Time’s XC 8 pedal is the perfect pedal for those riders looking to ride clipped-in off-road, that’s mountain biking, cyclo-cross, gravel & adventure riding even the odd bit of commuting on the road bike (sssh no one will notice). They never seem to get clogged up, they always work and they offer an impressive amount of lateral float, important to anybody with knee issues. They are definitely one of the best clipless mountain bike pedals on the market.
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Time XC 8 - Techincal specifications
Time has been making mountain bike pedals since the early 90s and they hit pay dirt early on by using a very simple auto tensioning double-sided sprung bar release system to attach the cleat on your shoe to the pedal. Although the pedal body shapes have changed and the bars are no longer round, the system is pretty much the same today as then and is still exclusive to Time (now owned by SRAM) which should tell you they were onto a good thing at the time.
Time called it the Auto Tension Adjustment Concept, ATAC for short and its unique design means it’s easier to clip in from a wider range of angles than almost all other clipless pedals on the market, it resists clogging, by cleaning itself as it is used and allows a more natural foot position on the pedal.
The XC 8 pedal body is the same shape as the XC 6 and XC 12 but uses a lighter carbon body over the XC 6, but for durability, uses the same hollow steel axle to spin on instead of the 12's Titanium axle. In reality, these changes result in very small weight differences between the pedals so it’s all about performance and durability really. The total weight difference from 6 to 8 is 2g and from 8 to 12 is 9g (per pedal) for a Ti axle! All pedals offer tension adjusters and all use the same cleat.
In terms of overall weight compared to the opposition the XC 8’s are lighter at 290g than their main competitors with a platform. Shimano XTR is 320g (claimed), Crank Brothers Candy 7 is also 320g, and Hope Union RC is 322g. For those that want to know Time ATAC cleats weigh in at 44g including bolts.
The XC 8 is supplied with cleats with 13˚ and 17˚release angle options. How do you get two angles? Well, you can simply swap left for right and then the cleats will change their release angles and become harder or softer to unclip depending on which way you installed them first. It saves buying another set of cleats to try out both settings and is a good option.
The degree number indicates how far you have to swing your heel out (or in) to unclip from the pedal. If you are new to clipless pedals it would be worth starting on the 13˚ setup just so you can get a feel for what you need to do to unclip; it definitely saves embarrassing moments for sure.
Time’s cleats are made of a brass steel alloy which is softer than the bar mechanism of the pedals, so after prolonged use, the cleats wear out which results in being very easy to clip in and out but less secure feeling with a lot of movement available on the pedal in all directions.
No additional ‘spacers’ are supplied with the pedals and I have never needed any for any of the shoes I have used them on regardless of the different cleat depths and different levels of wear on the sole. This makes them quite different from both Hope’s Union pedals and Crank Brothers Candy’s both of which require some measuring to fit the cleats correctly.
Time XC 8 - Performance
I’ve done about 6+ months with the pedals and I have had no issues with their performance. I tried them with a selection of different shoes from winter boots fitted with shoe shields to several XC and gravel shoes. All with different sole treads and different height cleat boxes and it makes very little difference to the performance of the pedal.
The one small 'user' issue I had was that the left pedal was harder to unclip compared to the right straight out of the box which after double checking which way round I had fitted the cleats turned out to simply be the spring tension being wound in more on the left pedal than on the right. It works on a cam so as you turn the screw you can see the spring lift up, up, and then back to the beginning. There are only three settings and it's easy to see what you have by eye so definitely worth checking they are all at the same tension before you start.
Regardless of the mud they have squeezed into them and the small bits of rock from the local trails the pedals have refused to do anything other than faultlessly work over the last 6 months.
The XC 8 carbon body provides enough of a platform to help support your shoes on long rides and prevent hot spots in the soles of your feet even if you haven’t got the latest top-flight race carbon soles – I haven’t.
And then there is Time’s magical lateral float offering to those of us with injured knees, recovering knees, or just knees that don’t like the ‘fixed’ track of some other pedal brands. The option to be able to move my feet a little to left and right on the pedal (by 5mm) as well as the rotational movement allowed by the release angle means my feet find a more natural position and allows me to shuffle around on the pedals on long rides if I feel any hint of tiredness creeping into my knees. This one feature for many people will be a game changer.
There is a small fly in the ointment before I get too excited. The XC 8’s appear to suffer from the infamous ‘Time creak’ which on this pair has just started at 6 months on the left. It’s an odd noise and I’m not sure if it’s the shoe sole creaking on a dry pedal mechanism or a creak from the internals. Light lube applied to the mechanism (you can actually get cleat lube from Finish Line) seems to prevent the noise in some cases and I’ve also found that flipping the pedal over 180˚ on a climb can stop it, but not always. Whether it annoys you is very subjective, but I’d prefer it wasn’t there, and is a shame in an otherwise perfect score sheet.
In terms of serviceability Time will ask you to talk to a SRAM-approved dealer should you need bearing changes and the like as they are classified as a sealed pedal which is definitely less home mechanic friendly than the Hope or Crank Brothers approach.
With the right tools you can open Time pedals yourself and replace the bearings, fix that internal creak, and prolong their life. I wouldn’t advise doing this whilst they are still in warranty if you are unsure how to, best to leave that to a trained SRAM person, but if you know what you are doing, it can be a fairly simple quick task. Sram does offer a two-year warranty period on their Time Pedals if you prefer to take that route.
I would expect with mild servicing that these pedals will go on for years, I have some XC 12's that are still good 5 years in, so I'm looking for long-term partnership from this pair.
Time XC 8 - Verdict
In terms of competitors, we need to consider Shimano’s XTR SPD pedal at £140, these are the mainstay of many an XC racer and are very well regarded however, Shimano’s direct no lateral float SPD cleat approach does not work for everyone's knees. Step forward Hope’s Union RC pedals at £160 with their unique cleat with some lateral float (2mm) but still a very direct feel, or if you know your knees are dodgy and you prefer more float, then Crank Brothers Candy 7 pedals at £170 are a good option or their Egg Beater 3’s at £130 (but only if you favour stiff carbon race soles as there is really no platform at all with these ).
Time XC 8 pedals are absolutely excellent pedals for cross-country mountain biking, cyclocross, gravel, adventure, and commuting and not wanting to look like a penguin and tap around after you get off your bike. They are not cheap, and that creak might annoy you if it occurs; but for ease of clipping in, the self-cleaning design, the knee-friendly float, the ability to fit cleats quickly without faff and swap them around for different levels of release, plus their overall longevity all speak of value for money at this level. Time XC 8’s are a fantastic pair of pedals.