Time Edge Racer road test
Time Edge Racer module £1560.90
Every so often a bike comes along that does exactly what it is supposed to do; Time’s Edge Racer is just such a machine. The example tested here, with an Ultegra SL groupset and wheels, was built up by RCUK around a ‘module’ supplied by UK Time distributors Chicken Cycle Kit, who might normally be expected to supply a Campagnolo build. Nevertheless, Ultegra SL suits the frame very nicely, with the price for the whole machine likely to dip under the £2500 mark as ridden here.
The Time ‘module’ comprises frame, fork, seat post, handlebar stem and headset, with the exact specification of each dependant on the model chosen. The Edge Racer, which sits just above the Edge Pulse near the bottom of the Time range, features full carbon-fibre lugs, an aluminium bottom bracket shell and ‘EDGE HR’ carbon fibre tubes in addition to HR carbon STIFF+ chainstays and an EDGE carbon wishbone. To be honest, the variety of tube names found in the Time module catalogue is a little confusing even to someone who has visited the factory several times and seen every facet of the production method; basically, however, they are made ( with the exception of the new Speeder) using an aerospace technology called Resin Transfer Molding, which within cycling is unique to the French concern.
Put simply, carbon and other fibres are woven into a tubular sock, which is pulled over a steel or wax mandrel. The socks may have their fibres aligned along the length of the tube or opposed at 90deg to each other to form intertwining helices resistant to torsion. Several such socks will be used per tube to allow precise control over layup and composition. The assembly is placed within a precisely dimensioned mould which, with the internal mandrel, forms a space of known volume around the fibres. Resin is then injected into the mould from one end, ejecting the air within from the other and assuring perfect, void-free filling, exact internal and external dimensions and a controlled ratio of resin to fibres.
The tubes used for the Edge Racer have a circular cross-section at their ends to make the manufacture of the lugs easier; more expensive models such as the VXS and VXR have elliptical cross sections to maximise stiffness against weight. Those on the Racer do the job, for sure, and offer the same Fluid Ride thanks to the inclusion of vibration-dampening Vectran fibres.
The AVANT SAFE+ fork is all-carbon with a multi-diameter steerer tube, fat at the crown for strength and stiffness and a now-conventional 1 1/8" at the stem end for convenience. It turns in Time’s Quickset headset. A threaded aluminium sleeve is bonded to the steerer tube; a threaded collar tightens on this to adjust the steering bearing, and is kept in place by a compressed ‘O’ ring. The spacers on the steerer tube are purely cosmetic, and have thin ‘O’rings on their inside to stop rattling. One advantage of the system, which works very well indeed, is that the steering doesn’t have to be adjusted every time the stem is removed for, for example, packing in a bike box. Some Time owners have, however, expressed outrage at the price of replacement head bearings, which are, perhaps inevitably, made specifically for Time. The beefy handlebar stem has aluminium inserts at either end of a carbon central shell and takes an oversized handlebar. Clamping is done via just two M5 stainless bolts, but is secure.
It’s worth running through the manufacturing technique because of what it allows Time to do with the way the resulting bike rides. Lugged construction allows for simple tube manufacture and gives the Racer a somewhat traditional look only partly dispelled by the slightly urgent graphics. Opinion is divided on their merits, with few onlookers expressing real enthusiasm. The reviewer’s opinion is favourable while admitting that the main colour and superlative finish make up for slightly odd lettering and lines. The bike looks pleasant enough without aspiring to the aesthetic heights of, say, a Pinarello.
It rides exceptionally, however. In fact, I can’t think of a nicer bike I have ridden. There is something uncanny about its ability to float over road rough with utter aplomb while responding to pedal input with real urgency. In this it is very different to the Museeuw MF1, which is stiff to the point of track readiness. The Racer has more flex about it, but does not feel in any way mushy; outings in the Dragon Ride and L2P have proven both its all-day comfort and performance when pushed. It steers with rare precision and balance thanks to a tight front end and short wheel base, but is stable at all speeds.
And, when it comes to build quality, the Racer has it in spades. Assembly was stupidly easy, with none of the minor niggles that can add hours to a build and grey hairs to the scalp. Modules higher up the Time range carry pro teams Cofidis and Bouygues Telecom; their standard of manufacture and attention to detail are here too. The groupset is great, too….
Faults? You would have to count the cost of head bearing replacement at around £80 as one such. The graphics are a bit dubious according to some. Otherwise we are left with a creaking saddle clamp, which I could not be bothered to try to fix. Without it, the Racer would have been just too good to be true.
Size sizes: L to XXS; frame weight 1140g =/- 60g