make them seem more like a normal shoe than the rest of the Vibram toe shoe lineup. An update from 4 months after the inital post reveals that “Bikilas pander to those folks who want their VFF’s to be more shoe-like (including bells & whistles).”

Having only run in Bikilas and not never having any other model of Vibram FiveFinger shoes I can’t give a fair defense, but I can say for now I like them just fine. In fact, I think they’re downright dandy.

I am interested in getting another pair of VFFs for everyday wear. I really only bought the Bikilas because it was time for a new running shoe, and I was looking for something that would help my form, maybe lessen my knee pain, and encourage me to run more. I spend most of my days barefoot at home, and trained as a gymnast (obviously barefoot) from an early age. I hope to convince my husband to let me get a pair of Five Finger Sprints next, but I’d like to wait until I can try them on in a brick and mortar store, which won’t be until our next trip the to States, which is at least 6 months off. For now, I am going to keep loving my Bikilas and reading reviews of Five Fingers on the other models to help me decide what to get for my next pair of Vibrams.

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14 Comments

Marcus
Jun 16, 2011 at 10:31 pm

This is a very interesting topic to me. I also saw the article on the myfivefingers.com site, just before that article came out I had about the same conversation with some people about the Bikila.

Personally I own a pair of KSO’s and a pair of KSO TrekSport’s. I have been looking to get a third pair and I was planning to get a pair of Bikilas since I do so much road running. However I have been noticing a definite trend, I run better in my KSO’s than my TrekSports, and looking back, I have had more tendon issues running in my TrekSports than just my KSO’s.

The last longish run I did in my TrekSports I could tell I was landing harder because I was not getting as much ground feedback, and I now only ever run in my KSO’s, I still wear my TrekSports all the time hiking and to work, just not to run.

Overall, I think the Bikilas are better than running in normal shoes, and I think people should run in what is comfortable for them. But I have stopped suggesting anything but the KSO’s if people are going to run, you may think the pavement is going to kill your feet in them, but the opposite seems to be true.


 
Jackie
Jun 21, 2011 at 4:30 pm

Marcus, what is the difference on the sole in the KSO’s and the TrekSport’s? I haven’t looked into those models much. I was looking at the Sprint or the Classic as my next FiveFinger buy, since I already have a model with a little more meat to it.

This whole movement is quite new to me. I feel a little on the outside of the FiveFinger world, but I have the utmost respect for the barefoot running traditionalists. I am trying to learn enough to fit in here. So far though, I have found the community to be really accepting and helpful, perhaps because I am not trying to pretend to be something I’m not.


 
Marcus
Jun 21, 2011 at 10:28 pm

Two main things to look at

1) Look at the picture of the sole on the Vibram site, the ones that look almost bare on the bottom (like the sprint, classic & KSO) are the thin sole. Then look at the picture of the sole on the KSO TrekSport, they have an actual tread pattern to them for traction, thus a thicker sole. In the description of the Bikilas, they use the word “plating”, plating and barefoot don’t go together so well in my opinion :-)
2) In the descriptions of the shoes on the Vibram site, look at the thicknesses listed. The Sprint, Classic and KSO are all a fair amount thinner than the KSO TrekSport and the Bikila.

From what I can tell there is minimal differences between the Sprint, Classic and KSO, and they go in a progression. They all three have the same sole, the difference is as follows:

1) Classic: most basic model
2) Sprint: Same as the classic, but with a velcro strap across your foot to help keep the shoe tight.
3) KSO: Same as the Sprint, but with a very thin breathable fabric over the top of your foot to “Keep Stuff Out” (thats what KSO stands for).

My favorite is the KSO, but I am doing much more trail running where rocks could try to get in, also I live in the northern half of the USA, so I am guessing its a fair bit cooler than where you are, if heat is an issue you might want to opt for the Sprint’s.

Once again, don’t let people get you down for getting the bikilas, I firmly believe that any of the Vibram lineup is probably way better than the best of the typical running shoe lineup, we are just arguing about who is the best out of the best. Enjoy what you have, and don’t let people make you think you are inferior for only “pretending” to be barefoot because you have Bikilas, people who sit around all day and complain about what used to be, etc, just need to get out and run more!

BTW, I had a great 12 mile (19km) run this morning in my KSO’s, rained last night so it was nice and cool out. I love running in my Vibrams!


 
vibram fivefingers online
Sep 7, 2011 at 1:22 am

Oh, that’s a good idea!


 
nike store
Oct 12, 2011 at 3:33 pm

Hi there, I found your blog via Google while searching for a related topic, your site came up, it looks good.


 
adidas
Oct 15, 2011 at 1:13 am

I love sports, I love nature, I love the Vibram Five Fingers!


 
shoes
Nov 1, 2011 at 2:10 am

Hugging each one of your toes like a glove,Vibram Five Fingers
is the most innovative footwear choice on the market. Radically readdressing how footwear can be worn, the revolutionary shoe is specially designed so that the wearer has the impression of walking barefoot yet remains protected and safe.
Running Barefoot in Hong Kong


 
postal rates
Nov 27, 2011 at 12:56 pm

i love your blog, i have it in my rss reader and always like new things coming up from it.


 
Solomon Geasley
Jan 21, 2012 at 11:37 pm

I’d constantly want to be update on new posts on this web site, saved to bookmarks!


 
zip boop bop
Mar 13, 2012 at 4:17 am

After NewBalance discontinued my shoe a few years back, I’ve been looking for a new running shoe and although wanted to go more minimal, I hesitated at the VFFs. After pair after pair of disappointments in one way or another, I broke down and took the leap today and was one the road after only enough time to unlock my front door and throw the bag containing the shoe box inside. I had read a lot on what each pair was designed for and pros and cons and yada yada yada and decided to go with the komodosport ls. After about 1/4 mile of heavy flopping I had smoothed out to a normal sounding run. As strange as it sounds, I couldn’t believe how refreshing and liberating it felt to be able to feel the road…not to mention my ankle wasn’t popping every step. After the run(i figured a 3 miler was good for a first ride) I couldn’t make myself take them off for hours. Now I know 1 day in the VFFs doesn’t make me any kind of reliable source of information but I absolutely love the komodosport ls.


 
Kemal Sunal
Mar 26, 2012 at 4:12 am

Seeing your site I’m confident i might possibly know you from school, could happen to visit Tx Tech? In the event you did remember to shoot me an email so we are able to catch up it’s been quite a while! Anticipate talking to you and pray most will be well with you.


 
Alesha Billings
Mar 26, 2012 at 4:56 am

Lovely website! I am loving it!! Will come back again. I am taking your feeds also


 
Tom
Jun 12, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Love the shoes except for one thing. Dunno if it was the manufacturer or the store that did it, but when I got them there was a sticker on the inside of each shoe. They left a gummy residue that is bloody near impossible to get out, and my heels get stuck with each step and pop loose with each step. Hellishly annoying. When you pay this kind of money for a product, you don’t want to have to deal with something this mindless and irritating.


 

Once again another great article. I actually have a few things to ask you, would you have some time to answer them?


 

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