Time ATAC MX4 review 2

Top 3/4 view of the Time MX4

I’ve been a huge fan of Time’s ATAC pedals since I put a pair of them on my first “real” mountain bike back in 2002. They still are the most reliable, smoothest-engaging, smoothest-releasing, clog-free pedals I have ever used. How does the new generation compare?

Well, I’ve since ridden almost every clipless design made, but I’m still using that same pair of ATACs on a steel hardtail 29er, and after more than a decade – thirteen years, to be precise – I see no reason to upgrade. They’re just that good.

Makes sense, though, that I would get another pair for my new bike, a Scott Genius LT 700. As the Genius is an enduro bike, with 150mm of travel and slack geometry, I didn’t want an XC pedal; I wanted a bigger platform for more security in sketchy situations, but I still wanted the ATAC design. That’s what led me to the MX4.

Another friend, a former college racer and gear guru for Backcountry.com, tested the new MX pedals at Interbike and loved them – “beat the shit out of them” were his exact words – and as a fan of the ATAC’s I already own, that was enough for me. I bought the MX4 because it seemed like the right balance of price – just under $100 – weight, and durability. You can step up to get hollow spindles, a carbon body, titanium springs, etc etc…and the price leaps upward with shocking ambition. It seems only clipless pedals possess this insane ability to skyrocket in price so quickly, and for so little reason.

“So, you’re saying these are the same pedals, but they weigh 30 grams less and cost $300 dollars more? Sign me up.”

Anyway, I took the solid steel spindle, composite body design, and saved $300. Tell me why I’m an idiot and how 30 grams of rotational bla bla bike nerd math is worth $10 per gram; I dare you.

Time ATAC MX4 review 1

Side 3/4 view of the MX4

The overall design is simple, which is what attracted me to ATAC in the first place. The MX is even simpler than the XC/XS, with retention provided by two wire bails twisted into coil springs at each side, then continuing into the other side of the pedal to provide a rear anchor for the cleat. The bails are only mobile on one side, where the spring tension allows them to engage and release the front of the cleat, and they use the fixed wire arch on the opposite side as an anchor. Does that make sense? Probably not; look at the pictures. It’s a simpler design than the Crank Brothers Eggbeater (which is basically a ripoff of ATAC) and it’s vastly less complex and prone to clogging than any SPD pedal.

Compared to the XC versions, the MX design is slightly less finished; the retention system is plain round steel wire vs. square, machined steel bails, and the integrated springs sit outboard of the bails, as opposed to inboard (see the picture of the XS pedals below). That said, I’ve noticed little difference in engagement, float, or retention.

I’ve only had them a couple of weeks, but I’ve ridden these pedals here at home and in Moab on a weekend that included a Porcupine shuttle and Hymasa/Ahab; so far, I’ve had practically the same experience with these pedals as I have the last decade with my ATAC XC’s. Can I sense a little less smoothness engaging and clipping out? Maybe. Maybe it’s just in my mind, though…and I’ve hardly broken these in, so that may change. What I have done is bash them against rocks getting used to the low BB height of my new ride, and the composite body shows little more than some scuffing. As for the extra platform, well, I wish I could say I noticed it on the trail, but it seems more like a convenient method for riding around camp in street shoes.


Time ATAC XC pedals from 2002, still going strong.

In short, there are pluses and minuses, but it seems, for now, that the pluses far outweigh any minuses. I’ve recommended ATAC pedals for thirteen years at this point, and now I have another, less expensive model to throw down alongside that endorsement. The really tough part is getting my friends to ditch their SPD’s and Eggbeaters and join the cult. Wake up, people.