Running Barefoot Ecco Biom and Minimilistist Footwear
A review of the Ecco Biom shoe and how it compares to other minimalist barefoot running shoes
The Ecco Biom is the most expensive running shoe on the market selling for over $200 and is riding the "less is more" wave of new running shoes to hit the market. The new trend that is slowly emerging in the running shoe industry is that less is more. More and more studies are being done to show that running barefoot is the natural way to run and is healthier and will reduce the risk of injuries due to training. There are two problems for shoe companies with this new idea. The first being that the idea is actually catching on and becoming popular and is not just a few freaks just trying to be different now. The second is how does a shoe company profit off people wanting to run barefoot?
Ecco the company that is known for its extremely high quality leather dress shoes has used the new barefoot running trend to actually enter the market with a new shoe to promote barefoot running. Shoe companies are using a new type of shoe called minimalist shoes that are supposed to appeal to the barefoot types of runners. Ecco realizes like a few other companies like Newton, Feelmax, Nike, and Vibram that obviously most people just can't throw off their shoes and go for a run. The Ecco biom is designed to allow the natural movements of your foot so you are not restricting it in a foot cast like you are in normal running shoes which do not flex. It allows you to have the sensation of being barefoot without actually going barefoot, and giving you protection.
The Ecco Biom shoe is designed with no arch support, and was shaped by scanning thousands of runner's feet, to get the most natural shape of the shoe. The heel is lower than most normal running shoes that are built with all the motion control technologies that are supposed to reduce injuries. Apparently since "motion control" has entered our dictionary there has been no reduction in the amount if injuries to runners. So the Biom goes old school minimal support like the old thin leather soled shoes from back in the day but with a snazzier look.
So how do they feel are they really worth the $200 for a shoe that is really less of a shoe? I have gotten into the minimal barefoot type of running shoes will be comparing these shoes to Newton's and the Feelmax Panka. Newton's are minimal running shoes that allow the foot to move in its natural motion and especially designed to promote good running form. Its probably now a good idea to say that running in minimalist shoes requires natural running form which is landing on your forefoot. The Newton's are a great minimal barefoot feel running shoe which work very well in teaching you correct forefoot landing running form. How the Newton's are designed actually forces you to land on your forefoot. Ecco's Biom is a minimal shoe that when compared to the Newton's feels more barefoot.
The Newton's tend to feel very cushiony on the forefoot which some minimalist runners do not want to feel. They want their foot to be the cushioning and for the foot to do what it was designed for. The Ecco Biom I would suggest for someone who already has a forefoot running form which is ideal for barefoot running. When you have the correct form the Bioms feel amazing and extremely natural, but if you're a heel striker they will not be very pleasant shoes because they are not designed for that. On the other end of the spectrum from the Newton's there is the Feelmax Panka an extremely barefoot feeling shoe with the sole only being a thin piece of Kevlar to protect your foot from being cut open on sharp objects when you want to run barefoot.
This shoes is so minimal that you cannot run with a heel strike in because the first time you try to you will feel the pain in your heel and not allow your foot to do it again, but most people without a lot of preparation will be able to run far in these shoes at all do to the extreme barefootedness of these shoes. What this leads us to is the Biom seems to land in the middle of the Newtons and the Feelmax Panka. If you already have the barefoot running form and want to run loads of miles but aren't strong enough to run them in the Feelmax then the Biom is a perfect shoe for you.
But is the Biom really worth 200 smackers? That's really up to you but, what I will say is the build quality is definitely up to Ecco standards. They are like the Porsche of the dress shoe world and are now applying there quality to a running shoe. The shoe top is a piece of yak leather which is extremely soft, thin and breathable making it perfect for a shoe. The yak leather is strong and molds to the shape of your foot and feels like it will last a very long time and will not rip or tare like a mesh shoe would. I have no idea what the shoe laces are made up but you can feel the strength in them and see they will not fray at the ends and will last many years. Yes I did say many years! But who would wear a shoe for many years you may ask if a shoe is only good for 300 miles before is wears out.
Well normal shoes are built using EVA foam for padding while the Ecco Biom is built with a polyurethane mold. The big difference between polyurethane and EVA soles is that polyurethane can take much more of a beating, and can last 3 times longer then EVA. This means you could put just about 1000 miles on these shoes before you would even have to consider buying a new pair. So if you look at the price in this sense, for $200 you are buying a shoe which will last you more miles than three normal shoes. If you look at it this way it's actually a bargain because three shoes would cost a bit deal more than $200.
The Biom by ecco is not a shoe for everyone and should appeal to those minimalist runners who want a little more protection under their feet to log on the longer runs and who have already mastered the art of forefoot running. A true natural forefoot striker should feel right at home in Biom. But like all minimalist shoes one should be careful when changing from regular old motion control running shoes, and take the change slowly.