-Lace and Boa closures
-Vibram rubber outsole
-Body Geometry sole construction and footbeds
-Hiking / pedaling hybrid focus
-All-day comfort meets off-bike versatility
-Traction for hike-a-bike sections
-Suitable for an array riding styles
-More flexible sole for walking on varying terrain
-Heftier than many performance-oriented trail shoes
-More flexible sole may not suit performance minded rider.
-Boa-over-laces requires care to stay comfortable
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Remember a handful of years ago when nearly every car manufacturer produced an SUV-truck combo vehicle? I remember thinking, “Sweet, now I can have the lousy gas mileage of a bulky SUV without that pesky hauling capability of a full-size truck bed…” Products created to please multiple intended uses often compromise overall capability, just to solve a problem no one really has anyway. An exception can prove the rule, which brings us to Specialized’s Rime 2.0 clipless shoe.
Originally released in 2012, the first-generation Rime used hook-and-loop closures, plus a durable Vibram rubber sole with a more aggressive, hiking-style tread pattern suited for hike-a-bike sections of trail. Like the original, the updated Rime 2.0 ($160) features a Vibram rubber sole with a clipless pedal interface, but is now also available in two additional versions: the clipless, Boa-less Rime 1.0 ($88) and the Rime Flat shoe ($130).
The Rime 2.0 incorporates a smattering of features common to Specialized’s performance-oriented shoes. Most notably, the Body Geometry sole construction and footbed, which claims increased efficiency, power, and improved leg and hip joint alignment. The heart of the Body Geometry approach to shoe design is the “varus wedge,” a slight outboard slope to the insole. It is slightly more subtle on the Rime 2.0 than on other Body Geometry shoes, but still noticeable. There’s an odd bit of extra support on the outside edge of the midfoot, but it will break in after a few rides, and some people may never notice it. There’s a Boa dial closure that sits above traditional laces, a hydrophobic mesh construction claimed to reduce water absorption and improve drying time, and Specialized’s Landing Strip cleat pocket which is designed to help riders clip in and out more easily. The claimed weight for a size 42 (men 9, women 10.5) is 384 grams per shoe. Each of the only slightly more Ronald McDonald-worthy size 43.5s (men 10.25, women 11.5) I’ve been riding in weighs 397 grams.
Wearing the Specialized Rime 2.0, it feels more like a cross between a modern, clipless trail riding shoe and a trail running sneaker, instead of being a centaur-like mutant moccasin outfitted with a cycling-oriented upper torso and hiking boot-style lower body. Its two characteristics appear to complement each other, not compete with each other. EVA foam midsoles are common across many styles of athletic shoes, and the application on the Rime gives them a lighter and more comfortable overall feel than one would expect from cycling-oriented kicks. Once the laces are snug, fine tuning the fit can be done with the Boa dial, which also helps hold the laces in place. When I first started wearing the Rimes, I noticed a harsh pressure point on my foot underneath the location of the Boa dial; but after some finagling and experimenting with different levels of tension on the dial the situation seemed to remedy itself over time. Another solution some Rime 2.0 wearers use is replacing the laces with a Solomon Quicklace, which puts a small plastic tab in place of a bulky knot. That solves one problem while causing another. There’s less of a mass underneath the Boa strap, but there’s no pouch or strap for stowing the excess Quicklace, a feature that would have been useful for traditional laces as well. Bottom line, either way, there are ways around any cumbersome interactions between strap and lace.
Whether you’re the type of rider who rarely takes a foot off a pedal or the kind who launches a leg sideways, outrigger boat-style, around every corner, many of us inevitably encounter chunky, hike-a-bike terrain, will tromp around trailside making a repair, or traipse atop a scenic overlook to capture an all-important duck-lipped selfie. Regardless of the scenario forcing you to unclip, the Rime’s cleat and pedal interface easily engages and releases on command, which I’ve found isn’t always the situation with clipless shoes that have hiking-style outsoles. That ease comes at the cost of ultimate support when using wider, caged clip pedals, but it’s a worthy trade-off. And, once off the bike the new Rime’s traction shines.
Despite the pronounced Vibram rubber lugs on the outsole, the Rime 2.0 doesn’t feel bulky, clumsy, or out of place when clipped in and spinning the cranks on lengthy rides. Although they would never be mistaken for a stiff, carbon-soled cross-country racing offering, the Rime offers a sufficiently stiff platform for efficient pedaling, yet offers enough flex for clomping over unruly terrain.
Specialized offers plenty of performance-oriented clipless shoes for racing and trail riding, so who is the Rime 2.0 for? Although they won’t likely be the first choice for weight-conscious, competitive-minded riders who put a premium on efficiency and stiffness over comfort and versatility, it’s safe to say the Specialized Rime 2.0 is not the truck-SUV amalgamation of the mountain bike shoe game. Rather, it’s an excellent choice for riders who seek comfort both on and off the bike in a relatively lightweight package with an outsole that makes off-bike efforts more manageable. I can see the Rime being of interest to riders who regularly face long hike-a-bikes, embark on bikepacking adventures, do remote trailwork, e-bike riders who put in tons of miles into remote locations of the backcountry, and simply anyone preferring more off-bike stability and versatility when walking trailside, plus the peace of mind of knowing their feet are secure on the pedals when clipped in.
Photos: Ryan Cleek