Ever since I started riding with clipless mountain bike pedals I’ve stuck with the basic Shimano pedal system. Sure, over the years I’ve upgraded pedals and tried other Shimano-compatible brands but I’ve always been a little hesitant to try a completely new system because I falsely assumed I’d might have to relearn how to clip and unclip all over again. Then, a couple months ago, I got a chance to give the Time ATAC XS pedals a try and I finally got to see what I’ve been missing all these years.
At 350g the Time ATAC XS pedals are slightly lighter than my Shimano M540 pedals which puts them solidly in the mid-weight range for mountain bike pedals. The composite body is super durable, low maintenance, and even rust-proof which is good news for those of us who encounter plenty of stream crossings. The bearings are also waterproof so these pedals will keep spinning smoothly and consistently no matter how much wet stuff you throw at them. Looking at the composite body from the front of the bike you can see it cuts an aerodynamic shape which is a detail most other pedals leave out.
The Time ATAC XS pedals also feature 3 adjustable release-tension settings from low to high which makes it simple to choose the right amount of tension for your riding style. No more futzing with an an adjustable screw wondering how many turns you should put in to get the tension right – in my book simple is always better. You can also choose a 13- or 17-degree pedal release angle depending on the way you install your shoe cleats. The wider 17-degree setting is perfect for more experienced riders who want to avoid inadvertent releases on tricky tech sections. And anyone who has ever had to remove stuck pedals will be happy to know these pedals feature both wrench flats and allen key holes on the spindles for multiple install/removal options.
Right away I noticed the Time ATAC XS pedals give a very smooth, consistent and solid entry and release. Compared to the Shimano pedals I’ve been using, I could actually feel a satisfying click on my foot rather than just hearing it. The pedal body is also wide enough that it’s easy to find the pedals without looking down and even provides a fairly comfortable platform for short rides without cleats. Time claims “you can step into a Time ATAC pedal faster than into any other” which sounds about right to me – clipping in and out is super quick and easy. Best of all, the cleats are SPD-compatible so your shoes are probably all ready to go!
The Time ATAC XS pedals feature 5 degrees of radial float and 3mm of side-to-side float which is meant to reduce knee and joint tension on epic rides. Radial float is basically the twisting range of motion your foot is allowed before it begins to encounter pedal release tension. Side-to-side float is less commonly referred to but it’s pretty self-explanatory – it’s the distance your cleat can move from side-to-side within the pedal mechanism. On the trail I found the float (both radial and side-to-side) felt great and allowed me to swing my knees and legs in and out more easily for balance on tricky sections than pedals with less float.
At first glance I assumed these pedals would be so-so in terms of mud shedding ability but I was pleasantly surprised out on the trail. Down here in Georgia we have plenty of mud but it’s probably better described as clay and it sticks to EVERYTHING. Despite several rides on tacky to downright muddy, un-maintained trails, the ATAC XS pedals didn’t jam up once. Chalk it up to an insanely simple design that doesn’t leave anywhere for mud to hide and you get a perfect clip-in every time.
After reviewing some high-res photos of the pedals I did notice some minor dings and scratches on the pedal body caused by normal wear and tear. So if you’re into ultra-pristine looking gear and can’t stand the sight of blemishes on your pedals, you may want to consider another pedal set. You may also want to consider wrapping your frame in Bike Armor stickers too.
After a few rides with the Time ATAC XS mountain bike pedals I was convinced these were the pedals for me. With solid construction, smooth and comfortable performance, and impressive gunk clearing capabilities, these pedals should be on any serious XC rider’s radar. And if 350g sounds too heavy for you, check out the ATAC XS Carbon or Titan Carbon for an even lighter-weight platform. Give Time pedals a try and you’ll see the difference!
Thanks to the folks at Time for providing the ATAC XS pedals for review.