On Test: Specialized Rime MTB Shoe- by Guitar Ted
It was about on the 4th hour of a 7 hr day spent pushing our 50 pound, loaded bikes through the desert when I thought to myself, “I have the wrong shoes on.” And when we needed to lift our bikepacking bikes up and over rock surfaces on this crazy Jeep trail, where we had to lift our bikes, then crawl up after them, lift bike, crawl up, etc…well, I would have killed for a hiking boot sole that had more purchase on the rock than these typical MTB shoes gave me. Sometimes you cannot pedal everywhere.
I would have killed for a set of Rimes on that day. The Specialized Rime is a new MTB shoe from Specialized that is kind of unique in that it blends hike-a-bike functionality with a very nice upper, including a Boa system top closure. The cost is not budget either at $180 bucks, so it is not a cruiser shoe, like someone took a light trail hiker and added a stiff sole and SPD option to it. No, this is an upper line shoe with a twist.
So, the features from the Rime website page:
The Rime blends XC performance with All-Mountain/Freeride features. Robust Vibram® rubber sole, durable and protective upper, Boa® dial adjustability, and Body Geometry technology make the Rime the perfect shoe for the modern mountain biker.
- Vibram® rubber outsole for unmatched traction and durability
- Composite midsole plate for efficient cycling, but flexible enough for walking: 7.0 stiffness index
- Performance-enhancing Body Geometry features in the outsole and footbed
- New S2 Boa® cartridge closure, with improved durability for dirt and ease of use
- Incremental adjustment, braided stainless steel cable and easy 3mm Allen replaceable Boa cartridge system
- Durable synthetic upper is supple fitting with improved welded reinforcement to handle all-mountain use
- Wrap-style tongue for comfort, secure fit and keeps dirt and mud out
- 2-bolt cleat pattern, compatible with all major MTB pedals
- Approximate weight: 425g (1/2 pair #42)
- Available in size 50
Getting the Limited Edition White/Black version out of the box, they are a good looking shoe, although the non-limited black ones are more practical from a drag through the dirt angle. Still, what cost, style, eh? The Vibram sole is the striking part for sure. Anyone who has skittered around on a rocky stream crossing in a pair of typical hard soled MTB shoes knows the dance of death can mean a twisted ankle or worse. And just walking on trail, like pushing a steep, loose climb, can be murder in a stiff racing shoe as they do not like to bend at the forefoot at all. I was also surprised to find them not as heavy as I would have thought. I weighed them at 431 grams (ea) without and 458grams with SPD cleats. Compared to two shoes I had at hand, the S Works Evo and a set of Northwaves in the same size, they were 423 grams and 467 grams respectively with cleats. So the Rimes are not porkers. I sat at the dining room table and, using the very cool Ergon TP-1 cleat alignment tool, I set them up. Oddly enough, I ended up with a multi release cleat due to a mis-order of parts, so I will see if I like them or not.
Slipping into the shoe showed the attention to fit that any Specialized shoe I have ever tried gave me. They seemed very slightly narrower than others, but still and all they were what I have come to expect from those guys in footwear. The BG insert is welcome and customizable and the heel cup is snug. I had mixed feelings about the BOA system on the S Works Evo shoes I reviewed. I loved the micro adjustability but had some fussiness with it compared to a buckle or velcro strap. The Rime uses the S2 Boa only as a top closure and mixes it with 2 velcro straps for mid-foot and below. That makes some good sense to me and it is attached to a very wide strap over the top of the foot. The tongue of the shoe is almost a sock opening that should keep dirt from getting in from the ‘lacing’ area and it has a very nice feel to it when it is snugged up on the instep with the handy strap attached to the tongue. A few ‘clicks’ of the S2 Boa and we were walking around in them. Oh, OK…these are pretty good, even on hard tile floors. Not at all sketchy and they were quiet too. I would look pretty hard at these as a city/commuting shoe as well just for ease of walking up the stairs at the office or into the local Starbucks.
The sole is rated at a ‘7’ for stiffness on a 1-10 scale, I presume, and is good to walk in so far. Out on the bike, the shoe feels decently stiff, not S Works level, but no issues so far. I hit the dirt and rode up to a steep hill climb on the single speed, got of the bike ,and walked partway up the hill. Oh man, these would really have been good on that desert bikepacking trip. So we will ride these for a bit and report back. The Rime has a blend of off bike and on bike function that is unique and looks to be a winner.
NOTE: Specialized supplied these shoes to Twenty Nine Inches for test/review at no charge. We are not being bribed, nor paid for these posts, and we will strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.