Time NXR Instinct review£4,499.00

A genuine aristocrat, complete with noble eccentricities

BikeRadar score3/5

Time have a deserved reputation for pedigree bikes, which this leggy, long-distance model does nothing to diminish. It’s a bike of two halves in both construction and character, though. You’re essentially getting a monocoque front end to the frame rather than tubes and lugs.

It’s still based around slim, multi-section tube forms though, including a teardrop seat tube with a discreet wheelhugger cutout at the base and full-length seatmast at the top. Tapering seatstays and chainstays then plug into wishbone lugs on the main frame. A unique threaded Quickset collar on the kevlar-reinforced steerer saves the weight of an internal clamping mechanism in the fork, which helps keep the overall chassis weight low.

The combination of the monocoque and subtly tapered head tube gives an impressively positive and precise feel to the front end. Despite accurate front wheel tracking, the fork is incredibly forgiving. The same lack of buzz and fatigue is obvious from the rear too, with the feel from the top of the skinny seatmast and through the soles of your feet promoting all-day luxury.

Some test riders even stopped to check pressures on the cutely colour matched tyres because they were convinced they must have punctured, while others praised the ergonomics of the Campagnolo shifters as much as the frame character. However, while the long, low riding position encourages a relatively aggressive style, the rear end smoothness is achieved at the expense of leg power transfer.

You can still squeeze or spin the distinctively spoked wheels up to speed with reasonable ease, and there’s a very traction-rich feel on steep climbs, but there’s a definite delay and dilution of peak drive between foot and floor, which becomes increasingly obvious the more you push it.

You can feel the two frame halves operating independently if you start carving hard and fast lines through corners, too, and there’s flutter from the front under hard braking which, combined with the ‘bendy bus’ handling, means confidence is learnt rather than immediately present. But, its ability to smooth out road shock and reduce fatigue gained a lot of praise by those not perturbed by frame sensation.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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