Barefoot Shoes

Vibram FiveFingers Bikila EVO Review

The original Vibram FiveFingers Bikila model was released in the Spring of 2010 in conjunction with the Boston Marathon, and has long been the workhorse of Vibram?s running stable. The Bikila LS was introduced a year later and was among the first mode…

The original Vibram FiveFingers Bikila model was released in the Spring of 2010 in conjunction with the Boston Marathon, and has long been the workhorse of Vibram?s running stable. The Bikila LS was introduced a year later and was among the first models to include a speed lacing system that is now popular on many Vibram FiveFinger (VFF) models. For 2014, Vibram has completely revamped the trusty Bikila and has named it the Bikila EVO, which I assume stands for Evolution. The Bikila EVO now “out” for sale and is running $120 MSRP (See all 2014 Vibrams for sale here). So how does it perform as a running shoe, and how does it compare to the original Bikila? Read on to find out.

Construction & Overview

The men's FiveFingers Bikila EVO in black with neon accents.
The men’s FiveFingers Bikila EVO in black with neon accents.
If you need a quick refresher on the originals, check out the Bikila review and the Bikila LS review. Let?s start with a quick overview of the construction of the Bikila EVO. The upper is a soft polyester mesh held together with thicker pieces of support fabric. The midsole is the standard EVA foam found throughout the VFF lineup, and the outsole is made of a hard rubber. The upper is solidly assembled and doesn?t have any noticeable seams on the interior that could potentially irritate the skin. The speed lacing system is exactly the same as you find on the current Spyridon LS and KMD Sport LS. The tongue is thin, with just the slightest hint of cushioning and is unattached to the upper along its sides. Take a spin around the shoes: The sole is made of a hard rubber, which feels to be much harder than the current Bikila, SeeYa or El-X soles. The soles on those models have a somewhat soft and tacky feel to them, whereas the rubber on the new EVO is not nearly as supple and is closer in feel to the TrekSport or Speed XC soles. It?s much harder than the original Bikila sole, which may help with durability. (See what 750 miles will do to a pair of Bikilas) Weight-wise they fall somewhere in the middle of the VFF lineup. A Men?s 43 is 5.07oz and a Women?s 38 is 4.23oz per shoe. While we?re talking specs, the sole thickness of the Bikila EVO is 8.5mm (2.5mm rubber / 4mm EVA / 2mm insole). For comparison, the original Bikila and Bikila LS were around 7mm of sole thickness. The color scheme options for the Bikila EVO goes along with current athletic apparel trend of ?really-bright-neon-colors? and are the brightest models in the VFF catalog for 2014. The black/yellow scheme reviewed here are positively subdued when compared to some of the other intense options available: Above are both the men’s and women’s colorways for the Bikila EVO


Note how low the heel goes on the Bikila EVO.
Note how low the heel goes on the Bikila EVO.
The EVO is pretty standard FiveFingers stuff in the design, especially in the front half—there are no surprises here. Once you get back to the heel though, there is a dramatic swooping cut right below the ankle bone. It?s similar to what you see on the SeeYa or EL-X in terms of how high the upper comes up, but the lowest point of the swoop sits further back towards the heel. This helps with getting the EVO on and off your foot, but it makes for a rather insecure feeling of fit. The first couple times I put them on, I had to ask myself if they were really on all the way. It feels like my heel is overexposed and on some surfaces like carpet or grass I can slide my heel around in the heel cup laterally to the point that the EVOs almost come out. I prefer my VFFs quite snug, all the way around. There is a loop on the back of the heel to help when putting the EVOs on, but with the little coverage in the back, I didn?t have to use it ever. My tip for properly seating your foot in the shoe is after getting each toe settled in its proper pocket, give the tongue a good hard yank before tightening down the lacing system. Like any of the LS versions of VFFs, the lacing system works well to fine tune the fit over the top of the foot, but for the EVO I really wish I had more adjustment in the back. (Does anyone remember all the straps on the original Sprints model) The sizing is pretty standard, so go with what you?ve worn in the past on other models since you won?t need to compensate either way to size up or down. First time VFF buyers may have to experiment with a couple different sizes to see what they like before settling on a size.


Let?s start with the official take from Vibram?s marketing materials:
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.
Okay, so it?s true that the EVO has a bit more cushion than the original (8.5mm compared to 7mm), but I think that at this point it?s really splitting hairs, especially as the shoe wears in. Anyone who starts running in VFFs is going to need to take things slow at first as their body gets used to the change. Vibram does make the point that EVO is meant for road running and I completely agree. This shoe is meant for running on a nice level surface?off-road trail running, or even running on grass where you are making lots of lateral cuts back and forth (think Ultimate Frisbee) would either give you blisters from your heel moving around in the heel cup, or worse, I could see the EVO possibly falling off. Running on the track, asphalt or sidewalk are just fine and I never had any problems with blisters or hot spots, but I also never did much lateral movement. Flexibility of the sole is on par with the original Bikila, which is less flexible than the SeeYa or El-X but much more flexible than the TrekSport, Spyridon or Speed XC models. Likewise, ground feel is more muted than the more minimalist SeeYa or El-X, but has considerable more feel than the TrekSport, Spyridon or Speed XC. I wouldn?t recommend handling pebbles or small pieces of gravel in the EVO in the same way you could manage them with the more rugged VFF models. Justin made the following points about the Bikila EVO sole back in August when we first learned about it:
I think the trade off with the Bikila EVO having an EVA primary platform/midsole is that it reduces the total possible footprint of the shoe under load–best explained by comparison–look at the KSO and how it has rubber that wraps up the side of the foot on either side of the widest part. Under load, some of this rubber flattens out (See this post). By contrast, the Bikila EVO can’t do that.
My recommendation is to stick to the road in the EVOs, where you don?t need as much of a footprint to get good traction.

How does the EVO compare to the original Bikila?

On the left is the new FiveFingers Bikila EVO.  On the right is the original FiveFingers Bikila.
On the left is the new FiveFingers Bikila EVO. On the right is the original FiveFingers Bikila.
I am a huge fan of the original Bikila, which was my primary running shoe until the SeeYa debuted a couple years back. There is more cushion and less ground feel in the EVO due to the thicker, harder rubber. I don?t think the upper, particularly in the heel fits nearly as well, and that?s too bad because the ultra-minimalist fit works better with the SeeYa or El-X. The new Bikila is most definitely an evolution, but not necessarily a revolution. In fact, I would goes as far as to say that the new design of the EVO is completely unrecognizable as a Bikila series shoe.

Should you get a pair?

I think the Bikila EVO would work well for the casual runner who primarily stays on the road and sidewalks. You won?t want to throw too much rugged terrain at the EVO, as there are plenty of other VFF models better suited for that. For activities like weightlifting the EVO works great?I feel plenty comfortable with some of the heavier lifts like deadlifts or squats which benefit by having a solid connection with the ground. It?s also important to note that the EVO are very breathable, like most of the VFF running lineup, and are not particularly great for keeping feet warm while running outdoors in the winter. It?s definitely a summer-weight shoe. Unless you particularly like bright shoes for everyday use, you probably aren?t going to wear these casually around town?even with the black pair, the neon laces jump out. But if you do wear them with street clothes, make sure that have long enough pants or else you?ll be flashing plenty of skin or sock as the EVO leaves lots of exposed heel!

Conclusion / Considerations

Are you just getting into minimalist running? These will work well, but remember to start slow when doing something new! Do you like the VFF speed lace system? No more Velcro strap option! Are bright colors your thing and do you want people to notice your feet even more than usual? You?ve got plenty of colorways to make your eyeballs bleed! Do you mostly run on the road or sidewalk? The EVO is not a trail shoe. Are you planning on playing Ultimate Frisbee or doing side to side speedwork? The EVO probably won?t work?you?ll want something more securely fitting. Would you use these for hitting the gym? The Bikila EVO is a perfectly respectable weightlifting shoe. Price: the Bikila EVO is MSRP’ing at $120, “out” for sale now. You can see all 2014 Vibrams for sale here.

By Tim

I’m am a bicycle advocate by profession and an Ironman triathlete for fun which keeps me healthy and fit. I got into minimalist footwear during the summer of 2009 after dealing with injuries resulting from running in “normal” running shoes. Check out what’s going on in my life through photos at [url=][/url] or follow me on twitter: [url=]@TimKelleyDotNet[/url]. Get to know Tim better via [url=]his interview here[/url].

23 replies on “Vibram FiveFingers Bikila EVO Review”

What would you say is the best VFF trail shoe right now. I love the original bikla particularly for track work, and lifting, but it’s too minimalist for trails and rocks. What would you suggest
Roger Lerner

I’m a fan of the older earthy or jewel colors, not these neon Post-It-Note colors. (I can see the logic in offering maybe one neon hi-vis running model.) Why do they keep adding PINK for ‘girl’ models?? What are we, Barbie doll mall tweens?? I have no neon pink clothes at all, not do my grown daughters.

But colors aside, I won’t ever buy Vibrams with the lace-up top. Looks too much like SNEAKERS. I’ve had these stretch elastic laces on other shoes, and wind up fussing with them too much, trying to get them even, and they keep slowly slipping looser. Give me the strong reliable Velcro straps every time.

I own about 8 pairs of Vibrams (all velcro-strapped) which I LOOOVE, and I’ll just have to stay with them until one day Vibram stops making neon/pink/lace-up sneakers.


In almost every case, laced Vibrams fit better to the unique feet of wearers relative to velcro — this is because laces allow for a more custom “wrap” over the top of the foot. There are good reasons (functional) reasons why shoes use laces most of the time. Vibrams are shoes so it’s not surprising that Vibram would use laces on them.

Thanks for the detailed testing of how the Bikila EVO functions. I still use the original Bikila for running on pavement. Both the Bikila LS and the original SeeYa seemed too likely to come off the heel on sharp turns during out-and-back or back-and-forth runs.

I do use the SeeYa LS as an all-around gym shoe, including cardio machines. But I don’t like the stiff fabric that tears over my bunions rather than stretches.

One reason I prefer the original Bikila for running, (and the original, Velcro strap version of the Spyridon for trail running and hiking), is that the top fabric is sufficiently stretchy that I can wear a size that is the correct length. On models with limited fabric stretch, such as the SeeYa LS and the Speed, I have to size up to accommodate my wide forefeet.

Where is the new Bikila EVO in terms of relative stretchiness?
Does the added material on the top limit stretch, as it does on the Speed?

@Roger, I’d go with the Spyridon for trail running. A slightly thicker sole with considerably more tread. The TrekSport would be my second choice.

I’ve got about 2200 miles on my main running shoes, a pair of Bikila LS that I bought a few years ago. The last thing I want or need is a stiffer or harder sole. Guess it’s time to stock up on the old shoes while they’re still available.

That heel cup is way too low for me. Even the Bikila LS heel cup doesn’t even reach my ankle so there’s slack.

Also lateral grip is an issue? You mention that it is not suitable for side to side motion.

I don’t see how this is a good addition to the lineup , the komodosport / KMD sport LS added comfort (insole) and lateral grip but the upper is pretty tight. A Bikila LS type upper on a kmd sport LS sole would be neat.

So, Bikila Evo is bad for trail running because reviewer believes so, without actually testing it? There are many shoes that seem to be bad, until you actually test them.

I just tried the Bikila Evo. The heel is indeed terrible. The shoe looks unbalanced with such a small heel. Any sideways force and my heel slides out of the shoe. But I also noticed this with the Bikila LS. My primary running shoe remains the original Bikila, which has a comfortably solid fit and conforms well to my feet. However, unless a cashe of the original Bikalas turns up somewhere, I’ll probably end up getting these when my current pair of the original Bikila disintegrates. I can’t readily wear other options for longer runs, such as the SeeYa LS, because the non-stretch fabric doesn’t work with my wide feet.

Ordered my pair of Bikila EVO in Black, size M39 from Vibram.

I was glad I did not have to get them in Blue!

These feel lighter and seem substantially “less” shoe than the Bikila LS. They also fit much more snug than the LS. The upper material is substantially lighter & thinner than the LS model.

I did not have issues with the revised heel – it fit snug and tight and felt much more secure than the Bikila LS did. Keep in mind, I have very wide feet. In fact, I have less trouble with small rocks getting into this show, than with the LS. Perhaps this model is just sized a little less than the original Bikila. Regardless, I actually like the hell better.

The ride is certainly different. There is definitely cushion there and it is less jarring than my LS or EL-X models for sure.

I just hope durability will be good. Only time will tell. My only negative so far is the price.

@JP – I’d say that SeeyaLS or Bikila EVO are probably your best bet. IF you want to go even more minimal then the EL-X could be a good option and you won’t have to worry about messing with a lacing system in Transition 2.

I just picked these up today and I have to say I am in love with them! I am not a runner I do a lot of hiking, walking and jogging. I bought these because i do the walk for hunger in Boston which is a 20 mile walk. I was wearing the KMD sport which in loved as well. I tried the KMD sport ls and I did not like them at all. I tried on quite a few of the vibrams and these were the only ones that came the closest in my opinion to feeling like my KMD’s. I feel they fit perfectly.. My feet are small though (36) I don’t feel like my ankle will come either. I don’t like the new lace up system I prefer the strap which I found odd that I loved the feel in these as much as I do! I am looking into a hiking one.. I actually hiked a mountain in my KMD sports with no problem but I don’t believe I will try them in these. Thoughts on a good one? The staff were surprised that I did not like the KMD sport ls but it felt so different to me.
Thank you for all your reviews!

The fit is definitely not the same as in older models, at least in womens sizes. I have the original Bikila as well as KSO, and both fit significantly wider than the new Bikila EVO and KSO EVO. This is something to consider if you have wide feet. I do, and while I could put the Bikila EVOs on, they felt a bit too tigth and resticting at the forefoot, so I didn’t buy them. Unfortunately.

Bought the Bikila EVO’s without reading the review and all the comments. My first impression in the store was excitement about how snug and light they felt on my feet. I m using them for 3-5 M run a day, mostly on grass or trails and a little bit on the road. The only thing that is bothering is the blue paint (from the bright blue color) that is staining my feet even after washing them 2 times.
I’ve not any problem with the heel coming off my feet. After ran in them for 2 weeks I still love that feel of snugness around my feet. And yes they are pricey. Hope they are lasting for a year or so.
Thank you for all the comments!

I just tried on the new Bikila Evo at REI, since my Bikila LS are wearing out. I really have mixed feelings about the Evo.

On the one hand, it really fit well. The longer toes are an advantage for me, since my toes grazed the ends in the LS a bit much, at first, but I definitely did not want to go a size larger. And the upper part of the shoe is so light weight and form fitting, it’s great. For me the EVO really fit like a glove and because of the super lightweight upper they seemed much more minimal than the LS. In hot environments they seemed like they would breath really well. Because they fit so snugly, I also had no sense that the heel might come off (this has also never been an issue for me with the LS). I think if people have a problem with the heel sliding off, they probably need a smaller size.

So that’s what seemed good to me.

On the other hand, the sole definitely feels thicker than the LS. The review says the difference between 7 mm and 8.5 mm is splitting hairs. I disagree, 1.5 mm is not trivial when talking about one’s sense of touch and connection with the ground. Think of the differene between touching something with bare skin or with 1.5 mm of material between your skin and what you’re touching. And extra 1.5 mm to the sole will, I think, cause precisely that much more loss of sensation.

I also think, looking at the overall thickness, that including the insole is the wrong way to look at it. The insole is a softer, squishier material, which will flatten out and add less to the overall feeling of the thickness of the sole in the long run. So if one excludes the insole, then the EVO has 6.5 mm sole total, whereas the LS has 4 mm of sole. That’s a more than 60% increase. That to me is not trivial.

I could really feel it running around in the store. There’s just more material there. It’s not the same as the LS. Also, the sole feels more like one solid plank between my foot and the ground. The LS, with it’s separate rubber pads has more of an articulated quality to it.

In addition, the point about the toes being able to curl down in the EVO (which I guess Vibram is promoting in the press material they send out with the shoe, because I bunch of articles made a point of mentioning it) seems more like form than function. Yes, when you hold the shoe in your hands, the toes flex downward more than the LS and other Vibrams. But once you have the shoe on your foot, because of the construction of the overall shoe, I at least could not curl my toes down at all.

Lastly, it seems like the heel is particularly thicker than the LS. It made me wonder if the shoe really is zero drop. I didn’t like that.

I can also imagine, as some have suggested, that the lighter weight upper, though comfortable, will wear out quickly, which is not inspiring given that the price on the shoe went up $20.

Anyway, so I’m torn about the Bikila EVO. It both feels more minimal (in the upper) and less minimal (in the sole). It did also fit me great. I’d be curious how it really feels on the trails where I normally run. But I’m not sure I’m prepared to do a $120 experiment. As it is, the LS is on sale for half that price, so I just bought another pair while they’re still around. Maybe when that pair wears out the EVO will be a little cheaper.

It does seem like something is missing in the Vibram line up now, despite there being so many different shoes. There’s nothing really between the most minimal soles of things like the KSO and the more maximal soles of the KMD, TrekSport, etc. For me the LS hit a nice middle ground.

I got my new pair of Bikila LS in the mail (of which Vibram seems to be selling out the remaining stock). It was interesting comparing them to my experience trying on the Bikila EVO at REI (since my old pair of the LS are quite worn, though still functional). I want to revise a few things I said above.

I was struck by how well the new pair of Bikila LS fit. They really were snug like a glove, just like the EVO was in the store. So I would not say that when new the EVO fits any better in that sense. Perhaps the LS and EVO are made on the same last and fit my foot particularly well for that reason.

It is true that my longest toe presses a bit more than I’d like against the end of the toe pocket in the LS, as I remembered from when I got my first pair. But I know from my old pair of the LS that this went away after not very long. Perhaps my old pair of the LS have stretched a bit. So the EVO toes fit a little better right off the bat, whether that will lead to a looser shoe in the long run or not, I don’t know. I think there is a trade off between having one’s toes press against the end of the toe pockets a bit and having extra material flapping out in front of one’s toes, which I really don’t want. Unless a shoes just happens to fit you prefectly in every way to begin with.

As many have noted there is clearly a lot more material to the upper in the LS, as compared to the EVO, so as far as streching goes I wonder if that means the LS will hold their form better over the long haul.

The sole on the LS, when new, is a little thicker than I remembered. Still not as thick as the EVO, but the difference is not as noticeable. I do think the LS has better feel for the ground in the forefoot, when new. Also, my comment above holds true, that the EVO sole is more of one solid plank, giving it a stiffer overall feel, whereas the LS with it’s separate pads allows for more flexing in different directions and a more articulated feel.

In the end, it seems to me like the EVO is not so much an “evolution” of the Bikila as a slightly different idea of a shoe. It has a super lightweight low cut upper, which feels nice and may breath really well, but possibly is not as appropriate for trail running as the LS. And it has a thicker sole which ironically might provide more protection from rocks on trails, but seems more aimed at beginner five fingers runners who don’t want too much ground feedback.

Ultimately it seems a little odd to me that Vibram decided to simultaneously make the upper much more minimal and lightweight and the sole thicker and more sturdy. It makes the Bikila less of an inbetween shoe (between the most minimal shoes and the shoes more specifically intended for trails). I guess Vibram wanted to make the overall shoe lighter, while also thickening up the sole a bit, and this is how they got there. But the end result doesn’t entirely make sense to me.

I’m not saying the EVO isn’t a nice shoe. But I don’t know that overall it makes as much sense as the LS. And if the lightweight upper turns out not to last as long, making the shoes both less durable and more expensive, that doesn’t seem like a great equation for users.

Any idea when the Bilka Evo WP will be released?

My beloved Speed XCs are totally worn down..and I need a replacement.

(Sorry if I’m slightly off-topic from the main review..)

Nice Review… these were my first VFF, and I have been running on minimalistic shoes for 2 years. mainly NB Minimus, Merrell road glove1 and 2,
Loved the fit and feel when i got them. Ran a couple of Half Marathons in them since, but it do seem to wear out the soles pretty quick. I’m on <300km currently with the soles under my outer forefoot almost gone and expecting it to be holed in a few more runs. the Merrells lasted about 650k each and the NB about 850Km. I run with my mid-forefoot strike and goes from outer to inner but the soles on these bikila evo seem to wear out so fast!

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