Saturday, April 9, 2011

Boyd Cycling - 50mm Carbon Fiber Tubulars - Reviewed.

i know most bike people are snobs. most of us want fancy paint jobs that look like they're still wet, we wonder about the carbon lay-up, we hunt for period correct bling and then obsess about how clean and well wrapped our bar tape is. when NHABS or bike-expo-20xx comes around we "ooh" and "aaahh" over stuff. sometimes we're suckered into things being light. sometimes its the shinyness or the cut of the lugs, sometimes its the following that gets us excited (richard sachs, vanilla bicycles, etc.)

we're happy to get behind things that are expensive. none of us seem to get that bent out of shape when we see a $10,000 bicycle ad or hear that an aluminum frame now costs $1300. we want to believe that its worth it. we want to see the data telling us that we'll be 3% faster or that a frame is 10% stiffer. we're sold. we're also the first bunch to get on the internets and complain if we feel that we've been wronged---because $10k for a bike really IS a lot of money or $3k for a set of wheels IS a stupid amount of money to pay if they don't deliver.

unfortunately, we're not all made of money. unfortunately, sometimes our girlfriends or wives or student loans dictate that we cannot go out and purchase the latest nano-tube techno bling.

really, that's ok. and while i'm not exactly against purchasing speed or watts, i am a very annoyed when the "good enough" mindset is knocked out by hip-cool 3.0 marketing and lingo that buzzes more than my girlfriend's most recent purchase.

(here's where the review starts)

last year a kid from long beach, ca recommended that i take a look at boyd cycling. 5 minutes at the website told me this: deep sectioned (please don't call them deep dish: 1) deep dish is pizza 2) dishing a wheel has to do with centering a wheel over the hub not the rim choice) wheels don't have to cost THAT much and there's other people out there with my point of view.

In this case it's Boyd Johnson.

flash forward to 2011. i'm now riding for a team that's seen a bunch of ups and downs (one day i'll write a post about this but currently i'm generating content). more than a few of us need new hoops and with a few road races that happen to take place in the southern california mountains, we're looking for lightweight and affordable.

story truncation: i look to see if i can source cf rims from china. i don't have the $$ to make a bulk purchase. a thread on a forum reminds me of boyd cycling and . . . .

i send boyd an email, he gets back to me in 15 minutes. a few emails later and a phone call or two, i'm of the opinion that boyd johnson is a stand up hommé (that's french for man). the phone calls convinced me that his products aren't dubious and we're his willingness to answer my stupid questions tells me that he's a pretty decent biz man. we arrange a deal and Boyd Cycling is now our wheel sponsor.

boyd sources his stuff from some secret asian factory located in asia employing asians. if you didn't know this already, this is the way of the bike business. this is also how he's managing to keep some of his costs down. he could purchase rims made in Oo-sah (that's how bolivians pronounce usa) but apparently the company that makes the boyds is is the same company that's making rims for your beloved easton or reynolds or attack (remember this is all secretive so i'm not really sure which company(ies) it is)

a few conversations with the guys gets me a rough idea of what the team wants (38mm, 50mm, 2x58mm and 2x 88mm rear wheels). i throw a phone call to boyd and he starts lacing up the wheels--there's no back-stock you see. the hubs look like american classics (but who knows if they are). The spokes are CX rays. hubs and spokes and nipples are black the way they should be.

a few days later i call, give him the credit card number and poof in 5 minutes his wife has emailed me an invoice. 3 days later the first set of wheels is off from one of those southern belle states and on its way to los angeles ($20 for a few days later the 2nd set of 58mm are on their way. 1 week from date of ordering the 50mms are on their way. in the meantime, my bud isaac has ordered a set of 38mm (cuz he's 5'10" and weighs 130lbs) and another dude has spoken to boyd because he is . . . fat.

boyd sets him straight. i think he said something like, "your mom bought you husky size when you were a kid didn't she? its probably not a good idea to ride our rims with current spoke count. i could sell em to you and they *should* be fine but i'ma feel guilty if you die. so why don't cha look at another set of our wheels or maybe think about some clydesdale hoops from another place." the cool thing isn't that he said that there's a weight limit, it's that fatty was able to speak to boyd directly and have the owner of the company answer the questions.

you wanna go talk to the owner of easton or reynolds? go pound sand.

i digress.

the hoops came in the mail. the quick release skewers aren't dura ace but that's ok. they're nice still and they're about $100 cheaper. (note: they don't fit in trainers. so when you bring your boyd hoops to a race, bring extra skewers yo. i totally spaced on this and found myself hopping from car to car asking for a spare skewer). the boyd quick releases clamp well and they're black like they should be. the travel isn't as nice as dura ace but dura ace is the gold standard right? did i mention how dura ace skewers cost something like $145?

i glued up a set o vittoria evo corsa 23s to the rims and use em for the san dimas stage race a few weekends ago.

stage 1: ~4 miles time trial ~1300' climbing
stage 2: 42 mile road race. 200' gained in 1/2 mile. 6 laps
stage 3: grand prix criterium

i wondered if the wheels needed to be broken in. they don't. they're fast and light (~1300g for 50mm). they came straight (cuz thats how boyd built em). the benefits (of deep section rims) are there. really, the RR had a fun kicker climbing was faster and descending was almost scary.

i dropped just under 2 minutes on the time trial (fwiw, my training wheels are 7700 28h hubs 2x front 2x/3x rear with brass nipples laced to kinlin 27mm clinchers... ~1800g) which put me 40/120.

2' behind the leader on the r.r.

easily top 10 on the crit (until i was knocked over 3 turns from the finish)

like i mentioned earlier, we also ordered 2 88mm rear wheels. that option isn't mentioned on the website but boyd was happy to make it happen. i'm positive boyd would send me a mixed-depth set of climbing hoops if i asked for it.

now, here's the super cool stuff:

you know how some hoop makers say, "you can't use cork brakes b/c they'll void the warranty" or whatever. i posed this question to boyd at 10pm. hommé gets back to me by 8am and says the following:

"As long as you are using carbon specific pads, you'll be fine.More importantly, as long as you aren't using the brake pads on both alloy and the carbon wheels you should be fine. It's more important with clinchers to have specific brake pads as the heat build up is much more important to monitor.

With tubulars it would take much more heat and force to develop any problems with the rim. Also, I am definitely not going to be looking at any possible way to void warranties on people. I stand behind my products very much and should a problem arise I will take care of it. You can definitely use the Zipp brake pads.

Thanks again and let me know if you have any other questions,

that, my friend, says a lot!!!

i know that some person reading this is going to say, "boyd's wheels aren't as fast as heds (or zipps or enve or whatever)" he might be right. i don't have wattage data comparing the brands -- i suspect that boyd doesn't either (because doing tests like that take a lot of money). but ultimately those boutique wheels costs 2-4x more than boyds and i suspect that they don't make you 2-4x faster. so, at the amateur level . . . who cares?

now here is the bad:
1) boyd made a boo-boo and sent me a set of used/scratched skewers. not exactly pro but 15 minutes after I sent him the email about it, he was in contact with me and telling me that a new set would be on its way.

2) the decals . . . they're kind've ugly and not cut so well. i don't care that much because no one can read the freaking decals when i'm riding my. if you like to look at your bike instead of ride . . . well, there's an issue. that said, the decals are no where as gross as neuvations and, again, unlike neuvations the hubs are black, the spokes are black and the nipples are black ... the way they should be.

full disclosure:

boyd is considered a sponsor but boyd also asked me to provide honest feedback when i reviewed the hoops. that's what i did.


seriously, there's no reason not to purchase a set of boyd wheels. they'll probably help you ride faster but the rest is up to you.

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