TIME Scylon brings a lot of speed and superb handling
Words and Images - James Raison
My Autumn of French bikes continues with a TIME Scylon dropping only a couple of weeks after giving the TIME Alpe d’Huez I reviewed back. I very much enjoyed the Alpe d’Huez so I was keen as Dijon mustard to try the French brand’s aero race rocket. Once again, it’s not cheap; $6,899 for the frame. But once again it’s quite a special bike.
TIME’s bike range is gloriously simple; the aero Scylon, altitude Alpe d’Huez, and the endurance Fluidity. The top-end TIME frames are made in France from some exceptionally cool processes. A full 3 km of carbon and vectran strands are braided into individual “socks” according to what property they want for the tube each sock will become; eg, shape, length, stiffness, and vibration damping. Each sock is stretched over a solid core and resin is injected under high pressure to create, according to TIME, void-free carbon tubes.
I got to ride a Scylon from TIME distributor Bikesportz’s demo fleet for a couple of weeks with a nice build from a variety of their brands:
Time Scylon frame with Aktiv Fork
Campagnolo Record 12 disc groupset
Reynolds Assault Disc wheels
BBB bar and stem
Selle San Marco
Rolling weight with pedals, cages, computer mount: 8 kg
I won’t give exact numbers on the Scylon’s geometry because TIME’s website shows the same chart for this frame and the Alpe d’Huez. Both riding and manually measuring the frames will tell you they’re similar but different in a few crucial ways. It has (I assume) the same head and seat tube angles, the tall front end, and an inline post. The Scylon is longer though (as manually measured); approximately 5mm longer in the chainstays and roughly 10mm longer in the effective top tube. I got along very well with the Alpe d’Huez’s geometry and I liked the extra stretch of the Scylon even better. It’s worth noting how unusually high the riding position is for an aero bike. Even with a slammed stem I didn’t feel contorted. It’s the most “comfortable” aero bike position I’ve tested.
No point in being coy about it; the Scylon is one of the finest frames I’ve had the pleasure of riding. Nothing on the spec sheet stands out as remarkable, other than its RRP, but the sum of its parts is quite special.
AERO IS (NOT) EVERYTHING (BUT IS STILL AWESOME)
Aero bikes are faster most of the time. It’s not marketing hype, it’s just physics and you can feel it. The Scylon really flies once you’ve wound it up to cruising speed. Its acceleration isn’t remarkable owing to its 8kg-ish weight, but once it hits 35kph+ you can feel its slipperiness through the air. It’s then easier to keep at speed once you’ve done the hard pedalling.
That said, I’ve ridden aero bikes that feel faster than the Scylon. It hasn’t gone quite as deep down the aero rabbit hole as some other recent aero frames. It also had relatively shallow 41mm Reynolds Assault wheels weirdly wide 44 cm handlebars which didn’t help with wind resistance. The riding position is relatively high as well, putting more of your body in the wind. It’s still a rapid bike though.
The Scylon’s higher front end and in-line post gives it fairly distinctive handling characteristics. Rather than going for the “pro” setup with a setback and long stem, the bike places you further over the bottom bracket and your upper body slightly further forwards over the bars. I slammed the stem, got the seat where I wanted it, and the bike felt well-balanced. Immediately I had the confidence to ride the bike hard. That could be partially due to familiarity with the last TIME I rode but there’s no denying the Scylon almost goads you into thrashing it.
Chucking the Scylon down quick and twisty descents was thoroughly enjoyable. It boasts impressive stability and responsive steering from its parallel 73° head and seat tube angles. It’s among the top handlers I’ve had the pleasure of riding and it livened up my very familiar bike testing routes. It’s not the most agile bike owing to its slightly elongated wheelbase but that gives it virtues elsewhere. The rear end of the bike stays planted under heavy pedal load out of the saddle and your hands in the drops. It doesn’t scrub or bounce around when your weight is shifted forwards.
TIME’s attempts to smooth the Scylon’s sharp edges are admirable but only semi-effective. I’ll admit that it was both more comfortable than I expected, and smoother than it looks when you scan over its aero tubes. The carbon braids in the rear of the bike, and the single-sided Aktiv insert in the fork are quite good at tuning out the vibrations.
On that Aktiv fork; it’s an elastomer set low down the fork leg that works to absorb vibrations. The disc brake mount point means TIME can only put it in the right side. My comments on Aktiv are much the same as with the Alpe d’Huez; it’s an effective but expensive optional extra to increase smoothness in the front end. There’s cheaper ways make your bike more comfortable. I do feel it’s more necessary on the Scylon than the Alpe d’Huez though because it’s a rougher bike generally.
Bigger bumps are where the Scylon doesn’t fare so well. Focusing on damping and reducing vibration rather than allowing flex does little for potholes or drain covers and the Scylon will send some whacks into your body through the saddle. That makes it a little tough on the rider after a while, especially if your local roads are gnarly. Aero bikes have gotten comfortable and the Scylon isn’t up to the standard of something like the plush Canyon Aeroad, or even the 3T Strada that I just took in for review.
SCYLON VS ALPE D’HUEZ
So you’ve set your heart on a TIME and you can’t decide between a racey Scylon and smooth Alpe d’Huez. It’s simple really; the Scylon if you value speed and handling, and the Alpe d’Huez if you value comfort. The Alpe d’Huez is the sensible choice for most people who want an exceptionally nice bike to ride all day in comfort.
I’m not sensible though and personally I’d take the Scylon. The comfort gap to the Alpe d’Huez is noticeable but small enough for me to take the Scylon for its extra speed and handling that’s more to my taste. Who needs comfort when you have the intoxicating sensations of going really fast? Most people actually…
I’ll echo my comments above and say the Scylon is one of the finest frames I’ve ridden. Then again, it should be. Superbike money gets you a super frame.
Prospective Scylon buyers need to know it has limitations in comfort. Choosing your ideal saddle, bars, and tyres will do a lot to balance that out.
There’s cheaper and even more comfortable ways to go fast. What sets the Scylon apart is that intangible feeling that can only be communicated in abstractions. What makes bikes like this special clicks into place when you’re hammering down a descent and carving through the corners, or thrashing along an undulating and winding road where speed and balance let you push that little bit harder and have that little bit more fun.
Disclosure statement: This was not a paid review and we receive no proceeds from the sales of TIME or any other Bikesportz products.