Barefoot Shoes

Women’s Vibram Five Fingers Bikila Review

Guest Post by LindseyAdding Bikilas to the CollectionThe Bikila has already gotten a fair amount of attention from Birthday Shoes, but when asked to give a woman’s perspective on this new model, I was happy to oblige. I am by no means an experience…

Guest Post by Lindsey

Adding to the Collection

The Bikila has already gotten a fair amount of attention from Birthday Shoes, but when asked to give a woman’s perspective on this new model, I was happy to oblige. I am by no means an experienced runner. I usually average about three miles on my regular runs, with my “long” (relative term!) runs going just over four. I am sure there are many more experienced female runners reading this entry right now. But I am happy to say that with the help of the VFFs I own (Sprints, KSOs, and Bikilas) and some barefoot training, that mileage is steadily increasing, and my enjoyment of the sport is growing as well. So take this review for what it’s worth and here we go!

I have been running in Vibram Five Fingers exclusively since the beginning of May (and occasionally since November 2009). When I heard about the release of the new Bikila, I was intrigued. Part of me loved the look and idea behind this shoe, while the other part of me was a bit confused as to its seemingly increased bulk. But bottom line was, I was looking for a shoe that would help me transition back onto harder surfaces like pavement and concrete. I had run on tracks with my Sprints for awhile, but feared harder surfaces because of bad experiences in regular running shoes. I thought of the crippling shin splints I used to suffer, and knowing to take things easy in VFFs, I thought perhaps the Bikilas might be more forgiving on concrete. I took the plunge. I bought my pair of Bikilas (W40, white/green) in the beginning of June from Sheels. I had to call my local store, and of course since they were sold out, I eventually went through a Sheels in Nevada to finally obtain the Bikilas.

First Impressions

I took the Bikilas out of the box, and immediately thought “wow, these things look fast!” I put them on and moved around the house a bit. I noticed that the pod design on the bottom of the shoe did give a different feel than my minimal Sprints. It took some getting used to, but the new shoe infatuation had certainly set in. I took them on vacation with me the next day, eager to eventually try them on a run. When I finally did, it was on a local rubberized running track. Unfortunately, my first experience in the Bikilas was not exactly stellar. I did a little over two miles in them that day, but found that on that highly rubberized surface, that the ground feel was much more muffled than the Sprints. I also felt like the Bikilas got “stuck” on that surface. They seemed hot, noticeably heavier than the Sprints, and running that day seemed to require more effort. I put them away, conceding that they might perform much better on a smoother, harder surface. The Sprints got the rest of the running time on that trip.

Once I returned home, I made myself try the Bikilas again, this time on a smoother, somewhat harder indoor running track. This time I was pleasantly surprised! I used them for my speed work that day. My initial 1.5 mile warm up went well, as I focused on light, quick steps and lifting my feet rather than pushing off. I used that time to focus on technique rather than what I was wearing, and it worked well. Afterward, I did several sprints and recoveries over the next 1.75 miles. There were times that I felt like I was absolutely FLYING in the Bikilas! Like my feet weren’t even touching the ground. I’ve had that feeling in the Sprints as well, but here I think the Bikilas pods on the tread helped disperse some of the impact and make the ride a little smoother. Since then I’ve used the Bikilas a couple more times, mainly for speed work, but also for an easy run. In terms of ground feel, there is less than in something like the Sprint or even the KSO. But ultimately I don’t find this to affect my form at all. If anything, I think they strike a nice balance between protection and feel.

Fit, Feel and Care

I have had no issues regarding fit. As far as sizing goes, I wear a W40 in Bikilas, a W40 in KSOs, and a W40 in Sprints. My other (running) pair of Sprints is actually W41 – a little roomy, but they work great. The cut of the top of the Bikila allows for easier entry for the foot, much easier than the KSO. I thought perhaps I would have issues on the right foot regarding that top part of the shoe pressing against the instep, but thus far there have been no problems. If anything, that shoe seems to have loosened up a bit, and has never affected me on my run.

Are the Biks my favorite VFF? No. The Sprints still maintain their position at the top of my list. I love that they’re so light, flexible, and offer such great feedback without sacrificing security on my foot. I do whatever running I can in the Sprints (most easy and long runs), saving the speed work for the Bikilas. I’ve read testimonies from other Bikila owners, runners with much more mileage than I, stating that the Bikila is better on longer runs than say, the Classic or perhaps the Sprint. I can believe that. I suspect as my long runs get longer, I’ll be using the Bikilas for those to save my feet a little bit. We shall see.

The pros of the Bikila are its improved traction given it’s pod tread design, and the seamless, softer liner. Wearing the Bikilas is like slipping on a pair of socks, in a way. They are very comfortable on the foot. The material on top is very stretchy and also very comfortable. One might wonder, though, if it’s durable or not. Cons include the reduced ground feedback, weight, and known quality control issues. It seems that a fair share of Bikilas have suffered toe failure – the glue holding the fabric to the shell of the toe failed, thus separating the fabric. For this reason I don’t think I’ll be machine washing my pair, and will instead hand wash them with gentle detergent. Thus far I’ve not seen any issues with my pair.


The Bikila is certainly an excellent shoe, one that appears to be very versatile (perhaps more versatile than many people thought). It is yet another great addition to the VFF line up, one that was cleverly designed and well thought out regarding its performance. Whether a casual runner or someone training for a marathon, the Bikila could fit your needs, depending on your preferences. I don’t use mine as much as other models I own, but am certainly glad I bought the Bikilas. They give me options, which I believe was their original intent.

Photos of Lindsey and her Vibram Five Fingers Bikilas:

About the author —

Recently, Lindsey shared her collection of Vibram Five Fingers with us and reviewed the Mizuno Wave Universe 3 racing flat. She will soon be going through Officer Training School for the U.S. Air Force. Good luck and thanks for another great review Lindsey!

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

By BdayShoes

BdayShoes is the "guest blogger" everyman (or woman!) of Periodically, we feature original posts from non-regular writers on the blog here. Those posts get published under this user! If you're interested in contributing a one-off post to BirthdayShoes, contact us!

19 replies on “Women’s Vibram Five Fingers Bikila Review”

Did you try them on the road/concrete? I’ve been running in the Bikilas for a couple of weeks now and also feel they are a little sluggish on the track, but I’m loving them out on the concrete, much faster. I have not tried any other VFF’s so couldn’t compare, but I’m enjoying the Bikilas if they break apart, I think I’ll replace them with new Bikilas 🙂

I have loved my Sprints and have completed one road marathon in them. I have just purchased my Bikilas and loved the way they fit and felt. And in typical fashion ran too far and too hard in them. I am now nursing a sore left calf muscle.

Today I tested the leg with them once again and a half mile into the run the calf seized up again. I then ran barefoot for half a mile and the pain was lessened.
Is it possible the heel sits lower on the Bikilas than in the Sprints, or barefoot for that matter? I feel I am stretching my calves again like when I first started bf and VFF running.

I was a bit disappointed with the fit of the bikila’s. They were my second pair vibrams, my first being a mens kso trek (since there were no womens version at the time). The mens kso trek was really roomy for me in the heel and really easy for me to slip on. I was excited to finally get the womens shoe size 41. but then I was very disappointed to not be able to fit my foot into the shoe at all! I guess i have a tall foot. I thought the lower cut would make the womens bikila easier to get on, not impossible. Even though I really really wanted the pink bikilas, I’m now scared to even buy the “mens” version thinking they still won’t fit and I’ll have to ship back another pair.

thanks for the review! I’m happy with my Bikilas and since I’m training for a marathon I have started to save them for my Long Runs. So far – so good!

I wear W37 in Sprint and KSOs – my W37 Bikilas are still a bit tight feeling on the top. Maybe I just have fat feet. 🙂 However I do wear thin sports-injinji’s with the Bikilas. While it would seem that they’d make it tighter it actually helps with protecting my skin from getting pinched. I have pleanty of room in the toes.

It seems like the women on here tend to start out with the Classic or Sprints and then maybe get the KSO or Bikilas. Any help understanding why?

I’m thinking about getting my first pair of VFFs. I’d be running, climbing, and hiking in them. The beginner’s guide on here suggests KSOs for everything that I’m planning on doing in them. However, it seems like the KSOs are the most guy-popular version, and not necessarily for the women. Any advice from the other women out there for a first pair of VFFs that I want to be able to do everything in?

Fashionwise, I could see why the guys would like the KSO better, and the women would like the Sprints better, if purely on color choices.

Thanks for giving us a thorough review. I also got my Bikilas back in May, but don’t actually run very much in them. I tried doing so a bit around my neighborhood and found that the extra stiffness and padding made running longer easier. I also agree that the fabric is super-soft inside, I wish all VFFs had that nice feel.

Same QC issues other people had, the toe rubber separated from the fabric within a week, so I think I may return/exchange mine.


I am a VFF newbie. I purchased my 1st pair of Bilkilas about 3 weeks ago, specifically for running. I must say I absolutely love this shoe! I typically run 3-4 miles a day. I immediately noticed how much easier my runs got. Of course I had to get used to the shoe; my calf muscles were killing me the 1st couple of days.

I also had some QC issues with the rubber separating from the fabric. That did not deter me whatsoever. I simply exchanged my shoe, and all was well.

no a barefoot runner, but I too have run that when my dad was stationed there. I was in my first trimester of pregnancy but still pulled off at least 7 miles… so fun continuing to run after my dad and his men had finished!

Recently purchased Bikila’s as my first VFF shoes. I think they are great for running (I’m a 59-year-old walker/jogger), but no one on this blog is talking about the SMELL! Before even running in them I put them in my closet and the whole room smelled like rubber or plastic. Are mine the only ones that STINK?

To Chris – YES, my shoes smelled like stinky rubber/plastic for a couple weeks. Wearing them around and getting to smell more like stinky feet seemed to fix the problem :-).

I run in the Classic. I recently got a good blister and got some toe socks. The socks make the toes very tight. I am looking at the Bikilas. Do most people wear them with socks? Should I be trying them on with socks before determining my size? If they are worn without socks do people use body glide or something else on their feet?

Thanks for the review!
I’ve just bought a pair of KSO, im new to barefoot running. I love it. However, Im not 100% satisfied with the KSO, because the seem alongside the mesh, on the top around the foot, and against the heel are high risk for blisters or skin irritation (for those with extremely sensitive skin). Therefore, I did not buy the Sprint, because the strap already irritated my skin the minute I put it on. I didnt buy the Classic because it’s not advised for running. Since I read how soft the Bikila is, I’m considering to exchange my KSO for Bikila. However, Id like to have as much ground feel as possible, and I will be mostly running in nature.
What would you other women, men advise?

Cheers, Irene

What a great review! I’m holding back on the Bikilas, even though I LOVE them, because I found the “cuff” at the ankle quite tight and almost pinchy when I tried them and walked around in them at the store (although it was only for ten minutes)… My question is, do these stretch out a little bit, width-wise across the top of the foot and at that cuff?

Since nobody seems to reply to questions, I thought I would give it a go. 🙂

@Lizzy-chan – I actually wear W42 shoes, this is the largest women sized shoe you can get in vibrams. So maybe you can still size up from your W41 to a W42 and still get the pink ones ? 🙂
– Oh, and when putting my kso’s or speeds on I just push the heel inwards/down, like they would be slippers, then wiggle in my toes in the pockets and only then pull the heel from under my foot back in upwards position. Perhaps this might help you a bit ?

@April – I got the sprints as a first version too, an M41 actually, basically because they were the only ones they sold here in the stores. They didn’t even have women sizes. Now they sell none any more and I’m completely reliant upon the internet. 🙂 I never liked the sprints though, the M42’s felt way too big in the store, so I went with the M41’s and they always pressed realllly hard against the part right above my heel. It left deep and painful indents after long walks. The sole itself would’ve been more than big enough (no pressure on my toes), but just that part pressing against my backfoot ruined it for me.

I quickly got Kso’s (grey/pink) W42 after that, because there were no other interesting models back then. And about half a year ago got speeds in the same size. But they pinch me in between the toes and I have NO clue why. I only wear them with socks for “normal” walking. Hiking and stuff (like going uphill and downhill) hurts too much between my toes on the longer hikes. So basically, for me, I still love my KSO’s the best, they have a very good ground feel and they’re mighty comfy. Ow and the pink in between the toes is really cute too. 🙂

@Darlene Determan – I’m not sure. I’ve seen people go barefoot in them and others prefer socks in them. So I guess it’ll be up to you and how well they fit your foot wether you’ll prefer socks or not. If they’re comfy enough, I’ll be using them barefoot, since that’s the way I prefer wearing my vibrams. 🙂 (yes I’ll probably be getting the bikila’s grey/green real soon too 🙂 )

@Irene – You’ll get more grip with the bikila’s (pretty much same sole as speeds and I have those 🙂 ) but loose some ground feel. When running over 3cm sized pebbles and rocks, you’ll love the extra padding. And you’ll be less likely to slip in mud. And they’ll feel warmer since ground frost won’t get through as easy. But … I really love my KSO’s, you have to be more careful (mud really slips if you step into it wrong) and use your eyes a lot more (coz stones will hurt ya 🙂 ), hence it’s closer (in my opinion) to barefoot running. So I prefer the KSO’s, but in winter they’re a bit chilly for me (thin sole lets through a lot of the frost), that’s why I’m looking into Bikila’s, coz I’m a sissy. 🙂

I think that’s it as far as questions go. 🙂 Too bad vibram doesn’t make W43 classics. I’ve really been wanting some casual summer vibrams. But I’m afraid getting a mens size. Sending back is expensive. M41 might be big enough, if the heel is not “bent inwards” like with the sprints. If it’s too smalL, I’m pretty sure the M42 will be waaayy to roomy. Having big feet sucks. 🙂

I’ve had my Bikila’s for several weeks now and have ran 14miles runs serveral times now in them. I like them. They are light and quck and you can really gun it if you get the urge. They feel very sure footed. As far as the smell.. I love the smell (even’s the materials). After a run I merely hold each under the faucet and rise them out and rinse the soles.. they clean up very easily and nice.. I let them dry naturally.. either in a sunny spot or just whereever.. they dry overnight. Wish me luck I’m wearing them for a half marathon this weekend.. can’t wait! Oh, and not having to wear socks is a real plus.. and I have no sore spots on my feet from these shoes.. My feet may tingle a bit when I’m finished running 14 miles.. but recovery is quick.

I bought my Bikila’s this past summer and loved running in them…however, the bottoms have separated from the tops. I have contacted Vibram by e-mail and throuh their web site and still have not heard back how to repair or return them for replacement…. It is unfortunate they are so unresponsive.

im interested in buying a bikila but i live in canada. I want to know if they are warm during winter runs.

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