Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Vibram Bikila review

I have been running in VFF Sprints for about a year and half now for virtually all my training runs, 2 road marathons, a trail 50 miler, and various shorter races.  I love them and don't ever want to run in anything else.  I still have some road shoes which I wear to walk around on the weekends, but for running, it's only VFFs for me.

Runners have been wearing VFFs for a while, but for the first time, Vibram has created a shoe exclusively for running, the Bikila, named after Abebe Bikila, who won the marathon at the 1960 Olympics running barefoot.  On top, the look is similar to some other VFF models.  The biggest noticeable difference from prior models is the padded collar, which adds some comfort, especially around the Achilles, and makes it look more like a traditional running shoe.
The sole is where the Bikila really sets itself apart from other Vibram models.  You can see in this picture the rubber "anatomical pods" distributed around the sole.  This gives the sole protection in all the right places.  The white portion at the arch is thicker and stiffer that what you find in other VFFs.
The smooth ride felt nice when I started running in the Bikilas.  Overall, they feel great, but the pods and thicker, stiffer sole reduces the feel of the road.  The foot still can move like it's bare, but the sole gets less response from the surface.  Having run so many miles in the Sprints, which have a much smoother, thinner sole, the sole felt like a lot more between me and the surface than I'm used to.  But there's no question that the Bikila's sole is much thinner than the typical running shoe.
With the Bikila, Vibram continues to make valuable contributions to minimalist running.  For someone who's looking to try out the transition from traditional running shoes to minimalist shoes, the Bikila would be perfect.  It provides enough sole to alleviate fears of injury due to glass, rocks, or other obstacles you might find on the street, yet is flexible enough to give a barefoot feel.  A barefoot runner, or a runner accustomed to a thinner sole, like on the VFF Sprint, might feel like there's way too much to the sole.  The Bikilas can be a great first step into the minimalist running revolution.


  1. Thanks! I was looking for bikila reviews for running and training for a marathon, so with your help I know they're great.