I am a lucky guy on many fronts. But for the purpose of this review, I’ll bring up just one: my wife. Amongst her many wonderful traits, she has a very high tolerance for my collection of bike gear. She is also genuinely interested in what I am wearing and riding. And in some cases, she has more affection for my equipment than I do.
Take my Time bike for instance. It’s a 2009-ish VXRS Ulteam. Lugged carbon, integrated seat mast, external cable routing; in it’s heyday it carried Tom Boonen to his first Ronde and Paolo Betttini to gold and two rainbows. So lots of past glory but it has certainly fallen behind the bike trends of the day. I like it and all but have, at times, discussed rotating it out of the lineup. However, every time I mention selling that bike, my wife says “no way!” She loves that bike because, as she puts it, “it’s French.” Mais bien sûr, but of course.
As for all my bike shoes, let’s just say they if they were to suddenly disappear, there would be no love lost. The collection I have going is often referred to as,”The Shoe Train.” And the way I scatter them all over the house, it’s more like a “train wreck.” So when the box with the new kicks showed up, I took them straight to the boss and said, “look dear, they’re Times,” (Cue the eye-rolling).
What I should have said to impress her was, “look who’s back in road cycling shoes.” The company that was on more feet in the 2000 Tour de France is back after abandoning the shoe market in 2013. A rough economy and the emergence of Specialized and other competitors had put Time’s shoe division in a tough spot. So it quit making shoes and focused on pedals and bikes. The next year, company founder Roland Cattin passed away. Time was barely hanging on.
Then along came Rossignol, which purchased Time (and Felt bicycles) in 2016. Rossignol decided to use its knowledge and manufacturing in sports footwear (they make ski boots) to get Time back in the bike shoe game. With access to 3000 foot scans at their research and test facility in Northern Italy, Rossi/Time spent two years developing molds for what would become the Osmos line of shoes. The pair you see pictured here represents their top model, the Osmos 15.
In addition to the VXRS I have been forbidden to sell, there have been other Time products in my life. I ride the no-longer-made RXS pedal. Thankfully Time still makes the cleats so I’m good for maybe another year or two. I also rode ATACs for a while. But I have never worn Time shoes, until now. So my frame of reference for road shoes is: Specialized, Sidi, Northwave, Catlike, and DMT. You’d think a person with a cycling shoe train would have at some point had a pair of Equipes. Sadly, no.
Of the shoes I have owned, the Osmos 15 sits closer to Northwave, DMT and Sidi than the other two brands. The Time shoes are low cut and narrow. In fact, people have remarked to me that they look narrow. Time says sweet spot width for the Osmos is “D,” but foot widths from “B” to “E” should fit comfortably. I have what I call a “Sidi” foot. The standard width in that Italian brand is nearly perfect. The Osmos 15 gives me a similar fit. Same for length. I size up with Sidi to a 46 and did the same with the Osmos.
The upper is made from three materials: microfiber in the boot, synthetic leather for structure and mesh for venting. All three are held together with hot welds. The only seam is deep and undetectable in the heel. Holding materials together with hot welds is used to eliminate hot spots created by stitching. The mesh is supported by a skeleton of synthetic strips to retain shoe shape while providing air flow. The long rides I did in this pair included an ascent of Mt. Baldy, an HC climb that takes 2 hours to clean. As we gathered at the ski lifts I noted that my legs were wrecked but my feet were ready for more.
My complaint about the top section of these shoes is with the tongue. Compared to the rest of the upper, it’s thick and stiff. It never created discomfort, it just seems like after two years of development, they could have come up with something more compliant.
Time doesn’t have a stiffness scale, they just say they are as stiff as most shoes in this category. Fair enough. Compared to the rest of my shoe train, I would agree. The Osmos transfer power efficiently. The ribbing between the heel and cleat is there to resist twisting. Can’t say I’ve ever felt a carbon shoe twist and this shoe didn’t break that streak.
The star of the show (or shoe in this case) is the heel cup. I have ridden shoes with adjustable heel cups and heel cups with cat tongue like material on the inside and they all aide in keeping heels from lifting away from the inner sole. Time has bettered those attempts with dozens of silicone nubs lining the inside of the heel. These little bumps create a grip on the heel that absolutely prevents slippage.
I have long since given up on stock insoles in cycling shoes. For most shoe companies, they seem like an afterthought. My foot bottom is as wavy as Famolare sole, so the “out of the box” insoles just don’t cut it. I used my custom, carbon footbeds in the Osmos. That said, Time did put some thought into the insole. They put a section of firm foam under the metatarsal zone that they say absorbs road buzz.
The Osmos 15 get the BOA treatment. These are the IP1 double-direction dials. The knobs are raised and have a nice little gripper for those on-the-fly adjustments. And when it’s time to “release the hounds,” one pull up on each know puts the BOAs into freewheel mode and the uppers easily spread open for a quick exit. Five stars.
There’s nothing elegant about walking in stiff road shoes. But Time has attempted to make the shuffle from the curb to the coffee line a bit more bearable. Looking at the shoe from the side, you’ll notice the sole has an upward curvature from the front of the arch to the toe. It’s just enough to make walking a little more natural. I wouldn’t go for a hike in these things but I felt much more at ease unclipping and clop-clopping. A heel pad protects that precious carbon and it is replaceable. Thumbs up.
The Osmos 15 is the top of the line model and it is priced accordingly: $400. Two colors: black and white. There are two other models, the Osmos 12 and 10. The Osmos 12 ($325) has a partial carbon sole and the Osmos 10 ($250) a synthetic bottom. Less carbon=less $.
Final thought: Time shoes’ reboot gets off on the right foot.