Barefoot Shoes

Vibram FiveFingers Bikila EVO

Vibram is evolving their flagship running shoe. The “Bikila,” which was first introduced in April 2010, is getting a reboot as the Bikila EVO some four years later in Spring 2014.

Coming Spring 2014Subscribe to stay up-to-date on the release (And catch more upcoming minimalist shoes for 2014)! Vibram is evolving their flagship running shoe. The Vibram FiveFingers “Bikila,” named after Abebe Bikila and introduced by Vibram in April 2010 (a long-term review of the Bikila here), is getting a reboot as the Bikila EVO come Spring 2014. What’s most interesting about the new Bikila VFFs is that they have a relatively “thick” (compared to other Vibrams) sole with a “max sole thickness” of 8.5mm. Mind, the rubber component of that sole is only 2.5mm and relegated to key wear spots. But I’m jumping ahead, let’s take a look at the info we have on the upcoming Bikila EVO after the jump!

The FiveFingers Bikila EVO Official Specs

From Vibram’s Spring 2014 catalog: Medium distance running in a minimalist shoe can be challenging for new minimalist users. It takes time for your foot to adjust to an increasingly thinner level of sole. The Bikila EVO is a fully redesigned shoe built for those looking for a shoe that gives the benefits of going barefoot and that has slightly more cushion to offer more support on a medium distance road run. It is still thin, and gives you just a bit more so you can be confident making the switch. WEIGHT: M43 = 5.07oz W38 = 4.23oz MAX SOLE THICKNESS: 8.5mm (2.5mm-rubber/4mm-EVA/2mm-insole) Machine Wash Cold/Air Dry
Not noted above is that the Bikila EVO is zero drop. What stands out about the Bikila EVO is clearly the new sole, which clocks in at 8.5mm thick and is comprised of three parts—an EVA (foam) platform (the thickest part of the sole), nine (by my count) rubber sole pieces (one per toe, three at the forefoot, and one at the heel), and an insole, which is also made of EVA. Many have already remarked that this seems thick for Vibrams—and once again a few folks are suggesting Vibram is abandoning it’s minimalist roots for thicker shoes. I’d contest that argument for many reasons—not the least of which include the fact that Vibram’s El-X and upcoming KSO EVO (more on this one soon) are incredibly “barefoot” — certainly in line with Vibram’s discontinued Classic, Sprint, and KSO. It’s important to point out that the Bikila EVO’s stack height is only a millimeter more than the Trek sole, which has been out since 2010. The EVA of the Bikila EVO will likely be the defining aspect of these toe shoes as out of the total 8.5mm thickness, 6 of those millimeters are EVA. EVA compresses a under load, is lightweight, and breaks down faster than rubber. This is what will give the Bikila EVO the “cushion.” It’s also what helps keep the Bikila EVO lightweight. And finally, it’s why Vibram has embedded rubber at key points on the Bikila EVO — to help manage the wear-and-tear on the soles.

The Bikila EVO Sole

Above you can see the Bikila EVO sole. The white that traverses the length of the soles is EVA foam. The highlighted orange and black bits are the Vibram rubber. You’ll note that at the forefoot, Vibram has broken the rubber “plates” up into three pieces, likely to help maintain flexibility in the sole at the forefoot. At the heel, though the rubber is one connected piece, it’s similarly diced up into lateral “cuts” which should improve the flexibility of the sole horizontally. Interesting. And the toe rubber bits are separated, which makes sense.

Initial thoughts

Looking at the future of Vibram FiveFinger’s line come Spring 2014, you could argue that the Bikila EVO is geared towards those who are nervous about going to even more barefoot shoes—such as the SeeYa LS FiveFingers or the EL-X (or KSO EVO, another Spring 2014 addition we’ll showcase soon!). To me, Vibram is just doing their best to have an offering for everyone in their suite of products. Really, there was some overlap between the old Bikila and the SeeYa/SeeYa LS. Sure the SeeYa was more minimal than the original Bikila, but they were still close, and fans were forced to choose between the two. Not an easy thing to figure out. Meanwhile, what about folks who have dialed in their natural running gait, want a little more cushion underfoot, but also like the feeling of running in foot gloves? The Bikila EVO could work for these Vibram fans, too. Personally, having tried a lot of minimalist shoes that leverage a bit of EVA for cushion and weight-reduction, I’ve rarely felt the result was too soft or too cushy. To date, the old, original “Minimus Life” from New Balance (Feb. 2011) is still a heavily-worn shoe in my closet and it’s thickly soled compared to the Bikila EVO — that Minimus Life rang in at 15mm thick at the heel with a 4mm heel-to-forefoot drop. However, the EVA makes them lightweight and very comfortable on hard surfaces like concrete. I’d just say to the hardliners and naysayers this: don’t be so quick to judge! Remember that there is no golden rule barefoot shoes sole thickness rule (some general parameters on “barefoot shoes” can be found here). With that said, I’ll hold further comment at this time, but leave you with a slew of stock photos that show off the colorways expected to arrive with the launch of the Bikila EVO. If you want to stay up on other new toe shoes coming Spring 2014, be sure to subscribe as I’ll be showing off more in the coming days and weeks!

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.

24 replies on “Vibram FiveFingers Bikila EVO”

It’s almost as if Vibram invaded my thoughts when coming up with the idea for these shoes. I’ve been running in Vibrams for a few years now (Sprint, Bikila, and now Bikila LS) and love it. When I get to the longer distances (for me), I start to have issues. Anything above 10 miles results in the pads of my feet just getting sore. I guess I’m not running lightly enough, but even something little like this could add up over all those steps.

I look forward to trying these out.

In my opinion, the Bikila LS was already a near-perfect road shoe for long distances, made even better after getting about 500 miles or so on them.

I am VERY happy that Vibram stuck with the lace system (LS) of the Bikila and Spyridon. I was very disappointed with the traditional laces of the Seeya LS. The ease slipping on the Bikila and the set-it-and-forget-it bungee laces is a huge plus over velcro and traditional laces (maybe I just never learned to tie them properly :P).

I am also really happy to see that the EVO is LIGHTER than the Bikila by almost an entire ounce. This would place it (weight-wise) right between the Bikila and Seeya (and the EL-X).

What I would love to see is a EL-X with a wider sole–similar to a Bikila-width sole for those of us with low arches and wide feet.

Overall, I am happy to see that Vibram is still churning out new products, but I wish that they would focus on improving issues with the old models and ramp up their marketing campaign.

The EVO certainly looks modern (dare I say, attractive even) and while I am happy to see more models that might introduce new buyers into the vibram environment, the KMD and Bikila already play this role. Heck, if anyone needed more cushioning for road running, they could just pick up the trail-ready Spyridons.

I was intrigued when you mentioned “KSO EVO” and found this video on youtube.

any comments? Is it just an EL-X? Another model appears to be shown in the video. Is that a Bikila EVO?

That is a very bright orange…lol Blinding haha. I like the sole but the color schemes are very out there.

i still expect things like these, just a updated model of the bikila, just a bit thicker…

but speaking of the kso evo..holy crap those look amazing

Wow, those colours could wake the dead! Maybe should try sticking them on a zombie and see how they run…

I do like the way Vibram is pushing the sole’s design forward. A thin flexible sole with studs for pressure areas seems like a really good idea to me.

I own a pair of Bikila’s, and I feel that they are excellent for running. My EL-X’s on the other hand are too thin-soled for my liking. I once walked around Barcelona for five days, and they weren’t really comfortable.

Still, it’s good to see Vibram developing their concept into several directions, I just wish they would make a nice all-leather shoe again…

I can understand Vibram wants to offer toeshoes to a large public, some people opting for ‘as barefoot as possible’, others needing some cushioning.
Still I’m afraid I’m one of those ‘hardliners or naysayers’. In the beginning we had Classic, Sprint and KSO, with 3,5mm of rubber, no EVA. Soon after that, Vibram regrettably added 2mm insole to the KSO. Then came the Bikila platform which was thicker but still acceptable. Then we got the Trek sole, which has regrettably been put under practically every new model that has seen the light since its inception. Did you know Vibram had a water-resistant prototype made of the KSO? Where is it?! Aaargh!!! Did you know the kid’s Speed (love that look) was built on a KSO platform? Did you know the EL-X might be ok and supple, but still is 4,7mm instead of 3,5mm thick?
The Bikila platform will be history soon, meaning the great laced ‘Speed’ look will ONLY be available on a Trekplatform.
So no, I’m not getting as excited anymore as before, even though I admit I like to wear Treks sometimes, and I might have been a bit grumpy in this comment… NAY! 😉

What about presenting all fall 2013 and spring 2014 shoes from Vibram into one post? I love to see those single-shoe posts, but an overview (like the new kid’s version of the El-X LS) would be cool too…

best of both worlds, eat this, Topoathletic, an amazing shoe it will be, I am confident, only issue is the durability of those rubber pods…


Having done these types of releases for the last four years or so, I’m going to simply create a post for each new model and then update it over time with a review — this should help reduce redundant posts and improve user experience. If nothing else, it’ll help keep me sane 🙂

@Jarvis, I don’t think bikila ls is going anywhere. Bikila evo is just different approach to protecting foot from stones. While original bikila has stiffer plating material to protet from stones, bikila evo seems to have thicker amount of soft material to protect from stones and no stiff plating? Anyways, to compare stack heights of different kind of sole materials, I would halve stack height amount of softer materials like eva to make it more comparable. So it probably feels like 6mm eva/2 + 2,5mm of rubber = 5,5 mm rubber shoe. Bikila ls has 4mm of rubber amd 3 mm of PU, which makes it with this system also like 5,5mm of rubber, so they should roughly have the same amount of ground feel. Or protection.

About laces, AFAIK, none of the LS versions has “bungee” (if that means elastic) laces. And you can find lacelocks sold separately, it’s very easy to add such to any shoe. I add one to almost every shoe I get. Though, I have so far resisted temptation to add one to vivo ra.

IMO, best part of VFF LS models is that you can loosen front part of shoe by relacing the shoes so that there’s no lace going through one or too pairs of eyelets at the front. I did that to my bikila ls and komodosport ls when suddenly they started to feel narrow. Just don’t cut off the velcro pad, but from the middle of the lace…


Though I’m sure you’ll still be able to find them on the net for some time to come, the Bikila and Bikila LS don’t make an appearance in the Spring 2014 catalog.

Love the black with magenta and yellow highlights.

The extra cushion might be especially nice in the heel, though from my experience with my first pair of Bikilas I know that any contact of the heel with pavement quickly wears away the thin rubber sole.

I really like everything I’m seeing about the Bikila EVO. I’ve been running Bikilas for the past two years and started having minor issues this summer in my right Achilles with anything farther than short runs. I’ve had a good hunch about what modifications I needed and THIS is exactly what I was thinking. I’ve always loved my VFFs (KSO, KSOTrek, Bikila, KMD, Signa), but this is the first time I felt that Vibram was paying attention to the customer’s specific needs. Next I’m hoping they finally make the “mens” colorways available in “womens” sizes. Hey, do we know which Bikila EVO colorways are mens vs womens? Can’t wait to hear more about the KSOEvo!

Justin, why is the site calling me a visitor and not a member? Been a member for a while now.

I’m of the opinion that if it’s not zero drop and under 8mm stack height (insole not included) it isn’t a minimalist shoe it’s a transition shoe!
It annoyes me to no end when VFF KSO and nike frees are both called minimalist shoes when they are world’s apart! I for one would like people to come together and make an official definition for minimalist and transition shoes.

Here is my definition:
Minimalist/barefoot shoe
-8mm max stack height (removable insole not included)
-zero drop
-wide toebox or toe pocket shoe
-flexible sole
-no arch support
-very little or no cushion
-high proprioception

Everything outside that is a transition shoe or a normal shoe.
e.g.Thus a 4mm drop 5mm stack height shoe would be considered a transition shoe.

I personally don’t believe in transition shoes except for certain activities such as cold winter temperatures or mtbiking. Transitioning slowly to minimalist shoes with alot of barefoot walking is better than wasting time and money on a 4mm drop shoe.

As such this Bikila Evo would be a minimalist shoe IF it has a removable insole.

Best part of the new Bikila EVO has not been commented on here. It is lined with Xstatic, a silver based material that is highly anti microbial. No stink.

Other companies have used Xstatic in apparel, it works really well.

As a fan of the Bikila’s and a runner who would like to increase my distance to a 50 miler trail race. I think the new EVO’s would be a good shoe to wear during those races. You still get the feel/ toe action with a tiny bit of cushion and I don’t need to look at other shoes like Altra’s.

Ouch! The redesign looks great but those colors might turn me back to the previous model. Desperately need a new pair and was holding out for the release….guess I’lI pick up a pair of the old gray/black for $60 now. Although, I understand the bright colors are trendy. Would like to see some “light” gray/blue, gray/green or earth tones!

I have a question. I have been wearing Altra’s for the past year and really like them. I am (slowly) transitioning to more minimalist footwear, etc. I am up for a new pair of running shoes and wondering if the Bikila EVO’s would be a good shoe to transition in or would I still have to take it pretty slow? I typically run on asphalt or gravel. My other option I am thinking of is the Altra One model.

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