The choice of clipless (clip-in/step-in) pedals is a very personal thing and for most people it is based around the “standard” of the clipless system – predominately Shimano vs Time vs crankbrothers. It’s also almost a life long commitment as well. Similar to the Nikon vs Canon world of photographers – once you have picked a standard you have to stay with it as all your equipment is based around that standard. While not being as expensive as swapping camera equipment, if you do choose to change, you have to change all your pedals and cleats.
We are traditionally Shimano users but recently we picked up a few Time pedals to test and the DH4 was one of those.
The DH4 is Time’s downhill/freeride/enduro targeted pedal and features an oversized chromoly axle and an oversized alloy pedal body to give the pedal extra strength (and weight). Designed for a rider who unclips more, the larger platform adds security, should you not be able to re-engage your pedals before that next obstacle or corner. We found the larger platform good to use and we didn’t slip off the pedal in those few times we weren’t able to re-engage.
When testing a clipless pedal we think the most important elements are the performance of the engagement and release mechanisms, as well as the float. These elements are important for performance, and for some, important in helping prevent injury. Seeing as the latter is a very critical element it is an unfortunate reality that no written words will help you choose the right pedal – buy and try is the best solution.
As with all Time ATAC pedals there isn’t as much adjustability in terms of release tension when compared to Shimano – the Time’s have only two settings for tension (adjusted via a small screw), and we preferred the firmer setting. They do offer, however, adjustable float. Swapping the cleats (from left to right, and visa versa) gives you either 13° or a generous 17° of float. 17° felt like too much for us, especially as we’re accustomed to the more constrictive float settings of a Shimano pedal, so we only used them with 13°.
We have been using the Time DH4 pedals for a while now on our 160mm travel tail bike and have grown to like how they feel. Engagement is positive and you can feel when your foot has been engaged. It is a softer pedal engagement feel than Shimano though and the brass cleats of the Time give it a spongier feel. One other interesting thing we found with Time pedals is the ability to actually move your foot from side-to-side on the pedal. Yes, you’re still clipped in, but you can actually change your foot from being very close to the crank to be away from the crank. We did notice foot movement over time and had to re-adjust our foot on occassions.
One very noticeable feature of the Time system is the use of brass cleats. Often coined as “self lubricating”, we did notice that when it was super dry and dusty on the trails the cleats didn’t feel like they were sticking to the pedal. It’s something we do feel with Shimano pedals but the Time’s always felt smooth. The only negative with the use of brass though is that it’s a softer material than steel so it will wear quicker.
Time pedals are an excellent alternative to Shimano and the ATAC DH4 is a good, strong performer. Overall, they are a little on the heavy side and if you feel you don’t need the large platform then we recommend you getting a smaller lighter model, as you will get all the advantages of the Time system without all the added weight.
…and, you can still open a bottle of beer (or soft drink) with Time pedals. That’s a bonus.