French carbon wizards TIME have put together a compelling pedal system with the Xpresso 10
Words & Images - James Raison
Like so many, I’m a Shimano pedal guy. I’ve used Look, Speedplay, briefly some mid-90’s Campagnolo pedals just for a laugh, but settled on Shimano because it’s easy to live with them. I also like having every shoe with the same cleat. I was still intrigued to test out the TIMEs though. Their mean looks and lightness make them an attractive offering for people wanting something a little different.
The Xpresso 10 is in the middle of the Time range with a hollow steel axle, carbon body, aluminum plate. It weighs in at 98 g per pedal which puts the set well below Shimano’s Ultegra 6800 equivalent which is 130 g per pedal.
The lightness comes from the carbon flexion blade acting as the engagement mechanism as compared to springs used by Shimano and Look.
Fitting the cleats and pedals is pretty straightforward. An 8 mm allen key is all you need to get them onto your cranks.
Cleats are easy too. It’s the same 3-bolt design and layout as Look and Shimano. I do recommend reading the instructions before you fit the cleats so you know which adjustment is in the pedal and which is in the cleat. The Q factor adjustment is done by choosing which cleat goes on which shoe. Angular and lateral float are done on the pedal.
It did take some tweaking, dialling, and quite a few trips up and down the street to get the cleats positioned comfortably. They are a very long cleat, with a 700 mm2 surface area so I couldn’t refer to the Shimano cleat position as a guide because they’re too different.
There’s angular float of +/-5° and lateral float of 2.5 mm to play with as well. That’s a good selling point for these pedals. Adjusting Q factor and all that float can give you quite a range of positions. Riders looking for something a bit more versatile than Look and Shimano could really benefit from TIME.
Once I’d got them into a happy position it was time to hit the road.
Pedal engagement is light and much less tactile than Shimano or Look. Drop the cleats and you get a light click rather than the beefy clunk. Such was the lightness that I was sceptical that it had engaged. Some twisting and pulling assured me that it had grabbed tightly. Engaging the other pedal once rolling takes some practice because the TIME pedal is very evenly weighted and doesn’t drop its tail like Shimano and Look. I got a little better at clipping in over the months using the pedals but I wouldn’t say I mastered it completely. I’m pretty good at the Shimano flick-n-click, but the TIMEs work better if you drop in from above when the cleat is flat.
Once rolling you’ll notice the sheer size of the pedal platform. It’s such a long cleat and its large surface area can be felt through your shoe. It gives a feeling of greater connection with the bike. Power transfer feels excellent as a result. Stomping on the pedals feels more consequential compared to my Shimano regulars.
There’s a very low stack height, further adding to the connected feeling. I could better feel the shoe to pedal interface, rather than feeling like there was a cleat in between. I came to like the generous float on the pedal as well. Recently I’ve had some knee issues and that extra float movement allowed me to naturally revert to a comfortable pedalling action.
The ride feeling is really the star of the show. Pedals should fade from your thoughts once set up, clipped in, and rolling on the road. These TIMEs do just that.
The one time I found the Time pedals annoying was walking around off the bike. I’ve grown used to the grippiness of Shimano cleats with their stoppers on the cleat corners. There’s nothing like that on the Times. So slippery floors, like in my house, became perilous. I also dislikes Speedplay cleats for the same reason. It’s not a big deal but it’s certainly an inferiority over Shimano particularly.
I crowd-sourced experiences on TIME pedals on a YouTube unboxing video I made and there were some definite trends. Almost every person agreed that the ride feeling is excellent but a lot of people flagged longevity concerns with the cleat and pedal. I fitted the TIMEs to my most-ridden bike and made sure to give them a proper flogging. There is some visible wear on the front of the cleats from walking but there’s no functional issues to mention after 3 months. I would say that wear is greater than a Shimano cleat would be at the same age.
There’s a lot going for these TIME Xpresso 10s. Their adjustability, low weight, low stack height, and excellent ride feel make them a very solid contender in the pedal market.
Cleat slipperiness and slightly awkward clipping in is an annoyance but I did get used to it the longer I used them.
Pedals are a very personal item and one that’s potentially onerous and inconvenient to change. I came to like these TIME pedals but would I want to make the complete switch? Probably not because it’d mean getting all my shoes re-fitted. People who are looking for a light, knee-friendly, mean looking pedal with a really nice ride feel should have a look at the TIME Xpresso system.
Disclosure statement: These pedals were supplied by Australian distributor Sheppard Cycles. It is not a paid review.