- Great handling
- Fun ride
- Not a 'shrink and pink' women's bike
- Shock isn't as adjustable as some
- Tyres won’t suit aggressive riders
- Slightly narrow rims for Plus rubber
The Rhyme is Specialized’s women’s specific Stumpjumper. That means it’s not designed for enduro, nor cross-country racing, but everything else in between; a good old fashioned trail bike with fun as the main priority, and it hits that nail on the head during every ride.
- Buying your first mountain bike: everything you need to know
- When should you replace your bicycle helmet? We asked the experts
- Review: Trek Fuel EX 5 Women’s 27.5 Plus
Though it is a women’s specific trail bike, you don’t need to worry about being patronised with “feminine” paint jobs or upright, shopper-style geometry. The Rhyme is not a million miles away from the highly acclaimed Stumpjumper. In fact, the geometry and sizing is almost exactly the same, but with the Rhyme having a slightly slacker head angle for inspiring more confidence and stability on the descents. It also offers a very similar spec for the same price, however; only the Rhyme comes in an Extra-Small frame size.
The RockShox Reba RL offers 150mm of suspension up front, and a RockShox Monarch RL gives 150mm in the rear. Both of which have been given a “Women’s RX Tune”, allowing the shock to perform for proportionately lighter bodies. The AutoSAG feature on the shock allows you to set up the sag with the touch of a button, but aggressive riders may find the suggested pressures to be a tad on the soft side, and experienced fettlers will likely find the shock’s adjustments to be rather minimal.
The combination of a soft shock also tuned for lighter riders means that the rear suspension was very easy to bottom out on drop-offs and flat landings, however; this did allow for a very planted and smooth ride everywhere else, which better suits its intended purpose anyway.
SRAM Guide R brakes with four-piston callipers offered exceptional stopping power, and SRAM GX 1x11-speed offers ample gearing for most riding situations together with the simplicity of a single chainring. This single-ring set-up also leaves space on the handlebars for the 12-position Specialized Command Post IRcc dropper post to be operated by a very effective underbar lever.
Specialized’s own 27.5” Roval wheelset completes the build with sturdy aluminium wheels. Personally, I’d like to see rims broader than the 29mm internal width ones fitted to ensure there’s no squirming around on corners, especially with the Plus-sized tyres. Though the GRID casing on the Specialized 2.8" Butcher front and Slaughter rear are the more durable of the options in their trail tyre range, moving to something with even tougher side-walls than that may help to offer more support for the fast riders.
The slack angles on the bike do feel a little slow on the climbs, and Plus tyres will inevitably feel a little draggy in comparison to normal width 650b or 29” tyres, but once I reached the top of the trails, the geometry made perfect sense. The bike really comes alive in the singletrack, like a light switch is flicked at the top of a hill. The Rhyme moves in a smooth and fluid manner and corners with ease. The 6Fattie tyres suit messy woodlands, muddy conditions and deep, rutted corners, however; on dry, hard-packed terrain, it is hard to find the bite point on the bike, yet easy to find the limits of grip, and the ride quality becomes very sensitive to the slightest change in tyre pressures.
Better tyres would really live up to the Rhyme’s ability to tackle the trails, or indeed swapping the tyres for normal width 650b tyres, or even inserting 29” wheels (which is possible with this bike!), but as it stands it’s still a whole heap of fun, and that’s really what it’s designed for.
The Rhyme Comp 6Fattie would suit a novice/intermediate rider for most anything they want to do off-road, with a disposition for aiding confidence on descents and encouraging speed and smiles in the singletrack. The bike’s choice of shock and tyres may be a limiting factor for experienced trail riders or those aspiring to ride and race enduro, but really, that’s not what this bike is all about. To satisfy that itch, you’d probably want an Enduro or a Stumpjumper 29er instead, but they wouldn’t be as nimble or as fun, and I’ve had a real blast on this bike.
About the bike
Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own :
State the frame material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.:
CHAIN KMC X11, 11-speed w/ Missing Link™
BOTTOM BRACKET Race Face PF30
CRANKSET Race Face Aeffect
SHIFT LEVERS SRAM GX, trigger, 11-speed
CASSETTE SRAM XG 1150, 11-speed, 10-42t
CHAINRINGS Steel, 28T
REAR DERAILLEUR SRAM GX, long cage, 11-speed
FRONT HUB Specialized disc, alloy,15x110mm thru-axle, Torque Caps, 24h
REAR HUB Specialized, sealed cartridge bearings, 12x148mm thru-axle, 28h
INNER TUBES Standard, Presta valve
SPOKES DT Swiss Industry, stainless, 3-cross, 2.0"
RIMS Roval Traverse 27.5, hookless alloy, 29mm inner width, tubeless ready, 24/28h
FRONT TYRE Butcher, GRID casing, Gripton compound, 2Bliss Ready, 27.5 x 2.8"
REAR TYRE Slaughter, GRID casing, Gripton compound, 2Bliss Ready, 27.5 x 2.8"
SADDLE Women's Body Geometry Myth Comp, hollow Cr-Mo rails, 155mm
SEATPOST Command Post IRcc, 12-position micro-height adjustable, alien head design, bottom mount cable routing, remote SRL lever, 30.9mm, XS: 75mm travel, S/M:100mm travel, L: 125mm travel
STEM Specialized Trail, 3D forged alloy, 4-bolt, 6-degree rise
HANDLEBARS Specialized, 6061 alloy, 6-degree upsweep, 8-degree backsweep, 27mm rise, 750mm width
GRIPS Specialized Sip Grip, lock-on, half-waffle, regular thickness
FORK RockShox Reba RL 27.5, tapered alloy steerer, 42mm offset, external rebound adjust, low speed comp to lockout, 15mm Maxle® Stealth thru-axle, custom 15x110mm Boost™, 150mm of travel
REAR SHOCK RockShox Monarch RT, Women's Rx Tune, AUTOSAG, rebound and 2-position compression adjust, 197x48mm
FRONT BRAKE SRAM Guide R, hydraulic disc, organic pads, Guide S4 4-piston caliper, 200/180mm rotor
REAR BRAKE SRAM Guide R, hydraulic disc, organic pads, Guide S4 4-piston caliper, 180/160mm rotor
PEDALS Specialized Platform, 9/16" spindle
SEAT BINDER Alloy, 34.9mm
FRAME Specialized M5 Aluminum, 27.5 Trail Geometry, PF30 BB, internal cable routing, ManFu link, 12x148mm dropouts, sealed cartridge bearing pivots, replaceable derailleur hanger, 150mm of travel