Barefoot Shoes

Vibram Five Fingers Bikila First Look Photos and Impressions

Initial review of the Vibram Five Fingers Bikila barefoot running toe shoes that encourage a natural forefoot stride. The Bikila features a new strap and heel design and minimal seams on the interior of the toe shoes. Tons of photos and design explanation of the FiveFingers Bikila!

After almost nine months since we first laid eyes on a pre-production model of the Vibram Five Fingers Bikila, I finally got my feet in a pair thanks to a gracious source out of Boston. And as far as first impressions go, I’m happy to report that the Vibram Five Fingers Bikila — the first running specific Vibram Five Fingers model ever to be released — is worth the wait.

What follows is not an unboxing — the pairs that made it “out in the wild” didn’t come in boxes—they are that fresh! I can only surmise that Vibram was so rushed to get some Bikilas out (in a sort of mini-release that was confined to only a few select Boston retailers) in conjunction with last weekend’s All-Star Barefoot Running Clinic (sponsored by Vibram) and the Boston Marathon Expo, that they just said, “Hey, who needs boxes?” So in the event I ever get a boxed version (maybe in the electric blue/yellow combination!), I’ll see about doing a true unboxing.

The Vibram Five Fingers Bikila

Below are my first impressions on the new Vibram Five Fingers Bikila — not a review, of course!

On first sight, the Bikila is striking in its look — the Bikila looks fast — and not unlike it’s bigger cousin the KSO Trek which looks simultaneously rugged and svelte (capable on the trail but also nice looking in slacks!), the Bikila has a distinctly nice, high-quality build. It actually looks more like an expensive [five-toed] running shoe and less like a glove for your foot. On the flipside of Vibram models, if you compare the Bikila to the KSO, the KSO comes off as simple and unrefined.

You're looking at the sock-liner at the inner part of the foot on the BikilaThe Bikila is the highest-quality Vibram Five Fingers model released yet. The materials, like those used for the grey strap and lower, rear casing are thick and seem durable. The inner sock-liner and footbed is very soft, and I’m assuming made from cotton drilex. The sock-liner upper of the Bikila goes around the ankle and forward on the top of the foot to the upper “swoop” seam line you see and then follows the path of the strap on the left and right of the foot. Forward of that line there is only the thin, single piece upper fabric.

The difference the sock-liner makes as far as feel on your foot—both on the top and bottom—is hard to describe, but flat-out awesome. Worn barefoot, the Bikila is the best feeling VFF I’ve put on — I prefer it’s feel on the bottom of my foot over even the leather-clad Moc. Could I get this feel on a Classic (Maybe with smartwool)?.

Note the lack of seams at the pinky toe and at the upperThe upper of the Bikila is constructed in such a way that it minimizes seams wherever possible. For that matter, the only seams left are in the toes (See also here), though the leftmost top and rightmost top seams have been eliminated, as has the swooping seam you get with the KSO (where the mesh terminates) — no swooping seam here!

In combination, the Bikila should drastically reduce the incidence of blistering from seams — time and testing will tell, of course, but what my feet tell me when wearing the Bikila me is this, “This feels smooth and nice!” And I’ve come to trust the sensations of my feet!

Vibram really paid attention to styling and detail on the Bikila. The slight shimmer you see on the toes is the upper TPU toe protection, Note the quality materials used on this grey material on the BikilaNote the shimmer on the toes -- that's the TPU toe protectionwhich should help prevent the dreaded toe-snag-asphalt-scrape-instant-hole some have experienced with other Vibram models — like little toenails for your VFFs! Also, the addition of an Achilles notch and front and back reflective material introduce standard running shoe features to Vibram Five Fingers.

One other difference on the Bikila is that ankle opening is larger, exposing a bit more of the top of your foot — for reference, note the openings in this comparative photo of the Flow, KSO, Trek, and Bikila. This makes the Bikila easier to put on than the KSO and aesthetically makes the Bikila look more normal — per my biased eyes, that is, though my wife likes the look, too.

One more note on the entry-point shift: it does push the strap forward over the foot and since the Bikila is using what amounts to being a single piece of fabric covering most of the top of the foot, the upper is stretch-limited, a consideration for individuals with high insteps (the top part of the foot). If you’re wondering if this is you, basically, if your KSOs feel particularly tight on top of the foot, you might find the Bikilas tight — perhaps tighter.

There also is no rear, heel strap with the Bikila. In conjunction with the shifted ankle hole and top strap, my heel did feel less snug than in other models — almost too loose or free. That said, the lack of rear pull on the heel did not bother me while running or sprinting (I simply didn’t notice it) and I’m starting to think this may be a welcome change. After all, why should my Achilles tendon be pushed on?

As far as sizing goes, the Bikila sizes similarly to the KSO. I’m a 43 in both Bikila and KSO.

So what about that complex sole? Isn’t the Vibram Five Fingers Bikila getting away from being minimalist and getting closer to being that dreaded four letter word — “shoe?”

Yes and no. Between barefoot and shod-in-Nikes there is a lot of wiggle room. Truthfully, how much shoe any person can tolerate is unique to the individual. Will the stiffer (as compared to the KSO, for example) forefoot of the Bikila be “too much” shoe for your running form? I can’t answer that question. What I can tell you is this: using skin-fold calipers at the middle of the forefoot of the Bikila yields a total thickness of 7mm. For the KSO that measurement reads 6mm — 9mm for the KSO Trek and 4mm for the Classic (Same as my “Invisible Shoes” or Huaraches). Even the ultra-minimalist Moc is 2mm at this point. I point out these numbers to say that we are speaking in shades of grey and “How much shoe can I tolerate and still run naturally?” isn’t a simple question. If there’s anything we should have learned from the emergence of the barefoot or minimalist running movement it’s that human beings are complex, nuanced, and not one-size-fits all.

So the question for any would-be Bikila runner is if they’ve dialed in their form enough to handle 7mm of thickness in their forefoot. I’m guessing that many will find that extra millimeter (over the KSO) a welcome change. Others may find it too much. It’s necessarily a case-by-case thing.

For me, in my short run in the Bikilas, my form felt light and comfortable. And when I sprinted down the street I felt like I was flying (A VFF experience not limited to the Bikilas, mind you)! I’ve previously discussed that I had given up on running up until about a year ago, and even in VFFs I can experience some knee discomfort — my form being so bad that it’s helpful for me to interject barefoot running into my training. My typical run is only a couple miles at this point and my last run outside in the indoor-only Moc (For testing purposes only!) I actually had to take them off after a mile when my knee started acting up — I ran the second barefoot. I say this because in my single-and-only mile I ran in the Bikilas I felt fine — no knee irritation at all.

This is only one trial and not enough to draw conclusions, but it’s encouraging, at least, that the extra 5mm (as compared to the Moc) didn’t seem to negatively affect my form.

As far as the actual “podding” of the sole, what this means as far as design is concerned is that there is a thin, light-grey rubber base (a measurement at the light-grey, non-podded part is only 5mm thick) that is interjected with the ovoid “pods” or “platforms” that are thicker. This mixed-base-and-platform is a compromise between providing a protective base and maintaining the flexibility of the sole.

Note the black pods on the sole - that's the thickest partIn testing toe flex in the Bikilas, upward flex (pointing your toes skyward) is on par with other Vibram models. Downward flex, however, is less — even less than the KSO Trek, and it almost seems as though this was a specific design consideration — note how close together the two rows of black toe pods come at the big toe. Left to speculate, I’d say this is to prevent toes from bending under the shoe in the event they snag on the ground or other objects.
The white arch of the sole with the golf-ball-like divots is a separate piece from the rubber sole of the Bikila that is made of EVA polyurethane . At least one or two initial testers described this as arch support; however, per my assessment, the polyurethane arch is not much different than the Vibram rubber arch you get with standard soled Vibram Five Fingers and is similarly thick to KSO at the same point. Since polyurethane is a foam material and most foam tends to lose it’s strength over time, I’m also wondering how this “arch” will break-in. Time will tell.

Overall, the Vibram Five Fingers Bikila has a more engineered sole than tehe standard Vibram line. Indeed, it was a bold move by Vibram to take a stab at improving something that many VFF fans already love — the flat, siped standard sole. It will be interesting to discover how the podded design of the Vibram Five Fingers Bikila impacts (or reduces impact?) longer runs.

And really, that goes for the entire design of the Bikila — it’s untried at this point. Rest assured that I’ll be putting it through the ropes (as a novice runner) and as you experts put it to the test and tell me your experiences — positive, negative, neutral or whatever — we’ll be documenting it all here on BirthdayShoes.

First impressions of the Vibram Five Fingers Bikila wrap-up

If first impressions are any indication, the Vibram Five Fingers Bikila is the most well-built, stylish, and daring model to be produced by Vibram yet. I didn’t know what I’d think of the Bikila, but I really, really like it so far.

For the time being I will be putting it through the ropes and can’t wait for it to hit the shelves and become widely available — though I just about guarantee it won’t hit them for long at $100 I think the Bikila is priced to perfection.

I think I have a new favorite pair of Vibram Five Fingers. And when will that happen? It’s just a guess, but hopefully the Bikila giveaway contest will end sometime in the next week or two (Meaning the Bikila will be available at a local or online Five Fingers retailer).

Cross your toes!

Updated for discussion on strapless heel, sizing, and price.

Photos of the Vibram Five Fingers Bikila in Grey and Red

The Vibram Five Fingers Bikila -- Birthday Shoes Photos The Vibram Five Fingers Bikila -- Birthday Shoes Photos The Vibram Five Fingers Bikila -- Birthday Shoes Photos The Vibram Five Fingers Bikila -- Birthday Shoes Photos The Vibram Five Fingers Bikila -- Birthday Shoes Photos The Vibram Five Fingers Bikila -- Birthday Shoes Photos
The Vibram Five Fingers Bikila -- Birthday Shoes Photos The Vibram Five Fingers Bikila -- Birthday Shoes Photos The Vibram Five Fingers Bikila -- Birthday Shoes Photos The Vibram Five Fingers Bikila -- Birthday Shoes Photos The Vibram Five Fingers Bikila -- Birthday Shoes Photos The Vibram Five Fingers Bikila -- Birthday Shoes Photos
The Vibram Five Fingers Bikila -- Birthday Shoes Photos The Vibram Five Fingers Bikila -- Birthday Shoes Photos The Vibram Five Fingers Bikila -- Birthday Shoes Photos The Vibram Five Fingers Bikila -- Birthday Shoes Photos The Vibram Five Fingers Bikila -- Birthday Shoes Photos The Vibram Five Fingers Bikila -- Birthday Shoes Photos
The Vibram Five Fingers Bikila -- Birthday Shoes Photos The Vibram Five Fingers Bikila -- Birthday Shoes Photos The Vibram Five Fingers Bikila -- Birthday Shoes Photos The Vibram Five Fingers Bikila -- Birthday Shoes Photos The Vibram Five Fingers Bikila -- Birthday Shoes Photos The Vibram Five Fingers Bikila -- Birthday Shoes Photos
The Vibram Five Fingers Bikila -- Birthday Shoes Photos The Vibram Five Fingers Bikila -- Birthday Shoes Photos

See our post on “Barefoot Running Shoes” to see where Bikilas fall on our Barefoot Running Shoes Continuum.

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.

71 replies on “Vibram Five Fingers Bikila First Look Photos and Impressions”

Thank you for this great review! Unfortunately, I am going from being really excited about getting a pair of Bikilas to kind of irritated. It seems like it has been forever since I first heard about these….I have two strikes against me-I need a women’s pair, and I live all the way out in Park City, UT!! Getting doubtful about getting a pair anytime soon…

Justin, I AM IN LOVE with them even more now ๐Ÿ™‚ This is an awesome report. You covered it all. You deserve not one, but two pair just for everything you are doing for the VFF wearers/Company. Thank you and keep us posted. I’m still holding out for miracle that Bikila get released b4 i leave next Saturday to Ohio to run Flying Pig (my 1st marathon). How cool would i be wearing a piar?? sigh!! One can dream ๐Ÿ™‚ I rcvd my stickers today. I’m waiting for the rain to stop in Charlotte b4 i put on my car … Wooo hoo!!! GO birthday shoes & VFF!!! one of your biggest fans!!!

easily the best review of this shoe I have read. I appreciate the unbiased and sensible thoughts about the Bikila. I have been surprised at how many people have said it was too thick and at 7mm I dont get it. I am first in line at my local supplier and they still say May so I’m anxiously waiting my turn, and even more so now that I’ve gotten such a well informed report. Thanks again

I agree: awesome review of the Bikilas. I also appreciate your honest and unbiased comments.

I would like to offer some comments following my first run in the Bikilas.

First, though, I must give a huge shout out to Marathon Sports in Boston. Not only did they answer the phone on Boston Marathon Monday, they were nice enough to ship me two pairs of Bikilas on the spot.

I wear size 44 KSOs, and, after reading all of the initial Bikila reviews I could find, I ordered them in 44 and 43 just in case. When I got them yesterday, I tried on the 44s first. They seemed about right. Then I tried the 43s. It was immediately obvious they were too small.

Out of the bag, the 44s were very easy to get on over the toes, but the heel took a little work. The material in the heel notch is very soft, and I found the easiest thing to do is fold it forward under the heel, slide the toes in, and then pull the heel up and around. If anybody has found a better way, please let me know.

Walking around in the house in the Bikilas, I initially did not like them as much as my trusty KSOs. They seemed a bit loose around my foot. The heel was not tight around my foot. It did not slip, but there was some noticeable slack.

The toe pockets, though are great. The lack of seams is a big plus. I just wonder if the Bikilas will have the same stretch or break-in that the KSOs have. With the KSOs, I found them a bit snug on my toes at first, but, after a couple of runs, they seemed to relax to where they fit perfectly. The length of the toe pockets in the Bikilas felt right on. If they relax or give over time, they might almost be too big.

Also, I have a narrow foot with a low instep, so getting the fit right with the single instep strap was a challenge. The wider opening also added to the weird feeling. Initially, the things I liked the most were the feeling of the toe pockets, the fabric over the top of the foot, and the EVA part in the arch. Somebody else commented they thought the EVA arch was primarily there to hold the shoe to the foot, and I totally agree. I have a high arch, and the EVA hugs it nicely. I also hope it holds up over time.

Because of the different feel of the Bikilas, I was hesitant to cut the tag off the back and give them a run. I had really built them up in my head, and, the odd feel was kind of stressing me out. But, after reading Justin’s review, I knew I had to just cut the tag and go.

So, out the door I went today on the hard city streets of Chicago. I think I’m probably the first person here to have the Bikilas. Anyway, right off the bat, they felt loose, so I spent some time dialing in the straps. After a few tries I got it just right. I found I can pull the strap out and over to get a slightly tighter fit on the inside of the foot and leave the outside a bit looser.

The straps on my Bikilas seem to cause the fabric over the top of the foot to buckle a bit, but it isn’t noticeable when wearing them.

Once I got running, I instantly noticed how much easier it is to land on the mid/forefoot in the Bikilas. In the KSOs, I would land midfoot, but my heel would still tap the ground a bit after the midfoot. In the Bikilas, because of their slight upward curving toes, I land much more definitively on the mid/forefoot. When stopping, starting, and shifting gears, it was always easy to get right into the mid/forefoot strike groove in the Bikilas.

I had initially planned to do 3, but ended up doing about 7. I noticed my legs and feet did not tire as quickly in the Bikila – even though this was my third running day in a row. I’d like to think that is due to two things: the shape of the sole, which allows for the better mid/forefoot landing, and the controversial pods on the sole. Over the course of 7 miles, the pods really do help deflect/disperse the pressure on my feet. I could definitely still feel cracks, sticks, rocks, debris, etc on the road, but the cumulative pressure on my feet was reduced to where they did not feel as fatigued as when I run that distance in the KSOs. One interesting thing was that I could feel the shape of the individual pods a bit. It was neither good nor bad. I was surprised my feet were sensitive enough to notice that.

As recently as yesterday, I had been having some pain in the top of my left foot recently (I hear this is not uncommon in the barefoot running world). Oddly, the pain was nowhere to be found with the Bikilas. I hope it stays that way.

It is obvious the Bikilas are designed for running. Whenever I stopped and walked a bit in them, they felt awkward. I can’t imagine spending much time walking in these shoes.

Throughout my run, I was aware of the larger opening in the top of the Bikilas. Because of the shape of my feet, the opening feels a bit sloppy, and I have to use the strap to hold the shoe firm to my foot. Maybe I just need to get used to the more open top. It is not annoying in any way, but it is noticeable. Maybe for future re-designs, they would consider using a wider strap that sits higher on the midstep or a mesh similar to the KSO that goes up higher on the foot.

I may end up being one of those people who feels the Bikilas fit better with socks. I’ll try them with socks tomorrow.

As for the material, I definitely felt the lack of airflow offered by the KSO. This summer, they Bikilas might get a bit warm. Once again, mesh would be quite welcome.

I really hope the material in the pods on the sole is durable. I would hate to see it wear down much as I feel that might affect the ride of the Bikilas.

I can definitely say, the Bikilas will be my go to VFFs for long runs. I will probably still go with the KSOs for runs of 3-5 miles, just to mix it up a bit.

Overall, I think the Bikilas are a great design for running. They are definitely not a general purpose VFF like the KSO, but that is the point, isn’t it?

I plan to use the Bikilas in training for the NYC marathon this fall. After this first run, I can happily report Vibram did their homework and designed a great running VFF. They took a bit to get used to them, but they certainly live up to the hype.

If you are on the fence about the Bikilas, consider this review a thumbs up. They have proved to be worth the wait.

Aaron…. I can’t believe I’m reading your post, I excited lol this is why…
I ordered a pair of 42’s from Marathon also and they are too small, I know 43’s will be perfect. I too live in Chicago and would be very thankful if I can get the 43’s from you since you’ll be returning them. If you can e-mail that will be great. you can just click on my user name to message me. really hoping to hear from you ๐Ÿ™‚

I am quite envious of Justin and apparently Aaron as well. I would love to know where I could snatch a pair of Bikila’s in the Chicago area. The shoes looks fantastic and it makes the upcoming trek sport that much more appealing. Any word on why the strap is fastened on the opposite side now?


I noticed in the comparative photo that there was indication that you have a pair of Flows (I’m assuming that all those VFF’s were from your collection)? Yet (now I may be wrong), you haven’t done a review for the Flows. Why is that?

Would you be willing to do one for those of us considering purchasing a pair?

Thanks for the informative write-up, Justin, and for what are by far the best pictures yet of the Bikila – especially the “inner-spaces.” The Bikila sounds very impressive and looks quite thoughtfully constructed – if I were more of a distance runner I would seriously consider them… but I figure they are too specific for my more generalized usage needs (namely giving random strangers the middle-toe). I look forward to hearing more soon!

You are a god among the VFF community. I don’t know if u realize it but u are. Plain, simple, easy. Thank you for your hard work and dedication. You are much appreciated and beloved! I see Vibram soaring to the top and I think you’re going to have a very fun time riding that wave along with them. I can tell you’re already having a blast! Love the new kicks! I wish I had a pair. Here’s hoping I’ll get some Bikilas in the next week or two.

A fine first impression and all the praise you have received is completely appropriate.. I have VFF’s because of this site and thanks to you, I no longer have back and knee pain. Thanks for everything you do!

I didn’t quite catch (unless I am blind and missed it) the price on these? From the quality of the build I wouldn’t be surprised if it rivaled the Treks but it would be nice to know how much I should start saving up ๐Ÿ™‚ and anyone’s opinion as time goes on for how these would do with fast direction changes.. I play “Speedball” (a form of fast paced paintball) in my KSO’s and it’s been hard on them, the seams are starting to rip.. just wondering if these would fair any better with quick pivots and push offs.

So, from what I can tell, the Bililas are clocking in at $100 at the stores blessed enough to be the first in the world to have them. Considering the cots of the KSO ($85) and the costs of regular running shoes, the price of the Bikila is right on par.

I just realized, with all the excitement surrounding the release of the Bikila, I had completely forgotten another potentially big player in the VFF running continuum: The Speed.

I went back this morning and looked over some of the images of the Speed and thought about the differences between them and what I have learned about the Bikila. If the sole of the Speed is the same as the Bikila (and it appears to be), the simple lacing system of the Speed may be an advantage for many runners in that they will be able to really dial in the fit of the shoe.

Unfortunately, there are only a couple of pics of the Speed on-line. From those, I would love to suggest a couple of revisions for the Speed to the good folks at Vibram.

I know the initial reviews of the Speed have billed it as a shoe for walkers, but I bet it would work just as well for running. After all, there’s that video of the Dutch guy finishing a marathon in an early version of the speed.

Until the speed comes out and we can really compare virtues between the two models, I am happy to have the new Bikilas. I am looking forward to logging many many miles in them.

Great review, great photos. Very jealous of all who have Bikilas already! My local running store is getting some, and swears they’ll hold some and call me as soon as they have them. Waiting sucks! ๐Ÿ™‚

Aaron: As I understand it, the Speed won’t be available outside Europe. Not to say you couldn’t finagle yourself a pair, but they won’t be easy to come by in the US.

Yeah, I forgot about the Speeds being released only in Europe. Those Europeans get everything first. Well, except for paper, gunpowder, and Bikilas.

Thanks for giving us your initial take on the Bikilas. I’m extremely jealous and can’t wait to get my feet in a pair. Good luck stretching out your distances. Email me if you want to hit the Lullwater trails again sometime. I competed in the Emory Aquathlon (500 yds swimming and 3.1 miles on the trails) this weekend. I did the run, natch, in my Treks and set a PR. Our group run last weekend was a great tune-up for that partโ€”I’ll admit, though, that the swim kicked my butt!

Keep up the good work.

Jim H.

First, thank you for your wonderful reviews and informative website.

I was wondering what you all think would be the best “barefoot running shoe” for someone who runs on a treadmill occasionally(something that can handle the heat well). I’m currently considering the Bikila’s/KSO/Evo’s/New Balance MT100s. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

short and simple… “Half Shoe, Half Amazing!”

-Can’t wait to run in them. Thanks for the detailed review and pix!

Great review. I agree with you on the contest….I wish it would end soon as well so us folks in Texas will be able to get our hands on some Bikila action. I have been holding off on replacing my first pair of ff so I could get the Bikila, and judging from your review, I am guessing it is worth the wait. Thanks for this and keep of the ff love.

Great pics, Justin! Super-helpful in forming an opinion and the fact that you actually had them on your feet to provide some detail is a major bonus. Nice.

I thought the KSO would be my next VFF when I move up from my Classics, but I think the Bikila has moved to the head of the class! ๐Ÿ™‚

Props on this post! One of the best ones yet.

Justin – thanks for a great initial review. Could you provide us with the thickness measurements of the Flows as well? I have a pair and it would be useful for me for comparison to the Bikilas.


I live in what can be considered the outdoor running Mecca in the Continental Us and we cant even get a glimpse of the shoes. I have been waiting for months to see and try on the KSO Treks only to find out the size I wear in the KSO is NOT the same that I would be able to wear in the KSO Treks.The KSO Treks are sloppy in the heel and long in the toes. As for the Bikila, would love a pair, but at the snail pace of distrubution, not sure if I can wait. The INOV-8’s are looking like the shoe of choice unless the supply chain can be dramatically improved. I have been a walking, talking billboard for Five Fingers for over 5 months now of almost continuous wear from my professional job as a GM of an Italian Bistro, my use at my local gym to now my running outside. I was at my local running store tonight The “Footzone” of Bend and even the owner has no idea of supply compared to the amazing demand of our community. he would love some feedback from Vibram, but cant get thru to anyone with any sort of definitive timeline. Vibram, you have created a monster, now it is time to feed the monster. Maybe time to shift production from China to our fine Country where with the current economic climate, I bet you can find people willing to lend a hand at production. Deschutes County at almost 16% unemployment might be a starting point!!!!!!!!!!

Yeah, I’ve tried several methods to contact the people at Vibram. The ONLY response I received was from a distributor in New Zealand saying that they have no idea when we’ll get to see the Bikila in the US. Great product but NOT consumer friendly at all!

Come on Vibram, ramp UP! You got us all addicted and now we’re left – well – wearing SHOES b/c we can’t get your product. I tried to get some shipped from overseas… I want my Bikila’s!!! Any idea when they’ll be in Seattle and will you be targeting running companies insted of just REI?

I’ll wait for them but I’m not getting any younger and, without them, certainly not getting faster.

Best wishes for a speedy ramp up. Kirstan

I run in VFF Classics. I bought them because at the time I wasn’t a runner and they were the cheapest and simplist of the VFFs. I love the simplicity, but they aren’t perfect. I hate the toe seams and I’ve tripped before, leaving a gaping hole over the big toe. Plus, my right heel rubs kinds funny, so I glued a pad there. I don’t like how the strap fits too tightly across the top of my foot. Nonetheless, I LOVE these footgloves. They’ve gotten me back into running and into better shape than I’ve been in in YEARS! I have been waiting for the next generation of VFFs to come out that would likely eliminate those things I don’t like about these footgloves. The bikila seem to address some of the problems like the seams and the toenail issue, but they seem to be more of a shoe, which I find unappealing.

I might go try some on, but I’m not sold. I’d love to see an updated Classic!

I bought these yesterday at City Sports as well, but they’re digging into the top of my foot and causing pain. ๐Ÿ™ no idea how to fix that, is this a “breaking in” issue?

I just got my magenta Bikilas today from City Sports! My impressions:

They feel a lot more constricting than my KSOs. Part of that probably has to do with the fact I ordered these a size smaller, but also because they are noticeably less flexible due to the thick foot pods. It is impossible to bend your toes downward, which I do think is a better design for a running shoe, to avoid toe stubbing (which I’ve done in my KSOs – OUCH).

One funny thing is that the little toe of each shoe seems to stick out a lot more than on the KSOs. This makes them look a little bit like a crazy joke clown shoe when viewed from overhead.

The side view is much more running-shoe like, and probably less likely to attract stares from onlookers. I really do appreciate the reflective tape addition since I tend to run when it’s dark.

The pads on the soles of the shoes make your heel look very narrow and your foot look long and slim, as compared to that view in the KSOs, which makes your feet look like wide costume monkey feet.

Thank goodness Vibram switched the velcro so that the female side is up. I constantly snag stuff on my KSO strap and it was a real irritant. I’m forever picking fuzz out of the velcro on my KSOs.

I am taking these for their first run in the morning, sockless, to see how they feel. I suspect I’ll have a lot less ground feel, based on how they feel walking around the house, but that could be a good thing.

I’ve been on two runs with my Bikila’s so far. I am still trying to decide how much I like them. I do think they feel more constricting than the KSO’s and that you can’t feel the ground as well as in KSO’s. So, as of now, I’ll give them a B. I give my KSO’s an A for running.


Great article.. I’ve just pre-ordered my pair as I live in the UK and we are due to get the Bikila in the next few weeks.

Found your article really reassuring as the Bikila will be my first pair of VFFs and after reading your article my excitment about receiving them has been hightened!

Thanks alot… great site, you have been bookmarked!! ๐Ÿ™‚

Just ordered some yesterday 27 May. I am a Soldier and do alot of running. I will let you know my opinion as soon as I can get them on the road

Mine came in the mail yesterday. As many have mentioned, they were very constricting. The band around the ankle was too tight and the bite was too much for me to consider a second day of running. So, as mentioned in the review, if you’re already close you probably should try these in a store first or expect to get bit.

And, just as my two cents from one day of running. I jammed my foot into a stick by accident: it left a nipple in the nylon but didn’t break the skin. These made me really appreciate my Treks. The Bikilas felt hotter, stiffer, less durable, and of course more constricting.

Just got my Bikilas in the mail from REI, they look and feel great. Your review led me to try them, as my KSO’s are getting a bit shabby following heavy use and frequent washings for a year.

Any comment on the washability of your Bikilas?

I was fortunate enough to find a pair in my size at a local shop. (The pink ones!) Bought them and noticed a few things while I was wearing them around the house the next day. The fit is similar to the KSO’s, but the big toe pocket seems to be a little longer and wider than on either the Classics or the KSO’s. (A disadvantage for me, since I have Morton’s toes, and my big toes are not very big.) The strap, as others have noted, is farther down over the arch. I have a mid- to high-volume foot, “normal” arch, and really felt like I didn’t need the velcro strap at all. In fact the Bikila was almost uncomfortably tight over my instep with the strap even a little bit snug. I was also able to try on a pair of the gray/green Bikila’s at the store, but they seemed a little too long, even though they were the same size – maybe there’s still a little variation in construction since it’s a new product?

The interior was very smooth and well made, but there was a small hard lump in the pocket for the little toe, in the same place in both shoes – a seam, I think. There weren’t any spots that rubbed, just those two smooth hard lumps that pressed. Between that and the “too-big” big toe pockets, I decided the Bikila’s aren’t for me and returned them.

I’ll stick with my less flashy KSO’s.


I wanted to share with you a letter that I sent to Vibram – it was your website that convinced me I needed to get Five Fingers – I am eternally grateful.

Dear Sirs-

I wanted to write to you and thank you for creating the Five Fingers shoe – they have literally changed my life.

Almost four years ago I suffered a life changing ski accident – rupturing both ankles and shattering both heels while skiing on the terrain park at Breckenridge, Colorado. I spent 30 days in hospital and 18 months in a wheelchair, rehabilitating and learning to walk all over again at age 42.

For more than 3 years, my mornings have been very difficult, as my foot pain is fairly severe and it takes sometimes an hour for me to become comfortable with walking. A few hours of walking the shopping mall with my wife many times causes me to take a full 24 hours off of my feet to recover!

Six weeks ago I bought my first pair of Five Fingers KSO – M41 – at the suggestion of a friend. After two days of wearing my Five Fingers the pain in my ankles disappeared, and I am now pain free on a daily basis. Your shoes have literally changed my life.

I live with custom Titanium plates and (7) screws in each foot that literally hold both of my feet together – my doctors have told me that I would never run again. Last night I was able to leap nearly 20 inches in the air – and less than 6 weeks ago I could barely stand on my own toes. Jumping was a fantasy – running an impossibility.

Tonight, I played my first competitive softball game in four years and I was able to run the bases and participate in a full 7 inning match – with absolutely no pain!

My feet are stronger, more stable, and more flexible – I actually feel light on my feet again and look forward to increasing my training and even running a 5K race sometime soon.

Thank you so much for developing this shoe – you have radically improved my life – I used to suffer thinking that I would never be able to run and play with my children again – Vibram Five Fingers have guaranteed that I will ALWAYS run with both my son and daughter for a long time!

I own a pair of KSO, a pair of TREK, and have ordered both the Bikila and Speed from Europe.

Please feel free to use my name and this letter as an enthusiastic endorsement of your products – I will be a life long and enthusiastic customer. I continue to be an evangelist to everyone I meet about Vibram Five Fingers and I eagerly await you newest releases.

With warmest regards and many, many, many thanks – you are an answer to prayers.


Jeffrey Scott Phelan

I just received my bikila’s, size 43. They are really snug on my feet, especially the big toes. Is this normal? Will they stretch out? I measured my foot in inches, 10 3/4″, and the size chart told me to order a 43. Am I ok?

I just completed my fifth run in my new Bikilas.
Oddly enough, these were the only Five Fingers available in my size at the store where I bought them. I am wearing these in a 39 but the KSO fit me in a 40. I know this because I took my newly bought Bikilas to another store so I could compare them to the KSO and the Classic. The sales girl in the store went nuts when she saw my newly purchased Bikilas and I even let her try them on. She said they won’t be getting them for at least another week or two (and I have had them over a week).

Anyway, I decided to stick with the Bikilas because I liked the reflectors, I liked the cut of the shoe on the top of the foot, I liked how each toe felt cupped and supported. I did not care for the magenta color but I decided to look past this.

I usually wear flip flops or go barefoot and I scrub my feet before putting on my Bikilas. I say this because I wish the sock liner installed in this shoe wasn’t white as it looked dirty after my first run.

I have been running in 90-100 degree South Carolina weather and my feet are not hot. I am wearing these shoes fairly tight. I have am very sensitive to even seams in my socks and I have absolutely no rubbing from the edges of the shoes or the seams. I have not gotten one blister.

As a beginning runner, I will say that the muscles below my calf and above my heel were extremely sore for 2 days after running in these shoes.

I’m happy the soles are a little thicker on this style because I realized that even with the Bikila, the gravely asphalt in my neighborhood can be uncomfortable at the end of my runs.

I am extremely pleased with my new, and only pair of Vibram Five Fingers and am even secretly starting to love the magenta.

I have exactly the same situation as Philip- I ordered the size I measured, but I’m not noticing the looseness that others describe. It took me about 5-10 minutes to get them on (very tight and a bit odd getting the toes in). There’s no looseness in the heel, and the strap is completely unnecessary. I like the snug feel, but I’m afraid my toes won’t have room to flex…

Any thoughts?

If you’re looking for the Bikilas, try the Aardvark Sports Shop in Stroudburg, PA. I called them once and they put me on a waiting list. They called me the day they arrived in my size and shipped them to me right away! This is a great shop and I definitely recommend them! I can’t wait to test out my new Bikilas!!

I bought my first VFFs last week. I ended up getting a KSO. The store had the KSO and Bik in M41 only, which happened to be the size that the sizing chart indicated I should wear. But the Bik seemed a lot tighter than the KSO, so much in fact that I went with the KSO even thought I would have gotten the Bik probably if it hadn’t felt so tight on my foot compared to the KSO. It was tight enough that my toes felt like they were curving downward.

Bought my Bikilas 2 weeks ago from Italy, since they are still not available her in Germany.
Yesterdey I’ve noticed, that the TPU toe cover rubber/foil on top of the toes (only the big toe yet) has become partly unglued and ripped. Anyone else experienced that?

Running in this barefoot way exercises the parts of your leg to grow right?

So what do you guys think will be better to assist growth in height, the bikila or kso? thanks.

I just unboxed my Bikila’s last night (ordered last week from Travel Country) …and like others have noticed that they seem to fit more snug than the KSO. I plan to use theses solely for running so really hoping that won’t be an issue. If you have the option of trying them on in a couple different sizes, I would suggest it. I will know more tonight! Viva la VFF!

I ran my first marathon in the KSO’s and They did great never had any issues But when I picked up the Bikila and ran a short 3-4 miles and had the front side of one came unglued the first day! I took them back the store three different time the following week having the same issue on one foot or the other and one time both. I sent them back to Vibram USA and they replaced them but you would never guess they did last longer but I when on a short long run 12-13 miles and did have the same issue on one foot but I love them so much I just hit them with some gorilla glue and it did fine so far!!
the amount of umgluing is very small and didnt effect the performance and I didnt even notice till I was taking them off!!


I love my five finger shoes! I wear them everywere I go and I also use them for running and yoga , I also do get a lot of complaments and i would never give up my Bikilas for the world!

I brought my Bikila’s around the beginning of May and I love them! I swim, hike, run, and just ware them everywhere I go (including work). I have recently bought a workout video (P90X) and plyometrics in my vibrams are excellent!

I am ordering my red ones like yours next week, because the ones I have are worn out almost. I hope they come out with more colors in the Bikila (coordinate with my scrubs).

I will always continue to buy the five fingers (Bikila, KSO Trek, or Classics).

Just got the new black and blue bikila’s in. I had them on backorder with REI for a month and ordered them from citysports without a problem. I am kind of a new runner and I used to run about 2.5 miles with my nikes. Well I just went for a 0.5 mile run and wow these shoes are AWESOME. they feel great, no knee pain anymore. they feel great running. Just a little snug. I have the KSO trek in a size 43 and they fit fine and the Bikila’s are a little snug, will they break in a little later?

I do enjoy them, but wonder if I should go with a size 44. My right big toe feels fine, left is right at the end. I did not have that issue with the KSO trek’s I have. I do not remember if they were snug like this in the begining.


I’d say so long as they aren’t pushing on your toes at the end — causing them to bend — they are probably ok.

But if they are uncomfortable, then they are probably too small!


OK cool, I am going to try it out for a while. if they are to small I will switch them.

I think they will work out….

I just measured my feet, and they were 10 inches. My second toe is slightly longer than my big toe. Should I go with size 40’s or go up a size or two. I went to luke’s locker and since they didn’t have any bikilas in my size, the manager gave me a size 41 KSO remix. They fit okay I guess, so he suggested I get 42’s for bikilas, by since Ive never tried a bikila on, I think I should remain skeptical about his suggestion even if he is the manager. In your opinion, should I go a size up or two or stay at 40. These will be my first pair of VFFs, so I don’t know what to expect. Also should I get the gray ones with the red trim or the newer model where the top part is blue with a blue trim, not the one where it’s sky blue with green but the one that’s royal blue; in trying to figure out which would best match my clothes or wardrobe; seems superficial but I like wearing goes that match my clothes. Which seems to complement clothes of any color? Shoes that are either black and white appear to match with almost all clothes you wear, so the gray design with the red trim seems to be the closest to the colors as gray is a mixture of black and white. The blues seem to match better if you wear pants. Great article justin! Thanks for the advice.

OK question, is there a way to stretch just one toe out? I love the new Bikila’s I got the new blue/black size 43. They fit amazingly except my left toe. It is just slightly to tight. I am somewhat want to get the size 44, but I dont want to send them back and wait weeks again. So can you enlarge the large toe pocket in anyway????

Or does somebody have a size 44 they want to trade for a size 43? hahaha

sorry to post again, but I GOT IT FIXED! the hairdryer method to stretch the big toe pocket a little bit made such a difference. I love it.

Thanks Justin for this wonderful website and the attached forum!!!!

hey Andre would you mind posting some pics of your awesome new blue/black bikila’s? I’m trying to make a decision on whether to choose those over the red and gray ones where ive seen countless pictures of them. Thanks!

Im looking to try these shoes out, i have seen people with them and they look cool!
However i can’t find anywhere to find them.
I want to buy this exact pair. The vibram five fingers bikila red/grey. If anyone knows of a legit site to buy them on that ships to canada can you please email me!
[email protected]


I have two pair of the bikilas now. I started out running in the KSO. This footwear is awesome. Adjusting my running style has benefitting in less pain over time. Although initially it was a beast. Kinda felt like I was never getting rid of that morning after the first day of training pain. All in all, if you are athletic, get on board with these. They are awesome and you will only get stronger. If you are not an athlete, get them anyway, but go slow and don’t rush things. The biggest complaints I have heard about these have been from people who are just a step above the couch potatoe.

The best part about the shoes, they are one heck of a conversation starter!

i just bought my bikila last week and run with them right away… i fell inlove with it as soon as i finish running with it to break it in my feet.. i think the only negative ive seen with it is the podding of the outer sole are fading fast with only approx. 15 miles of running with them. Are you guys experiencing the same thing?

I currently have the VFF Sprints and I love them. However, I am looking to do my first winter race and and wondering if anyone has ever done any winter running in these?
I live in Wisconsin and the race is in March. I really do not want to have to go back into reg shoes. Any suggestions?

please please please shoot me an email if you can tell me where to buy the white and navy blue Vibram Speed. It’s the one that laces up. I have been looking all over and the first pair i saw online, well on youtube was white and blue, very casual and classy looking. I can’t find it anywhere and am looking to order as a christmas gift. please email me if you know at [email protected] thanks so much and i love your youtube videos!

I had some VFF speed and destroyed the sole the sole in 2 months of mixed running/walking, has anyone else had the same issues? Was a real shame as I loved them.


I just want to say thank you for all the information on the VFF Bikilas. I read through your reviews before I made my purchase last Spring and I am very happy with my shoes. So far, I have ran roughly 1100 miles and 2 marathons (with a 3rd next month) in my Bikilas. Thank you again!


Ok, finally got a pair of these and with some effort – THEY FIT! I have tall & wide feet, I normally am limited to “Classics” but trying to find any of those in anything other than black is getting hard. These are tight, but I can fit them. I love the thicker sole as I do want to start trying to run (I wear VFF 24/7 & mostly walk) and the gym’s treadmills are eating up my Classics. I hope Vibram makes more in this style – the lower mouth opening.

Just purchased my Bikila and learning to use it little by little before completely stop running with
sneakers and orthotics that I did not realize that I did not need until I ran 7 miles for the first time without them. Wish me luck with my first five fingers.

Hey guys. I started barefoot running about 6 months ago…real barefoot running, skin to ground. The greatest feeling I could ever feel and has made running an absolute joy and something beyond just a thing to do for fitness. However, running distances plus 8km (5mile) on the road often leaves my feet bloodied and bruised. I don’t care that they are bloodied, I just care that I have to stay off running for a couple of days each time to let them heal up. I’ve looked at the Bikalas as a shoe I can use when I want to go for the long runs. How good are they? Is it equivlant to the real deal? I know it wont be spot on like barefeet but just something relitively close would be great? Hope to hear some replys soon. Cheers.

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