Specialized Rime Flat Shoes Review: Hike-a-bike Shoes!

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Announced today, the new Specialized Rime Flat Shoes are the brand’s first riding shoe designed specifically with hiking in mind, striking a balance between on-bike stiffness and off-bike comfort. We’ve been testing a pair prior to launch, and you can find the details, photos, and our first impressions on the Rime Flat Shoes here…

The Specialized Rime clipless mountain bike shoes were the first shoes I purchased specifically for bikepacking, and they became a personal favourite of mine back in my Krampus days. In 2019, Specialized announced a major update to the Rime lineup, featuring aggressive Vibram soles, lots of ventilation, and an overall rugged look—all the ingredients for a good bikepacking shoe. Those who prefer riding flats may be excited to hear that Specialized just launched a flat version of the Rime that offers most of the same features as the clipless version, but with a sticky sole for riding flats. A few weeks ago, Specialized sent over a pair of the new Rime Flat Shoes for me to try out before today’s release, and I’ve been putting them through their paces since then.

Specialized Rime Flat Shoe
  • Specialized Rime Flat Shoe
  • Specialized Rime Flat Shoe
  • Specialized Rime Flat Shoe
  • Specialized Rime Flat Shoe
  • Specialized Rime Flat Shoe

Specialized is positioning the Rime Flat Shoes as an option that’s equally suited for off-bike exploration as it is for riding. In fact, it’s apparently the first shoe they’ve specifically designed with hiking in mind. It uses their SlipNot ST (super tacky) rubber sole that they claim hits the sweet spot between flat pedal grip, stiffness, and all-day walking performance. It has a flexible forefoot that articulates under different terrain, an injected molded toe box for protection against the elements, and a hydrophobic mesh construction that reduces water absorption and is said to reduce drying time as well. The Specialized Rime Flat shoe reminds me of a lightweight hiking shoe in a lot of ways, minus a more aggressive sole, which makes sense from a bikepacking perspective.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve gone out on loads of day rides, several fully loaded adventures, and I even snuck in an overnighter to see if they lived up to Specialized’s lofty claims. Although it has been feeling quite spring-like here in the Pacific Northwest, the trails and roads are still wet and slippery, I’ve encountered snow on a few occasions, and I could have easily been testing a waterproof shoulder season shoe instead.

  • Specialized Rime Flat Shoe
  • Specialized Rime Flat Shoe

First Impressions

First off, the Rime Flat shoes felt featherweight next to the Leatt DBX 3.0 shoes I reviewed in November. They have a slim, lightweight construction that immediately reminded more me of a low hiker than a heavy-hitting Enduro shoe like the Leatts. The simple lace-up closure and large padded tongue open up wide, which makes putting them on and drying them out at camp a little easier. The toe box isn’t as tapered as I’m used to, providing lots of room for your toes to spread out, which felt more natural while hiking.

For the majority of my rides, the cushioned EVA midsole and shank layer felt comfortable and stiff enough to offer good control. However, when I was standing up out of the saddle or really pushing down on the pedals, there was more flex than I’m used to, which made them feel more like a really grippy hiking shoe than a cycling shoe. On the other hand, this allows for a natural forefoot flex while hiking up steep slopes, and I think Specialized hit a sweet spot when it comes to overall stiffness and walkability, especially for anyone looking for more of a multi-sport shoe for extended tours or a busy outdoor lifestyle.

Specialized Rime Flat Shoe Review
  • Specialized Rime Flat Shoe Review
  • Specialized Rime Flat Shoe Review

The SlipNot ST rubber sole features larger horizontal lugs on the forefoot and heel, for grip while hiking, and smaller dot-like lugs for pedal grip. The combination works well, and the rubber is impressively sticky on flat pedals and even on slippery, moss-covered rocks. In fact, besides their overall comfort on and off the bike, the amount of traction the Rime Flat shoes offer is perhaps their most impressive feature. Specialized’s footwear development team wasn’t exaggerating when they told me I’d have to peel these shoes off of my pedals—they grip hard.

While some cycling shoes tend to wet out and dry slowly, even from perspiration, this has not been my experience with the Rime Flat Shoes. I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find the shoe bone dry after some of my longer rides, which is great for someone who often deals with sweaty feet. Even when trudging through snow, puddles, and mud, they seem to be doing a great job at keeping the elements out and the shoe itself dry. Unlike stiff cycling shoes, I haven’t been in a hurry to take them off at camp or after a long ride, which I think owes to a combination of the natural forefoot flex, roomy toe box, and lightweight design.

  • Specialized rime Flat shoes
  • Specialized rime Flat shoes
Specialized rime Flat shoes

Pros

  • Lightweight and not overly bulky
  • Hydrophobic exterior reduces water absorption and drying time
  • Impressively grippy soles
  • Comfortable on and off the bike

Cons

  • Long-term durability is unknown. Stay tuned for proper review this summer
  • Semi-stiff sole and lace-up closure might not work for aggressive riders or those coming from stiff shoes
  • Unisex sizing may not work for everyone
  • Size Tested: 45
  • Size Range: 36-49 and half sizes 38.5-46.5
  • Colors: Black and White Mountains
  • Weight: 420 grams / shoe
  • Place of Manufacture: China
  • Price: $130 USD
  • Manufacturer’s Details: Specialized.com
  • Specialized Rime Flat Shoes
  • Specialized Rime Flat Shoes

Wrap Up

The new Rime Flat Shoes fill a gap in Specialized’s lineup that I think will appeal to a lot of people. The rest of their flat shoes are more enduro / bike-park focused, while the Rime Flats fall more in line with the “hike, bike, repeat” mantra bikepackers are known for. Although you’ll have to stay tuned for a long-term review, I’ve been very impressed with the Rime Flat shoes during the time I’ve had them. I’m still not 100% sold of riding flats while bikepacking, but these have my vote for anyone who finds themselves walking alongside a loaded bike through gnarly terrain. When the snow starts melting and I’m able to make my way up to higher elevations, I’m confident I’d rather be wearing the Rime Flat shoes than clipless shoes that will inevitably get clogged up with mud and gunk. The unanswered question? Long-term durability. Keep an eye out for an update on how they hold up into the spring and after some more serious riding.

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