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.