Vibram is releasing some new very exciting shoes this Spring, including my new favorite fivefinger shoe, The Bikila LS. Having watched their steady progression in making fivefinger shoes since 2005 I feel like this new shoe combines a lot of their already amazing features. It's comfortable, versatile, supportive (as much as Vibram can be), stylish, and crazy close to my "perfect" shoe. I put it on for the first time at the office, tearing open the box and being stunned at the style. I hadn't seen pictures of it in a while and had forgotten how much the design had changed since the original Bikila, but nothing surprised me of how much had changed, till I put it on.
When I imagined the Bikila LS after seeing the spring 2011 catalog I thought it would be exactly like the Bikila but with a little bit more room to accommodate larger volume feet. I loved the Bikila for running but would never think about wearing it around town, mostly because I preferred the flexibility and comfort of the KSO. Plus! As many know the Bikila had a more... Flashy appearance... And therefore wasn't always accommodating to my causal look. The added padding on the bottom of the Bikila would be nice for around town on concrete but the KSO felt more comfortable as a shoe. That being said, it was a great running shoe with amazing technical advances over the KSO like the Achilles tendon cushioning instead of compression, lower ankle curves, reflection patches, and an overall "shoe" form (see my original Bikila blog for more of the technical innovations). Even after the Bikila came out Fall 2010 the KSO remained my everyday, comfort, minimal, "heck yeah I'm ready to conquer the world"-shoe.
Okay, now returning to the brand new Bikila-LS. There I was opening the pre-release Bikila-LS that Vibram sent me, pulled it out of its packaging, loosened the laces, slipped it on my feet and felt... Wonder! Pure comfort and wonder. It is so hard for me to describe why I love these shoes so much because I can't really figure out what technical feature they put into the shoe that makes it fit so well and feel like a pure extension of my foot. I feel like the tongue and laces design is more accommodating to fitting the whole foot and snugly encompassing the top of the foot from toes to ankle. The original Bikilas had only a strap that tightened around the ankle, the laces tighten around the whole upper of the foot. They also changed the material on the Bikila LS, it is a stronger material that to me feels more breathable. The original Bikila was always a bit hot and sweaty inside but the Bikila LS, even after a run, feels cooler and more comfortable. The smaller details they kept are reflective patches, the same "pod" bottom (which I talk about in the original Bikila blog), and they got rid of the TPU toe protection.
This is the first shoe from Vibram that I've worn and owned where I really like the design. I mean... really liked the design. The other 3 models I have are either very basic colors and design or an extreme design like the blue and yellow Bikilas. They did a great job of making the shoe a simple but elegant design with tiny dots through the toes and upper area. They also selectively used green to put a lot of color on the shoe. It just looks good! Maybe that’s my style and not yours, but in my book it was a plus for why I like the shoe so much.
Until they come out with the next awesome shoe, I think the Bikila LS will become my primary Vibram shoe. I love the colors and design for casual wear, the fit with the laces is comfortable and close fitting, and the flexibility of the extra "pod" bottoms makes it great for wearing in an urban landscape. I will literally wear these shoes everyday I can, and will love every second of it.
This spring they also are releasing 3 other new models. There is the Komodo sport mens, Komodo sport womens, they Jaya for women, The Jaya LR for women, and the KSO for kids!! I have yet to get my hands on any of these, but the day they come in rest assured I will be trying them on and letting you know what I think.