VFF Classics tensioner hack

In my previous post, I demonstrated a way to add a little something to make that darned Vibram tab behave itself. Unfortunately for me, there was no joy in the compounds I’ve been using for glue. So I ended up reversing the mod and think of another way to deal with my issues.

I revisited the idea of cutting the cord, but still couldn’t push through with it. Testicular fortitude FAIL. I did recall, however, one comment in that thread that held a lot of promise.

In summary, it suggested a way to take away the tensioner… without having to cut the cord. Even better; it’s possible to do it in a way that you’d still be able to put the tensioner back! This means you’ll be able to experiment with the feeling of having the cord cut 1 Since the tensioner being gone will give enough slack on the strap to not tighten the shoe in any way. without having to drastically modify a “core design feature” of the Classic line. 2 And admit it, the tab/branding is nice if it only would behave itself.

So if you’re considering cutting the cord altogether, this would be a good way to “test” if you’ll regret your decision.

Anyways, enough “justifications” – lets get down to it. To accomplish this mod would entail “hurting” the tensioner a bit – I’ll explain as I go along.

First, you’ll need:

  1. Pair of Vibram Classics
  2. A “wide and flat-ish” tool for widening the plastic opening of the tensioner
  3. A cutting implement.
  4. Careful hands
  5. Balls of steel


First, we take our wide and flat-ish tool (In my case, it’s my Alessi Stila letter opener for its thickness (it won’t bend out of shape even if you twist it around strong materials – not that the tensioner is strong at all). A larg-ish flat-head screwdriver would do the trick as well.

As you see in the picture the goal is to warp the tensioner enough so that you can slide the button out (as seen in the picture below). This will make cutting the tensioner easier.

I’m not going to lie, this is pretty scary the first time you do it – cuz you’ll think you’re going to break the tensioner, but it’s surprisingly flexible. Still, I urge you to be careful about it.

So we now take our cutting tool and create two slits in the tensioner (one above, and one below) like so:

This is probably the most “destructive” part of the whole tutorial. The only time you actually “harm” any part of the shoe. No pain, no gain 😉

I suggest doing it like in the picture: diagonal, opposite sides. I’m pretty sure everyone will have the tendency to want to cut straight in the middle. No dice; when I do the spatial analysis it makes most sense to do it this way to preserve as much structural integrity as well as not having the button easily slide out. Take note, we are in fact, compromising the tensioner’s structural integrity just by doing this, so we want to minimize the weakening as much as possible.

If you do it properly you should end up with very neat/clean slits where you can slide the straps out from.

And there you have it! If you want to put the tensioner back, just put the strap back through the slits and re-insert the button.


Here’s the “finished” product:

Cosmetically, it doesn’t look as spiffy as the velcro mod, but the good thing about this is that you don’t have to worry about glues, velcros and all that other shit. We’ll be dealing only with your shoe as is – nothing more, and only one thing less (the tensioner). After everything, t’ll be free to be used, abused, and most of all, washed thoroughly without having to worry about messing anything up.

If you’re thinking “Well, I did what you told me, but why isn’t the tab tucked to the rubber like in the picture? It’s still [annoyingly] sticking out!”

The answer is simple: the strap is pretty “stiff” (precisely why it sticks out annoyingly) so all I had to do was twist it once over itself and let elastic potential energy do the rest 😉 Do it often enough, and the strap will develop a natural curve downward (and hopefully close to the heel) – possibly to the point that you can leave it alone and it’ll still behave itself.

For a clearer look at the slits, here you go:

“Carlo, why is your cut so neat and clean” you ask?
Cause I’m a fucking ninja, that’s why!

Just keep those tensioners in a safe place for the day when you think that you feel like using them again 😉


1 Since the tensioner being gone will give enough slack on the strap to not tighten the shoe in any way.
2 And admit it, the tab/branding is nice if it only would behave itself.

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