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Removing the Straps on KSOs [FiveFingers Hack]

by Corey Nagle » on Apr 18, 2011 17

AKA How to Void your Vibram Warranty in 3 Easy Steps

I want a pair of these. Yes, I know they’re women’s shoes. No I don’t care. They look good and I bet they’re comfy.

Vibram FiveFingers Jaya in Black/Silver

Then I asked myself, “Do I really need another pair of FiveFIngers?” If you read my last post, you’d know the answer is an indefatigable YES.

But that’s a different story.

Why drop a c-note on a pair of shoes that don’t exist, at least in guy sizes, and have a sole that I think is going to be too thick (almost twice that of the original styles of VFF’s), when I have a pair of KSO’s sitting in the closet not getting near enough use.

Before

Don’t get me wrong, I like them, but they’re a pain to get on. I’ve got high arches and wide feet – which pretty well makes it easier for me to wear the box they came in. I can only close the strap about half way, so I get dog and cat hair caught in the velcro, and they just sort of mash the top of my foot. It’s not really uncomfortable, just… in the way.

So I decided to get rid of it.

Here’s how:

Step 1: Pull the straps through. (Duh)

Straps Out

back of shoe

Step 2: Actually remove the straps from the shoe.

Here’s where it gets super hard. If you’re scared, turn back now.

Just kidding! It really is super easy. I think it took me about a minute and a half for both straps.

¡CUIDADO! (That means caution): THIS WILL VOID YOUR WARRANTY! If you need to return your Vibrams for whatever reason, you’ll probably just be SOL. Proceed at your own risk.

Grab a sharp knife or a pair of scissors (an exacto knife is perfect) and cut this thread. That’s it. Pull (gently!) and the strap should come loose. You may have to cut a few more when you get about half-way, but it just depends. On one of mine it pulled right off, but the other required just a little more trimming. The loose threads still on the shoe pull right out. There is a little glue that holds the strap to the back of the shoe, but it comes right off with the strap and shouldn’t leave a mess.

Back of shoe

That’s really all there is to it.

finished product

Step 3: Enjoy!

After

I really love these after removing the straps. They feel so much lighter on my feet. My biggest concern was that they’d slide around on my feet, which would have been a major bummer because I bought these to run in. So far so good. No rubbing, no slipping. They stay in place all day long. With just the mesh over the top the only thing really holding them in place, they almost feel lighter than my Classics.

Except for one thing…

Loop

See my problem? I have no idea what to do about these. I don’t think I can cut them off cleanly enough to make them look good. I thought about just putting a small stitch connecting the loop to the fabric, but I don’t know if it’ll rub.

Any suggestions on how to fix this?

*Bonus tip: If your Classics rub on the joint just above your big toe, snip the cord with a pair of scissors and pull it out. I used to get a sore red mark right on top of the joint. As soon as I did this, instantly better. I never used it anyway.

I have a problem. I know.


17 Comments

  1. Clint

    April 18th, 2011 at 9:48 am

    I would suggest score lightly at the junction where the tabs and the sole meet (under the vibram logo) and continue scoring deeper each time. Eventually, you’ll have cut entirely through the tab and it will be a clean cut. Be gentle at the end, so that you don’t cut through the actual shoe.

    Reply

    • Corey Nagle

      April 18th, 2011 at 9:58 am

      I’m leaning that way. Seems to be the easiest way to go without completely ruining my shoes.

      Reply

  2. Tina

    April 18th, 2011 at 10:55 am

    I run in KSO’s. After studying my pair, another option would be to just remove the part right above where it says Vibram and the stitching is. If you used a box cutter or something similar you could neatly cut right above the stitching. The only thing I would worry about with my suggestion is if the rest of the stitching might come out after you cut through it. Then if that doesn’t work, you could take it all the way down. Good luck.

    Reply

    • Corey Nagle

      April 18th, 2011 at 10:59 am

      That’s sort of what Clint had suggested above. I’m going to try it, but I think you’re right. The stitching will probably start coming loose after some wear.

      Reply

  3. Mori Gryphon

    April 18th, 2011 at 11:02 am

    I like the strap on my KSOs, but I pulled it off on my TrekSports – something about it was making my achilles tendon hurt when I wore them. I had the same problem with the flopping tabs, though. Instead of cutting them off, I got some 1″ webbing and some sew-on velcro and made a strap that just fits across the top of my arch, without going behind my heel. It’s not tight enough to affect the way they go on, since I sized it to go all the way across my arch while I’m wearing them, there’s no loose velcro to get stuff caught in, and they look more ‘finished’ than they did without any strap. Plus, I actually made myself a few, so I can change colors if I want to!

    Reply

    • Corey Nagle

      April 18th, 2011 at 12:11 pm

      Not a bad idea. I saved the straps after I cut them off. I may try something like that.

      Reply

  4. Tyler Hurst

    April 18th, 2011 at 11:42 pm

    I ripped the back loop off my KSOs when pulling them on. Does that count as hacking?

    Reply

    • Corey

      April 18th, 2011 at 11:53 pm

      I think it just means you’re doing it wrong.

      Reply

  5. Shawn Dancy

    April 19th, 2011 at 9:42 am

    Wouldn’t it be easier if get a pair of Classic(cheaper, $50 at some places), drop down a size(trust me they will stretch to the form of your foot) and cut the bungee cord out. Result, easy to slip on, that barefoot feeling we all love, not ruining a perfect pair of KSOs..

    Reply

    • Corey

      April 19th, 2011 at 9:50 am

      As I said, I’ve got a pair of Classics (with the bungee removed). I love them, not for running. Even with the bungee, I always felt like they were going to slip off my heels. This is my second pair of KSO’s, and I probably won’t get them again. They just don’t fit my feet all that well. Live and learn. It gives me an excuse to try a different model.

      I really do like the way they feel now, though. They’ve really got that second skin feeling without the strap. I just wish I hadn’t had to chop up a fairly expensive pair of shoes to get it.

      Reply

    • Tyler Hurst

      April 19th, 2011 at 9:17 pm

      Man, I wish the Classics fit you better, because I love mine. Kept the bungee strap on too, though it’s at the loosest it will go.

      The Bikila LS may work here.

      Reply

      • Corey

        April 20th, 2011 at 9:48 am

        I love my Classics. Wear ’em every day. They just start to stretch when they get warm. I never tightened the bungee and was always jacking with the buckle in the back, so I just got rid of it.

        They say the LS’s are supposed to be made to fit a wider foot. Definitely going to look into those.

        Reply

  6. Chris Lee

    April 19th, 2011 at 11:17 pm

    Nice write up & great pics! Looks really interesting & comfortable but my KSOs fit well so probably no need.

    Reply

    • Corey

      April 20th, 2011 at 9:49 am

      Thanks, Chris. If my KSO’s fit a little better, I probably wouldn’t have bothered with it either.

      Reply

  7. Tim

    January 16th, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    I did the exact same thing to a pair of kso’s ..works great, I just cut right above the stitch it looks like they came that way…and I do use them for running.

    Reply

  8. cherise

    January 16th, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    I have.considered taking the bungees out of my.classics many times but was afraid it would change the.fit…I may do it now that I’ve heard it doesn’t mess them up.

    Reply

  9. Corey

    January 16th, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    Cutting the bungee out of my Classics actually made them feel a bit better. Now I do it to all of them.

    Reply

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