After dialing in my cleat placement, I was happily on my way in a brand new pair of riding shoes. Normally brand new shoes feel excessively tight, like they need to be broken in for a few rides before they are comfortable, but the Rime’s felt good right off the bat. I feared that over time they might stretch a little and feel too big, but over the course of the past two months the overall fit doesn’t appear to have changed at all. They’re not too loose, not too tight, and I’ve experienced no noticeable heel lift or extraneous heel movement of any kind. I do find that I have to adjust the Velcro and Boa mid-ride occasionally to snug them up, but I’m pretty sure I’ve had to do that with every shoe I’ve ever owned, so it isn’t really a concern.
At 425g per shoe, the Rime isn’t in the running to be the lightest shoe out there, and the Vibram sole clearly adds a little heft to the overall package. That being said, the Rime is only 70g heavier than my $280 stiffer-than-hell carbon soled XC racing shoes, and the additional weight isn’t something I’ve ever noticed while they are on my feet.
The closure system on the Rime seems very well thought out. The two Velcro (hook and loop) straps are situated over the forefoot and midfoot and do a fine job of securing that part of the shoe. The straps appear rather thin and flimsy, but have withstood a solid couple of months of thrashing with no problems. I was skeptical of the Boa at first, but after using it for a while I’ve found that skepticism to be unwarranted. While it looks somewhat fragile and seems kinda gimmicky, the Boa works really darn well. Simply twist one way to tighten, and twist the other way to loosen. (The Boas twist opposite directions on each shoe, however, which was confusing at first but intuitive after a few uses.)
The Boa has an indexed click as you turn it, holding the braided stainless steel cable in place in small increments. So far, the Boas on both shoes have worked flawlessly, and in the off chance you break one, they are replaceable with a 3mm allen key. I have also decided that I prefer the Boa to a ratcheting system—it’s simple, user-friendly, lightweight, effective, and I find that I’m less likely to over-tighten my shoes because of the smaller adjustment increments of the Boa’s twisting system.
The wrap-around tongue of the Rime also deserves mention. It is completely fixed to the shoe on the lateral (outer) side, and not attached on the medial (inner) side. When you snug up the shoe, the tongue wraps toward the inside, like a burrito, and doesn’t allow for any unwanted tongue shift during the course of a ride. The top of the tongue also hasn’t rubbed me wrong on my prominent top-of-the-foot tendons, a problem that I’ve had with some Sidi and Giro shoes in the past.
As mentioned earlier, Specialized has included their proprietary Body Geometry technology into these shoes. This means that they’ve integrated a slight outward cant into the outsole and footbed (as well as some arch support and padding under the metatarsals), which is supposed to align your joints better while pedaling to increase efficiency and comfort. I can’t say that I’ve noticed the Body Geometry doing anything for me, but it doesn’t seem to be working against me, either.
I will say, however, that the footbed in the Rime leaves a bit to be desired for me, especially in the forefoot area. The footbed is very thin and un-contoured in this area, and I find that the balls of my feet get uncomfortable after more than a couple of hours of riding. I am considering getting an aftermarket footbed to see if that makes a difference, and will update this post with any relevant changes.
In the eight weeks that I’ve been riding these shoes, I have found the soles to be stiff enough for me in all situations. The slight amount of flex that these soles do have seems to be from the cleat forward, making it easier to walk when I have to get off my bike, and doesn’t seem to come into play during my pedal stroke. Power transfer is great and will probably be adequate for all but the most discerning of XC racer types. On long rides, I don’t get foot fatigue or cramping like in my last pair of mid-range Sidi shoes, which I bought on sale without realizing how flexy the sole was.
The Rime’s synthetic uppers have worn impressively little in the time that I’ve used them. I think this is due in large part to the soles, which help to prevent awkward walking situations, and also the well-placed rubber rands that surround the toe and heel of the shoes. The rubber extends from the sole up and offers coverage in all of the most commonly impacted or scratched up spots.
Unlike many mountain bike shoes that have a heel that seems to taper from the top down, the Rime has a much wider heel platform that adds significant stability while standing or walking. Under the toes, I think the sole could use a bit more of an aggressive, or deeper, tread, because when you are forced to hike a bike it is usually on steeper terrain where you are likely to be walking on your toes. The mellower tread pattern of the front of the sole doesn’t hook up nearly as well as the rest of the shoe. The toes do not have any sort of spikes that can be added or screwed on, which would be a welcome feature, in my opinion, to add traction to the toe area.
The shoe’s uppers are also showing little to no wear due in large part to the great traction afforded by the soles. Most of the scuffs and damage to the uppers of my other bike shoes are caused by slipping, stumbling, or otherwise awkwardly walking in them, something that happens very little in the Rime.
The coolest feature of this shoe, though, is in my opinion the Vibram sole. This is a legitimate hard rubber sole from front to back, with an aggressive tread on the heel and the ball of the foot around the cleat. The Vibram rubber is grippier than the sole of any other performance bike shoe I’ve used in the past: Sidi, Giro, and Specialized, too. The relatively hard rubber compound shows minimal wear after two months of use. Stumbling or falling as a result of awkward bike shoe walking has become a thing of the past for me.
My only other gripe is that the Rime is currently available only in the U.S. in black. In my opinion, black is the worst color because it’s the hottest for any mountain bike apparel or equipment like shoes. The Rime does have six mesh panels to help with a little airflow, although the two above the toes are the only vents that seem to actually provide any relief for my feet.
The all-black shoes are also accented with little neon yellow lines of which I am not a huge fan either. I am hopeful that future generations of this shoe will be available in alternative color options. The color scheme isn’t exactly a deal breaker for me with the shoes, but I would definitely prefer some options.
Overall, I have to say that I am thoroughly impressed with the Specialized Rime all-mountain/enduro shoe. The several minor flaws this shoe has, like cleat placement, the tread up front, and available colors, are outshone by both its pedaling and hiking performance and its durability. XC racers with a thing for ultra-stiff soles might want to consider other shoes, but I highly recommend this shoe to pretty much anyone else, especially those who do an occasional hike-a-bike or enjoy a little extra adventure on their ride.
The Salewa Mountain Trainer is a comfortable, well constructed approach shoe that falls closer a to low-cut hiker than a climbing shoe, and is ideally suited for long approaches or scrambling.
Kevin Bazar is persistent, and his Specialized SX is now dialed. (Whew.) Read on to learn how he got it there.