It might not be intuitive to look beyond the bigger brands’ best mountain bike pedals, but if you’d enjoy a little more freedom of movement on your pedals, Time’s ATAC XC range is definitely worth a look.
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As well as angular float (the free rotation of the shoe before the clip-out mechanism starts to engage), the ATAC pedals have a unique lateral float that lets your foot move slightly sideways on the pedal too.
Some riders love that, some don’t, but combined with lightweight for the money, a decent reputation for reliability, and good mud clearance, they’re an interesting proposition.
Design and aesthetics
The ATAC 6 isn’t a streamlined pedal – it’s 10 percent shorter and 20 percent fatter than, say, a Shimano XT pedal. But it does mean the whole area in front of the cleat retainer is completely clear for mud to escape from, and it does that well.
The cleat is kept in place by a pair of large metal arches, the front one of which is attached to a spring, and they’re so roomy that you can fit a little finger through them.
The angular body of the XC6 is made of a tough plastic composite – it’s the entry-level model in the range – and the platform at either side of the cleat is notably generous; there’s a lot of contact area with the shoe sole for an XC pedal.
At the outer end of the pedals there are tension adjusters for the springs, though you have to be relatively careful with them because they’re plastic.
The composite body helps the XC6 to tip the scales at just 290g a pair – that’s 22g lighter than a pair of XTR PD M9100s and only 4g more than a pair of minimalist Crankbrothers Eggbeaters. They’re very similar in weight to the carbon-bodied XC8 in fact – if you want to save another 50g, you’d need to step up to the titanium spindled ATAC XC12, at $300 / £225.
The cleats are brass, which like Crankbrothers cleats, won’t last as long as Shimano cleats but will be gentler on the pedal. The default cleats give you 13 degrees or 17 degrees of release angle, and you can buy ‘easy release’ versions with a 10-degree angle.
Coming from SPDs, the amount of free movement on the XC6s is a little unnerving at first. It’s not a crazy amount, and it’s not vertical movement, so you don’t feel it saps power. Like the 6 degrees of angular float, 5mm of lateral movement doesn’t sound like a lot, but given it’s at the bottom of a long lever (your leg), it translates into an appreciable amount of latitude at the knees and hips.
As with Crankbrothers pedals, while there’s a nice definite clunk as you clip in, the clip-out is smoother than on SPDs, so you don’t get such a definite confirmation that you’ve released, especially if you’re not getting your foot off the pedal straightaway. It never caused me a problem, and I didn’t think about it after a while, but it was nice to be back in SPDs for that.
Testers report impressive mud clearance, decent durability, and the potential for knee relief if normal clipless pedals cause you trouble in that department.
Downsides are few if you’re happy with the clip action. One mild complaint is that the shape of the pedals means they tend to lean forwards or backwards, occasionally slowing clip-in.
The familiar is always attractive, but sometimes it’s good to try an alternative. A left-field choice with a distinctively free, if slightly imprecise action, the Time ATAC XC6 is a good-value way of trying a more mobile clipless footing. The light weight and good mud clearance are a bonus.
Tech Specs: Time ATAC XC6 pedal
- Price: $95 / £75
- Colors: Black
- Weight: 290g (pair)
- Float: 6 degrees angular, 5mm lateral
- Release angle: 13 or 17 degrees (standard cleat); 10 degrees (‘easy’ cleat)
- Key materials: Composite plastic body, hollow steel axle