Vibram FiveFingers SeeYa Review

 Posted by on March 29, 2012  Add comments
Mar 292012
 
Vibram-Seeya

Brand: Vibram FiveFingers

Name: SeeYa

Color Options: Black/Dayglow or Silver/Dark Blue for Men and Light Grey/Blue or Light Grey/Orange/Aqua for Women

Weight: 4.8oz each (9.6oz. pair) *varies per size

Drop: 0 mm heel to toe

Other: Vibram TC-1 Rubber sole with a 3mm Polyurethane Insole & Anti-Microbial Dri-Lex Sockliner with a Polyester Stretch Mesh upper

Price: $100.00 *Available at REI.com


Overview

The SeeYa is another spring 2012 release for the Vibram FiveFingers line-up.  According to Vibram’s website:

The ultra-streamlined SeeYa is our newest performance option for serious minimalist runners. Designed to bring you even closer to the barefoot sensation, we’ve radically reduced overall weight and material with a more breathable mesh upper to deliver true, performance-driven footwear.

The SeeYa is the next step in minimalist shoes designed for road running.  Some people have even begun debating that the SeeYa is a shoe strictly built for race day, whereas the Bikila or KomodoSport may be better suited for training.  The SeeYa comes along with some fresh innovations from Vibram. More specifically, it touts a tread pattern that is a cross between the KSO & the Bikila without the “fat” around the areas of the shoe that your foot would never land. This lowers the total weight of the shoe dramatically, making this the lightest style available from Vibram.


Performance

The SeeYa is undoubtedly a performance shoe designed for speed and endurance.  During my first run in SeeYas, I was immediately able to recognize some corrections I needed to make to my form.  Let me be clear, this is not a problem with the shoe itself, but the first run in SeeYas is really like a reality check.  Considering that the last three shoes I’ve spent time in are the Embark Glove, Spyridon, and Leming, you must recognize that these three shoes are considerably heavier and more cushioned than the SeeYa, so my barefoot form had gotten a little lazy during recent shoe reviews. The SeeYa brought me back to reality almost instantaneously.

Once I felt that I had my form back to the way it was prior to the winter months, things really fell into place.  I managed to recognize a bit of an energy spike due to the lower weight of the shoes and my feet were able to breathe extremely well through the stretch mesh upper, keeping them at a cool temperature and limiting any issues with sliding due to sweat.  I must say after just one run, I was highly impressed; I felt that Vibram had gone leaps and bounds from the Bikila and that they had really cornered the market in minimalist/barefoot road running shoes. That is, until, blisters started happening.

Unfortunately, run number two did not go as swimmingly as run number one. In fact, run number two was a bloody mess.  The problem is that the heel cup of the shoe is awful at holding on to your foot, and the counter is stiff enough that rubbing on your Achilles would likely become an issue for nearly any runner.  It is unfortunate that these issues came up, because otherwise I would have reviewed these shoes as nearly perfect.  I truly enjoy the design, look, feel, and innovations this shoe brings to the table, but they are all diminished by the poorly designed heel cup.  With that being said, I still love them and plan to wear them as often as I can (that is, when I’m not busy reviewing new shoes).  I think the trick is going to be wearing no-show Injinji toe-socks along with them in order to better fill out the shoe and relieve the rubbing around my Achilles.

Men's Anatomy Seeya

As provided by VibramFiveFingers.com - This is the anatomy of the new SeeYa sole.

Comfort/Barefoot Feel

Lightweight, breathable, and soft are the three words I would use to explain SeeYas.  The SeeYa has a quality barefoot feel and, as I mentioned before, I had to tune up my form in order to correctly land on my foot pads.  This shoe is so flexible, and the thin stretch mesh uppers are so light and soft, that the shoes almost feel sock-like.  The SeeYa is the first barefoot shoe I have worn, aside from huaraches, that causes me to purposefully guide my runs away from rocks. If you land on a rock in the soft spot of your arch, you can find yourself feeling a little pain. Nothing unbearable, mind you, but I can assure you that ground feel will be the least of your worries in these shoes.  As I mentioned before, the only real discomfort with this shoe is due to rubbing around the back of the heel cup, provided you aren’t wearing socks.  I should also mention, as you may have noticed in the gallery, that these are extremely flexible shoes.  Not only can I roll them up extremely tight but I can do so with nearly zero effort.

Aesthetics

The SeeYa is hard for me to explain in regards to aesthetics.  As a shoe designed specifically for road running and considering it is a standard bright-colored, lizard-skin-esque Vibram design, they definitely look out of place outside of anything fitness related.  Frankly, this isn’t a shoe I plan to ever be caught dead in public with when I’m in casual wear.  That being said, for my running gear, I do enjoy the Black/Dayglow colorway because they stick out and the reflective and bright colored material present on the shoe is great for standing out during night runs.

Pros

  • Outrageously lightweight – Even in comparison to a huarache like the Invisible Shoe which weighs 3.7oz while the SeeYa only weighs 4.8oz.
  • Quality stretch mesh upper allows for maximum breathability.
  • Flexible – Rolled into a smaller ball than the Stem, or even my huaraches.
  • Great barefoot feel!
Cons
  • Achilles pain – Due to rubbing because of an extremely flawed heel cup (really this bullet is all you need in regards to cons).
  • Usual awkward color-ways

Summary

The Vibram FiveFingers SeeYa is a minimalist/barefoot shoe with a ton of innovation, which is overshadowed by the flawed heel-cup design.  I think the SeeYa had a ton of potential but, unfortunately, its unusual colorways and one major flaw has undermined its chance of being a fan favorite.  In most cases, I would swear by Vibram’s ability to design and release shoes that cater perfectly to their audience. In fact I would argue that the Spyridon LS is a major success for Vibram, and that truthfully, I don’t think they have released a shoe with such debilitating flaws until the SeeYa.  Don’t get me wrong, I still love my SeeYas and I do plan to run in them again, but not without Injinjis or a mole-skin wrapped Achilles.  My hopes are that in future releases/iterations of the SeeYa, Vibram can manage to fix this issue and turn what is now a problematic shoe to a fantastic one!

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Written By: Steve

Steve is a Division Director at Robert Half Technology in Madison, WI with a business degree in Information Systems and E-Commerce from the University of Toledo. Steve loves spending his time away from work; running, gaming, watching movies, checking out new social networking tools/sites/start-ups and blogging.
  • Complex1313

    Hey Steve, 

    have you tried folding over part of the heel cup over to the inside? I just got the Seeya’s and experienced blistering on the back of my heels too. 
    I kinda thought it would unfold after a few strides, but sofar so good, and if it ever does i think i might glue it in folded position permanently. 
    Folding it over seems to prevent the heel cup from chaving -for me anyway- and the heel feels a lil’ less loose too.

    • http://www.technicallyrunning.com/ Steve Ankney

      That is a fantastic suggestion.  I’ll probably check it out later today.  Do you wear socks with yours?

      • Complex1313

        Glad it helped. And no, no socks for me. I usually only wear my Vibrams (own 1pair of Seeyas, 1pair Bilkila LS) for the first and last 2km of my training laps, barefoot in between. The chaving actually happened to me most when i wore the Seeyas continuesly during a semi-marathon on an unfamiliair track.

        I agree, the straps don’t seem to add much, I keep ‘em very loose. They do however keep my time registration chip in place well.

    • http://www.technicallyrunning.com/ Steve Ankney

      WOW!  Just went out for a quick run in them and I’m blown away at how much this helps.  I’m actually thinking about cutting the straps off the top as well.  

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