Feeling the rush of the excited crowds I wondered into the shoe and pedal side of the TIME booth for a first-hand peek at the new iCLIC pedals I had been hearing about. I wasn’t expecting a to run into a pro team mechanical manager, but that’s what I got. Straight from the drenched countryside of Northern France was Time’s Product Manager, Dominique Faure. His strong French accent made me sure of two things, I wasn’t about to beat him in a 200M sprint or in a fight for the ladies. But that’s the magic of Interbike and I didn’t hold the language barrier between us to keep us from coming together as cyclists at heart. I came for the pedals but stayed for the conversation no matter how muddy it got.
THERMO MOLDING: INNOVATIVE RACING CONCEPTS
Dominique started by giving me a tour of Time’s pedals and the customizable shoes he’s been putting through the ringer for over a year just to get them ready for weekend warriors. Most of the lessons he’s learned arrived from his personal experiences in the field supporting young-professional French racers on the Bbox Bouygues Telecom development team Vendée U.
Vendée U probably stands for Vendée University, as a place for the new crop of France’s next generation of racers to be cultivated in the Vendée region. Northern France is known for having extremely wet and windy Spring seasons and the racing is notoriously uncomfortable. It doesn’t matter how fast you are the cold wind is going to make your ride miserable. That kind of Spring weather is something known to American Pro Tour racers as “getting Franced on” when referring to riding on an incredibly cold, windy and wet weather. The kind of day so wretched that staying inside on a set of rollers might actually seem attractive.
Dominique recalled one dreadful, wicked day when some of the young bucks on Vendée U came back after a harsh flooded ride and instinctively put their soaked Time shoes on top of the clothes dryer to dry them out and warm them up. Not long after their shoes had dried, the unattended kicks lost their custom fitting due to the extended exposure to the dryer’s heat. The racers called Dominique fearing the worst, that their premium shoes were probably ruined and worthless. But unlike some shoes that require a specific temperature process to mold from Dominique instructed the racers to refit the shoes themselves as they were without the need of driving into a big city bike shop.
To custom fit a pair of 2010 Time cycling shoes it doesn’t take a big production. The Time ULTEAM RS CARBON shoes have a THERMO SHAPE membrane (or TS SYSTEM) inside the upper. All you need is a hairdryer and four minutes to bring the shoes up to temperature and ready for fitting.
Hold a hairdryer at 45 degrees and 15cm from the entrance of the shoe for four minutes and then put the shoe on while wearing a pair of cycling socks. Then sit on a bike held by a rear-wheel trainer and clip in. Don’t pedal, just sit normally and patiently let the shoes cool. This idle position is beneficial because as Dominique notes, “your foot on a bike is not the same as it is walking or standing.”
After the shoe cools, the TS System has retained the shape of your foot and custom molding is complete. As for the racers Vendée U found out, these new Time shoes can be remolded and fitted repeatedly over and over. Dominique told me he molded his own pair every day for over a year while the Ulteam RS Carbon was in its developing process, “I’ve molded my own shoes well over 200 times,” he said.
And in case you forget, each pair of shoes comes with a nice instructional card inside each box. This can also be passed along with the shoes if you ever sell them or give them away giving new meaning to customization. “With the TS System you can feel the difference instantly,” Dominique added.
The TS membrane also helps with problem feet. The shoes don’t come in different widths yet, but the membrane is able to conform to almost any problem. Dominique told me one story of how he helped a racer finish an important stage race. The rider had fallen and had a severe foot injury that made pedaling very difficult and painful. Dominique went to work and after some bandage adjustments with foam and gauze he remolded his shoe using the same process allowing him to ride and finish the race for team Vendée U. Then as the rider’s foot healed they molded the shoes as the swollen foot went back down to its normal health and size.
Dominique has also learned a thing or two from triathletes like Cedric Fleureton. The lessons he has learned might help any racer ride survive a difficult effort when equipment not only needs to not just be working but performing outright.
Take for instance the external toe box on Time’s New ULTEAM TRI CARBON. Dominique noted how Cedric Fleureton once came out of the water only seconds behind the leaders and needed to keep his pace to stay in reach with them. Cedric’s weakest leg is on the bike and after he had a poor transition he couldn’t quite take the time to get his foot in his shoe. The only thing he could think about was pedaling so he rode with his foot on top of his shoe and kept his foot out for the first 10km. Because his Time shoe has a hard external toe box Cedric’s powerful legs didn’t crush the toe completely and when he had a chance he was able to slip his foot inside without being dropped or losing any time.
Listening to Dominique made me feel like I had been there myself and it was reassuring to know that most of the developments came directly from the frontlines of a pro team racing on the rainy roads of France by a product developer who has seen what it means to be race ready.
There is more to tell about Time’s shoes and pedal systems. Stay tuned and we’ll bring you more details from Time’s Interbike booth in part two of my discussion with Dominique.
Time Ulteam shoe sizes: 36 to 47 (half-sizes 40.5 to 45.5)
colors: Shiny White and Red (red sizes 39 to 47 and half sizes)
weight (size 42): 658 grams