Are you a Vibram Bikilas fan? There’s a new version of this ever-popular minimalist shoe making its way to the Vibram 2014 Spring lineup, albeit with a few (questionable) modifications. I’ve been running in my five-toed Bikila and Bikila LS barefoot shoes since the beginning of February this year, logging anywhere from 20-60 miles a week. I’ve grown extremely fond of every aspect that comprises the shoe, and personally, don’t know of anything that needed changing. However, Vibram saw a need to alter this five-fingered favorite of mine. Let me run through some changes you’ll see in 2014.
The Name – Dropping the LS (which stood for Lace System), the new shoes will simply be called Bikila EVO. The EVOs (short for evolve, I’m assuming) were designed for medium-distance runners who are looking to make an easy transition into minimalist shoes. Making the switch to minimalist can be a challenge for some runners, as it takes time to adjust to the thinner sole. Although the name has changed, they will continue to use the popular lace system.
Thicker Sole – Speaking of soles, Vibram has decided to take the Bikilas in a new direction in regards to padding. This is the part that concerns me. Adding 4.5 mm of extra padding, the new Bikila EVO will have a max sole-thickness of 8.5 mm. That’s over twice the padding of the Bikila LS! This added padding will certainly affect ground feedback, which is of extreme importance to me. It would appear that Vibram is turning the Bikila into a “transition shoe” instead of a full-out minimalist barefoot running shoe. Sure, it’ll be great for those starting out, but what about those of us who were grandfathered in? What I haven’t mentioned though, is that Vibram has many other shoes coming out in 2014 for us barefoot runners. Don’t worry, they have us covered for the trail, road, gym, golf course, and even water!
Colors – One thing that doesn’t surprise me, is the use of vibrant colors in the 2014 lineup. I’m not the biggest fan of loud colors, but they do turn heads and make for great conversation. So far we’ve only seen three color variations: Orange/Turquoise/Black/White, Orange/LightBlue/Turquoise/Lime, and Black/Yellow/Purple. Like years past, I’m sure that there will be many more colors to choose from.
Weight – The already (very) light shoes have apparently been on a diet this past year. Dropping from 6 to 5.07 ounces, these five-fingers have shed almost an entire ounce. But what about that extra padding? Wouldn’t that make the shoes weigh more? The material comprising the platform is EVA foam which is commonly used as a shock absorber in sports shoes. The foam is super-light and often called expandable rubber. This is what gives these new EVOs their cushion and keeps their weight to a minimum.
Gripping Soles – The sole of the Bikilas has been completely redesigned this time around. Constructed mostly of EVA foam and rubber plates, the new soles offer more flexibility, protection, and grip. At the forefoot of the shoe, the new rubber plate has been placed horizontally, opposite of previous models. This is likely been done to improve flexibility in the mid-foot. The heel plate now has nine rubber pieces which have been strategically placed to improve flexibility as well.
Cost – At this point, the price has not been released. As soon as I am updated, I will pass that information along to you. Previous models of Bikilas started out around $100, and I wouldn’t think the EVOs would be any different.
Although I’m excited to see how the new Bikilas will perform on the road, I’m a bit weary of their new design. Adding more cushion to my favorite shoes was not a selling point for this minimalist runner. I prefer my shoes to be as “barefoot” as possible, and adding extra padding (for me) takes away from this experience. With that said, I won’t discount the shoes until I try them for myself. But I suspect these shoes aren’t for me. Perhaps it’s time I explore new options in the Vibram lineup, or try a new brand altogether. One of the great things about running, is finding ways to improve your form, speed, and overall experience. Great shoes is a good place to start.