Time has been pumping out road pedals since the late ’80s and mountain bike pedals since the early ’90s, and over the years they have maintained a proprietary feature called “Bio-Performance,” which allows their pedals to adapt to the rider’s Q-factor needs.
Knowing that Time’s road pedals are a proven entity (RBA, May 2018), with the rise in gravel riding, we decided it was time to see how the French-made pedals worked in the dual-purpose world.
The Time ATAC XC 12 uses a carbon pedal body with titanium spindles and is the highest-end version in the series of five XC models. The entire XC 12 package (pedals, cleats and hardware) weighed in at 292 grams. The titanium axles have a max rider weight of 200 pounds, but the rest of their XC line uses either a hollow or solid steel axle with no limit.
Time’s ATAC (Auto Tension Adjustment Concept) is fairly simple and just means that foot retention and spring tension are independent. They rely on a wide release angle of either 13 or 17 degrees to allow for low spring tension but secure retention. The low spring tension is what makes the pedals easy to clip into and get out of. The ATAC has an adjustment with three tension positions.
The pedals come with one set of directional cleats, and depending on how they are installed will result in two different float options. If they are installed in relation to the same shoe, you will have 13 degrees of float. This means no need to head to the store for a different cleat just to try a different float option.
The pedal and cleat interaction have a wider range of contact, allowing for up to 5mm of lateral positioning and 5 degrees of angular float. While most systems that use the two-bolt cleats rely on cleat position on the shoe for these adjustments, Time allows a static mounting position, which means the only positioning that’s adjustable is the fore and aft.
Our pedals had a pedal stack height of 10mm, but because of the way most two-bolt cleats sit between the shoe’s tread, the cleat and amount of wear the shoe has can highly affect stack and performance. Time cleats are fairly slim; they work with more shoes and for a longer period before the cleat contacts the pedal body, allowing the shoe to rock side to side.
The first thing our testers commented on is just how much float the Times have. For many, it is more than twice the amount they are accustomed to. After about 15 or so in-and-out actions, the system becomes more intuitive and broken in. The effort to release is light and consistent throughout the entire range.
Where the XC 12s shine is when dirt and debris seem to be everywhere. Because of the open front design, they are effortless to get into no matter how messy things get. They are also great for riders that use a lot of body English, thanks to the amount of float. Testers really noticed this when speeding through deep sand and mud while trying to balance and pedal.
The action of getting into the pedals is the same as the motion to pedal. Testers mentioned that they got clipped in so quickly and easily, they didn’t even realize it had happened. This makes them a great option for cyclocross or gravel where dismounting and remounting can be more frequent.
Owing to the growing popularity of gravel, the need for pedals that can adapt to different environments has greatly increased. The Time ATAC system is user-friendly, dependable and adaptive. They hold secure without excessive tension and shed mud effortlessly.
If there is one thing that seems to be working against Time is that their pedals seem to last forever. This is good for the consumer, but also means that they don’t need to be replaced every two years like the others.
There are models for almost any budget (entry-level ATACs start at $60). At the end of the day they are made to survive and offer everything a multi-purpose-minded cyclist looks for. If you are the type of person who has been on limited float, these will take some getting used to, but for those open-minded types who are always looking for an adventure, the Time ATAC XC 12 won’t let you down.
• Made in France
• More float than expected
• Time-proven design
Weight: 292 grams with cleats