Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Lots of foot protection, cozy uppers, durabale sole.
Cons: Not as sensitive as KSO or Classic, expensive, slippery on wet pavement, rocks or wooden stairs.
Best Uses: Running on pavement.
The Bikila is Vibram's road running FiveFinger model and our top choice for running on pavement. It has a thicker and more durable sole, thicker insole, reflective material and a cushier fit. If you are mainly using your FiveFingers for pavement running you should consider this shoe. Overall, we prefer the Vibram FiveFingers KSO because it is more breathable, sensitive, versatile, and has a look that gets fewer stares. But if you are concerned that the KSO gives you less protection than you need when pounding the pavement, the Bikila may be the way to go. It gives a lot more foot padding with a relatively minor decrease in sensitivity. If you are mainly running or hiking on trails we recommend the Vibram FiveFingers TrekSport.
Since we first wrote this review, Vibram launched a new shoe built on the same Bikila sole called the Vibram Fivefingers Speed (click the link for a comparison of the Speed and Bikila LS). We like the Speed better than the Bikila LS because it is lighter, more comfortable and better looking. But the Bikila has a thicker insole and give more protection.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
These FiveFingers have a whole different feel than other models. Instead of thin mesh uppers, these have a cozy liner that feels like putting on a comfy sock. These do a better job of keeping out sand and fine dirt than the KSO. The KSO lets in sand through the mesh whereas these have an upper that keeps sand out. Small stuff still can get in around the ankle, but not as easily.
Rather than a continuous layer of thick sole material like the Merrell True Glove, this shoe uses little independent plates. This allows for the sole to be much more flexible and gives you protection without sacrificing too much sensitivity to the ground. They also have a much beefier instep plate to give more support. These are the most supportive FiveFingers we tested.
These shoes are covered in reflective material that makes them pop a little if running at night.
These keep our feet warmer than any other FiveFinger model because of the thicker upper.
While these are way more comfy than other FiveFingers, they also feel, well, more like shoes. This is fine if you are looking for a more gentle transition from a traditional shoe to a barefoot shoe. But they do have less true barefoot feel than a FiveFinger Classic or FiveFinger KSO.
All FiveFingers look a little dorky, but this one especially so. It only comes in reflective gray with bright primary color highlights. By comparison, most other FiveFingers come with the option of grays and blacks that fly under the radar a little more.
These are a more slippery going stairs and downhill. The plate in the instep of the foot does not grip all that well on uneven terrain. The rest of the sole is also more slippery than a typical FiveFinger. So whether on trails or pavement, you need to be more careful on steep, wet, or uneven terrain.
Because of the thicker upper, these do not breathe as well as other FiveFinger models. They also don't dry as fast if you get them wet.
We found the lack of a heel strap in the tightening system a downside. We were not as able to get as snug a fit as with the KSO or the TrekSport.
To make things worse, these were sized differently than other FiveFinger models. The main tester wears a 42 in all FiveFingers but a 42 in the Bikila was at least a half size bigger than other FiveFingers.
The FiveFiners Bikila LS]] is a lace model of this shoe. While it makes the shoe a little less streamlined, the laces do give a more custom fit in the middle of the shoe.
— Chris McNamara
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: September 24, 2011
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