Did a French company just create the ultimate gran fondo bike?
Much has been written about the bespoke nature of TIME bicycles and it should be. While the majority of bike companies in the world have moved production to Asia, there still remains a few successful companies upholding the notion that custom, handmade bicycles are simply best. We have visited the TIME factory where single strands of carbon fiber truly are weaved together by French women with real names and machines that move more like a Russian ballet than an industrial assembly line. And, truth be told, TIME carbon frames feel and ride differently than any other frame or bike that we have every thrown our legs over. According to TIME Sport USAs President Doug Knox, that feel is TIMEs expertise at vibration filtration and, more specifically, their use of RTM technology with Vectran fiber. We are ultimately selling the ride, says Knox, The RTM molding technique and the Vectran fiber woven into the layer of carbon creates it. A conversation, or rather, a request from one of TIMEs largest dealers in the U.S., River City Bikes in Portland, to create a race bike (without a super tall headtube) that was still comfortable on longer rides was the inspiration for the NXS. There are two trends going on right now in the high-end road market: aero designs and vibration absorption. With the popularity of gran fondos, we wanted to introduce a frame that focused on comfort for the longer rides but also had the geometry of a race bike, says Knox. Enter the NXS.
TIME frames have always been smooth and nimble, and the NXS retains that feel. It is also a fast bike. The ride is noticeably comfortable on longer rides, but the bike would handle itself just fine in a crit. (Knox actually races the NXS frame in crits in Santa Barbara, CA.) The wishbone design is borrowed from the Fluidity family, offering more comfort towards the rear of the bike, and the inspiration for the racing geometry is borrowed from the ProTour-level RXRS family. The NXS is truly a gran fondo bikefast but ready for long miles. It is a nimble climber as well, and the TIME RTM Integral bars offer some unique hand positions for climbs that are long enough to get you into the clouds. On descents, the bike handled remarkably well, was quick to respond and lively on the roadthanks to the Reynolds Assault wheels with this frame. They seemed to be perfectly handpicked for the feel and ride characteristics of the NXS: stable, responsive, and with just enough stiffness.
Our bike was built up with Shimano Dura-Ace components, Reynolds Assault carbon wheels, a complete TIME cockpit, including an aero seat post and Michelin Pro 4 tires. The NXS frame features TIMEs QUICKSET multi-diameter headset, modified (lightened) BB30 bottom bracket inserts and an Integral RTM Safe+2 fork. TIME Sport USA will offer a variety of build kits at the dealer level for the NXS, so you will be sure to find one to suit your specific needs.
You are an experienced cyclist and still want to go fast on a classic French frame, but you would also love it if that frame absorbed enough road noise to keep you fresh after your Saturday ride so you could still stand upright later in the day and consider making dinner for the family. You appreciate French quality and attention to detail. You are looking for a bike that has a respected tradition of quality behind it, a history and purpose in the pelotona bike that has good reason to sit prominently in your garage and perform more than confidently under your power.
The Bottom Line
Price: $4,000 (frame only); $8,250 (as tested)
Size Tested: 58 cm
Weight: 15.3 lbs with TIME iClic 2 pedals and TIME cages
Details: Shimano Dura-Ace 7900 with FSA SLK cranks, TIME RTM Bars, stem and seat post, ProLogo Nago EVO Reynolds Assault wheels with Michelin Pro 4 tires