The high-end French bike brand Time, famed for hand-building their frames in France, has launched the Alpe d’Huez climber’s bike. It weighs just 6.2kg in its most luxurious £12,000 spec, and the stiffness-to-weight ratio has improved by 25% compared to its predecessor, the Izon.
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Great custom hand-built frames
The new bike marks “a turning point in Time’s history” according to CEO Sylvain Noailly, and is the lightest and stiffest bike they’ve ever made. Although it’s built for mountainous rides the geometry is racey, with a sloping top tube and integrated stem to lower the rider’s position, giving maximum advantage on fast descents and flat sections. All Time’s frames are hand-built in France; and on the Alpe d’Huez 01 you can clearly see as such, with the finishing fabric removed on the whole down tube to reveal the braids of the carbon. A layer of Vectran is also added to the frame to absorb vibration on the downtube and top tube, while the carbon uses an increased ratio of high modulus fibre to increase the stiffness to weight ratio. The frame itself weighs just 840g.
The Alpe d’Huez 01 retains the oversized Aktiv carbon forks, as seen on Time’s Scylon aero road bike, purported to eat up road buzz and give a smoother ride feel by reducing up to 30% of vibrations and increasing pedalling efficiency. A BB386 bottom bracket is used, and the bike has a new integrated seat post clamping system that is smaller to improve comfort, unusually with two hex bolts to loosen and tighten. All Alpe d’Huez bikes are rim brake only at the time of writing, but disc versions will follow next year.
Time are fiercely proud of their manufacturing process, which sees all frames hand-built in France with the R+D happening in the same facility, so the brand retains complete control at all stages of production; this does of course mean that the bikes don’t come cheap, and the Alpe D’Huez 01 Ulteam with Dura-Ace Di2, Enve 3.4 wheels, Time Ergodrive handlebars, their new Xpro 15 pedals and the San Marco Aspide Superleggera saddle comes in at £12,000. The Sram Red eTap version is £11,500, but you can get a full bike with mechanical Shimano Ultegra groupset and Deda finishing kit for £4,395.
The Alpe d’Huez can be fully customised with Time’s online configurator, where the rider can choose their frame colour, components and optimise their frame size using a fit calculator, with bikes being created and delivered within 5 weeks.
The Alpe d’Huez also comes in a more affordable version called the Alpe d’Huez 21 (named after the 21 switchbacks of the climb), which is made in a very similar fashion but with just a 100g weight penalty on the frame and Basalt added instead of Vectran to dampen vibrations. It doesn’t have the Aktiv fork or the new seatpost clamping system, but it’s still fully customisable and is available with a mixed Ultegra groupset, Mavic Aksium wheels and Deda finishing kit for £2,995. Time say this is relatively the most affordable road bike they’ve ever produced, giving the rider an introduction to Time bikes.
Although there have been other bikes and products that either use or share the Alpe d’Huez name, Time say they are only bike brand officially allowed to use it; we’re not sure why or how, but we do know that the bike’s launch has the backing of Jean-Yves Noyrey, the Mayor of Alpe d’Huez, who says: “The quality of Time bikes and their many victories are part of the history of cycling. We are proud to associate our name with this iconic brand, and this unique bike.”
Plus, if you want to ride a bike synonymous with this most famous of climbs, an 840g carbon frame hand-built in France is probably about as authentic as it gets.
We were lucky enough to attend the official launch of the Time Alpe d’Huez in Bonnieux, so stay tuned for a first ride report and plenty of bike porn in photographic form very shortly.
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