The Riding Gravel Pedal Round-Up: Time Pedals Wrap-Up- by Grannygear
Editor’s Note: Grannygear returns with his wrap-up on the first pedals in the Round-Up series from Time. Please check out his introduction to this series by clicking HERE.
I had to do a double install for Time in that I was going to be using both the Road Xpresso pedals on my road bike and the ATACs on the gravel bike. Both have been a favorable experience, but let’s talk about the ATACs first. We weighed them and introduced them here, if you missed that info the first time.
ATAC: Mud shedding, free floating, sweet things.
I really liked these, but in the end could not use them on my gravel bike. More on that later. I ran the cleats in the 13° position so I had a nice level of free float as I pedaled. It did not feel odd, like it was too much movement, very unlike the time I spent on the old Speedplay lollipop pedals, often likened to “pedaling while standing on an ice cube”. It was actually very pleasant and entering the pedal was easy and accurate. I do not recall making any changes to the tension setting as it has three positions…out of the box was good.
Clicking out was just as smooth and easy but I had no feeling of premature or unwanted release. I had the impression that the increased shoe contact area (width wise) was working for me, but the shoes I used, a very stiff soled racing shoe from Shimano, was stiff enough that it did not deflect much or sag into the pedal. Rather, I noticed it in the lack of side to side rocking of the shoe, especially when standing and pedaling. Frankly I had never thought of this as being an issue, but now that it was different, I liked the result.
To see how they were in mud, I had to manufacture a mud puddle in my front yard as we are long days away from any rainfall. Basically I dumped a bucket of water in some loose soil, stomped in it and repeatably clicked in and out, seeing if I could trip the ATAC up. You can see in the pics that I was pretty grimed up, even though it was not sticky clay soil. Frankly the ATACs did not seem to care. They were no more difficult to get into when packed with mud then when they were clean. Seriously…no difference in effort or success in getting in or out. And a quick spin of the pedal or a good tap of the foot and they cleaned up fast. Very impressive.
So what is not to like and why could I not continue to use them? As to what not to like, there is not much that I found. Notice that the cleat has limited ability to be set onto the shoe at an angle as compared to a typical SPD cleat. They lack that little sliding cleat insert and are pretty fixed rotationally and in side to side movement.
The pedal design allows for a lot of freedom in both rotation AND in side to side play so that likely mitigates this, perhaps even completely. Hard to say. I was able to get my foot into a good pedaling position, and for me, that means heels in…with no feelings of strain or resistance where I always have to ‘pre-clock’ an SPD cleat to get my foot into the zone.
However, all that nice movement conspired against me. The Lynskey GR250 is a very nice bike but they really messed up in one area and that is the bend of the chain stays. I wonder if they saved money by using an existing MTB frame tube for the chain stay as the wiiiide result is a heel killer with a narrow road crank. I barely get by with an SPD pedal (and I stack an extra pedal washer just to get a bit more) and still touch every so often. I have an old injury in the left leg and it is even more duck footed than the right is, pedaling heel in.
But with the ATAC pedal, the ability to slide side to side within the twin bars and the good bit of extra float were too much for my duck footed-ness and when combined with the goofy bend in those stays it was the last straw. Way too much shoe contact. Bummer. But I am a unique situation and I do not expect this to be an issue for others unless the circumstances match mine. It is a shame, really, as I think I would have kept them long term otherwise. As it is, they will likely live on my wife’s road bike. She prefers to run a non-Keo/Look type cleated shoe (so basically, SPD) as she likes the double sided pedal and the ability to walk without killing yourself on a tile floor in the local coffee shop. The ATACs will be lighter than her SPDs and, in my opinion, easier to get in and out of plus the extra float is good for her one tricky knee.
I did not use them long enough and under tough enough circumstances to test durability. Conditions were dry and the test period too short to know anything either way, but I liked them very much and the mud performance was stellar.
The Road Side: Xpresso and make it a double.
I also ran (and continue to run) the Xpresso pedals on the road bike. These have been very cool, are lighter than air, and do offer a very low entry effort yet hold the foot well with just the right bit of free float. I have the tension set in the middle position. At first they did not hang ‘heels down’ and the pedal would be wherever it felt like being as I rode away from a stop. Annoying. It required you take your eyes off the road and look down to click in rather than take a blind stab at it, often resulting in skittering off the back side of the pedal. I noticed a bit of drag in the spindle when they were new and the pedal is not very heavy at one end as compared to the other so this did not surprise me. It has gotten better with time and with riding miles, so most of the time now they will hang down properly, although there also is a tiny bit of play in the spindle to go along with that. It has, I have to say, a somewhat unrefined feel to the bearing/bushing combo in there. The cleats are a pill to walk in but most roadie cleats are. They are wearing fast too, and that just from walking a limited amount in them. I bet I would go through a set of these cleats a few times a year just from being in them off the bike. I do wonder if a bit of a hard rubber ‘foot’ on them would not be unreasonable? And make it replaceable. As well the pedal itself is showing a slight bit of wear at the toe-end where the cleat engages…just tiny abrasions but that does surprise me.
I like them overall and they look boss on the bike as well. I am a little skeptical about durability, both in the spindle assembly and in the cleat, but we shall see. Could they be a gravel pedal if you took your bike into the dirt? Sure, just like any road pedal could be but I bet one long walk in the dirt and the cleat would be muerte. Finito. The end.
If Time can show that they truly are past the durability issues of recent years past, then they should be a major player in gravel bike use, either for racing or adventure type rides. If that is the case, then, as they say, Time will truly be on your side.
Stay tuned for further updates to the Riding Gravel Pedal Round-Up series.
Note: The Time pedals were sent to Grannygear for test and review on RidingGravel.com at no charge. We are not being paid nor bribed for this review and we will strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.
About The Author: Grannygear hails from SoCal and spent most of his cycling days as a mountain biker from the formative years of mountain biking all the way up to the present day. His day job is in the tech sector, but he has spent time writing about off road 4X4’s, 29″ mountain bikes, and cycling in general. Grannygear and Guitar Ted have worked off and on together since 2009 after a chance meeting at Interbike. With gravel cycling on the rise, Grannygear has been exploring how this genre’ works in SoCal and now does guest pieces for RidingGravel.com in his spare time.