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Verdict: 
Great-looking, super-performing pro-level shoes that put an iconic brand right back at the top of the cycling footwear game
Weight: 
516g

The iconic French brand that made Greg LeMond's shoes in the 1980s is back. The Time Osmos 15 has been meticulously designed with modern tech that makes it every bit as good as the flagship shoes from the latest big names that have taken advantage of its absence.

  • Pros: Stiff, comfortable, lightweight, clever insole design, stylish looking
  • Cons: Might be on the narrow side for wider feet

The Time Osmos 15 is the third and by far the best pair of Time shoes I've used. They are superior in every way to their predecessor, the heavily padded (heat mouldable) and un-svelte Ulteam RS, which stopped being produced in 2013.​

The French brand, whose founder Roland Cattin died in 2014, was bought by Rossignol in 2016. Rossignol used its own R&D facility at Montebelluna, Italy, regarded as the global capital of sports footwear, to design the new three-model range of Time shoes with the Osmos 15 as the flagship.

Without headline-grabbing features like laces, knitted uppers or crazy-light mesh, at a glance the Osmos 15s might seem a bit ordinary. However, I've been impressed with the way all the elements of its design combine to supply pro-level performance with hardly any comfort compromised.

Time Osmos 15 shoes - 5 (1).jpg

Clearly with an extremely stiff, 100% carbon sole, a cycling shoe will never feel like a carpet slipper, but Time says it used a huge data pool of 3,000 3D scanned feet to engineer the last, and claims it has managed to identify the ideal shoe's form.

There will still be plenty of people outside the average of Time's data pool: I would say the Osmos 15s are more similar in fit to Sidi – comparatively narrow and long – than the generally wider Bont or Lake. However, I found the shape well judged. As for the sizing, the 44s came up spot on.

Construction

The seamless upper is made from a standard-looking and feeling PU with mesh panels. There's hot-welded 'spiderweb' reinforcement for extra stability that sits inside the upper right next to the foot, and I was slightly concerned at first that I might feel it, defeating the object of the upper's seamlessness. But once the Boa IP1s are dialled down, the foot does not move inside the shoe and there's zero chance of any rubbing. The IP1s are the top-line Boas that micro-adjust in both directions, so it's easy to tweak them on the fly.

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That also goes for the heel hold: the cup extends relatively high up the ankle either side of an Achilles cutout and there's no heel lift whatsoever, even when pedalling out of the saddle and pulling up. A grippy silicone pattern on the inside of the heel cup helps.

Large mesh panels on the upper ensure there's plenty of ventilation (and help keep the weight competitively low but not the lowest, since Time says that would sacrifice comfort), and the carbon sole has more gauze-covered venting holes: great in the summer and for Zwifting but heading into the autumn, overshoes are required fairly early on.

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Time has always made its own pedals – the first pair were launched in 1986, two years before the first Time shoe – but the Osmos 15s are compatible with all three-bolt-pattern Look-style cleats. Extra fore-aft cleat adjustability is possible with the bolt holes able to slide in slots in the sole.

Time Osmos 15 shoes - 4 (1).jpg

The sole is further stiffened by 'foils' – twin ridges under the midfoot – that merge back into the flat sole either side of the replaceable rubber heel pad.

Time's insoles, developed especially for the Osmos 15, are worth a mention. There's a higher-density (ie harder) EVA insert directly over the cleat than is used for the rest of the insole to improve power transfer and also to limit vibrations, and this works effectively.

Overall, build quality seems very high indeed and I expect durability to be equally good, although – heartbreakingly – the white does not stay white for long. The Osmos 15 is also available in black.

Performance

The tongue is very thick to spread the pressure of the Boa wires, and this has the effect of making the foot feel very firmly gripped if you overdial the Boas. It takes a little bit of getting used to. On the first ride I ended up with a slight hotspot on the outside of my right foot once my feet warmed up that I tracked down to this.

Time Osmos 15 shoes - 6 (1).jpg

The tongue itself, only sewn in at the bottom, is also slightly tricky to position correctly. But even these shoes, made from mostly non-stretch materials, take some wearing in, with the tongue remoulding slightly to the top of the foot, and it took a couple of rides, plus some cleat adjustment, before I started feeling truly comfortable and able to evaluate them for performance.

The almost perfect fit was a good start. An imperfect fit and a stiff carbon sole is a bad combination, but with the Osmos 15s I could feel the benefit of the very efficient power transfer without any discomfort elsewhere.

> Buyer's Guide: 18 of the best performance road cycling shoes

Unlike Specialized, Time does not use a stiffness scale so it's not possible to supply a 'meaningful' figure for the sole's flex and torsion resistance that can be used to compare them with other shoes. But from feel, I would say the Osmos 15 has the equivalent stiffness of its pro-level competitors, but the overall sensation is of comfort and efficiency working together with no harshness.

I enjoyed – and am still enjoying – the 'clean' feel of the shoe-pedal interface that these shoes supply and although, as with the stiffness, it's hard to put a number on their efficiency, for me they felt pretty much as good as it gets.

Value

The original RRP of £329 put them in the same premium price bracket as the Specialized S-Works 7 (£325) and Shimano S-Phyre RC9 at £319.99. There are even more expensive shoes such as the Specialized S-Works EXOS at £450 and the Mavic Comete Ultimate at £630. Cheaper top-line shoes include the Giro Prolight Techlace at £261.99 and the Giro Empire SLX.

But Merlin Cycles has them at £199, and at this price they are very good value indeed.

Verdict

Great-looking, super-performing pro-level shoes that put an iconic brand right back at the top of the cycling footwear game

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Time Osmos 15 shoes

Size tested: 44

Tell us what the product is for

Time says: "The Osmos 15 is our ultimate shoe. Equipped with a 100% Carbon vented sole, Dual Boa Fit System system and breathable materials, it will bring you all the performance and comfort needed to perform. The Osmos 15 is among the lightest shoes on the market while maintaining a stiff sole and comfortable, supportive fit. Combined with Time pedals and cleats, the bioposition is about 21,5mm which allows maximum efficiency from this combination of products."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Upper construction: Microfiber, PU and Textile

Insole construction: Sensor2+ Bi material

Sole: Full carbon

Closing system: Dual Boa® Fit System IP1 dials

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10

Looks to be made to a very high standard at Rossignol's (Time's parent company) factory in Romania.

Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10

Everything you'd expect from a pro-level road shoe – finely judged balance of stiffness and comfort with classy looks.

Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

After a month of testing the Osmos 15s are not as white as they were, but are structurally perfect.

Rate the product for fit:
 
9/10

Better suited to narrower feet.

Rate the product for sizing:
 
9/10

The 44 came up exactly right.

Rate the product for weight:
 
8/10

Competitive weight (our 44s were 516g, 480g is quoted for the size 42) without compromising the shoe's comfort. Specialized quotes 448g for its size 42 S-Works 7 shoes.

Rate the product for comfort:
 
9/10

The Osmos 15 needed a little bit of breaking in, especially the thick tongue, but is now glove-like.

Rate the product for value:
 
5/10

At £329 it's not great value but it's what you'd expect to pay for a top-level shoe that's been developed via considerable R&D and is made from quality materials.

How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?

Wipes clean well enough but, like all white shoes, is never the same again once it's been out in the rain. (It's also available in black.)

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

It performed exactly as a flagship road shoe should: light, stiff, comfortable and well vented.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Comfort has not been compromised in the pursuit of ultimate stiffness – and the aesthetics are also great: the red Boas on a white upper are a nice nod to the original Time shoe.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

There was nothing I disliked about it.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

The original launch price of £329 would have been put them in the same premium price bracket as the Specialized S-Works 7 (£325) and the Shimano S-Phyre RC9 at £319.99. There are even more expensive shoes such as the Specialized S-Works EXOS at £450 and the Mavic Comete Ultimate at £630. Cheaper top-line shoes include the Giro Prolight Techlace at £261.99 and the Giro Empire SLX also undercuts it.

But, Merlin Cycles, exclusively selling Time shoes in the UK, have them priced at £199, and that makes them very good value indeed.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your overall score

For its comeback to the highly competitive cycling footwear market Time has done an exceptional job of creating a pro-level shoe with superb power transfer that doesn't compromise comfort. The Time Osmos 15 doesn't have the features – or gimmicks, depending on your point of view – of some of its rivals but instead has a classy aesthetic that pays homage to the original iconic white-and-red Time shoe.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 50  Height: 178cm  Weight: 68kg

I usually ride: Racer Rosa custom alu  My best bike is: Colnago Master Olympic

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, school run on a tandem

Simon finished his Masters in online journalism back in 2003 when the internet wasn't very exciting or popular yet. So he got a job as a sub editor on Britain's biggest weekly cycling magazine, where as well as taking out commas and putting them back in again he got to review a lot of bikes and kit.

As a keen time triallist he has spent many hours riding up and down dual carriageways early in the morning and has a national medal, a 19-minute 10 and a few open wins in his palmarès.

He and his seven-year-old son do the school run on a tandem, beating the traffic in car-choked Reigate and getting a great workout at the same time (for one of them).