Cut the Cord – Vibram Five Fingers Classics Strap Removal [modification]

Some have wondered how a pair of Classic Vibram Five Fingers would function if you removed the elastic bungee cord strap that cinches behind the heel — is it possible? Advisable? Will the Classic Vibrams stay on your feet? Learn more about this permanent modification to your Classics Vibram Five Fingers!

WARNING! This modification will irrevocably change your Classic Vibram Five Fingers! Proceed with caution*, fully knowing that a more casual and comfortable pair of Classic Vibrams awaits you should you choose to proceed …

(I cover just about everything written below in a video at the bottom, you can skip straight to that if you prefer a visual demonstration!)

The thought of cutting the elastic bungee cord band — one of the hallmark traits of Classic Vibram Five Fingers — has crossed the mind’s of many a Vibram Five Fingers fans. And a few have even already taken the leap and cut the cord.

Reasons for cutting the elastic band on a perfectly good pair of Classic Vibram Five Fingers are fairly clearcut:

  • You never cinch the strap, anyway, and that bit of elastic on the front of your instep is just “there” enough to be annoying.
  • You’ve got multiple pairs of fivefingers, and you use your Classics for less strenuous, less jerky activities — you can’t foresee needing the bungee cinched in the future.
  • You just want to make your Classic VFFs, the “flip-flops” of the Vibram world, that much more comfortable

That said, actually throwing caution to the wind and cutting the cord is easier said than done. It takes scissors and it takes guts.



Vibram Five Fingers Classics in Castlerock Grey and Green pre-strap removal modficationVibram Five Fingers Classics in Castlerock Grey and Green post-strap removal modficationVibram Five Fingers Classics in Castlerock Grey and Green post-strap removal modfication
  • Slip those scissors around the cord and snip it
  • Cut the cord!
  • Hold the VFF in one hand and yank that cord outta there!
  • Relish in your strapless VFFs! Enjoy putting them on easily with no hands!

Done! Dance a jig!

I’ve now done this mod on two of my pairs of Classics and they are still perfectly capable of handling any walking, basic jogging (not sprinting!), and weight lifting/bodyweight workouts.

Vibram Five Fingers Classics Cord Removal — Video

Here’s a video documenting how I cut the cord on a pair of basically new Classic FiveFingers in the new Castlerock Grey/Green color combination. Forgive any video missteps as it was necessarily done in a single take!

For the record, Vibram is pronounced v-eee-brum but I just slipped up in the video.

If anyone decides to cut the cord on their Classics, or if you’ve already one this mod, please share with the community by commenting below!

* Though it almost goes without saying, this mod will affect Vibram’s warranty/return policy! Proceed with caution!

By Justin

Justin Owings is a deadlifting dad of three, working from Atlanta. When he's not chasing his three kids around, you'll find him trying to understand systems, risk, and human behavior.

43 replies on “Cut the Cord – Vibram Five Fingers Classics Strap Removal [modification]”

I had to have one pair of classics replaced due to bad seams after about a month. When I got my new classics, I went down one size and they fit great. I think after the warrantee is up on them (or at least getting close) I will cut the cord on them. (I never tighten it)

I would cut the cord now if it did not affect the warrantee.

Thanks for the suggestion.


I never cinch up my Classics either. I did at first but that was actually very uncomfortable for me. Leaving them “loose” is a perfect fit for my feet, though; good for me for all day wearing and jogging/running alike.

In November I rescued a dog. Three months later I came home to one of my five fingers with no elastic tab. She broke the elastic, chewed off the tab and the rubber that is high on the heal. Since I no longer had elastic on one I cut the elastic on the other. I like them better than when they had elastic.


Ah yeah… already been down that road. Got my Classics, my first VFFs, back in September? Wore ’em for a couple days, the length was good but the cord just cut into the top of my foot, even with it let out all the way. Don’t think it was more than a week after I got them, I’d cut the cord out. Much, much better.

And… you can always go back if need be. Get some elastic cord again, could even use the same tensioner, just need something different to hold the ends together; won’t have the factory ‘tab’.

I have taken the plunge!

Actually very early on when I got my 1st pair, back in Early 2009, one of the first things I looked up was whether anyone else had cut the cord. I think that might have been how I found this site, who knows, but it immediately appealed to me and I cut em with no remorse. I didn’t even have any other pairs yet (I now own 5) so maybe I was crazy BUT I do love them much more without the cord. I’m sure it’s not right for everyone but I for one can say it improved my classics significantly. I’ve even mastered the no hands method for getting em on!


Why doesn’t Vibram just make it removable and easy to reattach? Problem solved. I don’t like the cord either but I did some intense trail running today and for me it was important to not have my VFFs sliding off my heels, not only for speed and accuracy but also for safety reasons.

I don’t own any Classics (just KSO & Sprint), but it occurs to me that you should be able to cut it and re-thread it later with the cut parts in the back of the cinch (hard to explain without an image, but hopefully you “get the picture”).

I’ve experienced the same problem with the cord cutting into the top of my foot but I didn’t want to change the look of my classics. So instead of cutting the cord, I cut off the plastic tensioner at the heal. That put enough slack in the cord that it no longer bothered me, and I still have the vibram tab. This might be a first option to try before going β€œall the way”.

So I’m a dork and feel I “must” say that I saw a video that was posted a few months ago…maybe from here? I don’t remember. The CEO of Vibrams was interviewed and though I’ve heard much debate on just how, exactly, to pronounce Vibrams, he says it Vee-brams, not VI-Brams. So in my head that’s how it’s done. I just thought I’d let ya know…maybe you say VI-brams on purpose? Please don’t hate me. πŸ˜‰

He says it at 6:52

I like the baby stroller in the background of your video, clearly stating YOU are DAD! Or that you steal baby strollers… πŸ˜‰

On two of my four pairs of Classics the cord was too tight. Instead of cutting the cord, I removed the tightener thingy on the back. The cord and the Vibram tag remains intact. With the tightener removed it allows the cord about an inch more room and loosens it up considerably. This is a less severe mod and makes mine fit perfectly.


You’re right – it’s Veeb like “dweeb” πŸ™‚

That said, I think most people say “Vibe.” I know for the longest time I just assumed the “Vibe” in “Vibram” had something to do with reducing “vibration” with the rubber. Wrong.

Anyway, I tend to go back and forth saying it both ways (I think I even did this in the video!). In the end … you say tomato …


So is the elastic still useable without the cinch-dealio?

GUTS, Indeed!

For my (pretty narrow) feet, the strap is pretty essential. I could *maybe* in the future consider cutting the cord, but I could not see myself doing that anytime soon.

I do appreciate your QUALITY vid though! πŸ™‚ I actually had not considered any hack on the Clasics until you brought the subject up and I could see how certain feet out there would prefer it.

I also appreciate the ease (or was that a taunt?) in which you slipped your Classics on. *JEALOUS* LOL!

I too found that the elastic in my Classics left the inner top of my forefott sore. Scared to make a drastic commentment, I too was skeptical about cutting the elastic. As Shawn and CurtisNull commented, I decided to alter the the tensioner. By applying pressure to both sides of the tensioner (as if looking head on at the back of the shoe/Vibramtab) I was able to drop the little disc inside the tensioner housing out. This gave me just enough slack to provide comfort and a secure fit. The best past is, the disc can be saved and slipped back in by applying pressure in the same manner that you removed it. This a delicate operation as you can see that this stress can break the tensioner if not careful. If anyone would like pictures I can take some.
**In addition, I found my pants to always get hung up on the free floating Vibram tag on the rear of the shoe. My local VFF retailer (Xenia Shoe and Leather Xenia, Oh -Thanks much!!!) sewed a piece of velcro to the tab and then onto the rubber on the heal allowing me to fold the tab down and secure it. It is now, in my opinion, the absolute perfect pair of Classics.**

I had to do something to my Classics as the elastic cut so perfectly into the tendon of my big toe on the top of my foot, that it actually produced a pain in my arch! So, I cut off the tag trying to salvage the strap and the tensioner, but it finally broke free in the washer (they were smelling something awful!!). So now I have decided to just buy a pair of KSOs for Crossfit and chill in my Classics.

Next time if you cut the cords, put in the usual super villain music for more emphasis of the moment πŸ˜€

I always say it “v-eye-bram” because I think “veeebram” is just harder to say, if that makes sense. It takes more mouth and facial muscles to say it, lol. Plus, “veeebram” sounds stupid. Seriously, it does. No offense to anyone, btw. πŸ˜‰

Thanks Romie…. I just did this mod and do like it. (Removing the little disk from the tensioner in the back).

It loosens the strap just a little and allows it to sit snug against the shoe. It also makes it easy to flip the tab over backwards (so it is under tension to flip back against the shoe) and it holds the tab down fairly well.

Anyway – it is a great intermediate step and easily reversible.


another option for those of you who the best of both worlds would be to cut the cord that comes with the shoe and then use a pair of speed laces. they have an aglet (the little plastic thingy) on them so you can fairly easily run them in and out of the shoes as you like. they also come with tensioners and they are bungee so you can tighten them as much as you like for more active use.

For those of us with big Fred Flintstone/caveman/Silver-back/Hobbitt feet… Has anyone removed the strap from KSO’s???? I’m thinking about it.

ok, figured out how to do this mod and make it reversible so you no longer need the guts card. πŸ˜‰

Take off classics and put them toes facing away from you. Tools needed are a decent size flat head screwdriver and a small set of diagonal cutters (wire cutters).

insert the screwdriver in the back slot of the plasic tensiner and twist gently. This is the back where the cors come out twords the vibram tab. As you twist, push the tensioner button down and back. It will slide right out the back.

Now use the diagonals and snip the plasic at the front and back of the slot on top. Don’t cut out a piece (elongating the slot), just snip a break through the plasic.

Now it is easy to slide the cord through the break in the top of the teasioner. The cord will be so loose, you cannot tighten the tab against the shoe by pulling the cord.

If you dont like the feel, or plan to do activities needing a more snug fit, just snap the tensioner back on, and with the elasic cord on each side of the tensioner, put the little button/wheel back in place that you removed in the first step.

Happy Modding,


Excellent; I’ glad the mod worked for you McLoki.

Justin, I am putting some quick shots together and will post shortly. Is there an easy way to put the pics directly in my post or will I need to just provide a link?


I just cut the cord last week thanks to this motivational post. Like many other VFF Classics owners above, I felt like doing it earlier. So THANK YOU for the post; it helps when someone else tells you to “cut the cord!” πŸ™‚

They feel much more comfortable post-surgery. HOWEVER, when cutting them, I actually attached a thin shoelace to one end of the elastic cord before I pulled it out. Now I have a lace to tighten in the back which is much less painful (I used to get a thick red mark cutting right across a vein just above my big toe with the standard system). I just played 2 hours of racquetball last night in the new mod. (My ego wants me to add that I obliterated my opponents through two games….. but my humility wants to admit that my last two games we lost due to repeated brainless mistakes)

SUGGESTION: I suggest adding a thin lace in the place of the elastic if you still want an athletic-friendly option. The thinner the better…plus you can always take it out if you don’t like it! πŸ™‚

I just got my first pair of vibrams and they are classics, I love em except I am getting a bit of chafing on my Achilles tendon from the heel flap. Will cutting the cord reduce the amount that the heel flap will rub against my Achilles Tendon?


My Achilles on both feet hurt for about the first 3 or 4 days mainly due to rubbing (and the fact that I refused to take them off until I went to bed). But after the 4th day or so, the pain went away and I have absolutely no problems. My advice is to just give it some time and also give your feet some rest during the day. Your Achilles will eventually adapt and you won’t have any problems.

If you don’t notice a difference, then consider making some mods, but I prefer the conservative approach.

Hope that helps.

I may have to try this. My achilles heel actually feels bruised because of how my classics fit in the heel, and going a size up is no option. I never thought of making a modification, so glad for this site!

I haven’t like the tab at the heal….it always wore a blister on my achilles….so I figured nothing to loose in cutting the cord….but NO, now the right shoe slips off my heel with every step. Cutting the cord actually completely ruin them for me. I wanted my money back before — and now I really do!
I do love my KSO Treks however! And I’m looking forward to the new running show. This “classic” has a poor design with the tab!!!

I’m wondering if I need an added dose of guts and cut the flap, ha. Other than that the classics fit my foot perfect, at the unloosened state the heel never comes loose. The only problem I am having is the flap digging into my Achilles, and it seems to bother my left more than my right. If I buy another pair maybe I’ll summon up the courage to try modding it, for now I guess I’ll just try to acclimate, it’s only been 4 days since I got it.

I would NOT suggesting cutting the cord UNLESS the shoes are already rather tight. I cut the cords on mine and now the right shoes slips off my heal with every step.

I cut the cord almost immediately after i got my classics. These are my low key shows, I like them with as little as possible on them. I haven’t looked back since those two snips. Do it.

I just cut the tensioner from my elastic cord, and now my classics feel like glorious slippers! I still have the elastic and the Vibram tab, but cutting off that bit of plastic makes them feel perfect- and they don’t look like they have been modified at all!
Thanks for the tip you guys!!

Just wanted to comment that after having my Classics for only 2 days… I cut the tensioner from my elastic cord too. What a difference that has made! Now… I just need my Achilles on my right heel to adjust (feels fine with a band-aid for padding) and everything will be PERFECT! πŸ™‚ Thank you so much for the tips!

The cord was driving me nuts. Just didn’t fit right me right and made the top of my foot sore. Snip Snip and now they are the most comfortable shoes I own. I wear them every day.

Been wearing Classics for about 5 months straight now. When I first got them I instantly starting wearing a hole in the peak of the top of my foot, behind my big toe, under the elastic cord. Eventually it healed up, but there’s a red mark and a bit of scar tissue that have persisted to this day. Well, a few days ago, the cord started bothering me again, for whatever reason. I was about to simply cut the cord, but I was hesitant. I saw McLoki’s tip, figured it was a freebie since it’s essentially reversible. Well, I’m happy I did it! While I think the looseness will be a net positive in the future, I can see myself possibly hating it. So I’m extra happy I did it this way.

TIP: If you follow McLoki’s method, it seems like you can leave one end of the cord going through the tensioner. If you put the button back in when it’s like that, you can tighten them up a smidgeon.

After watching your video I bought my first pair of VFFs Classics. I LOVE them. I wore them for the first time last night and when I got home there was a noticeable dent from the cord. I took the plunge…it was a must for me. The shoes for comfortable but the cord was making them annoying. So I got my guts together, and my sissors…and snipped away, and I’m so glad I did! Thanks for the great video, it made me really come up with the guts to “ruin” my Vff’s, but make them PERFECT for me!

After having a difficult time finding a pair of Gray/Black/Orange Classics I finally purchased a pair online at a discount. When I received them it was missing the cinch on the left shoe. I was about to cut the cords on both shoes but some of you guys just removed the cinch – what is the best way to do this? Thanks in advance!

I wanted to cur my cords not long after buying mine. I was too chicken. Thanks for posting the video.

I followed MiLoki’s instructions and live in my classics now! They are the perfec fit! My feet no longer “bubble” over.

I wish the classic had more color options.

I tried to get the KSO style on as well as a couple others and found there was no way with my high arch!

This is a great idea! I love to modify things and the cords on my Classics were cutting into my heel, so I’m not sure why it took me so long to do this. They’re so much more comfortable now!

If the classic fits your foot like a glove, cut the cord. Seriously, you won’t regret it.

And like Justin said, the shoe stays put for runs if you want to run in them. They are tighter with the strap, but if I want to run longer distances than 3 miles, I will use another shoe.

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