There are new wheel companies popping up on almost a daily basis, but Boyd Cycling is not one of them. After finishing a career of racing, Boyd Johnson knew he wasn’t finished with the bike quite yet. Starting the brand in 2011, it has grown into one of the reputable names outside of the mega wheel companies like Mavic and Zipp. But just because they are a smaller family owned company, it doesn’t mean they are not competitive with the big brands. We had a chance to ride the 44mm Disc Carbon Clinchers, and we think they will be the single wheel set to own for riding, training, and racing, if you can only own one pair. Oh, make that one pair to handle your road, gravel, and cyclocross needs.
Here is a quick rundown on the specs. The rims are 44mm tall, and 27mm at their widest. Our test pair featured the Boyd Quest centerlock disc hubs front and rear, with 24 and 28 spokes respectively. The rims are tubeless ready, and you can get them from Boyd with tape and valves installed. If you are going that route, pick up some of their Tickled Pink Tubeless Sealant. That’s about it on the high level, but we’ll get deeper into the details shortly.
In 2015, Boyd completely redesigned the shape of their carbon wheels, which takes us to where they are today. A point to stress is that these are not open mold rims that 15 other companies are also selling. These are a proprietary rim design created by Boyd’s engineers, and tested at the A2 wind tunnel in Mooresville, NC. They have been race tested and proven domestically by US National Cat 1 Crit Champion Ben Renkema and others.
The 44mm rim features the modern U-shape design that has become the standard these days. At 27mm wide external, 19mm internal, they are perfect for running anything from 25mm tires on the road to 35-40mm wide for cyclocross and gravel. We ran 25’s, 28’s, and 35’s and found the rims created a nice round profile, which resulted in better handling and a smoother ride than narrower rims. Boyd offers taller and shorter rims in their other wheel sets, but if you are looking for a do it all wheel set, the 44mm is the way to go.
There is a lot going on with the Quest hubs, which they launched in 2016. Boyd wanted a hub that was going to be durable and reliable, regardless of the type of riding you are doing. First off, they made the decision to go with centerloc over 6 bolt to make for quicker and easier disc installation and a cleaner look, not to mention a little bit of weight savings. If you are currently using 6 bolt, don’t worry, there are adaptors out there that work well.
The other major considerations are axles and free hub choices. With the ability to run 9mm quick release, 12×100 or 15×100 front, or 9mm quick release, 12×135 or 12×142 rear, you are covered for almost every standard out there for road, gravel, and cross. Swapping between the various configurations was a piece of cake with interchangeable end caps. Even on the rear, they just pop in and out, so you don’t have to take of the cassette like other wheels we have tested.
When ordering, you can select between Shimano/SRAM, Campy, or SRAM xD free hubs to cover your drivetrain/build choices. Inside the hub, the Quest uses 32 teeth and 6 pawls, 3 of which are engaged at a time. This means the hub engages at 5.6 degrees, which is almost twice as fast as Zipp’s latest Cognition hub.
Every wheel that Boyd sells is hand built at their facility in Greenville, SC. Only one builder works on a wheel set, so they know all of the little details of the wheel set by time it is completed. Each wheel goes through multiple QC checks, and their instruments are calibrated multiple times a day to maintain consistency across their wheels.
For spokes and nipples, they only use Sapim. CX Ray j-bend spokes and brass polyax nipples, because they are some of the strongest out there, and very easy to find. That way, if something would ever happen that you’d brake a spoke, your local shop, even if they are not a Boyd dealer, should easily be able to replace it.
Instead of focusing on absolute light weight, Boyd makes a wheel that is durable and will last, yet is still competitive for racing. This means using more of a standard spoke count and lacing pattern than others that are focusing on making the lightest wheel they can. What good is a wheel that you can’t ride because you are always blowing spokes? Especially with a disc wheel set that is made for road, gravel, and cross, you want something that is going to be durable. An added bonus, and something we absolutely love, the nipples are external, which makes them extremely easy to true if needed. Internal nipples, which gives the wheel a slightly cleaner look, are an absolute pain with having to remove the wheel and tape to true.
Now, time for the fun part. Our test rigs for these wheels were a Trek Boone 9 with quick release front and rear, and a Van Dessel A.D.D. adventure bike with 15mm thru-axle front, 12mm rear. In both instances, the Boyd 44mm Disc Carbon Clinchers made these bikes a blast to ride. For the Boone, the limiting factor was the quick release mounting. In general, QR is just not as rigid as thru-axle. Even with QR, the Boone handled nimbly on the road with 25’s and 28’s from Vittoria with a latex tube. At speed, the 44mm tall rim handled cross winds very well, remaining predictable even when hitting cross winds between buildings. They held their speed well, and spun up quickly from stops.
When we took them off road on the Boone and the A.D.D., this is where they really shined. Even with 28mm slicks, the wheels held their own on gravel trails. They were stiff enough that it felt like ever bit of power you were putting to the wheel was going straight to the road, even with a heavier bike like the A.D.D. For cyclocross, we dove them into fast corners, knowing they would remain predictable. The quick engagement of the Quest hub made accelerations out of those corners lightening quick. For cross, we also ran them tubeless, and found them to be a snap to install. We didn’t have their sealant to use, but the Stan’s Race sealant worked great, and they sealed up instantly on the first try.
At 738 grams for the front, 894 for the rear, they are on par with the industry. While we weren’t able to put them into a wind tunnel for our own testing, Boyd’s own testing shows they are just as aerodynamic as other big brands, if not better. At $1650 for the pair we tested out, they are a great bargain for a handbuilt, quality wheel set, that performs just as well, if not better than the big brands. You can add the option to get your wheels through their Ready2Ride program and you’ll receive your wheels with tires (tubed or tubeless), cassette, and discs mounted, in their handy padded double wheel bag with backpack straps for easy carrying. Just pull them out of the bag and mount them on the bike and you are ready to ride.
(Movie Trailer Preview Voice) In a world where you can only have one wheel set for your road, gravel, and cyclocross adventures, Boyd Cycling’s 44mm Disc Carbon Clincher will be the hero your bikes are looking for.