Barefoot Shoes

Speed LR Vibram FiveFingers First Look

We announced a week ago that the Speed LR Vibram FiveFingers had hit the market via REI (see here) in what seems to be an exclusive, limited U.S. release.

What is the Speed LR, you ask? Well, it’s basically a reboot of the all-black Trek LS FiveFi…

We announced a week ago that the Speed LR Vibram FiveFingers had hit the market via REI (see here) in what seems to be an exclusive, limited U.S. release. What is the Speed LR, you ask? Well, it’s basically a reboot of the all-black Trek LS FiveFingers that hit the market last fall (see our review of them here). I placed an order into REI to grab a pair of the Speed LR last week to photo and share with BirthdayShoes readers — so what follows is a first look at them. Really, I don’t feel a full review of the Speed LRs is necessary because they are so similar to the Trek LS. Just how are they similar — and different? Want to see more? Read on after the jump!

Take a look around the all-leather Speed LR FiveFingers

The Speed LR FiveFingers are meant for casual use. Sure, you could hike in them and I imagine running in them with socks would be fine though there are better options for both applications. The LRs feature an all-black kangaroo leather upper, traditional laces, and five toe pockets built on top of Vibram’s most aggressive FiveFingers sole — the Trek. The insole of the LR is mostly leather though it gives way to a felt-like material around the forefoot (why??). Unlike some other leather-incorporating VFFs, the LR wraps the toes with leather both on top and on the sides. The LR is almost entirely black with only small bits of grey accents — most notably on the lace eyelets and the leather that wraps the insides of the shoes. Finally, you’ll notice various bits of Vibram branding on the soles, the instep (stitched “Vibram”), the tongue, a rubbery Vibram logo at the heel, and wrapped around the ends of the laces. Given the branding is yellow, it’s hard to miss on these all black shoes.

Differences to the Trek LS

Many of you might be wondering what makes the Speed LR different from the Trek LS in all black — aside from the name change. Well, there are a few subtle differences worth pointing out (and for convenience, I’ve added at the bottom of this post a gallery of photos of the black Trek LS):
  • The Speed LR and Trek LS have a different lacing system — the LR uses round laces and opposing fabric eyelets in lieu of the metal grommet-style lace holes of the Trek LS.
  • The Speed LR has a less complicated tongue attachment point — the LR has a squared out wrap versus the rounded wrap plus extra bit of the Trek LS. Functionally, this seems to reduce the seams a little on the LR. It also makes for a slightly cleaner aesthetic.
  • The Speed LR has a flat black Trek sole vs. the camo grey and black sole of the Trek LS
  • The Speed LR has grey leather on the insole/heel-cup versus black of the Trek LS
  • The Speed LR has a little more marked Vibram branding — see pictures
  • The Speed LR is $10 cheaper with an MSRP of $130 vs. $140 of the Trek LS
And I think that’s basically it. When you add it all up, does it make the LR markedly different from the Trek LS? It doesn’t really to me. Some other LR adopters have said they find the LR a little more comfortable than the Trek LS. It’s hard for me to tell but my gut tells me the new lacing style may function slightly better as far as accommodating the instep. I’m curious what others think.

What’s the initial impression?

Not sure there’s a ton more to say. The new Speed LR vs. old Trek LS reminds me a little of going from the iPhone 4 to the 4S. Of course, I’m a stock Android guy so maybe that’s a bad analogy. Suffice to say that if you like the LR, you should know that only REI has them — and word is that’s not going to change. Given that the upcoming Speed XC has the same look as the LR, I wonder what other similarities they’ll have, but given the XC will be water-resistant with taped seams and multiple layers of fabric (it’s not leather), my hunch is it’ll be a pretty distinct beast from the LR. We’ll see — and soon, I hope. I’ll be sure to post news on the XC as soon as it breaks, so if you’re not already subscribed to BirthayShoes, get on the email list. Anyone out there grab the LRs, too? What do you think?

The old Trek LS FiveFingers in Black – PHOTOS

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.

22 replies on “Speed LR Vibram FiveFingers First Look”

I got a blister on my right heel. It worked out though, and the blister faded. They are not bad. I do wish the inside was fabric like the REI photographs and not leather.

its strange and disappointing that they chose to put the felt-like stuff under the forefoot. reason is that the forefoot is the area of the foot where i get most of my sweating. i fear it will cause a stink. 🙁

i’ll still get a pair in a few weeks (as soon as local REI gets them in stock), but i hope the forefoot material doesn’t cause any discontent when i actually have them.

hey Justin,
how does the sizing compare to the treksport and kso? i’m 45 in both but hesitate to purchase it online due to any possible size discrepency (my classsics are a bit too tight at size 45). thanks!

Thank you for the review.

I still think that there’s way too much yellow on them. The logos should’ve been more discreet like the Trek LS (or better yet, embossed like the Bormio).

Seems like I won’t be getting it regardless if the only supplier is REI (econ 101: only 1 supplier = prices don’t go down). At $130 it is a luxury item.

I think the trek LS looks so classy, and this… doesn’t. I don’t know what it is, but the leather looks really different and really cheap. I hope it’s not like that in person, but the pictures are not at all flattering compared to the trek LS.

Great review as always! I like them, if I were in the market for a new pair I would prefer the rear branding be a little smaller but either way I have 2 pair of Trek LS (blk and brn) that will last me a long while before I have to figure out what work shoe to move to next. I am glad they continue to work on the casual side of things as well, seems to be growing and that is a good thing.

This will be my next work shoe. I have a brown set of trek ls that I wear with khakis or other dress pants everyday. But I need a pair of black for my grey or black pants. I haven’t been wearing them because they don’t match my shoes 😛

The classics and sprints are discontinued?? OMG…horrible.
Question – I am wearing mens 42 – I see that some womens sizes go up to 42. Would these be the same size shoe? Maybe I can scoop up on a deal if so.

Thank you!

I’m a big fivefingers fan but these things look pretty creepy. Black leather fivefingers is as step too far. I’d feel like I was about to be locked in a basement with Zed and Maynard

I like the look of them (I got the brown ones), but the leather-rubber bond doesn’t last. I had mine for about 4 months before the sole already started to detach, starting with the big toe.

This is my eighth pair of five fingers…and the best. Perfect for working out in the gym. The leather is much more durable than all the other fabric versions and lasts much longer!

Its too bad that only REI has them…they are now on clearance for $90.93!

Anyone have a pair of these? Wondering how well they do in puddles vs the KSO Treks.
(Like, a few cm’s of water type puddles.. not 5-10cm puddles!)

so, i read that the sizing is true to size, pun intended. I have 7 pair of vibrams, all are size 42 including my bormio (boots) with the exception of speeds, which 42 were to small and had to go to a 43? so I should get the size 42 like the boots?

I went and bought a pair I love them 🙂 you have to wear them for a bit in the house before you wear them out just to make sure they fit ok at home this wont be my last pair I won’t red ones but they didn’t have any

Wishing that Vibram hadn’t discontinued so many of their non-eye-blasting leather shoes. I prefer the leather to the fabric, since they’re the only shoes I wear anymore, and vivid coloring isn’t always the best choice when you’re having a business meeting. I also wear socks, so that minimizes potential stink a lot.

It’s really sad cuz the current fivefinger line is just too flashy and too thin for everyday use. my Trek LS finally gave out due to split rubber in the sole and worn leather. thats 3 years of wearing. I live in a colder climate and wish they still have something durable yet subtle for casual wear.

I have worn the Speed LR now for long time and love them. Sadly they are on their last legs! I work in high end spas as a massage therapist where black is the standard and these shoes have been perfect. If I would have known they were being discontinued I would have bought a bunch and put them in archival storage.

The agility these shoes afford in my dance around the table is wonderful, and most of my guests are intrigued. It opens the door to discussions about functional anatomy!

I had an email exchange with a gal at Vibram and she was firm that this was a one off for REI and we would never see anything like it again! I tried to make the case that it was fine to address the cool active markets, but then when we need to go into dress situations we need something like this.

Was the volume of sales too low or returns to high? Will we ever know.

I too would love to find some left over inventory! (Size 47)

When does 2014 happen!?

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