Thursday, August 4, 2011

Oh Vibram Fivefingers - Let Me Count the Ways

I stopped by my local Vibram Fivefingers (V5Fs) reseller today to see if they had received some of the "Speed" models recently released here in the US.  Not only did they have them, but after trying them on I walked out with yet another pair of V5Fs.  It's not that I buy every model that comes out, honest, there's a couple models I don't own, but I do have seem to have an excessive number of VFFs, although I have a perfectly reasonable explanation for each one - well, that's gonna be my story anyways.

From Left to Right - KSO, Flow, Bikila, Bikila LS, Speed.

The KSO - Ninja, of course:
When I first discovered these foot-gloves (in July 2009) my options were the Classics, Sprints, Flows, and the KSOs (keep stuff out).  I opted for the KSOs, and because Vibram was having trouble meeting demand, I had a color choice of "black" or "black", which got the nickname Ninja KSOs.  When I first got these in, I thought I'd never take them off they felt so amazing.  Not long thereafter I decided I need a second pair to rotate them day to day.  Completely reasonable, right? V5F count: 2

The Flows - Also Ninja, for those chilly assassination nights:
Not only was I running, but I was running in a way that turned running into something enjoyable, and I was part of a new, as of yet mostly unknown kind of running.  My milage was increasing and I was learning so many new things, and my excitement carried me into fall then winter.  Things were getting cold in Mudville - Enter the "Flows".  The Flows are marketed as a warmer "barefoot shoe", which it achieves using neoprene as it's covering. V5F count: 3

The Bikila - New Kid on the Block:
In 2010, the long rumored Bikila V5F was finally released.  This was designed specifically for running, as there was clearly a market for this - most people wearing the KSOs were running in them after all.  A little earlier that year, I had first issue with the design of the KSO.  I was running down a hill and when I reached the bottom with 3 more miles to go, I had a very irritating pain on the inside of one of my feet.  There is a seam right there that can really rub you the wrong way!  I kept trying to get past it until I just couldn't take it anymore.  At a little more than a 1/2 miles out, I decided to take them off and finally try running barefoot (another story).  So the seam thing was an issue and I was coming up on my first 1/2 marathon.  The Bikila addressed these little buggers.  I loved this new design, and just started to wear my KSOs casually.  I ran in these almost exclusively for the rest of the year and I was training for my first marathon so these Bikila's started to get a lot of miles on them.  I had started to notice that my left shoe was wearing down significantly faster than my right, so I got a new pair shortly before my before my first full marathon in February 2011. V5F count: 5

The Trek - The Land Rover of V5Fs ~ Barefoot Ted:
The Treks uses kangaroo leather and comes in black and brown.  I was wearing my V5Fs all the time and as silly as it might sound, I wanted a dresser shoe, and something a little warmer too.  The Trek has a much more aggressive tread and a lot of folks use these for trail running and ultra running, or just running in general.  I love them, and while I've done some work in them, I feel I have better options for running.  And they clean up real nice.  V5F count: 6 (don't judge me ;)

The Classics - Oh Why the Hell Not:
At this point, Vibram was coming out with all kinda of new models.  The Classic was the original, and I had been eyeing these from some time.  They are the most minimalist model they make and have a mostly open top.  When I had finally decided to get these, they has just released the Classic with a Smartwool option, I didn't know this until I when to purchase them.  My biggest love of these are easy-in easy-out.  And they look better when I'm in shorts than the KSOs too - they're kinda my summer go to shoes.  V5F count: 7

The Bikila LS - Improvement on a Great Design:
So it was February 18th, and I was in Myrtle Beach the day before my first marathon.  I'd see reviews of the Bikila LS online, but I had not yet seen them in person.  I saw a woman wearing them at the expo and as I talked to her about them, she planted a seed in my brain that a few weeks later would make me get a pair of these - see so this time around it wasn't my fault - I was possessed by forces outside my control.  The Bikila LS model has a lot of difference from it's predecessor.  I believe the sole is exactly the same, but the covering is a bamboo fiber rather than what's used in the Bikila (no idea what it is).  This model also uses a speed lacing system, which, now that I've discovered it, I'll always opt for.  It's a little lighter, it breaths better, and because of the lacing, it actually conforms better to your foot, which I didn't believe was even possible until then.  V5F count: 8

The Speed - The Old World Brother to the Bikila:
The Speed model was actually released about the same time as the Bikila, but it was only available in Europe for some reason.  The Speed has a traditional lacing system and uses a mesh-like material such as that seen on "traditional" running shoes.  And, as it turns out, it's available in "black" and "black", well, unless your a woman.  As I said earlier, my left shoe wears quicker than my right (I think it has to do with my left leg being 1/8" longer) so it seems I'm getting a new running model V5F every ~500 miles (roughly estimated).  V5F count: 9

Three Different Running Models - Same Tread Design

Original Bikila, Speed, and Bikila LS
I plan on doing a review of my new Speeds and will post it on my new blog.  I'll focus on how these compare to the Bikila models.  I've not run in these yet, but I'm eager to try them out.  All of this can start getting kinda pricey, but replacing running shoes is a normal expense of running.  That being said, this year I've really worked on my barefoot running and have done at least half of my summer miles barefoot - and each of those miles have cost me $0 :)

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