Specialized says its new Rime flat pedal trail shoe is for all the hike-a-bike, push-a-bike, drink-a-pint sections. A shoe that's designed for backcountry adventures where a ride can sometimes involve just as much time off the bike as it does on.
We have taken these on our own big mountain adventure and think these could be the best mountain bike shoes for riders that want to explore the back and beyond.
Construction and fit
Welded mesh and TPU upper means there are is no seam construction to eliminate any points of weakness. The upper is quite malleable so Specialized has beefed up areas where more structure is needed. Thicker sections of TPU make up the heel box section which extends along each side of the shoe and supports the inner foot and beefs up the eyestay. The toe box has been injection molded to protect against toe stubs whether tripping over a rock pushing up or clipping it in the way back down.
Three large welded mesh sections have been left open across the front and sides to improve airflow as well as an Xpeltm hydrophobic mesh construction in the tongue. Specialized claims that the Xpeltm hydrophobic mesh reduces drying time, ideal if you have to wade through the odd river on a backcountry epic.
The Rime is only available in a flat pedal version, so for clipless riders interested in the Rime you will need to dig out those old flat pedals and reacquaint yourself with foot-out flat-out style riding. The fact that the Rimes only come in flat versions really shows the importance of walkability when Specialized designed these shoes. Adding cleats to a shoe puts high demands on sole stiffness, losses tread real estate as well as having to cater for the dynamics of clipping in. Without these extra considerations, Specialized has been able to concentrate on making the sole performs on pedal and pins.
Specialized’s SlipNot ST rubber has been used, and Specialized has been reworking the formula over the last two versions of SlipNot and the new rubber is even grippier and better damped than the previous versions. There is a cushioned mid-sole made from EVA foam which is enhanced by an impact-absorbing shank to reduce foot fatigue on long rough descents.
The Rimes come in two color options of Black or White Mountain. While the Black versions have a more muted style, the White Mountain versions we got to test have an aesthetic that feels reminiscent of 90s trainers, a bold look that some will love. The weight is a touch below 400g for a size EU43 which is on the money for a reinforced trail riding shoe.
As with all Specialized’s footwear, the Rimes get Specialized’s Body Geometry treatment to influence Longitudinal Arch, Metatarsal Button, and Varus Wedge positioning. Specialized's aim is to align the hip, foot, and knee to reduce potential injury-inducing medial/lateral knee movement when riding.
A roomy toe box and well-calculated width create a secure fit without feeling restrictive. The laces extend a little further down the foot than Specialized’s recently released Roost and 2FO DH which allows a little more control overshoe tightness. Specialized has also used round laces which are looped through three lower fabric lace guides then two regular upper eyelets.
Sizing is accurate as well and Specialized offers a EU36-49 size range with half sizes in all but the two smallest and largest sizes if you need to refine fit further.
Connection to the pedal is excellent giving good feedback to where your foot is positioned without the feeling of gripping the pedal with your toes. For a shoe designed to be comfortable to walk in all day, it offers a surprising level of stability and stiffness on the pedal. After riding Specialized’s recent DH shoe I expected a noticeable increase in vibrations being transmitted through the pedals however the dampening in the sole of the Rime is excellent. The SlipNot ST compound is wonderfully grippy as soon as the shoe meets the pedal too, locking the foot to the platform with no feeling that it's going to break free when the bike starts playing buckaroo. Sole stiffness while pedaling is rigid and direct too so there is no loss in efficiency on the climbs that don't need to be portaged.
Walking performance is superb though, with enough flex around the toes and heel so that as you take a step it doesn’t feel as if your walking on a piece of wood or are spring loading the sole. The tread pattern is a little deeper than other trail shoes for mid-foot grip and horizontal grip sections on the toe and heel areas dig into the dirt well to give reliable traction when stomping up and down the hill. The Body Geometry design is quite noticeable when walking with the shoe influencing alignment of the ankle and leg. The edges of the tongue are quite rigid and need to be positioned correctly to avoid discomfort, however once in place and laced up everything stays in place requiring zero readjustments.
Despite the decent-sized vents on the front of the shoe weather resistance is good, stopping puddles and rain from instantly flooding the shoe. Durability has so far been promising as well although more riding is needed to confirm how they fair. The TPU upper cleans up well although they will never look fully box-fresh again after the first muddy ride due to mud's ability to ingrain itself into mesh.
Specialized describes the Rimes as a shoe for all hike-a-bike, push-a-bike and drink-a-pint sections. While aesthetically I will stick with my regular party kicks in social settings there is no denying the Rime’s offer equally superb performance on and off the bike. On the bike, I was surprised at how trail vibrations and shocks were absorbed in a fashion not dissimilar to the 2FO DH shoes we recently tested from Specialized. The dampening ability is a massive boost to confidence and comfort on long days where foot fatigue can build up. The SlipNot ST rubber is consistently ultra-grippy on the pedals and, other than greasy mud which would challenge hiking boots, walking grip is great as well. The sole flexes enough in the right places so they don't feel like clogs when trying to reach the next peak on an epic backcountry adventure.
Tech Specs: Specialized Rime
- Colors: Black / White Mountain
- Weight: 395g (EU43, actual)
- Sizing: 36-49 and half sizes 38.5-46.5
- Price: $130.00 / £145.00