When it comes to enduro and all-mountain clipless pedals, the scene is currrently dominated by Shimano and Crankbrothers. French brand, Time, does have a DH pedal that shows up every once in a while, but these days it's a bit of an outlier. Shift over to the XC/cyclocross crowd and you'll find a fair bit more use of Time's ATAC pedals. There haven't been any groundbreaking design changes on the ATAC system in years, but they work well, do a good job of shedding mud, and have developed a cultish following of devotees.
Time Speciale 12 Details
• All-mountain/enduro/aggressive trail pedal
• Adjustable release tension
• Uses ATAC cleats
• Available in blue, red, dark grey
• Weight: 408 grams (pair) confirmed
• MSRP: $350 USD
Time's Speciale 12 pedal is their first full-on jump into the clipless trail scene bringing a modern competitor to the enduro/all-mountain world. Instead of appealing to the more budget minded crowd, they have gone all in with a $350 USD offering that's hardly affordable, but very different from anything they offer or currently on the market.Details
The Speciale 12 pedals are machined out of one piece of aluminum rather than two halves bolted together as some other pedals do. The profile of the pedal is longer and more narrow than Time's DH pedal in order to create a a stable platform for aggressive riding while staying out of the way enough to help prevent rock strikes. The pedals use a hollow steel axle and steel bearings, and the retention system is the same dual spring engagement ATAC system and cleat design that's used on Time's other MTB pedals.
There are a couple of differences between the Speciale 12 and Time's ATAC DH4 DH pedal. The Speciale 12's shape and platform is longer and narrower, as mentioned above. It also has drilling for removable traction pins, eight per pedal, to give increased bite and to custom tune the way your foot does or doesn't want to move around while latched in.
The other major difference is the ability to adjust the release tension of the pedal, something that isn't offered on Time's DH pedal, or any of its ATAC pedals. ATAC, if you didn't already know, stands for "auto tension adjustment concept" so while the cleat used for Time's MTB pedals may be the same, the fact that you can actually adjust the tension on the Speciale 12 pedals is a totally new concept and unique to the Speciale 12.
Easy in, easy out but secure and firm engagement. The closest to a ski binding a pedal could be. Note how the back of the platform is firmly in contact with the shoe, giving solid support.
So, how does this $350 pedal perform in real life? Time has the loyal following they do in the XC and cyclocross scenes for a reason - their pedals work well. There's a smooth engagement and release and they do a fine job of clearing muck. I've personally always preferred the way they feel over Crankbrothers pedals, though the engagement and release on the two are fairly similar in feel versus the SPD system. For sake of simplicity and personal preference, I've been primarily using Shimano's SPD pedals for years and have few qualms with them, however, the release point is firm. You're either in or out which is something I like but very different from the way Time or Crankbrothers pedals feel with the gradual "pop" or "spring" out.
The Speciale 12 have the option of adding traction pins. There are spots for four on each side of each pedal - two in the front and two on the back of the platform. Using the pins at all is somewhat unnecessary. The pedals will support your feet as well as a Shimano SPD trail pedals, if not better. There is some float but a very secure, "ski binding" type feel to them. I preferred to use the two pins in the front just to give a little extra grab when engaging the pedal, however, these pins don't contact the shoe at all when riding as long as you're clipped in. The rear pins provide a great bit more grab on the shoe when clipped in. After trying them out, I chose not to use them as they made it more difficult to unclip, and eliminated some of the ability to move my foot around a little within the float of the pedal.
I used the pedals with Five Ten's Hellcat Pro shoes as well as Specialized's 2FO Cliplite. The interface between the pedals and any shoe is going to be significantly tighter than any SPD pedal with the shoe firmly resting on more of the pedal body. The engagement was somewhat easier with the Specialized shoes and their harder compound of rubber. The Five Tens were slightly more secure and I found that running a shim under the cleats gave a little more ease in engagement.
Engagement and release on the Speciale 12 is firm and smooth, where I would characterize the SPD as more abrupt. You do get a fair bit more float before fully dis-engaging the pedal, as opposed to an SPD-style set up. The tension adjust is a good addition to these pedals in my opinion. It doesn't go from zero tension to a bear-trap that you're never getting out of, but provides a good usable and tunable range to dial things in according to personal preference and need. I kept it right in the middle and was pleased with how it felt.
I had a few more rock strikes than usual with the Speciale pedals, which caused some scuffs and scratches in the anodizing, but that was the only sign of wear even after quite a bit of use.Why So Expensive?
There's no denying this pedal is expensive, so I reached out to Time and asked them why. They responded by acknowledging that the pedal is expensive and saying, "in developing new products that will be used in competition, we work to make the product for an athlete's needs at the highest levels of the sport...From there we modify the product to make different versions and reach different price points or rider needs. In the case of the Speciale 12, this is the top of the category. It has a high price for a few reasons but it comes down to the materials used and the milling of the pedal body..."
"The objective of this pedal was to have a pedal body which is light, strong, low profile, along with a good platform size but with limited exposure while pedaling...all while being able to house our clipless ATAC system. There is a cost for these elements and as you add more of them into the product, the costs increase. We're building the best product for competition and you can see how we're not too concerned about the cost."Pinkbike's Take