Time have gathered a lot of fans over the last 25 years or so with their knee-friendly float-happy pedals and the Xpresso pedal is the newest incarnation in the evolution. A development from their now extinct iClic pedal it's inherited a lot of features from the old system but gained some new ones with Time boasting that it's the fastest pedal ever invented.
The Xpresso is available in six models, the 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12 ranging from £45 to £230. The Xpresso 8s here come with a hollow steel axle and a carbon body.
All of the Xpresso pedals feature the retention mechanism pioneered by the iClic which holds the rear clasp partially open after release so unlike other pedals you don't have to overcome spring tension to click into the Xpresso, which makes for an incredibly quick and easy cleat entry, a benefit to both nervous beginners and experienced pros alike.
The 'spring' on the Xpresso 8 is a single carbon blade, and it's this lack of a heavy metal spring that helps towards the light weight of the pedal range, the 8 weighs 198g for the pair, which is nicely at the lighter end of the scale, and even the bottom rung Xpresso 2 isn't significantly heavier if you're a weight conscious rider on a budget.
The big thing with the Xpresso pedal is it actually is just that: big. The pedal platform is visibly oversized with a 700mm2 surface area which is quite an increase from the previous iClic's 445m2, something that should help with power transfer, comfort and cleat wear. All but the lowliest in the Xpresso line up feature a stainless steel metal plate on the top of this platform which addresses the premature pedal wear problem that occurred with the original iClic, an issue hastily addressed with the addition of a metal plate on the iClic2. This plate on the Xpresso is also replaceable which should also help with overall pedal longevity. If the distance from your sole to the pedal axle bothers you then the boffins at Time have done their best to reduce this to a mere 14.4mm thanks to their Bio-position Concept.
The Xpresso cleat is the same as the iClic2 so they share the same benefits and same downsides. The cleat provides Time's knee-friendly angular float of plus and minus 5 degrees and 2.5mm of lateral movement. It's a system that allows the foot to find it's own place on the pedal and move around a bit which should keep joints happy. It's not a 'walking on ice' slippery float like a Speedplay pedal but a slightly sticky feeling that holds your foot gently in a central position but with subtle movement side to side should you need it. What Time calls Angular Sensation but you or I would call resistance to this float can be adjusted via a little screw in the pedal body, we ran it on the loosest setting for old joints comfort. You can also adjust the Q-Factor (the effective horizontal distance between the pedals) of the pedals by 2.5mm depending on which shoe you put which cleat on.
A tripod of pontoons of one at the front and two out back of the cleat make walking in them easier, although it's still quite an awkward 'arthritic duck' affair and while the front pontoon is also the toe clip-in tab the rear ones have no working purpose but to protect the rear plastic clip-in nugget from café floor wear and tear.
First the good things. Time are right about the Xpresso system being fast and easy to clip into, this pedal will completely allay the fears of anyone that's scared of getting in and out of road pedals. With no spring tension to overcome there's no force needed at all to engage the pedal. That means no determined grinding the cleat into the pedal in the hope that it will click, no angry stamping, and no looking down frustrated and riding into a parked car. You simply wave the cleat in the rough area of the pedal and it will clip in with a soft clack.
But just because it's easy to click in it doesn't mean that it's too eager to clip out, once in the Xpresso holds onto a shoe with a tenacious grip, no amount of desperate pulling up on steep climbs or erratic flailing sprinting would cause it to unclip prematurely. With a release angle of 15 degrees accidental un-clipping is eliminated no matter how flappy you are in your pedaling technique and when you do want to release it does so with a loud and positive click.
Next up on the tick list is the comfort. That oversized foot-plate isn't just for show, it makes a noticeable difference, and going straight from the old iClic to the new Xpresso the improvement was immediate. The first ride out was a 100 miler, a few pedals up and down the road to check the cleat position and then straight into a six-hour ride. There were none of the initial set-up niggles you can sometimes get with new pedals and the Xpresso 8s have stayed comfy ever since. No hot-spots, no need to flex the toes halfway through a ride, no reason to stand up on a climb just to change pressure on the foot. Combine this comfort with the Time float and you've got an incredibly hospitable pedal for both soles and knees no matter how long you're stuck in them.
Now for the bad stuff. The cleats are the same as were paired with the defunct iClic pedals, so they share the same rapid-wear issues. It would be a pity if the Xpresso name came to signify cleat wear rather than any clipping in speediness. The toe tab wears pretty quickly, even on shoes that just get walked in from the sofa to the front door and sometimes in and out of tea-rooms, with the cleat on the put-down foot showing the most wear. It doesn't take long for the cleats to look like they've been chewed by the dog and for significant bits to peel away, and it doesn't take much toe-tab erosion for a small amount of rattly movement between the cleat and the pedal to occur. It doesn't affect the performance of the pedal, but it is annoying.
The plastic nugget used to clip in the rear also wears faster than it should. Maybe the carbon spring means we have to lose that lovely brass lump that older Time cleats used to have, the rugged metallic chunk that the old model RXS cleats still have, the one that means the cleats go on forever. Is it just me or do all road cleats last no time at all nowadays, they used to be good for years rather than months didn't they? Just me?
Anyway, as the Time Xpresso cleat wears further the annoyance increases exponentially. It becomes all too frequently easy to click in on the piss requiring unclipping and clipping back in again to set the shoe straight in the pedal and sometimes the interface develops a weird click standing up on the pedal when sprinting or climbing. The shoe doesn't come unclipped but it just feels that it's not totally engaged somewhere. It's infuriating, but not as maddening as when you can rotate your foot in the pedal and the carbon spring clicks happily away to itself. The only plus side is that this is the definitive sign that it's time to reach into your wallet for some new cleats. Again.
The Xpressos developed a small amount of bearing play in under 1,000 miles of riding, it's not noticeable when on the bike but it's there if you jiggle them with your hand. It could be a worry as the Xpresso pedal has had a history of bearing issues, with previous versions being known to seize completely after a few traditional British wet rides, and without the benefit of any user serviceability at all they can only be returned under the 24 month warranty or binned in a hissy-fit followed by a search for another make of pedal.
But Time have done running upgrades (isn't it nice for the consumer to be their testers eh?) and current versions have promised improved bearing seals. So far the results of all this aren't much better. Both pedals are sounding a little dry inside now, and the right-hand one is seizing after a period of rest, a few stiff rotations with a hand has it moving though, freely but quite worryingly arid in feel, which is less than confidence-inspiring. Let's say that a wary eye is being kept on proceedings. This combined with the cleat issue means that the love won by the ease of use and all-day comfort has long since gone and window shopping is happening.
Ridiculously easy to get into, but cleat wear and bearing reliability are big issues
road.cc test report
Make and model: Time Xpresso 8 pedals
Size tested: One size
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Time say they have revolutionized clipless pedal technology with their newest generation Xpresso. Their brand new pedal has an even faster, more intuitive engagement without any rubbing, which is thanks to the IClic concept of a pre-open clipless system (TIME patent). The use of a carbon flexion blade instead of the traditional metal spring allows for these new pedals to be extremely light at 195 g/pair. The oversized platform of 700 m2 gives the pedals a record surface area/weight factor.
The Xpresso is a great pedal as a concept, a really great pedal, but its ability to stand up to the rigours of the real world is disappointing.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The Xpresso 8 has a hollow steel axle and carbon body with flexible carbon blade, the oversized pedal platform has an area of 700 mm2 and has an interchangeable stainless steel plate. Xpresso technology includes an automatic pre-opening engagement mechanism, adjustment of angular sensations (or 'feel'), Q-Factor adjustment, angular float of /-5° and lateral float of 2.5 mm with a release angle of 15°. The Bioposition Concept gives a minimal sole to pedal axle distance.
A light and not overly sturdy pedal the finish straight out of the box isn't amazing, a bit plasticy and sharp edged, and cleat wear and bearing fears push that mark further down.
The Xpresso clip in system and huge platform works beautifully and would get full marks, unfortunately the cleats of brie and bearings of baguette and the tedious tribulations they bring negate all that.
They're pleasingly competitive on the scales.
The oversized pedal platform is a huge benefit to foot comfort.
Right in the middle of the pack for this style and weight of pedal but future cleat subscription costs and potential disposability thanks to bearing problems make the Xpresso less cost effective.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
As an easy to get into and comfortable pedal they were amazing, cleats and bearings less so.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Ease of clipping in and all-day comfort.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Cleat wear is getting tedious and becoming a deal breaker and there's still massive bearing concern despite running upgrades.
Did you enjoy using the product? I wanted to, I've persevered, but I'm actively browsing other pedals now.
Would you consider buying the product? I'd like to for the clip-in ease and all-day comfort, but the cleat wear and shit bearings are seriously pissing me off now.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes for the ease of clip-in, float and comfort, buying them cleats birthdays, and new pedals for Christmas would ease the present problem.
About the tester
Age: 47 Height: 180cm Weight: 73kg
I usually ride: It varies as to the season. My best bike is: The one I\'m on at the time
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo cross, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Fun
Jo Burt has spent the majority of his life riding bikes, drawing bikes and writing about bikes. When he's not scribbling pictures for the whole gamut of cycling media he writes words about them for road.cc and when he's not doing either of those he's pedaling. Then in whatever spare minutes there are in between he's agonizing over getting his socks, cycling cap and bar-tape to coordinate just so. And is quietly disappointed that yours don't He rides and races road bikes a bit, cyclo-cross bikes a lot and mountainbikes a fair bit too. Would rather be up a mountain.