Barefoot Shoes

Skechers Go Bionic Review

In my review of the Skechers GO Run Ride (include link) I likened the overall feel as being a marriage between the Saucony Kinvara and the Nike Free. This time around there is no marriage of shoes, the Skechers GO Bionic is a breed apart though if I had…

In my review of the Skechers GO Run Ride (here), I likened the overall feel as being a marriage between the Saucony Kinvara and the Nike Free. This time around there is no marriage of shoes, the Skechers GO Bionic is a breed apart. If I had to compare it to a shoe I’ve worn I’d have to say it’s most like a Nike Free 3.0 but much different (The Go Bionic is better). Why? For starters the GO Bionic has 0mm heel-to-forefoot drop while the Free 3.0 has about 4mm drop. In addition, the GO Bionic weighs significantly less than the Free 3.0 — 6.0oz compared to 7.2oz. Lastly, the GO Bionic is much roomier in the toe box than any Nike Free I’ve ever worn — definitely enough room for ample toe spread. I’m getting ahead of myself. What are these new shoes from Skechers, anyway? Read on!


Like the Skechers GO Run Ride, the GO Bionic doesn’t have the pronounced rockered sole and distinct midfoot area “bump” of the original GO Run. The sole is undercut in the heel which you can see in the photos above; however, what’s not clear is that when you actually stand in this shoe it feels totally flat (unlike standing in the rockered sole of the GO Run). As you can see in the “vital statistics” of the Go Bionic (listed below), the rounded bottom geometry is still present — the midfoot stack height on the Bionic is 2.0 mm more than the stack height in the forefoot and heel. I think the rounded geometry, while not physically noticeable is indeed doing something based on the fact that, at least for me, the shoes tend to run quieter than most other shoes I’ve run in. I assume this is due to the geometry and flexibility of the shoe which would tend to aid in the transition from heel/midfoot to toe off. I can imagine that having a slightly rockered underfoot geometry should function this way (just speculating). Some vital statistics of the Skechers GO Bionic:
  • Weight: 6.0oz (M9), 4.5oz (W6)
  • Stack Heights:
    • Forefoot = 11.5mm
    • Midfoot = 13.5mm
    • Heel = 11.5mm
  • Net Drop = 0.0mm
  • Outsole = 3.0mm (thickness of the midsole embedded high friction pods)
I found the GO Bionic to be very comfortable. They feel like how I wish all my Nike Frees would have felt like. I really like the extreme flexibility of the shoe (See photos below); made for a very smooth ride; the large flex groves make the shoe flexible not just forward to back but side to side and torsionally. The only detractors for me were similar to those I listed for the GO Run Ride: the upper’s heel cup volume isn’t quite enough to comfortably wear arch support insoles without feeling your heel slip. Also, I was a bit concerned about durability of the exposed midsole-outsole compound. I did find that my Superfeet Black insoles (super thin) worked reasonably well. Additionally, the GO Bionic has the same issue as all Nike Frees (and other shoes with grid-like soles) in that the deep flex grooves in the midsole make wonderful gravel and road debris collectors! The other potential issue is that there is only a very thin, 0.1mm TPU film layer between the midsole and insole mesh so there is the potential for a foreign object to poke right through the midsole and into the bottom of your foot! Obviously wearing an orthotic in the shoe will mitigate this risk but this is something that could be improved in this shoe in the future.

The Upper

Similar to the GO Run Ride, the uppers on the GO Bionic are very minimal, lightweight and fairly breathable. The lacing system is a bit different than either GO Run models and comes with round cross section laces. I had some issues with these round laces at first causing some pressure points on the top of my feet; mainly I think because of my high instep and the relatively thin, non-padded, shoe tongue. But with some creative re-lacing style I was able to mitigate these pressure points for the most part. Like the GO Run Ride, what stands out in the GO Bionic is the very roomy forefoot that has tons of space for proper toe splay. The only real complaint I have with regards to the upper is that the net volume isn’t quite deep enough for an orthotic. While my test pair did okay with my Superfeet Black Insoles (very thin) I still felt like I wanted the heel cup to be a bit higher. It was hard to tell because the heel cup is so very thin and non-supportive but at times it felt like my heel might be slipping; especially on steep downhills and off camber terrain. Also the implementation of a more asymmetrical lacing system might help lock down the foot to prevent heel slip and other lateral movement I experienced.

Look at these Flexible Soles

Take a look at how the Go Bionic can be flexed and twisted thanks to it’s relatively thin, grooved sole pattern:

The Midsole

The midsole of the GO Bionic, like the rest of the GO Run line, uses “Resalyte” which is a very lightweight, injection-molded compound with memory retention. In my experience the midsole felt fairly firm much like some of the shoes I’ve reviewed recently (Altra Instinct, Altra Provision, Altra Lone Peak). The GO Bionic still does have a slightly curved bottom that is supposed to promote more of a mid-foot strike zone and more fluid stride according to Skechers. The curve is hardly noticeable on use; from the heel which is 11.5 mm thick the curve peaks at 13.5 mm thickness at the midfoot and then tapers off to 11.5 mm thick at the forefoot. The end result is that this shoe has 0mm of drop from heel to forefoot. What really sets the GO Bionic apart from the GO Run and GO Run Ride is the extreme flexibility of the midsole. Similar to the Nike Free line, the GO Bionic has many deep flex grooves in the midsole allowing for many degrees of freedom in flexibility: front to back (can easily bend the shoe to touch the front to the back), side to side and torsionally (like wringing out a wet towel). Unlike the Nike Free, the GO Bionic’s extreme flexibility stems from not only its deep flex grooves that go all the way to the bottom of the footbed but from the patent pending hinges that are between the blocks of Resalyte. The hinges and deep flex groves give the shoe a range of flexibility unlike any shoe I’ve seen — you can flex and twist this shoe in just about any direction quite easily. Interesting also is that you can actually see the bottom of the very thin footbed through the midsole! This is one aspect of the midsole that I think perhaps needs to be addressed. The footbed really only consists of a thin micro-fiber material layer just above the midsole (no TPU)! I don’t think this would be near enough to protect the bottom of your foot if you happen to step on a sharp rock that happens to lodge in the flex groove of the midsole. Ouch! In fact after my wear testing I noticed several holes in the material; I could literally see day light through the bottom of my shoe! However, the GO Bionic does ship with a removable foam insert that would help mitigate this issue somewhat, plus I typically wear an orthotic arch support anyhow so I have a bit more puncture protection. Although I think a better solution would be to perhaps have a bit more Resalyte material or perhaps a layer of TPU between the end of the flex grooves and bottom of the foot bed just to be safe.

The Sole

The GO Bionic, like the GO Run Ride (and GO Run) uses more of a hybrid or combined midsole-outsole in that most of the surface area that makes contact with the ground is the Resalyte compound in the shape of thick blocks with the exception of some high-friction rubber in the main areas of mid-forefoot shoe wear. I know the vital statistics report a 3.0mm outsole but I think that’s the thickness of the high friction pods that are imbedded in the Resalyte compound midsole; there is not additional thickness beyond the midsole. The main issue I had with this design is that I think more high-friction rubber should be used along the bottom—especially in the heel area. For normal running the high-friction rubber covered areas of the sole might be enough. However, once you start throwing in some walking and breaks in form where heel striking becomes more prevalent, I’d worry about the long term durability of the Resalyte-only areas of the sole (especially the heels). After wear testing I’m happy to report that the rate of wear wasn’t nearly as much as I thought it would be. The Resaylte compound seems to be holding up fairly well and seems to peel away much like a used rubber eraser does over time.


As of this review I have tested the GO Bionic by running almost 130 miles on mostly hard surfaces including asphalt, concrete and cobble stone and some gravel roads and paths. My longest single run was almost 43 miles on mixed hard surface terrain. I also ran numerous double digit mile distances in the shoe. On the roads this shoe functioned very well. I thought it had plenty of traction even on wet pavement and concrete. The gravel and trail running testing I did left me feeling that the GO Bionic was quite adequate even though it isn’t designed for off-road usage. Like the Nike Frees, the GO Bionic does have the same rock collecting issue that can (at times) be aggravating. After almost every run I’d have to twist and bend the shoe to dump out all the snagged stones I’d acquired! The overall cushioning felt similar the various Nike Frees I’ve run in over the years—that is fairly firm and not at all cushy. Obviously the GO Bionic is quite a bit thinner than even the latest Nike Free 3.0 V4 and the other Skecher GO Run products, and the overall ground feel is quite good for a 11.5mm thick shoe. Believe me, I could easily feel every rock and cobblestone I ran over but not in a bad way (no pain but still noticeable). One concern I have is that since the construction of the bottom of the shoe is pretty much all Resalyte with patches of high resolution compound that the outsole will quickly wear down. While I’m not too sure what the life expectancy of this shoe will be I was impressed that after my wear testing it appears that the durability is fairly good; much less worn out than I’d expect for the tough miles I put on it. The uppers I found fairly breathable even in the heat and humidity of the Deep South. During that single long run I did in >100°F heat index weather, my feet did get a bit toasty. Then again the GO Bionic I was testing had all black uppers, so perhaps a bit better venting (or a different colorway) would improve this issue. My only real complaint is that I strongly believe there needs to be a bit more volume or depth in the uppers to adequately accommodate my arch support insoles and my high instep (high arches).


I really like this shoe and think it has some amazing potential. It’s a pretty darned good shoe as is but with a few tweaks I’m sure it will only get better. My main recommendations are:
  • More volume in the upper to accommodate arch support insoles (or folks with high arches/instep like me).
  • A more asymmetric lacing system would probably aid in locking down the feet in the shoe and preventing lateral rolling and slippage.
  • More protection between the footbed and midsole, possibly accomplished with a thin layer of Resalyte or TPU compound.
  • Cover more of the outsole with the high-friction rubber instead of selected areas to help reduce wear. I think the trade off in increased weight would be well worth it if it helps prolong the life of the shoe.
  • Upper could stand to be a bit more breathable, perhaps include sections of more open weave mesh.
  • More substantial tongue would be good; bit thicker or more padded to help with shoe lace “bite”
  • Flat laces. Never been a fan of round laces as I feel they tend to aggravate the top of my feet more than flat laces. I also think flat laces tend to stay knotted better.
Overall I’m very excited by this shoe and think this will hit the mark for a lot of minimalist runners who desire a shoe with a bit more under foot protection without sacrificing a lot of ground feel or freedom of movement. So if you’re a fan of the Nike Free line and lament the lack of toe room and high heel-to-toe drop, this shoe is for you. Alternatively, if you’re a runner who is interested in a crazy flexible shoe with ample cushioning and zero drop that also has adequate toe room look no further. The GoBionics are available now for $90 off the Skechers website.

By Rob

I'm originally from Sacramento, California but now live in northern Alabama. My wife and I have travelled all over the world to compete in races; even as far away as Antarctica. I'm a computer programmer by day to pay the bills. I've been running since the summer of '91 and am an avid ultrarunner and off-road unicyclist (yeah, you heard right!). I've competed in some of the most difficult ultra marathons in the world including the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning, the Barkley Marathons, the Hardrock 100 Mile and the Badwater Ultramarathon. I even completed a supported speed-hike of the 335 mile Pinhoti Trail in record time. So I have a lot of experience with shoes, what works and what doesn?t. Get to know me better via [url=]his interview here[/url].

29 replies on “Skechers Go Bionic Review”

Nice review. These shoes have been getting some good press lately among bloggers. I think they’d be perfect for me (“Nike Free with a wide toe-box” sold me!). Is the sizing true? If I normally wear a US13 in other shoes, will that work for the Go Bionic too?

With such a great price point, these shoes look like a great zero drop alternative to the nike frees! My only problem is the increased midsole thickness, not sure how that would feel.

awesome review Rob, thanks. definitely got my eye on these shoes but currently rotating 5 pairs of Free 3.0 v1 and v3s. i did have a shoesmith reduce the heel to provide a near zero drop shoe which improved the minimalist ride but toebox still tight. also, very interested in the Sketchers GoRace shoe which Meb will be wearing for the Olympic marathon this Sunday.

Why fit orthotics in such shoes? Wouldn’t that make the shoe much less flexible, defeating the purpose of this type of shoe? Don’t we want our arches to do our arch supporting?


Point #1: The reason a shoe should be able to accommodate orthotics, however you feel about them, is that people WILL try to fit orthotics in them. If you can’t fit them in a shoe then they’re not going to buy your shoe and it doesn’t really matter what kind of shoe it is; if it’s a minimal or maximal shoe or something in between.

Point #2 is that the arch supports I wear are very flexible from the midfoot forward, it’s only under the arch and heel where they are rigid. Therefore there is no “defeating the purpose of this type of shoe” since most of the flexibility you’ll get from the shoe is from the midfoot forward anyhow.

Point #3 I’m not going to re-hash my personal stance on arch supports, you can read about here:

I just bought a pair of Skecher GoRun’s bc I’ve been hearing all this stuff about mid-strike. So what’s the deal? Should I have gotten the GoBionic which does not force you to mid-strike? Also, I’m a marathon newbie and it will be in 8 weeks and I know you’re not supposed to try new shoes so close to the marathon but I’m convinced I’ll have less ankle pain w a shoe that promotes mid-strike. Or am I just really stupid?

@Ed: 8 weeks out is still PLENTY of time to still experiment with different shoes, gels, fluids etc… It’s changing things up on RACE DAY that should be avoided. Remember that trying these different things is as much part of training as all the miles you’re logging in preparation for your race. So trying new shoes is still quite okay.

BTW, the entire Skechers “GO” line have the slightly concave shaped midsole/outsole which does promote mid foot strike. So the GO Runs will “feel” similar to the GO Run Rides and GO Bionics with respect to mid foot striking. It’s really just about which models you feel most comfortable in.

I personally favor the GO Bionics right now because they are so relatively minimal with respect to stack height but still have a lot of toe room and are extremely flexible and are very, very light.

However since you are a marathon newbie you might be better off with a bit more shoe for your first marathon. The GO Runs would still be a good choice or perhaps the GO Run Rides. The GO Bionic feels to me much more like a racing flat though I’ve done plenty of very long runs in them.

Good luck!


Thanks for the great review. Just like others I’ve heard a lot of buzz surrounding these shoes and thanks to your review to validate it, I just purchased them. I tried the Nike Frees 3 v4 and felt it too narrow for me. However it seems that the Bionics sizing fit on the bigger side. Did you have the same experience? How much room should I have from the top of my big toe to the front of the shoe? I am thinking of getting a 1/2 size smaller but I am afraid that it might be too small. I bought them online and dont want to go through the hassle of returning them, but I also dont want to own a shoe that is too big. Otherwise the shoe is as advertised. I do worry about durability but good to hear from your comment that they seam to hold up well. Good first pass Skechers.

@Ritchie: I think the amount of toe room you like it largely personal preference. The GO Bionics I reviewed were actually a sample size M9 which is a half size larger than I normally wear. These felt a bit too big definitely but really only noticeable when I was running down steep hills or side sloping. However, recently I acquired a pair in my size M8.5 and I like the way these fit much better. I can’t say how consistent the full range is sizes are compared to what you normally wear but for me they fit true to size. I think part of it is that we typically aren’t used to having a shoe with a lot of toe room so when we finally get it, it seems weird at first! Good luck!

Nice review Rob. How would you compare these to the Altra Instinct in terms of comfort and cushioning. I find the Instincts to be adequate, but i would prefer a slightly more cushy ride. What is your opinion?

@tony: Overall the Altra Instinct has a better “fit” than the GO Bionic because of the anatomically shaped last, though the GO Bionic still has plenty of toe room in my book. The stack height of the GO Bionic is significantly less than the Altra Instinct so there is indeed less cushioning and a bit more ground feel. Another difference that I’ve noticed is that, compared to the Skecher “GO” line, the Altras definitely feel quite a bit more “stiff” and lack the amazing flexibility of the “GO” line. What this translates to in my experience is that the “GO” shoes tend to run a lot quieter as the slightly concave shape (front to back) and amazing flexibility make the foot strike to roll off very fluid and soft. At times in the Altras I can literally hear myself slapping my feet, especially near the end of a long race or a hard effort. I haven’t noticed this slapping sound with any of the “GO” products. So that is a big difference. Just seems like to me a quiet product is a better product. I still love my Altras overall, I just wish they were a bit more flexible; the full high-abrasion covering on the outsoles seem a bit like over kill. If they could reduce that they’d have a lighter shoe and possibly one that would be more flexible?


I’ve been running in minimalist shoes over the last few months and absolutely love it. All of my knee and hip pain has disappeared. Currently my shoe of choice for intervals and speed work are a pair of Lemings. I love how light and flexible they are and allow me to run with a bare foot feel. However, for longer distances I feel I need some more cushion so I’ve been looking at the Go’s and Instincts. The one thing I love about the Lemings is the flexibility, which has me leaning towards the Go’s. Does the Go Run Ride offer a significant more amount of cushioning feel wise than the Bionics? I ask because it looks like the forefoot stack heights are actually pretty similar. I like the concept of the Bionics, but wonder if the cushioning of the Ride’s would be better for my long distance pursuits.

@Bryce: Took me a minute to realize “Lemings” used to be “Stem” footwear. Anyhow, the GO Run Ride’s definitely have significantly more cushioning than the GO Bionics; much more noticeable but not in a bad way in my opinion. I’ve run some fairly long single run distances in each on roads, ~30+ miles in the GO Run Ride and ~42 miles in the GO Bionic. The GO Run Rides definitely felt more cushy overall but really I had no complaints with the GO Bionics. I lean slightly in favor of the GO Bionic because of the slightly larger toe box and overall fit, but the GO Run Ride does have a bit more cushioning which you might appreciate more. The overall feel is about the same; both are extremely flexible, light and feel great. I think either choice would be a good one as both will definitely have significantly more cushioning than the Lemings.

I’m happy to report that the ventilation in the Bionics is actually much better than the GO Run Ride. I’ve tried almost all of the minimalist cushioned shoes except for New Balance, they don’t fit my feet well, and the Bionics may be my absolute favorite. My foot is not all that anatomical, its rather straight, and the Bionic last is near perfect.

Loved your review. I only have one disagreement with it. I do not want more volume. If they put more volume in the Go Bionic, it will not fit my feet. I have a very low arch and they fit my feet perfectly! It’s so hard for me to find a shoe that fits. I have the Nike free 3.0 (love them), went to buy a new pair and I think they changed the toe box because it did not fit properly in the toe. If Scechers does make any changes they should make two versions one to accomadate low arches one for high arches.

Good review of the Bionic…would you say that this shoe falls in between the Altra Instinct and the Merrell Road Glove? I have both and the Altra is pretty stiff and the Road GLove does not have a lot of padding. Do you think this would be a good marathon shoe or would the GoRun Ride be better for longer distances?

Thanks for the opinions….

@marc: I definitely would consider the GO Bionic as a good enough shoe to race a marathon. It’s a bit more shoe than a pure racing flat but definitely along the lines of what you’d see marathoners wearing; light-weight trainer. Personally I ran over 40 miles at one time in them on roads and had no problems; love them! I’d say they have the flexibility of the Merrel Road Glove but with more of the cushioning of the Altra. These are not stiff shoes! As with any shoe advice, we are all experiments of one; what works for me may not work for you. So beware. Good Luck!

Recently bought a pair of Bionics. Love them except that the insole that comes with the show keeps slipping and by the time I’ve finished a 20+ mile run the insole has slipped back and gives me a blister on the bottom of my foot. any suggestions how to combat this slippage? thanks

@Rich: Are you wearing socks in the shoes? One thing that I’ve done in the past with stubborn sock liners (insoles) is to just glue them in place with a little glue from a hot glue gun. Apply the glue to the bottom of the sock liner, place in the shoe then put the shoe on and walk around to allow the glue to distribute evenly. Don’t need a lot of glue, just a few dots should suffice. Be careful to not burn yourself! Good luck!

Some aspects of this review are outright dangerous. Please, nobody should consider a lightweight running shoe and think that they could use orthotics for whatever reason. If you need them, there is a reason. And a super flexible running shoe, that was designed for a runner with absolutely no foot problems, is like buying a Ferrari and trying to find a way to put a trailer hitch on it. Also, this type of shoe is not for ultra marathons !

@Peter, With all due respect I don’t understand what you’re trying to imply? I think perhaps you should read my introductory interview on this site ( to glean a bit more information about where I’m coming from with these reviews and my own personal running journey. My reviews reflect my honest approach to running, I hide nothing which I thought I made clear in my interview. Is my approach for everyone? Absolutely not. I wish I had “absolutely no foot problems” but I’m honest with myself and understand my capabilities and limitations after 21 years of running and racing.

@Peter, i agree with Justin on this one…WHY?

Why you spend your time to critic the reviews of Rob? I saw that you also did the same thing with his Go Run Ride review.

It would be nice if you could just respect that everybody is different.

Who are you to say that the Go Bionic is not for ultra marathon? If someone is comfortable with this shoe and with orthotics in a lightweight flexible shoe for long distance or not, what’s the problem?

The Bionic is a great shoe for a company that is relatively new in the performance running shoe market…i like what Skechers is trying to build with their Go line shoes and i think they learned pretty quickly.

Me, for casual wear, i have a preference for barefoot shoes like Vivo Oak or Leming but for running or working, my feet are happier with shoes like the Bionic or the instinct. Are you able to understand that?

That’s why i like to have different point of view and read reviews on every kind of shoes…

So keep the good work Rob!

Hi Rob
Ive read your review and these shoes sound like the ones for me. I suffer from bunions and find it difficult to get shoes to fit properly, without them bursting at the sides after a few months. My feet measure 4.5 inches across at the widest point when under full body weight. Do you think these will accommodate my feet? will the uppers stretch without bursting?. I understand that you won’t be able to give me a definite answer but any advice will be appreciated.


Peter (UK)

@Peter: I definitely can’t say that these shoes will absolutely work for you with your bunion situation. I will say the vamp of the upper is fairly stretchy so it will possibly work. Have you considered the Altra shoe brand? The anatomical last creates a large amount of toe room and I know would work well with folks with bunions. My wife (also a very avid runner like myself) suffers from a bunion and she loves her Altra shoes, in particular the Intuition and Provisioness (for men it’s the Instinct and Provision). She too has to find shoes that either have enough toe room on their own (Altras) or else have fairly stretchy vamps that allow the bunion to fit in the shoe. My best recommendation is to find a retailer that has the GO Bionic (or Altra for that matter) and try them on. If that isn’t available find an online retailer that has an excellent return policy and order then and try them. If they don’t feel right; send them back. My wife and I end up having to do this quite a bit since the shoes we like aren’t available where we live! Good luck!

Wow, great review. I normally wear VFFs but am prepping for a road marathon and know, where I live, the hot hot pavement will prove too much. I ran a 100+k in the Go Run2, but that was in cooler conditions, and while I had no issues whatsoever, I wasn’t 100% sold. Think these might be the ones to try for the marathon.

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