Time overhauls climbing bike, introduces Alpe d’Huez

Time has been making bicycles for the better part of 30 years, but if you’re an American who’s new to cycling within the last decade, you’d never know it. The French manufacturer’s presence in the U.S. market has been quiet, with few new models to speak of in recent years. That changes with the introduction of the Alpe d’Huez, Time’s totally new climbing bike.

It’s named after the iconic climb near Time’s headquarters in Grenoble, France, in partnership with the village of Alpe d’Huez. And the bike’s design clearly seeks to conquer those switchbacks and other climbs like it. The Alpe d’huez is the lightest frame Time has ever made, and it’s manufactured entirely in France with French-sourced carbon fiber. Time says the Alpe d’huez frame (840 grams) is 120 grams lighter than the model it will replace, the Izon. Time also claims the new bike increases its stiffness to weight ratio by 25 percent over the Izon.

Perhaps the most important factor that sets the Alpe d’huez apart is its construction. Time weaves its own carbon fiber in its French factory. This allows complete control over the weave and what types of carbons and additives are used in various parts of the frame. Time uses an additive called Vectran in combination with its carbon fiber to create a stiff but compliant ride.

Once the fibers are laid around a solid core and placed in a mold, resin is then injected into the carbon fiber. Time says this provides a more consistent resin thickness throughout the frame. Once the resin is injected, the solid core is removed using a proprietary process. The front triangle is monocoque, while the rear triangle is lugged. Each frame takes about 22 hours to build and is handmade in Time’s French facility.

The Aktiv fork is largely the same as it’s been on other Time models. A vibration damper within the fork consists of two metal plates sandwiching a viscous material, along with a counterweight. The combination addresses both fine vibrations and big hits, according to Time. The damping system adds 200 grams to the fork.

The Alpe d’huez will be available in three levels: The Ulteam, the 01, and the 21. The latter two models are named after turns on the iconic climb. The Ulteam will be available as a complete bike for $16,200. The 01 will be available as a frameset for $5,150. And the 21 will be available as a complete bike starting at $3,500. All of Time’s frames can now be custom-painted for an additional charge through the Time website. The web configurator also allows customers to choose their own component packages.

A disc brake version is in the works and will hit the market after the rim brake version. The Aktiv fork damping system will be different in the disc-equipped bike. Instead of a damper in each leg, the disc fork will only have one larger damper in the drive-side leg.

Keep an eye on VeloNews for a first ride review in the coming weeks.