It’s the little things that make me excited. This year at Interbike, one of those little things was the new Specialized Rime mountain bike shoe. I’m off the bike a lot when I’m on the trail, taking pictures, looking at lines, or pushing my bike up the hill because I’m weak and my camera pack weighs too much. So the Rime’s flat Vibram sole and promise of all mountain comfort with XC stiffness, well, it gives me stiffness.
The Rime looks like it was designed just for mountain bikers like me. I ride a lot but I’m not a racer and I don’t need the lightest, stiffest mountain bike shoe. Between taking pictures, pushing my bike and leaning on my bike gasping for breath, my shoes are probably in the dirt as much as the pedals. I do appreciate a stiff, efficient bike shoe, though. Unfortunately, the most efficient shoes are usually not so great for walking. Sometimes, they can be downright scary. I remember one time in particular, walking around on some high slickrock cliffs near Moab, where I actually considered taking off my bike shoes and going barefoot because I was afraid of slipping. So I really, really like the idea of a mountain bike shoe with a Vibram sole. When I’m taking mountain bike pictures I’m as likely to be standing on a cliff as I am on a nice safe, flat bit of trail. The more traction the better.
Efficiency is important for a good bike shoe. If it weren’t we’d all wear flip-flops on our bikes. Well, maybe not. But you get the idea. Specialized says the Rime shoe has a, “composite midsole plate for efficient cycling, but flexible enough for walking…” with a “stiffness index” of 7. I assume that’s 7 out of 10. Since I haven’t used the shoes (yet), I can’t say how stiff that actually is. But if it’s like a ski boot rating, then I think it’s plenty stiff for an avid recreational mountain biker like myself.
The Specialized Rime is compatible with all major clipless pedal cleats and Specialized gave it a standard three-strap closure system with two hook-and-loop straps and a replaceable Boa strap at the top. I’m a little suspicious of anything that’s not foolproof hook-and-loop, but I’ve heard good things about the Boa system and it’s supposed to make the shoes fit better. The Rime Web page says that Specialized also incorporated, “performance-enhancing BG (Body Geometry) features in the outsole and footbed.” Since fit is such a critical part of shoe performance, this is a big deal. Anyone who’s used custom footbeds for ski boots or shoes will know what I’m talking about.
The one thing I don’t like about the Rime is the $175 price tag. I’m a cheapskate and I don’t like to pay more than $100 for a pair of bike shoes. On the other hand, the Rimes look like a whole lot more shoe than I’ve had before so they may very well be worth the investment. If they make my rides more comfortable and safer and they last me a couple of seasons, then I think that will be money well spent.