First look: Specialized’s Rime trail shoe
When Specialized’s new trail shoe arrived, I was headed to Sedona for some late-season riding- a place that would seem to be the Rime’s ideal habitat. The Rime is Specialized’s shoe for riders whose days involve hiking, dabs in dicey sections, or both. With its stiff sole (a 7 on Specialized’s 1-11 stiffness index), sturdy (though not heavy) construction, and grippy Vibram tread, the new arrival seemed like the perfect shoe for a long weekend of pedaling with the occasional “walk today, ride tomorrow” section. Hit the jump to find out if the Rime will be going back next time…
After years of trying different solutions for knee and hip aches, I’ve become a big fan of Specialized’s Body Geometry insoles and wedges. Subscribing to Body Geometry principles, the Rime comes with a baked-in 2.5° outward (big toe up) cant and mild version of the company’s BG insoles. Running about 1/2 size larger than shoes from either Shimano or Mavic, Specialized’s size 43 shoes fit my low-volume and medium-width feet well, even with heavier fall socks. The Rimes represent my first exposure to the S2 Boa fastening system, which secures the top strap (the two lower straps are the standard hook & loop type).
The Rime is effectively tongue-less, with the outside of the shoe wrapping over the inside. Given my low-volume feet, I would have not been surprised to find the ‘tongue’ portion of the shoe to wrap uncomfortably far over my foot- but this was not the case. Aside from not being able to pull at the usual points when pulling the shoe on, the tongue-less design has so far been invisible in use. Beyond from preventing the shoe from opening as far or as quickly as ratchet systems, the Boa system has been also been similarly transparent. The S2 Boa used here, which claims to have better durability than previous Boas for off-road use, does not make allowances for easy loosening- the monofilament has to be unwound at the same rate that it is wound. The left Boa tightens in the opposite direction of the right, which can be confusing at first but makes sense if using the left hand to adjust the left shoe (as is the case while riding). Overall, the system isn’t nearly as fast as ratchets, but does carry a lifetime warranty and (more importantly) provides very fine and seemingly secure adjustments.
On the trail, the Rime has been very comfortable so far. The 7-stiffness composite midsole is plenty stiff enough for all-day rides and the Vibram outsole is reassuring when dabbing or scrambling. The oddest thing so far has been the lateral location of the cleat slots- with my cleats centered side-to-side, the shoe sits very close to the cranks. Because of this, I’ve needed to move the cleats to the inside of the shoe (moving the shoe out) to find to my natural toes-out riding position. It’s an interesting way to artificially narrow a bike’s Q-factor- but riders whose cleats don’t allow for lateral adjustment might not be able to find their sweet spot.
So far, Specialized’s Rime is much better suited to my pedaling-oriented big days than Pearl Izumi’s softer-soled Alp-X Elite and look to be the shoe for any upcoming trips that are likely to include precarious step-offs or any amount of hiking. In fact, there’s been no reason so far that they couldn’t be my only shoe. Only their performance over a number of misadventures will tell if they’re worth the $175 asking price. I’ll be back next spring with a final verdict…