Time Alpe d’huez 01

‘Socks and sticks’ make up a world-class climb­ing ma­chine

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - CONTENTS - re­viewed by Matthew Pioro

‘Socks and sticks’ make up a world-class climb­ing ma­chine

Icouldn’t help be­ing drawn to the Time Alpe d’huez. The light road bike by the French bike maker de­buted in Jan­uary. The frame isn’t sim­ply named af­ter the iconic climb that’s fea­tured in the Tour de France con­sis­tently since 1976, but the town of Huez has of­fi­cially let Time use the name. The bike is made a mere 75 km away from the Alpe. It was these con­nec­tions with ge­og­ra­phy and his­tory that caught my at­ten­tion, as well as the sleek look of the frame. And, I like to climb. Where I live, how­ever, is cursed with very “un­climby” ter­rain. OK, that might be a bit melo­dra­matic. I do like my home roads, but there’s nowhere with more than two hair­pin turns in a row, let alone 21 like the Alpe. When I do get the chance to ride on moun­tain roads, I’m ec­static. For my rides with the light­est frame Time has ever pro­duced (840 g in size small), I had to be con­tent with my lo­cal cols. Yet, even on climbs mea­sured in me­tres in­stead of kilo­me­tres, the Alpe d’huez goes up­ward ef­fort­lessly. The bike’s build is one for the moun­tain goats. Time’s Cana­dian dis­trib­u­tor, Spaso, put Shi­mano Ul­te­gra R8000 com­po­nents on the frame, in­clud­ing a com­pact 50/34-tooth crankset and cas­sette with a glo­ri­ously spinnable 32-tooth cog. It all came in at 7.42 kg. While I would like to give a lit­tle credit to the en­gine that is me, the bike did help me set a per­sonal record on a lo­cal seg­ment. Xavier Roussin-bouchard, the director of R&D at Time, at­tributes much of the bike’s snap to the com­pany’s method of con­struct­ing com­pos­ite tubes. Most car­bon­fi­bre bikes are made with prepreg, car­bon-fi­bre fab­ric that’s pre-im­preg­nated with resin. At the Time man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­ity in France, em­ploy­ees weave car­bon-fi­bre “socks.” These are joined to­gether, and then placed in a mould. With the struc­ture un­der pres­sure, resin is in­jected into the sys­tem. The process is called resin trans­fer mould­ing (rtm). “Af­ter we in­ject the resin, we have very low poros­ity in­side the struc­ture,” Roussin-bouchard says of the voids that can oc­cur when set­ting car­bon fi­bre. rtm is said to re­sult in fewer voids com­pared with a prepreg-based pro­cesses. “If you have low poros­ity,” he adds, “your com­pos­ite struc­ture is more able to trans­mit power and force through­out the frame. With some bikes, when you climb and you’re not in good shape, you have the feel­ing of be­ing thick on the road. With the Alpe d’huez, you don’t get this sen­sa­tion. It’s al­ways easy to ac­cel­er­ate the frame.”

While stiff­ness is a sig­nif­i­cant fea­ture of the frame, so is com­fort. Along with car­bon fi­bre, the com­pos­ite tubes have Vec­tran woven in. The poly­mer does a good job of soak­ing up vi­bra­tions sent up by the road. The sec­ond-tier ver­sion of the frame, the Alpe d’huez 21 (“21” for the first turn of the climb, the “01” on the top model is for the fi­nal turn) doesn’t use Vec­tran, but a basalt. The folks at Time got the idea of us­ing the vol­canic rock from their par­ent com­pany, Ros­sig­nol. The skiand-bind­ing brand has used the ma­te­rial in high-per­for­mance skis for its damp­ing prop­er­ties.

The fork of the Alpe d’huez was equipped with Time’s Ak­tiv tech­nol­ogy, which has been avail­able on other Time frames since 2015. Ak­tiv fea­tures two “sticks” in­side each of the fork blades. Each stick is af­fixed roughly at each dropout. At the top of each stick is a small mass that swings back and forth like crazy when the fork faces vi­bra­tions in the 40-Hz range. The

sticks take the shakes out of the fork it­self. This method of man­ag­ing vi­bra­tions, with mass-tuned dampers, is used in vary­ing de­grees in mo­tor ve­hi­cles and sky­scrapers. “If you look at vi­bra­tion damp­ing, it’s hard to have both per­for­mance and com­fort,” Roussin-bouchard says. “Many times, when peo­ple want to damp vi­bra­tion, they in­tro­duce some soft el­e­ments be­tween the frame and the fork or the seat­stays and the front tri­an­gle. But, if you have a soft el­e­ment, like an elas­tomer, you will lose or ab­sorb me­chan­i­cal power in­side the sys­tem. With the Ak­tiv sys­tem, we don’t ab­sorb any of the me­chan­i­cal en­ergy from the rider.”

The fork did do very good job of mel­low­ing cer­tain road noise, while keep­ing the bike snappy. At speed and in swoop­ing turns, the mass dampers worked away pro­duc­ing the de­sired ef­fects. But, they were a lit­tle in­tru­sive at slow speeds. When I would brake and roll to stop, the still-vi­brat­ing mass dampers would tug at the steer­ing as they would con­tinue to shake out. It took some get­ting used to. I’d have to main­tain some ex­tra strength on the bars when coast­ing to a stop. On time, as I rolled down a back al­ley to my of­fice, a pedes­trian stepped out from be­hind a parked truck. I had to swing wide. That ac­tion re­quired much more arm strength be­cause of those mov­ing dampers. My con­clu­sion: the Ak­tiv fork isn’t for com­muters. (Ob­vi­ously!) It ex­cels on the open road.

So, I took the bike back out, look­ing for climbs.

“The bike’s build is one for the moun­tain goats.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.