Time Xpresso 8 Review
Time Xpresso 8 Review
Review of the Time Xpresso 8 Pedals
This is the first review in a series of articles centered around a new project bike. I’ve got one bike, and it’s got to do it all. It’s got to be there on race day without holding me back, but it’s also got to be there for all the days of training in all kinds of conditions. This is Portland,Oregon, so we aren’t strangers to rain. And it’s even got to do well pulling a little one with a trailer through the city.
Pedals aren’t part of a frameset but they are just as important as any other component when evaluating the things that will fit those needs. They also often outlast framesets and if one specific set of pedals gets replaced, it’s even less often that a rider will switch systems. So pedals is where I’m starting.
I’ve always ridden SPD pedals and used mountain bike shoes. This is a great option when you are doing everything I listed above… except for racing. They are incredibly versatile, easy to clip into, and easy to walk around in. It’s not a good option when you start racing, though…
The pedals are heavy, the shoes are heavy, and the platform you press on is pretty small. I wanted to make sure whatever I moved to didn’t just meet the needs of race day, though. The Time Xpresso system attracted me because of it’s reputation for easy clip in and out as well as it’s lightweight and low stack height. After spending some time with the Xpresso 8 they definitely hit all those points and more.
The system works by being preloaded against a curved piece of metal. When you step in with the cleat, you release the rear of the pedal and the whole contraption snaps shut. It’s a bit like a mouse trap, and this has a couple of advantages. It’s incredibly easy to clip in because rather than overcoming a spring, you are releasing the spring. This means that once you are in, there is less tension on the spring than when it’s open. That helps make float a bit smoother and easier. It also means that clipping out requires overcoming the spring tension, and you are certainly never in danger of pulling out of the cleat, something I’ve done pulling a trailer up a hill with the SPD system.
Overall, I think it’s a really elegant design solution, and I’ve not had any problems quickly making the adjustment from the SPD system to the Xpresso system. The first time I went out with them, I told myself I needed to remember that I had new pedals when I came to a light. After spending about 15 minutes riding a hill, I had completely forgotten my own advice. When I got to the first light, I had a moment of panic. A quick flick of the heel, though, and I stepped down with absolutely no drama, as if I’d been riding the pedals for years.
When the light changed and I got started again, I had the same easy experience. They are single sided, so you do have to glance down and make sure which way the pedal is facing, but the large toe hook makes it super easy to grab the pedal with the cleat, so it’s a no drama affair to clip in as well. I never felt any panic a few days later when pulling a trailer through the city in traffic. It’s fast to clip back in as you pull away from a light in traffic, and when coming to a stop, the large, sturdy, cleat platform gives an easy place to put your foot down and feel stable.
Once you are out of the city, putting the power down for the long miles, they feel just as good. The large platform feels great against your foot. It’s stable and allows you to forget about your connection to the bike and just concentrate on the task at hand. Climbing hills is just as great with the Xpresso’s. There isn’t even the slightest bit of upward lift as you pull the pedals up on a big grade. These are great pedals for a variety of uses and performance needs.
The setup experience was also great. The instructions are well written and easy to follow. Be sure to read them carefully, though! If I was going to say one bad thing about these pedals, it would be that the packaging doesn’t have a big red warning saying, “Hey! Dummy! Read the instructions!” Specifically, you need to look at the torque specs carefully. They are very low compared to other systems, and I popped the heads off two of the bolts mounting the cleats. I don’t think it’s something to hold against Time, but when they say a max of 4.5nm they aren’t kidding.
The first time it happened, I was at a friends place. He was screwing them down while I read the instructions. I didn’t bother reading the torque spec to him though because I’d never experienced needing to care about the torque on a cleat bolt. I heard snap and he said, “Umm, we’ve got a problem.” I looked over, and he was holding the bolt head in his fingers. As it turns out, it’s actually not a big problem and likely the bolts break easily to protect against over torquing them. Just remove the cleat from the shoe, and you’ll be able to grab the rest of the bolt with your fingers and back it out without issue. Then you can use a spare SPD bolt as a replacement. The heads of the SPD bolts are slightly different but I’ve experienced no problems with using them. You can also call Time USA, they have fantastic customer service, and they’ll be able to get you a replacement bolt if you need.
After that, we used a torque wrench on the rest of the cleat bolts, the other bolt was later busted by a bike fitter who I forgot to warn, and on the pedal itself which is similarly specced with a low torque rating compared to Shimano. Aside from the torque stuff, you get a good range of forward, backward, and angle adjustment and you can adjust the Q-factor by swapping the cleats to the opposite shoes. The fact that the cleats have a mark for the placement of the pedal axle is a nice touch that makes mounting them in the right place easy.
Looking at the system as a whole, I love the many, many, options available. I’ve been testing the Xpresso 8 but you can go all the way from the Xpresso 2 up to the Xpresso 15. I’d probably recommend starting at the Xpresso 4 just because the 2 doesn’t have a replaceable scuff plate, and it seems prudent to at least have the option, in case you need it down the road. After that though, it’s basically a matter of budget vs weight. The Xpresso 8 is a good mid-range option at 100 grams per pedal and around $200. Just as a point of comparison, the Shimano Dura Ace 9000 SPD-SL pedal costs about the same but is 124 grams per pedal and that’s the very top of the range for Shimano. Time offers the Xpresso 15 at just 66.5 grams per pedal if you’ve got the need, and budget, to go for an even lower weight.
Personally, I’m also a fan of the look of these pedals, but I won’t dwell on that too much. As I said in my Smith Helmet Review, I like to be a bit different and these are unique and eye catching.
Whether you are an elite racer or someone who spends just a bit of time racing, or even just doing fast club rides, and a lot of time doing all the other things you might do with a great road bike, the Time Xpresso pedal system is a great option to look at. They’ve got you covered all the way from a very inexpensive option, that’s a bit heavier, up to a no holds barred, lightweight-at-any-expense option. The pedals are easy to clip into, and the cleats don’t make walking impossible. On top of all that, Time USA provides exceptional support.
Compare prices and buy components from:
|Hargroves Cycles||Chain Reaction||Wiggle||Merlin Cycles|
|Evans Cycles||ProBikeKit||Cyclestore||Rutland Cycling|
|Ribble Cycles||AW Cycles||Biketart||Leisure Lakes Bikes|