Saturday, July 4, 2009

Reebok Taikan IB vs Vibram Five Fingers

I may not be running much, but that doesn't mean I can't buy more shoes! A week ago I bought two new shoes: Reebok Taikan IB (road racer) and Vibram Five Fingers (barefoot style shoe). I got the Reebok shoe because I found it on sale for $33 at Running Warehouse. I bought the Vibram because I've wanted a pair for 2 years, but didn't want to buy without trying them on--now a local store carries them. I can now do an early review of each...

The Reebok Taikan IB road racer is supposed to be a lightweight, low to the ground, road racing shoe. It is light and fairly flexible, but the heel is built up too much. I expected a true racing flat and it appears to be more of a basic lightweight road trainer. The bright red color sure attracts attention and it does motivate you to run fast (haven't tested the speed part since I'm still sidelined with a knee injury). The sizing seems to run a bit small (I got my standard size 13 and it fits a little tight)--this may be intentional since it's supposed to be a racing shoe and those usually fit tight like a glove. Overall, I think the shoe is "OK," but I am disappointed it's not more of a racing flat like my beloved Mizuno Revolver. I'll pull them out of the closet for fast workouts and short road races. I give the shoe 3 stars out of 5.

The Vibram Five Fingers shoe is very cool. Coach Jeff has had a pair for around 3 years. I've been hesitant to get them since I wanted to try them on first. No local store carried them until a few months ago. I went in, tried them on, and bought them right then and there. They are awesome. I ended up with the KSO ("Keep Stuff Out"). It has a full mesh top to the shoe while the Classic is just a slipper and the Sprint is a slipper with a velcro strap on top. I have worn them to work for a full day (lots of looks and comments!), walked around the house, and done several trail walks with them. Nothing too serious yet and no running at all. I intend to run our local 5-mile trail soon (once my knee feels better). As you can see in the picture, the main feature of these "barefoot style" shoes is their 5 fingers (like a glove for your foot). It's odd at first, but you quickly get used to the feel of having your toes separated and independent. I have worn them barefoot and also with Injinji toe socks. They are comfortable both ways. When the weather turns colder, I'll probably wear them with socks, for now, I switch back and forth from day to day. These shoes MAKE YOU walk and run correctly. No heel landings for you! You'll automatically land on your forefoot. You'll keep your knees bent a bit. You'll take shorter & faster strides. These are perfect companions for POSE or ChiRunning. I encourage you to try these shoes. Why not give your toes some freedom on this Independence Day? Remember the sizing is a bit odd...I wear a size 13 shoe and ended up with size 46 in the Vibrams. They have a chart on their web site to guide you through the sizing process. I give this shoe a 5-star rating!

NOTE: While I'm not totally enamored by the Taikan shoe, I am totally impressed by Running Warehouse. I've bought several pairs of shoes from them over the last 2-3 years and NEVER had a problem. They ship fast (and free), have great prices, and even offer free return shipping. If you go to their web site via the All American Trail Running Association, you'll receive an EXTRA 15% off their prices...even their sale prices!

UPDATE on January 9, 2011: The Reebok racing shoe has been given to Goodwill.  I barely ran 50 miles in them.  They never felt right. The Vibram KSO has gotten better and better with time.  I like it quite a bit.  Bought two more pairs of VFFs--the Bikila and the TrekSport.  All three are nice "shoes" with very good ground feel, little cushioning, and almost no arch support.  The KSO is the closest to being barefoot, but the other two models (Bikila and TrekSport) provide a bit more protection and cushioning--if that's what you want or need.

6 comments:

Ragfield said...

Very interesting. I've also been interested in the Vibram shoes for a couple years, but they are a little more expensive than I expected--not prohibitively so, but more than I would be willing to drop without trying them on. Which store is selling them?

-Rob

Heidi said...

I'm interested in the Vibrams as well. I went on a shoe buying spree (all on sale, of course!) recently and one of the ones I picked up was Saucony Kilkenny XC2's for $19 from Eastbay.com; not sure if the sale is still on but it may be. Running Warehouse is fantastic!

Chris said...

Champaign Surplus has three versions of the Vibram shoes: Classic, Spring, and KSO. I think the regular prices are: $75, 80, and 85 respectively. Kinda pricey. Maybe they'll go on sale some day? On the web I've seen them as low as $65 in the past.

510joe said...

Chris,
I also use running warehouse (when I can't go through my local running store of course). Free 2 day shipping and when shoes don't fit I can send them back free and have received a different size again free all in the span of a week. That would've cost me around $30 through Road Runner Sports.

Chris said...

Running Warehouse is great! I still prefer my local running store for many things, but at times, I can't pass up the best deals on the web. And often, web stores have items that my local shop doesn't carry.

Stylo Geek said...

Reebok Taikan IB is one stylish and comfortable shoe. The white and red combination looks awesome. Its a perfect gift, I hope someone will give me this shoe as a gift. Its available at just $62.90 .. You can also look for more varieties of Reebok