Vibram Five Fingers Komodo Sport [Barefoot] Toe Shoes

The upcoming 2011 Vibram Five Fingers Komodo Sport, a new "multisport design" barefoot toe shoe from Vibram.
The upcoming 2011 Vibram Five Fingers Komodo Sport, a new "multisport design" barefoot toe shoe from Vibram.

For Spring 2011, the Vibram Five Fingers Komodo Sport!

Vibram continues to expand their Five Fingers line for 2011 with the introduction of the Vibram Five Fingers Komodo Sport. The Komodo Sport, or just "Komodo" for sake of simplicity, is a fitness-oriented "upgrade" to the KSO and will be offered for both men and women.

Here are the technical specifications on the Komodo Sport that I nabbed from the 2011 Vibram Five Fingers catalog:

"With today’s athlete in mind, Vibram FiveFingers has raised the intensity with the Vibram FiveFingers KomodoSport. This aggressive multisport design inherits what we love about the KSO with functional improvements that appeal to the most active fitness enthusiast. For the first time ever, Vibram introduces a stitch-free, seamless 2mm footbed to reduce friction. Heel and instep hook-and-loop closures help secure the stretch nylon upper to the contours of your foot-just like a second skin. The KomodoSport wouldn’t be complete without a 4mm Vibram TC1 performance rubber outsole which provides the grip and protection you need for a variety of cross training activities."

In a nutshell, the Komodo Sport is aimed squarely at the high-intensity fitness community.

Initial thoughts on the Komodo Sport Five Fingers

NOTE: See Full Review of the men's KomodoSport FiveFingers here. Full review of the women's KomodoSport FiveFingers here.

I've gotten a sneak peak at some pre-production sales samples of the Vibram FiveFingers KomodoSport, so what follows are my initial impressions of the Komodo based on design, materials, feel, and more. As I have the chance to put them through the ropes, I will post more!

The "aggressive" part of the Komodo certainly relates to it's sole design, which is like an edgier version of the Bikila sole, having circular, jagged grooves on the sole at the heel and outside of the forefoot.

Many of the "action photos" accompanying the Komodo Sport have the models working out with kettlebells and doing workouts that are evocative of CrossFit — neither connection is surprising as Vibram Five Fingers are popular in both the kettlebell and CrossFit communities.

Perhaps what's most compelling about the Komodo Sport line is that it seems geared toward improved traction on lateral cuts. Given where the tread is most aggressive on the Komodo, it's right where you'd want to "dig in" on a hard cut. Interesting.

Additionally, the Komodo Sport features a 2mm footbed, which is surprisingly soft on my foot — softer even than the Bikila. The stitch-free aspect of the footbed is nice, too — it basically just means there are no corner stitches anywhere. I think even the Bikila has a few of those in the toes, so this makes for a nice improvement. Total thickness of the sole looks to ring in similar to the Bikila, as well.

The KomodoSport is a beefy VFF in the sense that it weighs a bit more than other models. As far as ground feel, my initial testing — update see my full review of the KomodoSport FiveFingers — tells me that the Komodo provides a similar ground feel to the Bikila and the KSO Trek.

The Komodo upper features the standard "stretchy fabric" you'll get with your run-of-the-mill KSO, Classic, or Sprint, as well as a bit of mesh at the top outside front and along the sides of the toe shoes. Other KSO "upgrades" include a comfortably padded heel cup (the part around the ankle) and a beefier strapping mechanism, which is reminiscent of the Flow as it employs two Velcro straps: one over the top of the foot (the instep) and another that goes around the heel. This combo does the trick.

Speaking of the instep, there is this fantastic stretchy mesh material that is underneath the strap and wraps the ankle (I'm tugging on it in this pic). Given that these are fitness oriented, I could see this material doing a good job of absorbing some of the sweat I'd expect to be throwing off while wearing these puppies. It might make them fit a bit better for folks with higher insteps, too.

Style-wise, the Komodo Sport looks good. The yellow and black sample version I've got has an aggressive, edgy (literally) look to it. As men in the VFF community tend to like black, the Komodo Sport will come in a black version and a black/grey/gold version. The women's blue/yellow Komodo Sport looks particularly good (see photos below) — Mrs. Birthday Shoes (and my sister, the foot model below) both agree on this point: they like the Komodo Sport's looks in blue. And it, too, will come in the black/grey/gold color combo.

Is a more aggressive Vibram Five Fingers model necessary?

It's a good question that I'm sure many of you are thinking about. I'm not sure what the answer is. On the one hand, I know that your standard VFFs just don't "cut it" when it comes to trying to break laterally. Just as an example, I've had some epic slides on wet ground in my Sprints chasing after a Frisbee: trying to stop on a base in kickball in KSOs is also just about impossible. Comparatively, the Trek sole performs much better in these applications. Perhaps the Komodo Sport can serve a useful function by being a fitness- and play-oriented Five Fingers model. Update: per my full review of the KomodoSport Vibrams, I think they serve a useful purpose just as they were designed.

For now, I'm going to have to take mine out for a spin or two — run some hill sprints, dust off my kettlebells, and get in some high-intensity training. Stay tuned (and see the photos below)! I've reviewed the KomodoSports under the above field-testing, so if you want to learn more, check it out.

Photos of the Men's Komodo Sport Vibram Five Fingers in yellow and black

Photos of the Women's Komodo Sport Vibram Five Fingers in blue and yellow

The 2011 Vibram Five Fingers line-up (links will go live as the pages are up this week!)

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