Written by: Jessica Plumbley
- A view of my Vibram Bikilas
Love to run, but plagued by injuries and joint problems? The Vibram FiveFingers Bikila Women’s running shoes may make your feet look a little weird, but they’ll improve your running experience—provided they last long enough.
Vibram designed these and other Five-fingers shoes with the theory that moving barefoot naturally corrects poor form, thereby preventing injuries and joint problems. Vibram claims to provide shoes that allow wearers to experience the benefits of barefoot movement while keeping their feet protected.
The Bikila model is designed specifically for runners, and boasts features such as a 3mm polyurethane insole that thickens under the ball of the foot and a 4mm “anatomical pod outsole design” for underfoot protection. It also promises to distribute forefoot impact without compromising the “ground feedback essential to a proper forefoot-strike running form” (vibramfivefingers.com).
- The bottom of the Bikila running shoe.
The consensus with Vibrams is to start slow, so I walked around in my new Bikilas before taking them on a run. I love the natural feel of the shoe and that my knees–so often a problem after running–don’t hurt at all! Other reviewers on rei.com reported similarly: people love the way this shoe runs. Bikilas are praised as comfortable, breathable, lightweight, and fast. They also attract by offering toe protection and more comfortable backs than other Fivefingers. Many viewers would recommend them to friends.
- Outer side of the Women’s Fivefingers Bikila.
Problems with the shoe include foot stink, lack of practical colors, unworkable fit for people with narrow feet or high arches, and—most troubling of all—low tolerance for wear-and-tear. A tumble in the river created 3 holes in the top of my Vibram’s fabric, which I coated quickly with superglue for fear that the fabric would unravel and the shoe be rendered unusable. The “TPU toe protection” is wearing through though I’ve owned had the Bikilas 5 months. Other reviewers reported seams and the rubber-fabric line coming apart; one even said the rubber wore through on the bottom!
While not all users have problems with the quality of their Bikilas, there are a fair number of complaints. Seams and minor tears can be fixed by stitches and superglue, but anything more serious than that and you have the shoe replaced. I would recommend Vibram Fivefingers Women’s Bikila shoes on the basis of the benefits they provide the runner, but try to get them at a discount–$100 is a lot to spend on a shoe that falls apart so easily.