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Review: Vibram FiveFinger Speed

by Corey Nagle » on Nov 07, 2011 28

 I’ve been watching (read: lusting after) the Vibram FiveFingers Speed for, well, since I first put my eyes on them, but I just couldn’t quite pull the trigger on a pair because of some, uh, issues. I’ll get to that in a bit. A little background: the Vibram FiveFingers Speed debuted in Europe around spring of 2010, while making their US appearance almost a year later. This is Vibram’s first model sporting a more traditional athletic shoe look, borrowing the padded collar and soles from the FiveFinger Bikilas, while adding laces for the first time in the lineup (fun fact: the European versions came with white laces, while the US version came with black).

Mens' FiveFingers Speed in black

The looks

Outside in my FiveFingers Speed

FiveFingers Speed Top Down

I’m just going to lay it out there: I freaking love the way the Speeds look. It’s like a pair of old school Vans meets toe shoes. You just can’t beat the white on black color scheme. You could pull these off with just about any outfit you could wear tennis shoes with. For being more “shoe-like” than most other models, the FiveFingers Speed are remarkably light.

Back of FiveFingers Speed

Normally minimal with their logo, Vibram put it all over these.

FiveFingers Speed Outside

FiveFingers Speed Inside

Tech Specs

Like I said, the Speeds feel super light despite the extra material. The mesh is super breathable, which is great on warm days, though colder days aren’t all that great without socks. I suspect the breathability helps to keep the funk down. After a few weeks of almost nonstop wear, my Speeds still smell remarkably good. Vibram bills these as a casual shoe, but I don’t see any reason you couldn’t run or workout in these (though I would recommend socks to avoid possible irritation from the tongue).

  • 5.9 oz each/ 11.8 oz a pair
  • 4mm Bikila sole
  • 2mm EVA insole
  • Dri-Lex sockliner
  • Lightweight mesh upper

The Good

The looks, obvs. I really think this is one of the best designs Vibram has put out to date. I love the mesh. On a day with a nice breeze (which are bountiful here in Oklahoma) my feet stay cool and dry all day. The interior feels fantastic. Foregoing the microfiber footbed, the FiveFinger Speed features the same Dri-Lex material as the Bikila, and the material lining the interior of the shoe is soft against the skin.

The Bad

FiveFingers Speed Soles

Image via Birthdayshoes.com, since I immediately slapped mine on instead of taking pictures, and now they're kinda crusty

Most Vibram FiveFingers with laces will accomodate a wider or taller foot (or possibly both, if you’re built like me). In this case, not so much. The stitching beneath the white patch across the top of the foot rubbed a bit in the beginning. This was almost a deal breaker, but has got much better with wear. I don’t think I could wear these if I were going to be on my feet all day long. I’ve also had some issues with dorsiflexion (raising my toes). Some of this has been alleviated with wear, it’s still not on par with my KSO’s or Classics.

My other issue is with the sole. I still flat do not like the Bikila sole. For casual use I can deal, but it’s definitely not my favorite. If Vibram made the Speed similar to the kid’s model (with the “classic” sole), I’d buy three pair.

All around these really are a solid shoe. They still don’t blend in with all the regular shoes out there, but even you’ll find even some FiveFingers “haters” out there will remark on their looks. I’ll definitely keep wearing mine, despite the soles. If you like your Bikilas, you’ll definitely like these.

Disclosure: I received my FiveFingers Speeds as a promotional item from RiverSports Outfitters. They were a freebie.

RiverSports Outfitters has a large selection and awesome sales on their FiveFingers (and more, of course). Plus, they sponsor the MyFiveFingers monthly giveaway. If you haven’t yet, go sign up and check ’em out. 

Submitted Comments

  1. Tyler Hurst says:

    I have these too, and I use them only when I want to look a little dressier. Not a fan of the sole at all, though the mesh upper is really nice.

    Double knotting is a requirement, as they never stay tied any other way.

  2. Dan says:

    Thanks for the review.. I too have a large fat foot with a tall arch. Good to know how they fit on feet similar to mine.

  3. Chris Mitchell says:

    I was eyeing these while looking for a new pair to run in but picked the Komodo Sport instead because I prefer the straps over the laces.

  4. Corey says:

    It’s been a huge problem for me, especially trying to find other minimalist shoes. Glad it helps.

  5. Corey says:

    I have to say the laces have grown on me, especially after wearing Classics for so long and not having to fasten anything.

  6. Joe says:

    I paid over $200 USD to have these shipped in from over seas before they were available here (Vibram rep. said they would not be releasing the shoe here…). It’s hard for me to justify wearing such expensive shoes, they have become shelf queens.

  7. Teppo says:

    I’m starting with bf/minimalist running, and I’m considering a pair of Speeds for my first VFFs. Thing is, I get why the thinner variants are preferred, but winter’s just around the corner, and winter, and even autumn, is darn cold here in Finland (heck, it’s -13 degrees Celcius outside right now). So I figure the Speeds might just be the thing that allow me to run in winter in barefoot style. Still might need toe-socks too, though.

    If I do indeed get these, I might get KSOs or something for warmer weathers. Though I definitely also plan to try actual barefoot running come summer.

  8. Corey says:

    Have you thought about a pair of Flows? They may provide a bit more insulation.

    It’s most definitely a personal experience (mostly how much you can tolerate), but I’ve worn Classics and KSO’s in the snow, and they’ve done pretty well. Just as long as you can keep the snow out, which can be the difficult part. Also, it doesn’t get as cold here as Finland, so YMMV.

  9. Teppo says:

    It would seem that the amount of models available within Finland is slightly limited, since I often see references to models that aren’t listed in Vibram’s Finnish site. The only listed ones are Classic, KomodoSport, KSO, Bikila, Speed and TrekSport. The Speeds also seem to look nicer than many other models.

    There’s supposed to be only one Vibram reseller in my city, but I haven’t visited them, which I’m planning to do the next week.

  10. Corey says:

    The Follows are actually discontinued, but are still fairly easy to find (at lay here in The States).

    The speeds are, to me, I’ve of the best looking models Vibram makes.

  11. Corey says:

    *Flows, not Follows.

  12. Teppo says:

    And there we go, Speeds purchased! Funny thing, went to the retailer, they had exactly one pair of Speeds… in my size… and discounted! Suffice to say it was not a difficult decision at that point. Didn’t see any other models even, though apparently they were supposed to have some somewhere… perhaps. Only women’s toe-socks though, which was too bad.

    Wearing them now, and they indeed feel comfy. Hoping to take a short test run outside tomorrow, if it’s not too cold.

  13. Moo says:

    Hi, just got myself a pair of Speeds and they are great so far. One thing though: “..but even you’ll find even some FiveFingers ‘haters’ out there will remark on their looks”

    Did you add an extra ‘even’ in that sentence?

  14. Corey says:

    Just, uh, making sure people are paying attention.

    Thanks, not sure how that got missed.

  15. Jof says:

    Totally with you on the Bikila platform and the Speeds in general, Corey – not a patch on the Trek-based Vibram. However, check out the 2012 Speed LR: waterproof, laced, Trek sole, sensible lacing (why oh why did they use eyelets, apart from looking pretty)…

    Note also how pretty much all the Fall 2012 range uses the Trek sole – barely a Bikila to be seen…

    Still, likewise I’ll keep mine I think.

  16. Corey Nagle says:

    Definitely a fan of the Speed LR. I was originally wary of the Trek sole, until I tried it. I was expecting some stiffness, but it’s just not there. Though I’d still like to see more models with the “classic” sole, I’m glad they’re using the Trek sole instead of the Bikila.

  17. Aaron says:

    I love my Speeds. I wear them everyday, FILA, makes the best toe socks in my opinion.
    The fila Toe socks, are really low cut, and hardly show in the Vibram Speeds, they are just expensive.
    I will be glad when the Toe sock game catches up with the toe shoe game.

  18. RIchard Caporiccio says:

    I used these shoes as directed and still injured my foot. VIBRAM refused to help with my medical bills or even talk to me about it. I could not walk for four-six months.

    These shoes are great for young people but if you are older that 18 do not buy them. My doctor says a now have a severe case of “premature arthritis” in my right metatarsals. I’m in immense pain and I can just now walk again slightly normal. The doctor could do nothing as I suffered in pain.

    Don’t be the nest VIBRAM VICTEM

  19. RIchard Caporiccio says:

    sorry.. victim spelled that wrong..

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