Time Speciale 12 Enduro Pedals
Persuading flat pedal riding mountain bikers to clip-in is like getting your toddlers to take a bath. It takes a battle of epic proportions, a ton of sweat and tears just to get them in the damned tub. Once they get in though, the discover it's not so bad and, hours later, you have to pry them out with pruney fingers and toes. At least sometimes it's like that. Frankly, the flat pedal camp is currently winning the diversity war. There's never been a better time to be a flat pedal rider with all the current shoe and pedal choices these days.
A new pedal system,, sufficiently secure to alter pedal decisions has not appeared. You can easily count the companies that make mountain bike-worthy ecosystems with one hand. Shimano, Crankbrothers, HT, Look, Hope and Time are the main players, and the market share is mostly divided between Shimano and Crankbrothers. Time being a close 3rd (it seems to me at least), offers some advantages that work well for me.
My mountain biking journey started on flat pedals like most and I was quite content with the riding I could do all over the world without much worry about carrying multiple shoes with me. DMR Vaults and afterwards, Shimano XT pedals did the trick. in 2017 I got invited to go to Peru with a few friends. People of various backgrounds and skill sets were all veterans of the sport. Out of 8 of us, only Elladee Brown and I were rocking flat pedals on our bikes. There were days of gruelling hike-a-bikes in high altitudes and some carried lightweight hiking shoes for the ascents. Joe Murray however is made out of a different fabric than the rest, hiking ancient Inca trails in his Shimano ME7 shoes. He is Joe Murray after all.
I took the leap to try some Shimano pedals. The DX M636s were not high-end by any means but the connection to the bike on rowdy trails was significant. I could run the suspension stiffer a faster for more push without the worry of bouncing off the pedals. An especially rowdy ride down Ride Don't Slide in Whistler sealed the deal. From then on I have primarily ridden clipped in on my trail bikes.
This is not a flats vs clips article and I fall somewhere in the "I don’t give a damn as long as I am on quality gear" camp these days. The Dirt Jumper is on flats and so are the trail bikes when there is snow. In the bike park, I can go both ways but generally I prefer clips but not all of them are equal. This is why I choose Time pedals for everyday riding. My first exploration in the Time pedal system was with the cheap and cheerful MX4 pedals. Composite body pedals were lightweight and they opened my eyes to Time’s excellent cleat system. Unlike Shimano and Crankbrothers, Time cleats are side specific. The L/G and R/D engraving on them point to the Right and Left shoes they are aimed for. If you are follow these markings, you'll get 13° of release angle or 10° if you use the Atac Easy cleats aimed at first timers. However, it is entirely possible to position the cleats on the wrong feet for an increase in release angle. The left-right switch will give you 17° release angle if you maximum freedom on the pedals before release.
For my purposes, I found this much freedom impractical on the trail. 17° was just too much for my knees to handle when I wanted to unclip as fast as I could. A couple of tipovers after, I swapped them to 13° release configuration.
Speciale 12s have a premium feel to them with a premium price tag. The French exercise in machining is intricate and beautiful. The finish is smooth with no tool marks visible. While not the biggest pedal platform, the size of the SP12s hint at their downhill positioning in the market. SP12s also come with titanium axles rather than the chromo in the SP8s that I have been using for years. The SP8s, with their smaller cage and chromo axles, are 6 grams lighter. The fine print I came across in the manual however states that the titanium axles are for riders under 90Kg. The spindle is well supported in the pedal body with a couple of bearings on the outside that hide behind a preload cap and an IGUS bushing on the inside that sits securely behind a well constructed seal. You need a special tool to get the preload cap open but I have been successfully using modified needlenose pliers for this purpose.
The Speciale 8s have has been to hell and back on the sloppiest North Shore days and have been submarined multiple winters. They also bear the scars of every rock I have smashed them against. Despite this the have very little play at the spindle. A once a year clean and grease is all I have done to them for years. I have not come across a pedal rebuild kit on any of the distributor’s websites and the the SRAM parts catalogue lists some body parts for their Xpressa pedals. Since the SRAM acquisition of Time a couple of years ago, the availability of the pedals and parts has been mixed in Canada, but I hope this improves.
I have used the SP12s with a variety of shoes. My current non-testing shoulder season shoes are the Leatt Pro Clip 4.0s. The overall shape and flex in these shoes works well with the SP12s for contact when contact is needed with the pedal cage. The shoes are not overly stiff but not noodley either. I have tried the SP12s with and without the supplied traction pins and, while the front mounted pins are redundant, the rear mounted ones provide some added security to the feel of the system. The functionality of these pins will entirely depend on your shoe and shoe size, so it is worth experimenting. On one particular slippery ride, when I rode a slippery log ride to an even slipperier chute totally unclipped, the traction underfoot was plenty on the larger cage and the rearward pins. I would not hesitate to repeat this when necessary.
I quite appreciate the adjustable release tension on Time pedals. As the brass cleats wear out ( slightly slower than Crankbrothers cleats) the ability to increase tension has been useful for staying clipped in. The twin-spring design of the Times with the 13° float also comes in handy for spirited riding style. I tend to stay clipped in better with these than with Shimano. Some people may not like the gradual tension build before the release happens compared to Shimano’s "hard wall" tension and release feel.
Overall, I love the way Time pedals ride, maintain and perform. they look great too in my opinion. There are three colours to choose from on the Sp12s (Black, Blue and Red) and the gorgeous Gold option on the Sp8s. If you are in the market for bigger platform, premium pedals with tons of float and mobility for spirited riding or to alleviate knee pain, look into the Time system. If you are after a bit more clearance from the rocks and price is a deciding factor, the SP8s do great.
290USD 390CAD (Discounts currently available at various outfitters including local bike shops)