After slogging up some serious moto ruts with a Specialized Levo Turbo (see review here) in the Gifford Pinchot, I immediately saw the need for more aggressive footwear. I didn’t want to compromise pedal performance with a flexible insole, but I had to find a way to get around in the backcountry more comfortable and efficiently than my current shoes. After reading the information packet from Specialized, I was excited to see that this is exactly what the Rime 2.0 was made for. This shoe ticks all the boxes. It hikes well, is supportive, water-resistant, and still retains good pedaling performance.
Starting from the bottom, the sole is what shines the brightest in the Rime 2.0. The Vibram sole is low profile enough to not look like a hiking shoe while still having enough grip to get up the steepest, wettest chutes the Gifford had to offer. Of course, when hiking through mud, snow, and duff, the cleats got a bit packed up, but one good slap of the foot and all was remedied. When jumping between test bikes, I found the sole grippy enough to ride flats if needed but not ideal as the tread does not make complete contact with all pins.
I was very skeptical of the XPEL mesh. It seemed very light and breathable and did not look up to the task. But after a very early winter during the Trans-Cascadia that involved freezing rain, standing water, 6 inches of snow, and sub-zero temps, I am more than impressed with the performance of the material. While it is not completely waterproof, I never felt water coming through the mesh even when ripping through some deep stream crossings. The best part is the shoes dry out ultra-fast. I pulled the footbeds and put the shoes next to the fire for a few hours each night, and they were good to go the next day. Nothing is worse than putting dry socks into wet shoes to start a day, and this is really the first time I have been able to go on a multi-day ride without that happening.
The only thing I would change about the shoe is the lacing under the BOA system. After riding the 2FO Cliplite for a few seasons, I have come to really like BOA lacing and don’t see why this shoe couldn’t have the same 2 BOA system. It is not like the laces do not work in combination with the BOA, I just see the full BOA system as a more elegant solution that provides quicker on/off sequences and is easy to operate with frozen hands.
The Wolf’s Last Word
If you are looking for a comfortable and rugged clipless shoe that does it all, I would highly recommend the Specialized Rime 2.0 mtb shoes. You can get away with some serious hike a bike sections while not looking like you’re going mountaineering. The sole is more flexible than a dedicated XC shoe, but let’s face it, none of us are going to miss those few watts anyways. What impressed me most was the XPEL meshs material to keep my feet dry and warm in cold temps and wet trails. These are designed to be proper all-mountain riding shoes, and that is exactly what they are. We’d like to see them ditch the laces and go full BOA for Rime 3.0, but we’ll still be putting plenty of soggy miles in them this winter just the same.