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Vivobarefoot Motus Strength Review | Barefoot Shoes for CrossFit?

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As an avid fan of the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III, I was curious how the Vivobarefoot Motus Strength would compare in the gym. I was also curious to see how this shoe stacks up against some of my favorite barefoot shoes.

As of right now, I think this is probably Vivobarefoot’s strongest shoe for training. The caveat with this shoe is its price and it’s tough for me to recommend them for everyone because of it. For example, not everyone needs to drop $200 on a pair of barefoot shoes for training — even I think that’s a little steep and I collect and review shoes for a living.

Quick Take: The Vivobarerfoot Motus Strength JJF is probably my favorite barefoot shoe for training from Vivobarefoot to date. My issue with this model, though, is its price. If you don’t need a shoe for cross-training, opt for the Primus Lite III and save.

Motus Strength Pros and Cons

Logo

Pros

  • To date, the Motus Strength is Vivobarefoot's strongest shoe for cross-training, CrossFit, and athletic-focused workouts.
  • This model's outsole has awesome grip and 1.5mm deep lugs give this shoe a lot of traction on different surfaces and for explosive and multi-directional work.
  • The extended outsole wrap and reinforced upper construction lock the foot down well and it should be durable for most workout contexts.

Cons

  • This shoe has a pretty big price point at $200 USD and if that price point makes you shudder then you can find strong-performing models for less.
  • The heavier upper around the toe box does take away from breathability a bit and the toe box creasing can feel awkward during the break-in phase.
  • The heel wrap may bother some lifters and athletes when running in this shoe, especially those with thicker and more pronounced Achilles tendons.

Vivobarefoot Motus Strength Summary

At the end of the day, I have truly enjoyed the Motus Strength for my training sessions. My workouts are what you’d call “hybrid” or “athletic” in nature and this shoe fits my needs well. For example, they work exceptionally well for heavy lifting and have great upper security for explosive exercises like broad jumps and skater strides.

I think if you’re similar with your training or if you need a barefoot shoe for CrossFit, then the Motus Strength can be a good investment. These have also proven to be a little more durable for abrasion-resistance compared to the Primus Lite III and Primus Lite Knit. My gripes with this shoe revolve around its hotter upper and high price point, so definitely use a coupon if you can before you buy.

Specs to Know

  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Stack Height: ~8.5mm (with insole in)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size
  • Width: Wide

Performance Assessment

  • Lifting: 4.7/5 (max lifts: 434 lb Hatfield Squat, 570 lb deadlift)
  • Cross-Training: 4.6/5
  • CrossFit: 4.6/5
  • Running: 3.9/5
  • Walking: 4/5

Use JBOLY to save! Yes, I use my own code when buying shoes for review, lol.

Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF

$200

Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF Barefoot Shoes Product Shot
4.7
Stability
4.8
Versatility
4.7
Durability
4.7
Quality
4.8

Best For

  • Lifting
  • Cross-Training
  • CrossFit WODs
  • Short Runs
  • Athletic Sessions

Falls Short

  • For Cost Efficiency
  • For Longer Runs

Who Should Buy the Vivobarefoot Motus Strength?

To date, the Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF has been my favorite Vivobarefoot shoe for training and working out and there are a few contexts where I think this shoe makes sense.

1. You’ve Been Waiting On a Barefoot Shoe for CrossFit

The first context where I think the Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF makes sense and is worth investing in is if you’ve been dying for a barefoot shoe for CrossFit and serious cross-training.

Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF Review

In my opinion, the Motus Strength JJF is somewhat in a league of its own regarding barefoot shoes that can take abuse from things like rope climbs, get-up sprints, and burpees.

Compared to models like the Tolos Archeype 1.0, Primus Lite III, and Xero Shoes 360 which are all models I like for cross-training, this shoe feels a lot more built-out regarding its features and it should fare better regarding durability.

Testing the Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF for deadlifts

I also have really enjoyed this shoe for things like broad jumps and skater strides where you want more boot security to lock your foot down. The heel strap does a good job of giving you structure without being too much in these contexts.

2. You Wish Your Other Vivobarefoot Training Shoes Had More Grip

If you’re a Vivobarefoot shoe fan and you constantly find yourself wearing through the soles of other models that you use for training, then the Motus Strength JJF may be worth exploring.

On that note, if you also wish your other Vivobarefoot shoes had more grip for things like sumo deadlifts and bench presses, then I think you’ll enjoy the 1.5mm thick lugs on this model.

Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF Sole Construction

To be honest, I wish Vivobarefoot would use this model’s sole construction on a Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III because this sole with that model’s upper would be unreal for lifting, in my opinion.

Compared to other Vivobarefoot shoes, I’d compare this shoe’s grip to the Primus Trail Knit FG but it doesn’t feel as aggressive when getting up on the toes and doing things like sled pushes.

3. You Wish Your Barefoot Shoes Had More Structure

Not everyone wants a barefoot shoe with more “beef” to its upper, but for the athletes and lifters that do, I think you’ll like how the Motus Strength JJF feels on foot.

Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF On Feet

This model’s mesh upper has overlays around the toe box and midfoot that give it a heavier feel. There’s also a rubber and TPU hybrid material that wraps around the heel and boot which gives this model more support than other barefoot shoes.

For my structure-loving friends, the Motus Strength JJF should fit the bill. This shoe feels super secure for most exercises which I like and its sole has a little more protection compared to other Vivobarefoot models.

Who Shouldn’t Buy the Vivobarefoot Motus Strength?

Overall, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF and I don’t regret buying them, but there are a couple of contexts where I think some should pass on these shoes.

1. You Don’t Need a Barefoot Shoe CrossFit and Cross-Training

The first context in which I think most will want to pass on the Motus Strength JJF is if you’re primarily focused on lifting and daily wear use with your barefoot shoes.

This model is hyper-specific and built for high-abrasion workouts where you need more durability and if you’re just wanting a barefoot shoe for lifting then I think these can feel like overkill when you consider the investment.

Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF Upper

Also, this model does have a slightly thicker stack height compared to models like the Primus Lite Knit and Primus Lite III so for my purely lifting-focused friends I think you should opt for those models if your goal is as much ground feel as possible.

As a side note here, this model may not be the best for running. I haven’t minded them for sprints, or quick runs, and I even used them for a short 1.5-mile trail run the other day, but I think for long-distance runs you’ll want something lighter.

2. You Don’t Want to Spend $200 Plus

There’s no beating around the bush here but this model is expensive, especially for a singular barefoot shoe. I know I’m not alone when I say that the price of this model caused me to die a little on the inside.

When you factor in tax and shipping as well this shoe can get pretty pricey and if you don’t have financial means to comfortably invest in this shoe, then I don’t think it’s worth breaking the bank for.

Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF Flexibility

This is also why I suggest passing on this shoe if you only want a barefoot shoe for casual use, some lifting, and casual cross-training here and there. For example, the Primus Lite III has worked well for countless athletes over the years and it costs significantly less.

If you do decide to bite the bullet and invest in this shoe, then I’d highly suggest searching around for codes and coupons to knock the price down a little bit. That said if you want to support That Fit Friend, you can use JBOLY to bring the price down.

Performance Assessment

In the context of performance, I’ve tried to push the Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF in a variety of workouts and use verticals. I’ll share my thoughts on this shoe in the context of lifting, versatile training, short runs, and daily wear.

Testing the Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF for Lifting

In the context of lifting, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF. Traditionally, the Primus Lite III has been my go-to Vivobarefoot shoe for lifting but the Motus Strength JJF will likely be my number one moving forward.

For lifting, I think the star player of this model is its sole construction and its tread. This model features a similar-ish hexagon tread to the Primus models, but it has 1.5mm lugs and the pattern is a little different.

Testing the Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF for Working Out

This tweak has given this model a lot more bite and grip for things like deadlifts, bench presses, and unilateral leg exercises where you want more grip on the floor.

I’ve often found that my Primus Lite III’s tread starts to fade after using them for daily wear, too, so I’m optimistic that this model will last longer and give you “more” regarding how much grip you get in the gym long-term.

I also like the width of this shoe and its upper security. Most foot anatomies should align with this model and I can’t see many feeling limited in this iteration regarding accommodating toe splay.

Testing the Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF for Lifting

The only knock that I could see some having on this shoe for lifting is that it does have a little less “ground feel” compared to its Primus peers. This shoe’s thicker lugs and sole construction give it a more rigid feeling on the ground.

Testing the Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF for Versatile Training

For versatile training including things like HIIT, athletic-focused workouts, and agility exercises, I’ve really enjoyed the performance of the Motus Strength JJF.

With this training context, there have been two things that have stood out to me with this shoe. First, the upper construction is a lot more structured and supportive.

Testing the Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF for Cross Training

If you like a little more boot, midfoot, and toe box support when tackling lateral exercises and explosive work, then I think you’ll enjoy this. The heel wrap and overlays prevent sliding when doing things like broad jumps, too, which is a good sign.

Second, the grip is once again a star player for training. The tread of this shoe should give you a nice bite on different surfaces so if you’re regularly training on turf, wooden platforms, or rubber gym floors, you should be plenty set in these.

Testing the Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF for Versatile Workouts

For versatile workouts, the Motus Strength JJF is by far the strongest Vivobarefoot shoe to date, in my opinion. It feels like Vivobarefoot spent a lot of time thinking about the features of this shoe for this training context.

Testing the Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF for Short Runs and Daily Wear

For short runs, the Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF should work fine. For example, if you’re primarily wanting them for sprinting or short interval runs in a hybrid workout then they’ll fit the bill.

Testing the Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF for Short Runs

I’ve also used them for a shorter trail run and thought they performed fine due to their sole construction and grip. For long-distance runs, you may want to pass on this model because the upper can feel a little heavy and the heel may be offputting for some in this context.

When it comes to daily wear, the Motus Strength JJF is a pretty strong performer and they could work as your “all-arounder” if you want one shoe for everything and don’t feel like buying multiple pairs.

Testing the Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF for Daily Wear

My only gripes with this shoe in this use context are, one) I think its upper can be hit or miss at times, and 2) for the price you’ll get more out of this shoe if you try to limit their use to training and light daily wear.

The heavier upper doesn’t breathe the best in this shoe and its lower-profile toe box and midfoot can sometimes cause some weird creasing which can pull on your foot hair if you’re wearing them sockless like I typically do.

Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF Vs Primus Lite III

The Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF versus Primus Lite III has been a comparison that’s been asked about a few times on my YouTube channel. I think the three biggest callouts for these models revolve around their soles, uppers, and performance intent.

In the Primus Lite III, you have a smoother tread pattern which is great for giving you a little more ground feel. However, this tread pattern can fade faster and doesn’t give you the most grip in the gym.

vivobarefoot primus lite iii active sole

For grip-focused individuals, the Motus Strength JJF will give you more regarding its sole construction and design. The uppers are also worth noting between these models.

The Primus Lite III’s upper is a lightweight and breathable mesh with a few textile overlays. For daily wear, the Primus Lite III breathes better but in the gym, it doesn’t have as much security as the Motus Strength JJF. 

vivobarefoot primus lite iii lifting

When it comes to use case. I’d go with the Motus Strength JJF if you’re primarily doing CrossFit and cross-training workouts on a weekly basis that require more durability and security.

Outside of those use cases, if you’re just lifting and wanting a shoe for daily wear, then the Primus Lite III should work just fine and if you use a discount code for them you’ll end up spending $50+ less.

Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF Barefoot Shoes Product Shot

Motus Strength JJF

Pros: Versatile, Good Traction
Cons: Pricey
Weight: 9.2 oz
Size/Fit: True to Size/Wider Width
Offset: 0mm
Lifting Threshold: ~570 lbs
Mileage Threshold: <1 Mile
Price: $200
TF2 Rating: 4.7
vivobarefoot primus lite iii

Primus Lite III

Pros: Versatile, Breathable
Cons: Pricey
Weight: 8.8 oz
Size/Fit: True to Size/Wider Width
Offset: 0mm
Lifting Threshold: ~500+ lbs
Mileage Threshold: <3 Miles
Price: $160
TF2 Rating: 4.8

Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF Sizing

For the Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF, I think most lifters and athletes should be safe going true to size in this model. This shoe’s length fits true and they have a good width through their midfoot and forefoot.

Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF Width

I’m super excited that this shoe fits more truly because traditionally I’ve found Vivobarefoot models to run a little long, especially in the Primus training line.

I have a medium to slightly wide foot and fit a true 10 and in this model, I have about a finger’s width at the end of my toe box so they’re a perfect fit for both going barefoot and wearing socks.

Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF Sizing

My only gripe about this shoe’s sizing is that they don’t offer half sizes. If you’re in-between sizes and you have a narrow foot, size down. If you’re in-between and have wide feet, size up.

  • Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF: True to size for most.

Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF Sizing and Fit Assessment

If you have additional sizing and fit questions about the Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF or how they compare to other Vivobarefoot models, drop a comment below and I can help you accordingly.

Price Breakdown

For the Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF, you can expect to pay around $200 USD. This is one of the most expensive models on the market compared to other training-focused barefoot shoes. To support TF2, use JBOLY at checkout.

To be honest, I keep going back and forth on the price of this shoe. To give context here, I think the Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF is Vivobarefoot’s most well-rounded barefoot training shoe.

Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF Boot Construction

If you’ve been wanting a model for cross-training and CrossFit, then I think this price can make sense as you can use this shoe for pretty much everything so you will get a lot of out this model.

Now that said, if you’re not interested in a barefoot shoe designed for CrossFit and cross-training and just want a model for lifting and daily wear, then I’d suggest saving money and opting for something like the Primus Lite III or Primus Lite Knit.

Those models are also strong performers and they’ll cost less. It’s just tough to recommend such an expensive barefoot shoe for everyone so I tread lightly as I write this section as I don’t want you to feel like you have to spend a ton to get a strong shoe.

Construction Details

There are a lot of cool features that go into the Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF. Below are some of the biggest construction callouts worth mentioning in this shoe.

  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Weight: 9.2 oz (size 10)
  • Removable Insole: Yes (finished internal)
  • Ortholite Insole
  • Full Rubber Outsole With 1.5mm Lugs
  • Sole Base 2mm Thick
  • Extended Outsole
  • Textile and Synthetic Overlays
  • TPU Heel Wrap
  • Mesh Upper
  • Bootie-Style Construction
  • 4 Core Eyelets

If you have additional construction-related asks about the Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF, drop a comment below.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q:
Are the Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF good for CrossFit?

A:
Compared to other Vivobarefoot shoes, the Motus Strength JJF will give you the most performance and durability for CrossFit workouts. This shoe has an abrasion resistant upper and reinforced sidewalls.

Q:
Are the Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF good for wide feet?

A:
The Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF should do a good job for wide feet. This model fits true to size compared to other Vivobarefoot training shoes that tend to run long. If you have wide feet and are in-between sizes, size up.

Q:
Can you run in the Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF?

A:
The Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF should work fine for sprints and short runs under one mile. For longer runs, I think the upper can lack breathability and the heel strap can get a little uncomfortable.

Takeaway Thoughts

To be honest, I’m a little torn on the Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF. Objectively speaking, it’s a great shoe for lifting, cross-training, and has a lot of solid features.

If you’re not after the cross-training and CrossFit-specific asks with your barefoot shoes and $200 makes your skin crawl, then I’d go for something else and save a little money.

If you have additional questions about the Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF, drop a comment below or reach out to me via Instagram (@jake_boly or @that_fit_friend).

Jake Boly, CSCS, MS Sports Science

Jake Boly, CSCS, MS Sports Science

Jake Boly is the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of That Fit Friend. He's often regarded to as a go-to resource in various performance shoe communities. He’s been formally reviewing shoes and training gear for over 7 years and has hand-tested over 400 pairs of shoes. Jake is known on the internet and YouTube for blending his review process with his educational, strength sports, and personal training background.

Jake has a Masters in Sports Science, a Bachelors in Exercise Science, a CSCS, and he's been personal training for over 10 years helping hundreds of clients get stronger, lose weight, and accomplish their goals. He uses his exercise science brain and personal training background to make curated and thoughtful review content on the fitness gear he's testing.

21 thoughts on “Vivobarefoot Motus Strength Review | Barefoot Shoes for CrossFit?”

  1. I’m interested in a barefoot lifter for general crossfit workouts. I tore the plantar (partial) in my right foot a few years ago. Any issue with having a lighter shoe with less rigidity in the sole?

    thanks for the great reviews

    Dave

    1. That’s going to be one you’ll have to play with and see, tbh! With an injury like that in addition to the varied stressors that can come from CrossFit and how your body navigates different WODs — you’ll likely want to experiment. IMO, starting with “chiller” WODs with a barefoot shoe would be my suggestion, then you can gauge soreness and whatnot easier, then like with training, progressively overload from there!

  2. Hey Jack! If I want an allrounder should I go for motus or trail knit? Since my workout consists of 1 or 2 miles of running.

  3. Hi! I always wear an 8 wide in pretty much every vivo shoe, but when I bought the PRIMUS TRAIL III SG WOMENS, I had to go up to a 9. How does the sizing of the motus compare and do you think I should continue with an 8 or 9 in this shoe? Thanks!

  4. Hi, Jake. I’m Fabio from Italy (please, excuse my rusty English). How are these shoes for jump rope? I’m looking for a shoe that would be great for hiit and jump rope but I love working out barefoot (I do vinyasa, tacfit and bb), and I thought that Motus Strenght could be a good match.
    For now I’m jumping rope (and doing some hiit) with a Mizuno Ultima 8. I’m also interested in AU Project Rock 6 or UA SlipSpeed Mesh.
    Thanks so much!

    1. Hey! These should be fine for that task, but keep in mind they’re true barefoot shoes so they’ll have a MUCH different feel from the PR 6 and SlipSpeed regarding their cushion.

  5. Hi Jake,
    Thank you so much for this review.
    Before the release of the model I was ready to buy the inov8 bare as I read your review on barefoot shoes for CrossFit.
    How would you compare the inov8 bare and the vivobarefoot motus strength?
    Is it good for rope climbs?
    Currently my box doesn’t have rope climbs but you never know.
    I know the vivobarefoot it’s way more expensive but I loved the patter and colour.
    Your opinion would be very much appreciated.
    Thanks again.

    1. The Vivo model feels more “built out” and robust! It’s a solid option and I don’t think you’d be unpleased with it, tbh. It’s also done an okay job for rope climbs thus far!

  6. Hi would you use these shoes for tennis or basketball in a casual way? Hard to find good barefoot shoes for these sports but these seem like they may do the job for support? Would you recommend or stick to a traditional tennis/basketball shoe

    1. Eh, they’re not the most breathable and for their price I can’t confidently say yeah use them for that since they’re not technically designed for it. I’d look into options like the Xero Shoes 360 which are a bit more breathable and have a lower price point.

  7. Hi. Great review. I use a UK7 Primus Lite 3 and a UK7 Addis from Vivo Barefoot. Both fit me just right. The Primus Lite has enough room for me for runs and workouts and that’s my go to shoes for all activities. Do you reckon I should size up for the Motus?

  8. Hey, great review! Again question about sizing. Would you recommend to order the Motus Strength in the same size as the Primus Trail Knit FG? Thanks.

  9. Hi. Thanks for the review! Question on sizing.. I bought the Primus Lite Knit and using the website’s photo sizing, I got a size 9 which fit me perfectly. I wear a size 11 in most other shoes (nike, dress shoes, etc). Are you saying that if I was a 9 in the Primus Lite Knit, I might be an 11 now in the Motus Strength JJF? Or stick with the 9? Or some other guidance? TIA!

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