We thought we’d take a little time (not a pun) and talk about what makes TIME bicycles so unique in the world of cycling. Since we have quite a few hanging in our shop and some even built up and begging to be ridden by you (you know who you are), believe that when we say they’re special, they’re special. We’re always excited to do a custom TIME build for a customer who really wants to ride something extraordinary.
Made In France, For Real
We’ve carried TIME frames for over ten years now because, in short, they’re undeniably one of the finest bicycle frames on the market. What’s impressive about TIME (what isn’t??) is that they are essentially a small, boutique-style manufacturer whose technology and designs are second to none. Their labor intensive, hand built techniques only allow them to produce about 70 frames per week. Yet, since 1987, TIME has crafted frames that have constantly garnered the praise and accolades at the highest tiers of bicycle racing. Year after year, they’ve consistently shown a commitment to true innovation in their work.
20 years later, nothing has changed.
A Couple Years Back…
Our humble proprietors Ryan and Alison were lucky enough to take a tour of the TIME factory outside of Vaulx-Milieu to see how these amazing frames come together. The pictures you see here are all shots Alison took while touring the factory. Now, some of these pictures are pretty exclusive. When the good people of TIME weren’t looking, Alison grabbed some shots of a few things that she wasn’t supposed to shoot. She’s nothing if not fearless.
So Why is TIME’s Production Process That Special?
Great question. Glad you hypothetically asked it. TIME actually weaves it’s own carbon in-house! That’s a big deal.
One of TIME’s weaving machines used to bring their carbon fiber together
What Does Ferrari, Lamborghini, and TIME Have in Common?
A TIME carbon frame is something different, unique. Think of it as a fine french garment to dress your cycling dreams and aspirations around. The hand-built process and craftsmanship that a TIME carbon frame represents is something you won’t find anywhere else in the bike world. Their process of using RTM (Resin Transfer Molding) to produce their carbon bikes isn’t used by any other frame manufacturer in the industry. But you know who does use RTM? Ferrari and Lamborghini for their chassis.
Want to ride a French bike built the same as an Italian supercar? Get a TIME!
In Their Small Workshop-Factory In Lyon, France…
TIME utilizes huge weaving machines to produce their various carbon fibers. Because TIME’s production process begins with the individual strands of carbon fiber, they can actually tune a frame’s characteristics by adjusting the degree of the weave they use (from 0deg to 65deg depending on whether the braids of carbon are ‘bi-directional’ or ‘unidirectional’), as well as actually introducing different materials, such as Vectran fibers, that they then weave with the carbon to give the material more flexibility. They will also weave in Kevlar to strengthen strategic areas of the frame that consistently see heavy stress loads. This gives their engineers the ability to customize the characteristics of each tube that goes into a frame.
Close up of the finished carbon weave
Socks of Carbon Stitched Together Like A Fine French Suite
At this point in the production process, the carbon fiber resembles an almost cloth like tube or sock. These tubes are then cut to specific lengths, sorted and then slipped over wax molds of the frames, forks or handlebars they’re producing. It’s a process that, at points, more resembles knitting or creating a garment than what you would normally think producing a frame should look like. No joke, TIME primarily employ women for this part of the production because of their smaller hands and superior dexterity. The intricate work required to join the various socks together is one of the reasons TIME insists on still producing their frames in house; these ladies are ridiculously skilled and the quality of their handwork is second to none. In this sense, a TIME frame is truly haute couture: a frame custom designed and hand crafted by skilled craftspeople. These frames could almost be described as art just as easily as a functional bicycle frame.
Check out the video below that shows how the various carbon weaves come together and the hand work involved in creating a TIME frame:
The RTM Process
The completed molds with their socks wrapped and stitched together are then put into a pressure-fitted metal mold tool. TIME’s proprietary resin is then injected and a constant temperature of 100 degrees is maintained to ensure the resin penetrates the carbon evenly without any air pockets or inconsistencies. No other bike manufacturer in the world creates their frames using this process.
The wax molds that the carbon fiber socks are wrapped around
More wax molds! Here you can see part of a frame mold
One of the lovely ladies that stretches the carbon fiber ‘sock’ over the wax molds. Please note the beefcake picture hanging on the wall. The French are a passionate people.
One of the high-pressure molds used to inject TIME’s proprietary resin into the carbon fiber
From RTM To CMT
Once the frame is cured, it’s heated in an oven to melt out the wax mold from inside the frame. Then the headset and bottom bracket inserts are precisely set with a high-tech jig and TIME’s proprietary CMT (Carbon Matrix Technology) dropouts are set as well.
The CMT process is just as unique as the rest of TIME’s production techniques. They use the process for their seat posts, stems, and a few other small parts as well. Basically, TIME takes hand prepped flat sheets of pre resin-impregnated carbon material, chills them to maintain their density and then wraps them up like cinnamon rolls before subjecting them to 10 tons of pressure for a few minutes. The resulting pieces are remarkably dense but extremely light.
These pieces are then bonded to the frame and then the frame is hand sanded and hand painted -a procedure that takes place in a special dirt and dust free chamber that is specifically designed to control any contaminants from entering the air as well as limiting the amount of pollutants released from the painting process.
Hand paintin’ your ride!
The Quality Is Checked
The completed frame is then scrupulously poured over and quality checked to exacting medical levels of measurement. It’s one of the reasons TIME can offer a lifetime warranty on their work.
Building Something Special
Now, all the technology in the world can be thrown into a frame and it can mean absolutely nothing if the frame doesn’t ride well. But a TIME has French pedigree. There’s a reason Ryan and Alison and most of the staff ride TIMEs. And there’s a reason TIME can spend so much time and man hours on their frames and still be around for 20 years. The bikes ride, for lack of a better word, perfectly. There’s no one that rides a TIME frame for a serious chunk of mileage that doesn’t praise it as one of the best they’ve ridden. Not only are these frames an enigma in how they’re produced, they ride like nothing else out there as well. Like I said earlier, they’re special.
That’s a nice rack…of completed TIME frames
100% Hand Built Sounds Expensive
Now, it’s probably safe to assume that a bike frame that has this level of care and attention poured into it is going to cost some serious dollars. You’d be right. But there’s a reason they’re our favorite frames to build up for a customer. Plus, We have some great news for you.
We have a quite a few frames in stock that we picked up from TIME at a great price. Which means we could build up a very cool bike for you at a very reasonable price.
Whether you’re looking for the comfortable yet agile TIME Fluidity or the race inspired geometry of a TIME ZXRS, we’ve got you covered. There’s plenty of the amazingly versatile TIME NXS frames available as well. The point being, if you want us to custom build you the TIME of your dreams, we can definitely accommodate you.
What Is A Contender Custom Build?
There’s nothing more exciting for any of us here than helping a customer pick out a frame and then talking about all the great ways we could build it up. From the groupset and wheels to the handlebars, stem and seatpost, we can customize a build for you anyway you want. If this were an ice cream shop, we’d have a helluvalot more than 31 flavors. We have a huge inventory of parts and if we don’t have it, chances are we can easily get it for you. If you’d rather we take care of the details, we can cater to that too. Tell us the types of rides you like to head out on and we’ll point you towards the frame that caters to your style of riding. Then we’ll make sure we build it up to do exactly what you want it to do.
The Contender Difference
Once the bike is built, we’ll spend the time necessary to make sure your fit on your new ride is dialed in for maximum enjoyment and comfort for your style of riding. After all, what point is getting your dream bike built up if you don’t feel comfortable on it? Our staff easily has over 30 years of combined experience in fitting (I don’t want to say Ryan is old, but he may hold the lions-share of those years) which means we have the know-how to set your bike up right. When we’re done, not only will your bike feel like an extension of your soul (I’m not kidding), you’ll be given a fit sheet with all your measurements and run down of how we set you up on your new ride. It’s a thorough process that we’re happy to offer because we know how much of a difference it makes.
Plus, anytime you buy a new bike from us, any accessories or extras you find yourself needing get a healthy 15% discount.
Come In And Check The Time!
We love TIME bikes and we love getting people excited about riding them. Our staff is more than happy to show you the frames we have and discuss build options. If you’ve ever thought about having a bike built up, we’d love to spend some time, answer your questions, and get you rolling towards your dream bike!