While France may not have the booming cycling business of Italy, Germany or the U.S., it has a handful of brands that put being French first—brands with innovative solutions and novel technology committed to making products in France. And when French identity is the metric, perhaps foremost among those brands is Time, which first rose to prominence at the Tour de France with clip-in pedals, winning the race in 1988 with Pedro Delgado, followed by Greg LeMond in ’89.

Words: Ben Edwards

THE DETAILS

It wasn’t until 1993 that Time began making bikes, using a process called RTM: resin transfer molding. Instead of sourcing sheets of carbon pre-impregnated with resin, then cutting them into specific shapes to be laid up in a mold, Time uses giant looms to weave carbon threads into tubes, places it over wax forms then puts it into molds and saturates it with resin. It’s a process that creates very smooth surfaces and complex shapes that have a great resistance to cracking and impacts.

The resulting braids can use angles varying from zero to plus-or-minus 65 degrees to create compliance or stiffness as needed, giving Time an enormous amount of control over the frame’s ride characteristics. Despite the company’s 2015 sale to Rossignol, the new Time Scylon, and every Time bike, is still made in France. The giant looms are now at Rossignol’s facility, just outside Grenoble. After 25 years of experience, Time has used RTM to build the best frame they have ever made: the Scylon.

The Scylon is Time’s latest racer. The focus was on a frame that makes the most of the rider’s effort. The Scylon has the stiffest rear end Time has ever created, reportedly 45-percent stiffer than the ZXrs, Time’s previous racer, thanks to a wide bottom bracket and large chain stays. Time beefed up the head tube-top tube-down tube junction as well, to deliver a more precise front end. Time’s done it with an overall weight of 945 grams—actually lighter than the Izon, a bike Time calls its altitude bike. While not as light as many monocoque frames, it’s still a platform that could easily be built under 15 pounds with the right components.

Like many other race bikes out there, the Scylon is chasing aerodynamic gains as well. Time used Computational Fluid Dynamics to design the tube shapes, but injected it all with the Time’s signature lines. What this has done in terms of reducing drag is unknown, but it’s certainly less of a study in pure aerodynamics than a Venge or Madone. In fact, the tube shapes are quite robust, certainly up front, and the down tube is not a traditional airfoil or Kamm-tail design.

The Scylon is only available in the U.S. as a frameset, but at its price point it’s more than likely a prospective Scylon rider would want to build up a dream bike from scratch anyway. It’s a $5,150 frame. That’s with a standard fork, which is what we tested. Time does offer the bike with a fork it calls Aktiv, with weights inside the fork blades that vibrate under impact absorbing road shock before your hands do. That kicks the frameset up a few bucks to $5,950. Time also has a disc-brake Scylon frame.

THE RIDE

That stable and planted feeling pays off in so many ways. It’s a blast to pilot downhill, staying composed and on target no matter how hard you push it in the corners, and just as much fun to take uphill with its crisp feel at the pedals. The bike’s torsional stiffness, from front to back, is perfectly tuned. While not a bike designed for comfort, the Scylon, even without the Aktiv fork, still does a good job smoothing out a rough ride. Big impacts are felt, to be sure, but the energy-sapping high-frequency bumps that can make a long day feel even longer are muted very well. The Scylon is a bike designed for a long day at the races.

We’re big fans of the Time Scylon, a bike that proves Time’s RTM technology is a tool that has been continuously developed for 25 years. Time has reached a level of expertise with it that can create a bike as good as anything out of pre-preg sheets of carbon and a monocoque mold in Asia. It may be a few grams heavier, but its ride quality will have you forgetting all about counting grams.

SPECIFICATION

PRICE: $5,150 (frameset)

WEIGHT: 7.4kg/16.3 lbs (size XL w/o pedals or cages)

BUILD: Shimano Ultegra 11-spd mechanical, PRO PLT alloy bar and stem, Vittoria Clusion alloy clinchers with Rubino Pro tires. Prologo Scratch Pro saddle.