In the 1990s, Time’s road shoes represented the pinnacle of clipless performance, but in recent years the French company's footwear has seemed off the pace, in terms of features, if not quality. Their latest off-road flagship, the MXS Carbon, puts them back on the road – or in this case, trail – to matching their competitors’ offerings.
With thermoform uppers and a decent amount of flash – carbon shank, synthetic patent leather upper – at an almost unbeatable price, this mountain bike race shoe is definitely worth a look for those shopping in this price range – as long as it fits.
Faux patent leather gives these shoes the look of World Cup racers
Time’s thermoforming process is very simple, yet seems effective in creating a better fit for the foot. Instead of requiring an oven or vacuum system, the process simply requires a rider to hold a hairdryer over the opening of the shoe for four minutes.
Once heated you put them on and simply wait for them to cool. Time say the TS forming can be done multiple times, should the first attempt not meet expectations. After our first forming, the uppers and tongues fitted more comfortably, even though their initial fit was quite good.
The MXS Carbon's full carbon shank proved adept in transferring power from foot to pedal, though the cleat bolt holes seemed almost too far forward
Chinks in the shoe’s armour come in the form of heavy weight (our size 43 test pair weighed over 900g – 100g more than the claimed weight of the size 39) and poor summertime breathability. The stock insole can only be described as cheap, but we'll forgive this because most riders investing in a high-end shoe will couple the thermoform upper with some sort of custom insole.
The lack of half sizes was an issue for us as we fell in-between sizes; the thermoform feature aids fitting greatly, but remember it only pertains to the upper. However, comfort was not an issue despite the last being a touch large. The tongue and upper are generously padded, and undoubtedly contribute to the shoe's comfortable fit.
The toe reinforcement on the MXS Carbon is appreciated and tastefully designed
On the bike, the carbon sole is stiff enough, but not excessively so. This is better for the average rider, who may face hike-a-bikes or want to race cyclo-cross, than something developed for the World Cup circuit where racers require road-like stiffness — think Shimano’s M310 thermoformed shoe. Toe-studs (spikes) can be added for muddy days.
There were times on long, hot climbs when we noticed our feet were unusually hot. This was an inconvenience, but we will no doubt be singing a different tune come the crisp temperatures of cyclo-cross this autumn.
The lack of instep adjustment allows for maximum crankarm clearance; all three panels of the shoe contain thermoform material
There's no instep adjustment on the MXS's ratchet strap, but as this fitted our foot comfortably, we see no need for it. In fact, we’d rather have a shoe without a bulky instep adjustment than one that constantly catches and scrapes our crank arms – like many we’ve tested.
We had no issues with the MXS’s replaceable ratchet buckle (note: the ratchet strap is also replaceable), though we do question the plastic material’s long-term durability; most shoes in this category at least come with a metal ratchet lever.