Barefootin’ on a footbike?

Barefoot scooterersWell, what with eating and exercising like a hunter-gatherer, I’ve been going around in minimal footwear for a while now, influenced first by this article that I read in April, 2008:

Shoes are bad. I don’t just mean stiletto heels, or cowboy boots, or tottering espadrilles, or any of the other fairly obvious foot-torture devices into which we wincingly jam our feet. I mean all shoes. Shoes hurt your feet. They change how you walk. In fact, your feet – your poor, tender, abused, ignored, maligned, misunderstood feet – are getting trounced in a war that’s been raging for roughly a thousand years: the battle of shoes versus feet.

My main shoes have been a pair of soft-soled moccasins (with the fringe cut off, making them look like the original “desert boot“), which are great for walking, but not for footbiking beyond tooling around.

My sneaker-like skateboard shoes are much better for kickin’, but still feel too much to me like … shoes.

Eyeing a good-looking pair of sturdy but flexible water shoes in a local shoe store, I picked one up to discover it was a Teva shoe. I knew they made “adventure sandals,” but they all had huge stiff soles with lots of support.

But not the Proton 4, which is apparently Teva’s contribution to the water-shoe. They look almost like conventional running shoes, so I can wear ’em anywhere. (Around here, in summer, “formal” footwear means “not barefoot.” In winter, running shoes are about all people wear here, and some of them are pretty outlandish. The Protons also look much saner than Vibram Five-Finger shoes, which are just scary.)

I got the Tevas home and slipped them on and took off around the block on my scooter. Beautiful! Just like barefoot, but with good sole protection. The heels are certainly no higher than the soles. And maybe this summer I’ll be able to scoot actually barefoot! Or not. Update: Dave Riley has managed it.


3 Responses

  1. Excellent article about the benefits of walking/running/exercising (and footbiking?) barefoot or with minimalist shoes. A related newspaper article, written by Chrisopher McDougall, was published less than two weeks ago. It can be accessed at

    McDougall is also the author of _Born to Run_, an excellent, funny, entertaining and informative book about, among other things, the Tarahumara Indians in Mexico, who (a) are able to run 50 or 100 miles (or more) at a time, (b) wear minimalist footwear (basically leather sandals)and (c) almost never develop the injuries that runners who wear high-tech, cushioned running shoes develop.

    There are chapters in the book that contain some of the scientific research on running barefoot (or with minimalist footwear) vs. running with built-up, padded training shoes that is mentioned in the article you provided the link to. Even if you are not a runner, the book is well worth reading!

    McDougall is also the author of the April 2005 New York Times article _The Power of One Foot Kicking_ which was about Kickbike scooters and why they are good for low-impact training. That article generated a great deal of interest in Kickbikes/footbikes.

  2. Hi, John-

    I saw McDougall’s recent article but I didn’t know he was also the author of the N.Y. Times Kickbike article (which I read when I began footbiking).

    Interesting that one degree of separation already exists between barefooting and footbiking, via McDougall!

    Kicking with my moccasins and Protons feels pretty good to me; I’m not sure about actual barefoot kicking, but I’ll find out when it gets warmer. Even if I turn out to need some minimal shoes to kick, I’ll have no complaints: it already feels better than shod.

  3. you can always trust those high tech running shoes developed by adidas or nike, they are expensive but they are very good ~-`

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