This morning I took off on a run with cool air, clear skies, never met another soul, and ran underneath the sunrise, with Jay Clark on my iPod (which I rarely ever use while running but happened to grab this morning on my way out). It was heaven.
Also on this run, I was wearing my Vibram Bikilas that my wife bought me for my birthday back in January. I hadn't tried them yet, admittedly I was skeptical.
I have a pair of original KSOs that I mostly run in and love, and I have a pair of KSO Treks that I wear a lot (run in only occasionally as they are a bit to large and my feet slide in them if I'm not wearing socks... and I hate wearing socks in FiveFingers). But the Bikilas were different. From what I had seen, I liked some, and was quite skeptical about other points. The pods on the bottom I was mostly indifferent to. I could see the grip could be nice (having slid while running down hill in the rain in my KSOs a few times) but also was concerned about the feel. The fact that they advertised "more padding in the forefoot" bothered me, and the arch construction freaked me out. It LOOKED like a stability web in the pictures.
So this morning I took them for their first run, and here's what I found:
The "extra padding" was not noticeable (not in a negative way) at all. I still maintained great feel.
The arch I was completely wrong about - it's not a stiff material at all, it still bends and flexes, and it does not provide any support (like I was afraid it would), it merely serves to "hug" your arch and make the shoe fit more glove like.
On that note, the glove like fit is what I loved about the Bikilas. Unlike any other VFF, the glove like fit is superb, it's like the shoes are painted on.
The material is soft and form fitting.
The pods on the bottom (though not an issue today on flat and dry conditions) I'm sure would provide greater grip, however I can "feel" them ever so slightly on the inside forefoot.
By far the best part of this shoe is the fact that, so much better than any other VFF, the inside is completely seamless! There are no hot-spots, no rubbing, no sliding, no seams, no blistering - perfectly smooth. For that reason right there, I feel (after first run) that they will probably take over as my favorite running specific VFFs. I say running specific because the fit is phenomenal for running, but doesn't lend themselves to casual wear like my KSO treks.
Conclusion: Though the pods are slightly noticeable under the forefoot, that is not enough to sway me away from these as my new favorite, running specific, Fivefingers.