The Time ATAC pedals are unique in the marketplace and provide a unique feeling than the rest of the pedals in the test. For starters, they're the only model that provides lateral float, the premise being that the ability to move side to side is easier on the joints in the legs than a fixed toe position. The pedals also have a fixed rear arch and a front arch that is spring-loaded and responsible for engagement and release. They're lightweight and have great mud shedding characteristics making them competition worthy and a favorite among wet weather and cyclocross riders.
Time ATAC at altitude.
Ease of Entry
A small target, that was a bit prone to rolling underfoot, this wasn't the easiest pedal to engage. The sound of engagement was similar to the Crank Brothers, subtle and a bit vague, although not always. Once clipped in, the Time pedals provide a unique feel with their lateral float; it's a bit like being unclipped and can feel disconcerting until you're accustomed to it. Some of us found sprinting on these pedals to be a bit scary; when you're giving everything you've got out of the saddle, having two of your four contacts sliding back and forth doesn't feel reassuring. While the added play may have a positive impact on your joints and ligaments, the inconsistent feeling felt detrimental to our safety.
Clipped into the XC 8.
Ease of Exit
The only pedal with lateral float, the Time model allows the front of the cleat to move side to side. If the front of the cleat was inboard when you swung your heel outward, the process was pretty straightforward. If the nose of the cleat was outboard, however, the release wasn't immediate. The rear of the cleat got to its limit then the front had to pivot. This results in an inconsistent release effort.
Additionally, because the front of the pedal is spring-loaded, the release tension varies by how much force you're exerting in the forward motion. Most other pedals on the market utilize a fixed position for the front of the cleat and a spring-loaded rear. Pulling up and out like you might do when panicking produces reluctance beyond what we often felt comfortable doing.
Trying like hell to get out of the ATAC pedal with the cleat set for 13-degree release.
The Time contender has adjustable release tension that is accessible using a flat head screwdriver. The cleats can be mounted to provide 13 or 17 degrees release angles. Aftermarket "easy" cleats are available for riders wanting a 10-degree release angle. This pair earned an above-average 7 out of 10 in the adjustability metric and was bested by the Xpedo GFX, which earned a 9 out of 10, and the top four Shimano pedals, which scored 8 out of 10s.
Time ATAC and XTR M9000 on display, notice the adjustments on the sides of the Time pedals, a quick twist will increase or decrease your release tension.
Amongst the lightest pedals in our test, they're almost a quarter-pound lighter than the Shimano XT M8120's. The carbon body isn't likely as durable as the forged or machined alloy bodies on other pedals, but we didn't experience any issues with the carbon. These pedals took a 9 out of 10 for weight - the highest in our review, along with the Crank Brothers Egg Beater 3.
The platform on the Time is nicely shaped and offers a bit of a shelf that stabilizes the shoe. However, due to the lateral float, you're sliding back and forth on the platform, and most of us felt it was a bit disconcerting.
A small pedal, the ATAC provides minimal platform.
While the platform felt more substantial than the Egg Beater 3, it didn't impress. Its size may not have been the main issue as it's comparable in size to the Shimano XTR M9100. The disconcerting part for us was that we weren't fixed to any spot on the platform, and our entire foot slid side to side.
Mud Shedding Ability
With seemingly nowhere for the mud and muck to go on the solid-bodied pedals, it's a wonder they can be used in the mud at all. Surprisingly they perform quite well in a variety of conditions, resisting our efforts to muck them up with snow, mud or trail debris. They're designed to shed mud out the front of the pedal upon engagement and it's quite effective.
The best mud shedding pedals of this test, from left t right, Time ATAC XC 8, Crank Brothers Egg Beater 3 and XTR M9000.
The ATAC XC 8 pedals are expensive. While they may be spendy, they do make sense for the gram counting riders of the world who are racing cross-country, gravel, or cyclocross. Whether you can justify the price, is up to you.
The XC 8 provides a lightweight, cool-looking pedal with a unique approach to engagement. They're elegant and shed mud quite well, we're not convinced that their retention system is better than anything else we've tested and its uniqueness wasn't really a positive attribute to most of our testers. If clipless pedals have given you knee or hip pain and you're hankering for something different, we say, give em a try.
This pedal is best paired stiff cross country shoe that will complement its small platform. The Giro Privateer R, or a stiff race shoe like the Shimano S-Phyre XC9 are good options.