SPECIALIZED RIME FLAT REVIEW
Review by Chili Dog
The Specialized Rime Flat is a brand-new flat pedal shoe created take on an all-day epic, a day of digging in hero dirt, or a hike a bike to top of your favorite descent. The big S seems determined for MTB world domination, with a product lineup complete enough to fill an entire bike shop. You would think a product lineup that diverse might sacrifice quality in the name of quantity, but in our experience, that has been far from the truth. Recently Specialized sent us a batch of fresh gear to test including the Rime Flat, so we set out to see if this shoe is just another notch in the Specialized belt, or true a standout that can hold its own against a stacked field of contenders from brands that specialize in nothing but shoes.
The small details and technicalities are what make or break a shoe and separate the good from the great. Thankfully, the Specialized design team is no stranger to details and started from the bottom up on the Rime Flat with a special SlipNot ST rubber sole. The ST name stands for super tacky, and the rubber lives up to its namesake. Unlike most bike shoes that are specifically intended for riding and feel like walking on a set of 2×4’s, Specialized also put extensive effort into making the Rime Flat just as comfortable to hike in as it is to ride in. The forefoot tread section hinges to allow your foot to move naturally when walking, and the tread pattern on the toe and heel are designed to hook in and prevent slipping on steep climbs.
Specialized also continued their “Body Geometry” design concept, which uses the human body to dictate design principals of their products. For example, they use the position of actual bones in the human foot to determine sizing, fit, and key flex points for comfort and blood flow.
Like most trail shoes in the space, the Rime Flat uses an injection molded toe box, lace retention straps and a cushioned EVA foam midsole for impact absorption on and off the bike. Specialized goes a step further with XPEL hydrophobic mesh construction to aid in moisture evacuation and drying time. Breathability is a strong suit of this shoe, which is key to comfort and preventing swamp foot on those long days in the saddle.
We have a pretty full closet of shoes here at the Wolf Den, so we aren’t short on shoes to compare the Rime Flat against. I am personally pretty picky when it comes to shoes as well, especially when it comes to grip and sole stiffness. The Rime Flat checks off those two boxes well, with a nice balance of pedal feel and stiffness to support riders through hard corners or harsh impacts. I never felt my fleet float off the pedals in extended rock gardens, yet I was still able to re-position my feet with relative ease. The soles were also comfortable while still allowing for good fine edge control in corners or in the air. I do not tend to hike in my mountain bike shoes, but the Rimes were surprisingly comfortable to walk in around town or on the trail.
While usually to prefer a mid or high-top shoe for ankle support, the Rimes felt comfortable and secure on my feet, and the laces felt higher quality than most. The Rime Flat shoes also feature a nice lace retention strap to keep them out of your bike’s running gear.
One of my favorite features of the Rime is the completely welded upper, which is a rarity in a shoe at this price point. While it may not seem meaningful at first glance, almost all my past shoe failures have occurred when a stitched seam started to snag, tear or separate. Having a fully welded upper eliminates the key failure point that has ended the lives of so many of my previous shoes and makes for easy cleaning on the shoe uppers. It is one of those small details that really separates these shoes from the pack and kept me reaching for them out of my test collection.
Despite the initial comfort and positive impressions however, I continued to have a nagging soreness in my feet towards the end of each ride in the Specialized Rime shoes. I compared these shoes to several others, yet each time I wore the Rimes I felt the same soreness. After reaching out to the Specialized team, I learned about another key part of their shoe program that is seldom talked about; footbed variation. We are going to take our testing a bit further as the Body Geometry team is determined to get us some more positive results in the shoes. I’ll be receiving some new footbeds and look forward to seeing how they change my experience and foot fatigue on long, rocky descents.
While most shoes on the market feature one footbed for every rider, Specialized offers several upgraded choices. They start with three basic color coded insole footbed options with varied stiffness choices, however for the picky types they also have a custom footbed program that can provide a new footbed based on an exact imprint of your foot. That is a key advantage that many other MTB shoe companies cannot offer in house, and something that makes a lot of sense given the variation in rider’s feet. At $35, the basic color-coded options also do not break the bank either. While it is nice to have a shoe fit perfect out of the box, there is something to be said for having the option to customize fit to your exact needs. It is also worth noting that Loam Wolf tester Nic Hall has no issues with any Specialized shoes, so it seems the issues I felt were simply related to my foot shape’s interaction with the standard footbed.
Coupled with the already feature packed shoe, the custom insoles serve as the icing on the cake of yet another quality offering from Specialized. While I do wish they offered the Rime as a mid or high-top trail shoe, I understand that low tops are far more popular, and this shoe does a fantastic job of ticking the boxes most riders ask for.
The Wolf’s Last Word
Specialized seems to have their hands in almost every MTB product genre around, yet somehow seems to do a good job in all of them. The Rime is a solid offering, and a great everyday shoe. It is just as ready for a long hike as it is a long ride, and packs plenty of features like the welded seams that most riding shoes near the $100 price point skip over. Their balance of grip and daily comfort is also impressive, as the pivot point for the front toe box is perfectly positioned to aid in foot movement off the bike without jeopardizing the stiffness needed for support while riding.
The Specialized Rime shoes represent a pretty feature packed options list considering the reasonable price point, earning them our Loam Wolf stamp of approval despite the initial discomfort with my foot shape. Having the ability to customize the shoe’s fit from mild (foot beds) to full-custom, via their dealer-supported fit program, makes them a solid suggestion for riders looking for a new set of mountain bike shoes.
Sizing: 36-49 | Half Sizes 38.5-46.5
Disclosure: Our team selects all of the products we review and do so with honesty and objectivity in mind. Some of the products we receive come directly from Competitive Cyclist, who also value our readers and have offered them a 15% discount (exclusions apply) on their first purchase by using LOAMWOLF15. Through this program we may also receive a small commission at no cost to you. Thanks for your support, TLW.