Road pedals, or MTB? That is the question.
For many it’s no big deal. After all, it’s the rider who will ultimately know what they are using. And if it works, then that’s all there is to it.
But what happens when it doesn’t work? Try something new, or go for something tried and tested? Well, in this case, why not a bit of both.
Enter the Time ATAC XC pedals No.6.
Why the change?
Speedplays are the best road-pedals I have ever had the pleasure of using. They are double-sided; tough as nails; easy to service; last a lifetime and look the business. Did I mention they’re pretty aero too? But, there is an Achilles heel to them: the cleats. The metal plate on the Speedplay is exposed and if left uncovered can result in the wearer to slip and fall. Not a good look.
It wasn’t until ‘Keep on Kovers’, a third-party making specific cleat covers, did the tide turn. Since then, Speedplay themselves make their own cleat covers. Frankly, they’re not as good. All the same, now, one can wear Speedplays with confidence. But the current lack of availability since Wahoo took ownership of Speedplay, has got me thinking, do I really need them?
My competitive cycling is well and truly over. I’m now into turning the pedals for the long game. It’s for the smiles, the places and the friends. That also results in plenty more stops, or a bike-and-hike kind of adventure. To top it off what with the pandemic restrictions and many Baroudeurs turning to adventure bikes, there has never been a better time to go MTB.
Why Time ATAC?
Personal recommendation goes a long way for me. When I first took that step into cleats I had already experienced 3 failed Crank Bros. pedals: the spindle had collapsed each time. An issue I hear still happens today. Naturally, I moved onto Shimano SPD’s. And I was surprised that these broke too. As I was holding them in my hands wondering what to do, a friendly bike messenger saw what was happening and came to my rescue:
“Mate, go ATAC. They’ve never failed me. And I do hundreds of miles a week.”
He smiled and went onto his next job. Despite being unfamiliar with the pedals, I couldn’t fault the stranger’s belief. He truly believed he was giving me sound advice. And, if anyone’s going to put pedals to the test, it’s going to be a messenger. Next thing I know, I’m putting a set of ATAC’s on my bike.
Ten years on, thousands of miles later and with minimal servicing, the Time ATAC (Auto Tension Adjustment System), have served me well. Now, let’s see if they have changed much in since.
How do they work?
Time have come a long way with the ATAC’s. Not only is the build more compact, across the range, they are lighter too. 290 grams for the pair.
Fitting is straightforward. But, they don’t come with the grooves to use a pedal wrench. When it comes to nipping up the final part of the thread, one may need a 6mm allen key. Putting the cleats on the shoe is equally simple: 4mm allen keys, some grease or lock-tight are all one needs. However, depending on the warranty particulars on the shoes, it may be handy to get a set of shields. The Crank Bros. shields are particularly good and made of stainless steel.
Do they work?
It may take a moment, or two, to successfully enter and secure the cleat to the pedal. I found myself having to re-learn how to clip in. Initially it was frustrating. Going up and down our quiet street to ensure I got the knack. Only to gain confidence in one leg, but not the other, and having to stop practice to have dinner. The next day, it went better. Somewhat. But it goes to show, practice certainly makes perfect. Or, close to it.
ATAC come into their own when you’re walking lots, or hiking the bike around in the mud. On a recent ride, we had to traverse muddy climbs and waterlogged stretches. This is a doddle for all MTB systems, but what makes the ATAC’s stand out is that they self-clean themselves. That’s right: they disperse of muck and debris every time without fail. I have yet to see a system that equals theirs.
What could be improved?
If I didn’t have anything to compare them to, the ATAC XC 6 pedals, would be my go-to pedal system. But, the competition is plentiful and my experience with other systems carries with it a certain baggage of expectations.
Allen keys are great, and most people carry them on a ride. Not having to use a pedal wrench on the ATAC system is a bonus to some, but a necessity to others. Having both would make them much more inclusive.
Stack height on the ATAC’s is big. There’s no getting around how chunky these are. Particularly, compared to Speedplays. One needs to consider adjusting seating position, but also the possibility of grinding the pedals against the tarmac when taking a sharp turn.
The fact that I needed to re-learn how to clip in isn’t Time’s fault. So, to make things fair, I need improving too.
The low down
Time ATAC XC6 is really easy to install. They work every time without fail. At least for me. They are affordable – Speedplay stainless steel pedal systems have gone up in price and weight. From £100 just two years ago to £150+ at 206g/pair. Wheras, the ATAC XC 6 can be purchased for under £60 at 290g/pair. With the XC 8 at £109 at 286 g/pair. Bear in mind, the weight of Speedplay cleats are 88.5 g/pair compared to ATAC 44g/pair. Moreover, Speedplay cleats now cost in excess of £50. ATAC £14 max. And, they last just as long.
True, Speedplays and ATACS are wholly different. The former is strictly road, whereas the latter is considered MTB. But with so much mixed riding these days, why would I want to limit myself to one, when I can have access to both road and off-road? Sure, the ATAC may suffer a gram or two here, or a watt or two over there, but real world application now has me converted.
I’m not getting rid of my Speedplays any time soon. Who knows, summer may warrant their return. But, if you look at my bike today, I’m very likely to be rocking Time ATAC pedal systems. And, yes, on my road bike too.
:: The review is independent and the club does not have any involvement with Time ATAC. We simply like their ideas. You can find a range of reviews here ::