I've got the Vibram KSO currently and it works great, especially for trail running. However, running on cement starts to hurt after a while.

Vibram KSOs

I'm thinking of getting a different kind, but there are several types that look like they could be candidates such as:

  • the Bikila

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  • the KSO Trek

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Has anyone had any experience with these? How do I pick the right model?

  • 5
    I would suggest tweaking your question so that it focuses on the factors you look at to judge a shoe, rather than recommending a specific type (which would be a shopping recommendation...) That way others will benefit from the answers as well :-)
    – Ivo Flipse
    Mar 9, 2011 at 21:51
  • 2
    While it may have been on topic originally (2011), it's basically a shopping question.
    – JohnP
    Jan 2, 2014 at 16:12

11 Answers 11


I don't know Ivo or Greg but they are so far off base that I would ignore them. Vibram Five fingers are made to run on ANY surface. It has nothing to do with running style, cement, etc.

It forces you to change the way you run to a more natural manner. If you are a heel striker...you will soon quit that. The Bikala is just fine for distance running. Some folks can't adjust to running barefoot. However, a pediatrist friend of mine who runs in half and full marathons cut a section of Dr. Scholls gel pad and glued it in the shoe for the forefoot when he developed a blister and swears by it. Once your feet toughen up, the cement won't be an issue.

It took me about a month. I'm a Clydsdale distance runner and wouldn't switch to a regular shoe for anything.


I know guys using the Bikala for marathons. I use Sprints for training which sometimes means running on cement. I feel they are fine if you change your running style. I've switched to running Pose (as best as I can) because of other knee issues, and since there are no hard impacts the lack of any support is not an issue.

I don't think you would get very far heel striking in Five Fingers though.


In my opinion 100% barefoot is still the way to go. It's the most natural way as well. The only good reason to run with Vibrams is temperature. Running 100% barefoot is better for your running posture. You start using your hips to absorbe shoques. This implicates that you will not constantely burden your achilles tendon by running on your front foot like you do when you weir the Vibrams or any other minimalistic shoe. The Idea is good but the protection from the rubber sole makes your foot unroll different and that influences your running posture.

I use the Vibrams too. A lot. But I try not to run with them and go as much 100% barefoot as I can. I use the Vibram mostely during PT sessions. If I had to choose from the ones you showed I would take the Bikila's.


If you're considering the Bikilas, go with Bikila LS instead — the new lacing system is dramatically better and won't chafe like the old strap sometimes did. I don't have experience with the other two types you listed, but I've run on plenty of cement in the Bikila LS. I've found that landing evenly in the middle of my foot minimizes pain from running on cement; you might just need to tweak your form rather than get new shoes.


VFF's used to be a bit of a fad in the ultra community. We do see people show up with them at the start line. Unfortunately, we rarely see them at the finish line because they drop early.

I would suggest that if you find VFF's painful for long distances then you consider slowing down your training and building endurance adaptations in your feet before trying again. After all, it's those adaptations that you wanted in the first place. By slowing down your training I mean running to the distance you can before your feet hurt but do that distance more often that week.

Frankly, if you're not prepared to do the training required then a more comfortable VFF for long distance is called a shoe. Spend more time training on distances that don't hurt or give up and go for a shoe.


I wouldn't use any Vibrams for cement. They are intended to simulate "natural" running, but there's nothing natural about cement. If you're going to run on cement, just get a regular pair of running shoes with nice padded soles and save the Vibrams for the trail.

  • 6
    Interestingly enough, the guy who gave the TED talk about minimal shoes mentioned that the plains on Kenia aren't exactly soft either, yet the Kenians don't seem to mind ;-)
    – Ivo Flipse
    Mar 9, 2011 at 22:27
  • 2
    Funny, I remember reading an essay by someone who ran a marathon (Boston?) in Vibrams with some Kenyans and they looked at him like he was from outer space. Said he was crazy to use them on pavement. I guess their plains may be hard, but still don't quite stack up to concrete!
    – G__
    Mar 9, 2011 at 22:53
  • 2
    I'm sure you've heard his talk, but I thought I'd share the link anyway. Either way, I personally only recommend them if you have the running style and body composition that goes with it...
    – Ivo Flipse
    Mar 9, 2011 at 23:13

I ran a half-marathon in Bikilas, and have been running daily on concrete with them without much trouble; it does take some time to adjust though, expect some pain if you don't ramp up your distance slowly enough.

I found that KSOs wear through far too quickly on rough surfaces, I would recommend against using those for much running on concrete.


I'm no expert, but I've been running in VFF - KSO and Bikila Treksports for a year. I use the KSO for the beach and shorter distances and the Treksports for longer distances. The farthest I have run in them is 6-miles, but working on farther. Also, I run in the Treksports on all terrains - rocky trails, cement, treadmills, sand. I did have a problem with the forefoot because I have a blisters there from my job, but that wasn't due to the VFFs. In my opinion, the blisters would have complicated any running I did in any shoe. As a result, I bought Dr. Scholl's ball of the foot gel pads, and the problem went away. I thoroughly enjoy running in my Five-Fingers and won't go back to regular shoes. I also have a pair of Jaya LRs for everyday walking around.


I experienced using a kso trek. It is not good for a long road marathon, i feel painful especially on my toes and heels which is because of the deep spikes. But i recommend it in any trail run marathon, it is not painful. I also have a pair of a KSO's and you may medicate the painful knee problem by having a correct heel strike. I'm a mid arch striker that's why i feel comfortable using the KSO's on road, and the KSO trek on trail running. For the best advise, visit a running clinic to know your heel strike and ask the correct pair of running shoes to the running clinic doctor. Visit also vibramfivefingers.com so you can read advises there.


I run about 32 miles a week on cement, twice a week I run 12 miles to work in my VFF sprint. Your legs soon gets used to the cement. The main difference between the VFF and normal trainers in the recovery time is much quicker using the VFF.


I've been running in Vibram Fivefingers for about 4 years, first in a pair of KSOs then in a pair of Bikilas. My typical run is 4 - 6 miles. I agree with Mike but wanted to add my experience to this question.

When I switched from KSOs to Bikilas the pad over the Achilles tendon on the Bikila irritated my skin. The upper of the Bikila has a good deal more "structure" to it and this made the rubbing even worse. Even after my skin toughened up it would still be irritated after a run. For this reason I prefer the KSO, though I am still running in Bikilas. I wanted to get the Bikila LS but they are designed for wide feet and mine are narrow so I had to pull the two sides completely together to get a snug fit. My next pair will probably be a brown pair of KSO Treks because they will look better when I feel like wearing them with jeans.

Learning how to run like a human is key to running in minimalist shoes. You can find some really good information from Harvard's Skeletal Biology Lab" barefoot running page. There is also a great video summarizing this work on YouTube. I used to run a mile or two barefooted each time I ran just to improve my form but I quite doing that last year. My feet never seemed to toughen up enough for regular 4 to 6 mile runs on concrete and asphalt, though I could run the occasional 5K barefooted without issues.

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