The First is Time’s entry-level carbon road bike – but its highly developed frameset is anything but.
- Highs: A ride that cossets and excites
- Lows: Mid-level kit doesn’t match frame
- Buy if: You want an entry-level carbon road bike
Take a good look and you’ll see it has features such as an asymmetric rear end – to balance pedalling forces – full carbon dropouts and a finish as good as on any bike.
It’s based around Time’s ‘performance’ geometry, which has a wheelbase a few millimetres longer and its handlebar a little higher than Time’s ‘racing’ geometry. This might give a fit optimised for longer distances, but don’t think of the First as being a lazy pootler – it’s anything but.
It’s under the skin where the First’s real story lies. Using a process called RTM – Resin Transfer Moulding – the resin that binds the carbon layers together is injected under intense heat and high pressure into the mould. This improves the fibres’ resin impregnation compared with ‘prepreg’, creating a stronger frame for less weight. If you look inside the frame you’ll see it’s almost as smooth, uniform and clean as the outside.
RTM is used in other industries by the likes of Boeing, Airbus and Ferrari. It’s apparent that Time don’t cut corners with their carbon construction as soon as you ride it.
Riding unlike almost any other carbon bike around, it has the stiff, light feel we associate with quality carbon, but over coarser surfaces it has a gliding ride that is far closer to that of a top steel bike.
The First didn’t put a foot wrong in testing that took in rain, sleet, snow and sodden roads – proving stable, assured and totally composed. We took any opportunity we could to put the hammer down and push it around, and found it a superbly willing partner.
While the chassis is a true great – reflected in the frame module price of £1,900 – the build is a bit more down to earth. Shimano 105 and Easton’s EA70 wheels are hardwearing and dependable, and the EA70 cockpit is well suited to the job with a great bar shape and stiff stem. The Ardea isn’t our favourite Fizik saddle, though its broad, flat shape will appeal to some.
We think most people will opt for the module and their own build, probably destined to have a bit more sparkle-adding pizzazz than 105. That the Time’s ride is quite as brilliant as it is in this spec just reinforces how magical the frameset is. Time’s fantastic French flyer really is a First among equals…