Thursday, June 10, 2010

Review of Vibram Bikila Shoe

I've now had my new Vibram FiveFinger Bikila shoes for 2 weeks.  Probably run about 50 miles in them, mostly on trails.  They are a great shoe!  I typically wear size US13 in shoes and I already had a pair of Vibram KSOs in EURO46.  I bought the Bikilas in the same size 46.  That was the correct choice.  They fit a little tighter in the toes than the KSOs, but a little looser in the heel.  They feel a bit tighter in the midfoot/arch area as well--it might be the fabric is less stretchy than the KSO upper.  Overall, the fit works fine for me.  My KSOs are also just fine.  This is the first Vibram model specifically designed for runners.  Here is a quote form the Vibram web site:

Unlike any running shoe on the market today, the Bikila is a breakthrough product that encourages a more natural, healthier, and more efficient forefoot strike. While many folks have been running in their Vibram FiveFingers for years, the Bikila is our first model designed specifically for a more natural running experience.

Built on an entirely new platform, the Bikila features a Dri-Lex® covered 3mm polyurethane insole (thickest under the ball) and a 4mm anatomical pod outsole design that offers more plating protection, and distributes forefoot impact without compromising important ground feedback essential to a proper forefoot strike running form. A more athletic padded collar and topline, a single hook and loop closure, 3M reflective surfaces, and tear resistant TPU toe protection finish off this breakthrough design.

For me, the BIGGEST difference between the KSOs and the new Bikila is the extra cushioning in the forefoot of the Bikila.  It almost seems luxurious.  At first I was worried about losing ground feel (which you do), but now I enjoy the extra padding.  More purists may find the loss of feel frustrating.  I think the EVA foam will compress after about 100 miles and it'll be just slightly more cushiony the the KSOs.  Another difference is the overall seamless nature of the "sockliner" or shoe interior.  The Bikila is VERY comfortable.  I think Vibram will have a best seller on its hands with the new Bikila.  The shoe looks great, the bottom pods are really cool and they seem to provide a touch of extra flexibility and cushioning at the same time.

For comparison purposes, here is a ranking of my main "minimalist" shoes from most minimal and greatest ground feel to least minimal (but still OK ground feel):

Barefoot > Feelmax Osma > Vibram KSO > Vibram Bikila > Mizuno Wave Universe 3 > New Balance 790

For more information, Birthday Shoes has a very good and thorough review of the Vibram FiveFingers Bikila.


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AWIE said...

hi, im from singapore..i would like to know if there is vibram size US13-15?

Chris said...

Not sure how large VFFs go...but they have my size US13 covered and they have at least one size larger.

Chelsea said...

You've done a good job on your review about the Vibrams. You've discussed the features very well! I've read quite a few blogs already..but yours is of good quality.

Eason said...

I need some advice:
I tried on the size 40 and 41. The 40 is a tad bit tight and hard to put on, while the 41 is a little loose but easy to put on. Which one should I go for? Thanks.

Chris said...


I would go with the larger size. If it is slightly big, you can always add a toe sock to make it fit better. If it is too small, it'll affect your running style and comfort.

Peter said...

I've been running in both KSOs and Bikilas--about 15 to 18 miles/week--I've had issues in the past with Morton's Neuroma which the KSOs seemed to resolve. The Bikilas have changed it (although no more hip, back and knee pain). Do you know if anyone else has had experience with this? Essentially, it's just forefoot numbness (but different from the absolute discomfort felt in "normal" running shoes without metatarsal pads).

Chris said...

I don't have any experience with that sort of numbness in any shoe. I used to get a bit of forefoot numbness on my totally barefoot runs, but I think it was just the extra sensitivity of being barefoot and landing on the forefoot. That doesn't happen anymore unless it's wet and cold.

Anonymous said...

Hello everyone, I bought my first pair of Vibrams today and rather than following the sizing chart and ordering a pair online, I thought it best to actually trek out to a store that carried the shoe to try on a few pairs and make sure I got the right fight. I have a narrow foot and typically wear a US men's 8 1/2 so I started of by trying the bikila mens size 40. It felt perfect around my foot but my toes were touching at the tips and I worried about blistering. I moved on to the 41 which felt like the right amount of room at the toes but felt much looser around the foot, especially the heel. Fortunately, the salesperson who was helping me new his stuff and suggested I try on one of the women's sizes. He must of noticed my reluctance at first so he explained that they're essentially exact in every way to the men's shoe except that they're slightly narrower. The women's size 41 ended up being the perfect fit.