Boyd Bikes have been mentioned here on Low Cadence before. My initial interest with the bike brand was simply because Boyd Johnson, the founder of the business, was a local rider who has been helpful to me as a novice racer. Its always nice when the sentimental interest is backed up by a solid product.
While I have not yet ridden a Boyd frame, I have had the opportunity to try some of his wheels. Yesterday presented my chance to get rolling on some of the 50mm carbon clinchers he offers. I still haven’t been disappointed.
My only complaint with this wheel set was the fact that they weren’t mine! Nicole Johnson took them off her bike. That meant I ended up with Team Kenda green tags and hubs on the wheels. I overcame this slight issue by imagining the green was black. Yeah… that’s better!
Seriously though, I wasn’t riding the wheels to see how they looked on the bike. I must admit that they do look pretty sweet and with black hubs and tags they would be perfect. The point of this test was to see what I thought of the handling and ride quality. Ultimately, I would be deciding whether to put my own set on the bike.
I had talked with Boyd about the 38mm wheels. He suggested that I consider the 50’s instead. His reasons were that the 50’s made for the best all-around wheel set. They were not too heavy on the climbs, were not so deep that they became troublesome in the crosswinds, and they were deep enough to give some aerodynamic advantage.
So, that found me heading toward Paris Mountain on a beautiful Greenville day. Why the mountain? My training called for repeats. Maybe not the best test for the wheels, but it is what I had to do. Plus, it would give me an opportunity to test the wheels climbing and descending.
Turns out I had a very good chance to get a feel for the wheels on the CVS side of Altamont Road. There is some climbing, but also some rollers that allow you to get up some speed. Of course, on the backside it is just plain old grunt and grind. I would get the whole picture.
First, there is one thing all the Boyd wheels share: the hubs. I love these things. It is the consistent thread between all the wheels and regardless of which set you are on, you are going to love these hubs. They are as smooth as corn-silk powder on a baby’s bottom.
Second, you have to take a look at the carbon rims. I go with the clinchers because I just don’t see the advantage for a rider at my level getting into the tubular stuff. It might make them a tad heavier, but the aerodynamic properties are the same. Those properties were evident as I rode my test.
The word that comes to mind is “slice.” The wheels really seemed to slice through the wind. Once the mass got spinning, it was as though it was going to run off on you. The feeling was that I was getting more speed with less power. Indeed, I beat my normal time to the top on the CVS side.
Descending was a pleasure. The wheels are stiff and you have a solid feel. Even at descending speeds going into bends, I did not feel any push from the wind cutting across the rims and spokes.
The only thing I did not like was the fact that I must have gotten Nicole’s brake pads on the wrong calipers. The wheels were screeching so badly when I started to stop at the bottom that I was glad I didn’t know the guy getting ready to start his climb. I’m assuming that this issue will go away once the pads contour themselves to the carbon surface.
As for climbing, the weight of the wheel did not set me back so much from my current wheel set of choice (Mavic Ksyrium SLs). While not the optimum wheels for climbing, they do seem to fit that part of their description of being a solid all-around wheel set.
Would I buy a set? Let me take them out again today when I have the opportunity to take in some flatter and faster sections of road, and I’ll let you know. Only, if I do get a set, they won’t be green.