It wasn’t that long ago that Time Bicycles was looked at as perhaps the dominant engineering force in cycling. In the ’80s and ’90s riders in Time shoes and pedals filled the pro peloton, its bikes were winning the biggest races in the world and its RTM manufacturing process had the entire industry playing catch up. Of course, the rest of the world did play catch up, and this small French manufacturer fell victim to economies of scale it could not compete with in Asia. With the recent sale to Rossignol, the French ski behemoth, and the infusion of cash and resources, things have changed. The first bike born from this new relationship is the Time Alpe d’Huez.
PELOTON / Images courtesy TimeWith Rossignol’s decidedly French identity have no fear, Time Bikes are still made in France and use the RTM process. Time starts with individual strands of carbon – and in some cases Vectran, Kevlar and now Basalt thanks to Rossignol technology – and weaves socks of carbon that are slipped over wax forms, placed in molds and then injected with resin. For a detailed look at the process watch our film, The Pillars of French Cycling The new Alpe d’Huez – as anyone with a passing knowledge of the Tour de Fracne could guess – is a climbing bike, a bike intended for the grand tour rider, or serious fondo campaigner. While the lightest bike Time has ever made – 840grams for a rim brake 54cm frame – it’s not that light by today’s mind boggling standards where even some disc brake frames are sub 700grams. By comparison the lightest bike Time had made before, the Izon, is 920 grams.
In terms of stiffness, it’s not the stiffest bike Time has ever made, the Scylon is a tad stiffer. But the Alpe d’Huez beats it hands down in terms of stiffness-to-weight ratio, which should give it the liveliest feel of any Time bike. We’ll have to wait for our first test ride to find out if those numbers play out on the road as we think they will. While intended for the hills Time was still concerned with comfort and inserts Vectran fiber in the carbon weave in four strategic places to allow vertical flex and vibration absorption. The bike also has a custom seat post and dropped seat stays to improve in the saddle comfort with Time’s Aktiv fork, with tuned mass dampers in the bottom of the fork blades, to reduce high frequency vibration at the bars. There is no question the Aktiv forks soak up much of the road noise, but they do add 250grams, so the Alpe d’Huez can be ordered with a traditional Time fork for the scale obsessed. Even in rim brake mode the bike can officially clear 28mm tires, which means you can potentially put a 30 or even 32mm tire in bike depending on rim and brake combo, which will truly increase comfort. The bike will come as a UL Team bike with multiple build options, while the 01 is a frame set only and the 21 will also feature multiple build options. The 01 and 21 are named for the switchbacks on the climb itself. Incidentally, Time is the only brand to license the name from the village, so Look may be renaming its recently launched Huez line. It takes 73 different circular braids of carbon, with three percent of that being Vectran, to make a Time Alpe d’Huez 01. That’s three kilometers of fiber in total and 22 hours of labor. The 02 model comes from essentially the same mold, but has a less complex braid construction with more mid-modulus carbon and basalt fiber in place of Vectran. It also uses a standard 27.2 seat post instead of the 01’s custom D-shaped post. Overall it weighs a bit more, 930grams, and is not quite as stiff, which should lead to a more comfortable ride and a lower price point.
The Alpe d’Huez 01 frame set will retail for $5750, while a complete Alpe d’Huez 01 UL Team with Dura-Ace Di2 and ENVE wheels will be $16200. Only 50 of these bikes will be made. Premium to be sure. The 01 frame set will include the seat post, Aktiv fork and Time’s innovative Quickset to adjust the stem without impacting the headset bearings. The Alpe d’Huez 21 models will start at $3000. A disc brake Alpe d’Huez is in development and we should see that in August of 2018. The bikes are scheduled to go on sale on the 15th of February and will be found in select Time retailers. A custom spec and paint option is available on Time’s website, similar to Orbea’s MyO program, with bikes shipped to a local dealer five weeks later. For more info go to time-sport.com