Updated: Long-term test: Time Speeder £1714

Not just another cookie-cutter road bike

BikeRadar score 4/5

It's been six months since we posted our initial review of the Time Speeder (you can read that below). In that time, we've had a chance to push the bike to its limits and uncover a few niggles, but we're still in love with the Speeder's handling.

Although we've tested a few other road bikes in the interim, we were always relieved to get back on the Time. It's easy and relaxed, and there's none of that jitteriness that you often find with very light high-end carbon bikes. There's also no sensation of sluggishness. The ride is always direct and most importantly, fast.

Why? What makes a bicycle handle the way it does is dependent on a number of factors: the wheelbase, head and seat angles, fork rake and trail, handlebar shape, wheel design, tyres, frame materials and construction, headset quality and so on. The list is long and it's hard to tease out exactly what is making the difference.

On our large (58cm) model, a few things stood out. The head tube is 186mm, which is relatively short for a bike aimed at the cyclo-tourism crowd. Most bikes of this ilk have head tubes of 205mm and above. In addition, the Cinelli VAI XL handlebars have a 147mm drop on them. Other bikes (the Trek Madone 5 series springs to mind) are equipped with shallower drop bars – 125mm to 135mm. So the Time automatically gets you into a lower position, hence it feels more stable.

It's not just the position though. The bike as a whole feels solid without being brutally stiff, like top-end race machines. This means it does what you expect it to do and you don't have to fight it. Cornering, out of the saddle, riding hard – there are no surprises, just a very confident feel. Given that geometry is fairly standard for a bike of this ilk, whatever Time have done with the carbon frame and fork, it just works.

The Speeder is comfortable enough to ride all day, too. We put it to the test in the Dave Lloyd Mega Challenge, the UK's toughest cyclosportive event involving 150 miles of Welsh hills and rain. After nine hours in the saddle (then another to get to the railway station), we certainly had sore legs but that wasn't the bike's fault.

The main issue we had on that ride was that while the Selle Italia XR saddle was comfortable, it was a little slippery. This made it tough to maintain a solid position when climbing the steepest hills. Also, even though we changed the crankset from 53/39 to 50/34, we needed a lower gear still for the dreaded Bwlch y Groes. Admittedly it does average 12.5 percent for two miles, and we had already done 100 miles before hitting it.

So, what broke?

A long-term test like this is aimed at exposing the weakest areas of the bike; bits that are most likely to need attention in the first six months. The finishing kit on our bike was supplied by Chicken Cycles in the UK, and it was the Campagnolo Khamsin wheels that caused us the most problems.

We broke a spoke in the rear and also had an issue with the spokes in the front coming loose. We'd prefer more conventionally spoked wheels rather than the clumps of three (eight on the front, nine on the rear) that characterise the Khamsins. Also, after four months the rear hub needed servicing as it had developed an annoying creaking sound. This was due to water and likely some degreaser finding its way into the internals.

The Vredestein Fortezza Tricomp tyres performed well but after 1,500 miles they needed replacing. These are excellent all-round racing tyres but a little light to be used for regular training. The white bar tape didn't last long in its original state, ending up as grubby grey fairly quickly. About the only thing we found effective to keep it clean is chain degreaser.

The shifting remained true throughout most of the test. Towards the end, the gear cables and brake pads needed replacing but that's to be expected after a season of riding in the great British weather.

Conclusions

Overall, we found the Veloce-specced Time Speeder to be an excellent machine for fit sportive riders and racers – just don't go for Khamsin wheels. If you're after a bike with a more upright position and forgiving gears, then this won't be your machine.

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Original review

The Time Speeder sits at the bottom of the French company's road bike range, but its performance belies its lowly position, as we found out in the first instalment of our long-term test on this bike.

At first glance, the Campagnolo Veloce-equipped Speeder looks unassuming. Another carbon weave frame with a common groupset, like so many cookie-cutter bikes out there. Why pay £1,714 when you could pick up an equivalently specced bike several hundred pounds cheaper?

But you shouldn't judge a bike by its paint job. Or lack thereof, in this case. When we rode it, we were amazed at how positive the handling was.

How does it ride?

It felt light, almost delicate, without being nervous. From the outset there were no iffy moments around corners: it simply went where we pointed it. Lots of bikes take more than a few rides to get used to their cornering characteristics. This one didn't, and that meant a more confident and enjoyable ride.

The Speeder didn't feel super-stiff and it's no lightweight at 8.3kg without pedals. But that didn't matter, as it was clear we were able to get the power to the road. This was most evident when climbing, as we sliced off chunks of time from our best efforts up three local hill climbs. In or out of the saddle, the bike gave little impression of wasted energy.

The Campagnolo Khamsin wheels were shod with Vredestein 700x22c Fortezza Tricomp tyres. A nice touch, as these are some of the best all-round road racing tyres we've tried. They give a comfy ride and they're quick, durable and grippy in the wet.

For the main contact points, a Selle Italia XR saddle and Selcof PK316 seatpost combined with an aluminium alloy Cinelli VAI bar and stem to give a comfortable ride, even after several hours in the saddle.

What's not to like?

Although downshifting on Campagnolo Veloce was fine, we found upshifting to be too light and imprecise, almost like friction shifting. We got used to it over time but it was never a perfect marriage. Our mechanic confirmed everything was indexed correctly, so it seems that Veloce's new lighter upshifting is a feature rather than a bug.

The only other minor point of concern was the single bolt clamp in the Selcof seatpost. Some single bolt setups are horrible, some work. We'll see how this one fares over time. Finally, the Speeder is only available in sizes from 50 to 58cm, a rather limited range.

What's it for?

Time recommend the Speeder for 'cyclotourism' but we think that's underselling it, possibly because Time have a range of higher-end bikes for cyclosportives and road racing. While we'd enjoy cruising around the countryside on one of these, the gearing (53/39 front, 12-25 back) is more of a road racing setup anyway

We've enjoyed the first few outings on the Time Speeder and will report back once we've put some more miles on it.

BikeRadar's long-term tests

Here on BikeRadar we already review more products than anyone else. But we've decided to take that a step further on a selection of our bikes in order to give you proper in-depth reviews. Yes, we're literally going the extra mile.

We'll file several updates on each of our long-termers, starting with the bike setup and our first impressions, then a more detailed look at the ride handling and any quirks we pick up, and after some serious miles, we'll report on any durability issues that arise.

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