Thursday, August 21, 2014

Notches in a Shimano/Sram freehub body

Many people know that on a standard Shimano and Sram freehub body notches can occur over time. This is because the splines on the Shimano and Sram freehub bodies and cassettes are not very deep. The cassette material is made out of a hard steel material (with some cogs being made out of titanium on the higher end models). The freehub bodies are made of aluminum on our wheels, which is a softer material. The constant impact of the cassette against the freehub body can wear grooves into the freehub body.

This is a bad thing, right?
Contrary to what most people think, these grooves or notches are not a bad thing. They can end up being bad if the grooves get deep enough to throw off the alignment of the cogs next to each other. This can affect your shifting as cassettes have the gears placed in strategic position to ensure crisp shifting. However, when there are small grooves, this means that your cassette is bedding itself into the freehub body in multiple locations. Vibration is a killer for metal parts interacting with each other and when your cassette has multiple contact points with the freehub body, it cuts down on the vibration of the cassette. This greatly increases both the chain and the cassette life.

How can I prevent the notches from getting really bad?
Going along with the eliminating vibration, making sure your cassette it tightened down very good will prevent cassette from being able to wiggle back and forth. Whenever notches occur it's going to be the cogs in the middle of the cassette as that's where the least amount of side force is. If the cassette is not tightened down enough, these middle cogs will have room to wiggle back and forth a bit. This will allow the cassette to bed itself into the freehub body much worse than if everything was tightened down completely.

Check below at these pictures
 The notches on this hub are really bad. This was from a wheel where the cassette was not tightened down very well. The cassette could wiggle back and forth in the middle and this wore groves into the freehub body.

 This is one of my personal wheels. It has thousands of miles on it under all types of riding including a lot of climbing and sprinting. I tighten down my cassettes very tight and this helps to minimize the notching. Small notches like this are actually beneficial to cassette and chain longevity.


Is there any other solutions?
There are freehub bodies that have a steel strip in place of one of the splines. The thinking behind this is that the cassette will move against the harder steel strip instead of the alloy splines, preventing any notches from occurring. This is a good solution for preventing the notches from happening, but it does mean that your cassette now only has one contact point with the freehub body. This can hamper the longevity of both your chain and cassette.

Using a titanium freehub body is another option, although titanium is a very expensive material and very hard to machine down into a freehub body. A few hubs do come standard with a titanium freehub body, but also come with a higher price tag. This is the best option though for completely eliminating the notches and also keeping good longevity for both cassette and chain.

Making sure you tighten down the cassette and that all the necessary spacers are in place is an excellent and very cost effective solution. It just requires a little elbow grease, time to work those skinny cyclist arms :-)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Hub Stability

Hub Stability      
                Many people know that the hub geometry can make for a stiffer wheel. The wider apart the flanges are on a hub, the larger the bracing angle will be. This helps to create a stiffer wheel as the base of the triangle the spokes make as they enter the rim is wider. A wider base triangle is going to be a sturdier structure compared to a triangle with a narrow base. This illustration below demonstrates that and it’s easy to see which triangle (or hub) looks stiffer.

              But just moving the flanges outward isn’t the whole story; there is also the need for hub stability. You can have a very stiff hub, but if it’s not stable the wheel will not be as responsive, especially when climbing or sprinting. You can see from our hub designs that we have some of the widest hub flange spacing in the industry. In fact when riding the 11 speed Shimano version of the hub we decided to make the axle 131mm so we could cheat the flanges further out an extra millimeter. It may not seem like much, but it really does help with both stiffness and tension balance between drive and non-drive side spoke tensions.
                To add hub stability, you want the forces on the bearings to also be pushed out as far as possible. If the bearings were located in the middle of the hub the axle could have a pivot point in the middle. By moving the bearings to the very edge of the hub (right next to the drop outs in the frame and fork) the hub has the widest possible bearing stance which makes for the most stable option. Think back to that triangle again; if you had to support that triangle you are going to try and do so as far out as possible.

         Unstable supports under a triangle                         Stable supports under a triangle
This is where our new hub designs really shine. The non-drive side bearing has been moved out to the edge of the hub and is now supported by the hub shell. This makes for the widest possible hub stance and also eliminates the need for a long end cap system like many other hubs feature.  A pre-load is used to tighten the hub together on the axle and the small end caps locks into the pre-load and prevents it from unwinding when you ride. This pre-load system means no side pressure is placed on the bearings, greatly increasing the quality of the ride and prolonging the life of the bearings. 

     Hub stability is often overlooked as people want to make sure that the hub creates a very stiff wheel set (which we definitely have as well). However, many of us stand up to climb or sprint many times during our ride, and in those situations having the added stability in the hubs is very noticeabe. It will make for a more solid reacting wheel and one that inspires confidence. It’s just another way that we looked at the entire wheel system when designing the 2013 line up on our wheels.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Tires! Sizes, Brands, Pressures, etc. . .

Believe it or not the questions we get asked most often is about tires. I often wonder if the people at Michelin get a lot of emails about our wheels. But people want to know everything about tires, what will work, what won't and what they should use.

Since moving to the new wider rim profiles on our 2013 line, people want to know if a specific width tire will work. The short answer is "Yes", as long as the tire you are trying to mount says 700C on it then you will be fine to use it on the wheels. With the wider rim profile the tires do not have to bend back as far to fit into the rims. This makes them have a better shape which will improve the handling and aerodynamics. In terms of aerodynamics the interface between the tire and rim is one of the most important aspects of making a fast wheel. If the tire is wider than the rim at the brake track the air flow will not be as good as it can.
Running a 21mm tire will be the fastest aerodynamically, however with that narrow of a tire you can sacrifice comfort and handling. A lot of people will choose to have better handling compared to saving a couple seconds over the course of an hour, this is where the 23mm tire makes excellent sense. A 23mm tire fits excellently in the wider rims, it will have great handling, and will still perform very well in terms of aerodynamics. I feel pretty safe in recommending a 23mm tire to most people who are time trialing or doing triathlons. For those doing longer road events or looking for the best possible vibration dampening this is where a 25mm tire can be a great option. A 25mm tire will have more air volume, so the pressure can be run a little lower. This will dampen the road vibration and make for a more comfortable ride. It's not going to be the fastest option in terms of aerodynamics or speed, but for longer events can be a great option.

We also get the question all the time about what brands of tires we recommend and that can be a tough question. Everybody has tires that they like and don't like, and it can really vary fro one person to another. I have found that for tubulars a Continental Sprinter is an excellent and very durable option that handles very well and has great longevity. It's not the fastest option in terms of rolling resistance, and that is where having a tubular tire with a latex inner tube inside (like a Vittoria Corsa EVO CX) may be a better option. That will have better rolling resistance but will not have the durability or longevity of the Sprinter. For clincher versions there are some excellent options from both Continental and Michelin that we like. There is a big difference in handling, durability, and flat protection between a training tire and a racing tire. Many people have noticed the tires that handle the best will last the least amount due to softer rubbers. I recommend to try a few options and see which ones you like the best.

Tire pressure is something that can also be personalized to your type of riding. The old school thinking for time trials was to pump up the tires to crazy high pressures. What this would do is cause your wheel to do a series of micro-bounces along the pavement. By lower the pressure a bit the tire will slightly deform along the road and glide instead of bounce. You will also have much better handling and comfort using lower PSI. Again, since the wider rims make for more air volume in the tire, slightly lower PSI can be used. Try running around 100-110 PSI and then experiment based off that. For races where you'll be doing a lot of cornering you may want to be on the lower end of the spectrum and the handling will be better. In wet conditions you may want to even further lower the tire pressure to avoid sliding out. Note that it's easier to run lower pressure on tubular tires because there is no hook to hold the tire in place. At lower tire pressures if you hit an object or pothole really hard you can bottom out the tire easier, and that impact could potentially damage any rim.

There's a lot of general advise in here, but the main thing to remember with tires is that it's all personal preference and what feels best to you may not feel great for anybody else. The best advise I can give is to try a few different tires, a few different sizes, and different tire pressures. Know what works best for you and then roll with it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Wider is Better

We've doubled the size of our
warehouse and build areas.

Our hub flanges are not the only things we’ve widened for 2013. We’ve also expanded our office and production facility. Thanks to many of you, business is growing. We were practically busting at the seams here at world headquarters, so we knocked a hole in the wall and doubled the size of our facility.

We're making a new showroom
@ HQ to display the wheels.
Boyd Cycling is headquartered in a very cool building right at milepost 31.4 on the Swamp Rabbit Trail in Greenville, SC. The trail is a popular venue for cyclists and pedestrians walking and riding to and from downtown. Our building is part of a successful redevelopment project called Swamp Rabbit Green. The property was rescued from disrepair and turned into several thriving businesses. Luckily, we were able to grab some additional space during phase 3 of the redevelopment.

The new space provides us with ample room to warehouse more raw materials and finished products. It also has enabled us to expand our wheel building area. We’ve added a couple people to our manufacturing team and they are fitting in really well.

Pictures and a Boyd Jersey decorate
the new showroom area.
Darin Marhanka is a well-known strongman around here in the saddle, but few know that he’s also a very talented wheel builder. Darin has built wheels for years and he’s already up to speed and turning out Boyd hoops that are straight and true. He’s also a multi-time Master’s National Champion on the track, so he’ll be a big asset in the development and testing of our Boyd track wheels. We’re happy to have him on the team…and the Wednesday lunch rides.

We’d also like to welcome Cristina Lindsey to our build team. She helps out with numerous steps of the wheel building process, enabling the team to efficiently build more stock and get ahead of orders for faster shipping to customers. Like everyone else that works at Boyd Cycling, she’s a strong cyclist with several state championships to her name.

The new Boyd Bottle Opener
is a nice addition.
If you’re in Greenville, make sure you stop by for a quick tour of the new place. There’s a new showroom area featuring all of our new 2013 products. World HQ has never looked so good. Stop in and you’ll probably even get to meet the person that built that Boyd wheelset you love so much. Or the wheelset you’re going to love next.

Boyd Cycling
205-C Cedar Lane Rd.
Greenville, SC 20611

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Just An Everyday Joe...or Matt

At Boyd Cycling we take pride in building high performance wheels you can actually afford. Sure, we have professionals riding and racing all of our wheels, but many of our customers are just like you. They have jobs, families and sometimes budgets that can challenge their riding and influence the choices they make regarding equipment.

Scaling Paris Mt. on Boyd Cycling Lunch Ride
Matt Jaeggli is a great example of a typical Boyd Cycling customer. Matt started cycling a couple years ago as a simple way to improve his health. He quickly caught the bug for covering long distances under his own power and he enjoys the freedom the bike provides. He has to balance riding his bike with being a husband and father of two young boys, all while working a full time job.

After gaining some cycling experience, he did what every cyclist eventually does. He started thinking about upgrading his equipment. “The wheelset that came on my bike was pretty heavy,” he says. “I quickly decided a new wheelset was a much needed upgrade, but I didn’t want to spend a ton of money. I heard about Boyd Cycling on Jonathan Pait’s LowCadence blog and I narrowed down my choice to the Vitesse wheels. Everything I read on the cycling forums said that these wheels are as light and have a better ride quality than most of the larger brands.

“Before I bought the wheels I sent Boyd some questions and I couldn’t believe how quickly and thoroughly he responded. People said he and Nicole really went out of their way to make their customers happy, and I decided right then that I wanted to deal with a company who’s CEO interacts with his customers.”

Matt was blown away by his first few pedal strokes on the Vitesse wheels. He was startled by, “the perception of how power is transferred into forward momentum rather than being wasted on wheel flex. The bearings are super smooth and the wider rim mates with my Conti GP 4000s to provide awesome cornering. Light, stiff, smooth and affordable—what more could you want?”

We think that last statement really hits the nail on the head (or the spoke on the nipple, if you will). It’s exactly the message we’re trying to get out to everyone. You don’t have to break your bank to get high performance wheels. Matt’s riding habits also emphasize the all-around benefits of the Vitesse wheelset. They are light enough to provide a performance edge but durable enough to ride everyday. They’ll even pull commuting duty without complaints.

Matt finishing the Assault on Mt. Mitchell
In addition to tackling some of the most popular local Saturday routes, Matt rides his trusty Felt to work at TD Bank in downtown Greenville about 3 days a week. “I live very close to the Swamp Rabbit Trail,” he says. “It’s a 9 mile trip each way and the trail takes me almost all the way to the office. I usually bring in several changes of clothes on Monday and take my laundry home on Friday. Cold weather doesn’t bother me, so as long as it isn’t raining I’ll ride my bike.”

Commuting to work helps Matt get in some extra training during the week without impacting his family time. He’s a regular at Boyd Cycling’s lunch rides that roll out of world headquarters every Wednesday at noon. The fitness he’s gained this winter has encouraged him to think about racing his bike in the Hincapie Sportswear Spring Training Series next month. He’s even dreaming of some upgrades again.

“I love my Vitesse wheels, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t want a set of the new 44mm carbon clinchers!” Yeah, Matt, we understand completely. It never stops. We all dream of that next upgrade. The great thing about riding Boyd wheels is that you can actually make those upgrades happen sooner rather than later.

Matt wants the 44mm carbon clinchers. What upgrades are YOU dreaming of?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

2013 Product Revamp

Here at Boyd Cycling, we are proud to announce a complete revamp of the wheel lineup for the 2013 season. The wheel market is a very competitive one and new companies are always starting. With so many existing companies, and more coming into the market we felt like this revamp was necessary to keep us with a competitive advantage. We feel like with the changes we have made, we will have best possible quality and still come in at half the price as the “big’ guys.


The biggest change people will notice is the all new rims. The rims have all new widths, shapes, and depths. All rims will now carry a 23.5mm wide brake top at the top of the brake track, and will angle outward to 24.4mm at the base. This angled brake track will improve the airflow over the tire onto the rim, help toe in the brake pads, and also help to dissipate against heat buildup on the edge of the rim.
The shapes of the rims are also changing. We are using different shapes in each one of the rims. We know that with deeper rims you are likely to be encountering a lower yaw angle. You are not going to run a super deep wheel on a day windy enough to encounter a 15degree yaw angle due to handling concerns. Also, for situations where deep front wheels may be ideal are faster rides like time trials or flat to rolling road races. At these faster speeds yaw angles are lower. So, the deeper the model of rim, the more it’s optimized for a lower yaw angle. This way we can have wheels that are designed for the aerodynamics of real world riding, because I have never entered a race that takes place inside a wind tunnel.

We have all new depths to go along with the changes. We will now offer a 44mm, 60mm, and 90mm depth. The 44mm is a great wheel for people living in windy terrain, doing mountain riding, or who want an aero and lightweight wheel. It’s going to be the “do it all” wheelset. The 60mm depth is for people looking to add more speed to their riding. This is great for fast events, road races, criteriums, or as a triathlon wheel set. The 90mm is for when you want to go fast! In time trials, triathlons, or flat road races in calm days the 90mm wheelset is going to be your most aerodynamic option. New for this year we will offer a 16/20 spoke count for the 90mm wheels.
New 2013 Rim Shapes, Widths, Depths

The biggest change though in the rims is that we moved to a new manufacturer and spent over a year in R&D testing out different layups to make the strongest and highest quality rim. One of the biggest changes is using a steel slider to create the rim bed. It is standard to use expanding high pressure foam in the mould. This works well to create the shape but can leave small voids in the carbon that can affect the strength and show up down the road. With the steel sliders the carbon hook and rim bed is made to a much stronger level. This helps with both strength of the rim and heat dissipation.
Heat dissipation is the feature we have invested in the most on for 2013. There has been a lot of news about carbon clinchers and how they handle heat buildup on long steep descents. The carbon clincher rims now have a super high temperature rating and can be used in more mountainous terrain. Obviously people should still use caution and there are still descents where ANY carbon clincher is not a good idea, but with these new rims we have wheels that will stand up to the vast majority of what people will ride on. One of the ways we help keep the heat to a minimum is the development of our new Cool Ice brake pads. These brake pads develop far less heat than any other brake pad on the market. If you are forced into a situation where you have to ride the brakes your rim will not heat up nearly as much as with any other pad. It’s the combination of rim shape, high temperature rated carbon, and the brake pads that helps to make an overall solution and better all-around wheel set.


                At the center of the wheels, the hubs are what let the wheel spin. They often get overlooked but are very important to making a solid and stiff wheelset. We believe that the stiffer the wheel, the better. You don’t want to be climbing a steep climb and having your rim flex into your brake pads. Having the flanges spaced as far as possible makes for a very stiff wheel as it widens the “bracing angle” of the spokes. On a front wheel it’s easy to widen the flanges and we have them as wide as they can possibly go. The rear wheel is a little trickier because of the cassette that prevents the right flange from being placed out as far as the left flange. This means the drive side tension must be higher than the non-drive side to pull the rim into the center of the hub.
Hub shell profiles. Optimized for whatever you ride!
Even more complicated is the addition of Shimano 11 speed. A Shimano 11 speed cassette is 1.8mm wider than a Shimano 10 speed cassette. All of a sudden that optimum flange spacing is not possible with 11 speed because the freehub body is so much wider. This is where we came up with a very clever solution to optimize the flange spacing for all versions of our hub. The standard Shimano 10 speed cassette makes it possible to have very good right flange spacing. However, if you have 10 speed and were forced to run an 11 speed compatible hub, you then have to run a 1.8mm spacer behind the cassette. This spacer means your right flange is not out as far as it can possibly be. By running an 11 speed specific hub, you are being penalized for still running 10 speed with a wheel that is not as stiff as it can be. With our 11 speed hub, we are making up for the wider cassette by using a 131mm axle instead of the standard 130mm. The extra 1mm helps to keep the right flange move out as far as possible. The 10 speed hub will be upgradeable to 11 speed just by changing the axle and freehub body (and a slight re-dish of the wheel will be necessary).

                OK, that was fairly complicated but the main thing to know is we are taking all the steps to ensure you have the stiffest possible wheelset, no matter which components and number of gears you are running. There are other factors that go into hub construction to make your wheels run as smooth as possible. We are using high quality steel TPI bearings in the hubs. These bearings have great longevity, durability, and roll very well. We have improved the pawl system on the hubs to use a larger, better engaging pawl. There are now 4 oversized pawls that offer very rapid and secure engagement. When wheels are going on riders who can put out over 2000 watts, the pawls engaging solidly are very important. We have also added a pre-load adjustment. This allows you to make sure you are not putting too much stress on the pawls and also means the end caps are not responsible for tightening the hub down. The bearing for the non-drive side has been moved outward. This adds stability to the rear hub and also means that the flange is not pulling directly over the bearing. All of these changes add up to one of the most solid, stable, and well rolling hubs on the market.
Improved Pawl Design
New 2013 hubs

                Spokes and Nipples

                We will continue to use Sapim CX Ray spokes on all of our race ready wheels. These spokes are widely considered to be the highest quality spoke on the market. They are very light, yet have the highest fatigue rating out there. Because of the shallow narrow profile they are also very aerodynamic in any wind condition. The ovalized shape helps us in the build process to ensure there is no spoke twist. We radial lace on the front wheels and double cross both sides on the rear wheel for a stronger wheel with better transfer of torque. All wheels come with the option of a 20/24 spoke count or a 24/28 (with the exception of the 90mm which has a 16/20 and 20/24 options for spoke count).
                We will also continue to use the Sapim brass SecureLock nipples in all our builds. Brass nipples are stronger and more durable than alloy nipples and will not corrode. The SecureLock helps ensure that your spokes stay in tension and your wheel stays true. We only use external nipples so if you ever need to make a slight adjustment you don’t have to take off the tube and/or tire. Both the spokes and nipples are black (just like a wheel should have).

                Handbuilt in USA

                It’s more than just a marketing pitch or slogan; it’s a way to ensure the highest level of build quality. All our wheels are handbuilt in Greenville, SC by our own wheelbuilders. They do not have to build wheels for dozens of other companies and are not expected to build hundreds of sets per week in an assembly line process. Each builder focuses on one wheelset from start to finish with multiple QC checks along the way. It’s a slower process than the huge wheel building facilities use, but it’s one that ensures the quality of every wheelset is as high as possible. We take the build approach like a custom wheelbuilder would, but on a larger scale. Every build is thorough and important!


                Weight is something people always ask about as it’s a quantifiable number. While having a lightweight wheel is important, it’s definitely not our top priority. We build for the wheels to be as durable, strong, and stiff as possible. If you shave off a few grams but affect the integrity of the wheels there is no benefit to having a lighter wheel. With that, our target weights for the wheels are as follows:
44mm clincher – 680g front – 880g rear – 1560g set
44mm tubular – 550g front – 750g rear – 1300g set
60mm clincher – 730g front – 930g rear – 1660g set
60mm tubular – 615g front – 815g rear – 1430g set
90mm clincher – 820g front – 1015g rear – 1835g set
90mm tubular – 745g front – 945g rear – 1690g set


                We have invested a lot in moulds for the new carbon rims, carbon layups, R&D, and new hubs. The quality will be much improved and we feel confident that our wheels will compare with any other brand in terms of performance, aerodynamics, and overall speed. We do have to slightly raise the prices for 2013, but will still come in at around half of what the bigger companies charge.
Pricing is as follows:
44mm tubular - $1350 / 44mm clincher - $1400
60mm tubular - $1400 / 60mm clincher - $1450
90mm tubular - $1450 / 90mm clincher - $1500


                The first shipment will arrive around January 20th. It will be a small shipment and a very limited supply of 44mm clinchers and 60mm clinchers will be available. The 90mm clinchers and tubulars and the Vitesse will also arrive and be in a bit better supply. We get a larger shipment on February 15th with more 44mm clinchers and 60mm clinchers. 44mm tubulars and 60mm tubulars will arrive around the end of February.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Dear Santa

They say the holiday season is a time for giving, but that in turn means it’s also a time for receiving. Someone gets those gifts we give. How many of you remember writing those letters to Santa? (OK, how many of you still write them?) Even if you don’t write a letter to Santa anymore, we’re positive that most of you have a personal wish list.

At Boyd Cycling, we’re in the business of wish list fulfillment. We work hard to make products people want. Products people put on their wish lists—which you can create on We help you give the gift of speed to that special cyclist in your life. Since all of us are already riding the stylish new Boyd hoops, we thought it would be fun to share some of our other wish list items with you guys.

Nicole is hoping to get fast again this year, so she’s asking Santa for a Powertap for Christmas. She knows that it won’t be hard to center that fancy hub inside a Boyd 50mm carbon rim, and bingo, she’s training with power. Honestly, the Powertap is not the first item on her list. What does she want more than anything in the world…10 hours of straight sleep! This is probably a common item for most new mothers like Nicole.

At least one Boyd Cycling wheel builder is asking for some new hardware this year. Eddie moonlights as an action photographer and his wish list includes a new Nikon D7000 camera body. You know you’re into some serious equipment when you buy your camera parts one at a time. Eddie’s looking to take his pictures to the next level. You can see some of his work on his website

Expert builders, Debbie & Ben have asked for a new Keurig coffee maker for the factory. Everyone at the office is a coffee drinker and Boyd is usually the one that makes the coffee. Let’s just say that he makes it a little strong for some folks. (Visitors have used the term crude oil, but I’m sure they meant it in the best way possible.) Not only will the Keurig let everyone make just the right personal cup of coffee, but it might also help Nicole get closer to those 10 hours of uninterrupted sleep.

And, what’s on the boss’s wish list this year. Well, we saved the best for last. Boyd actually gets the “Ahhhhhh” award for this holiday season. (You know the sound, like you see a cute puppy and people say Ahhhhhh.) Instead of dreaming about the latest gadget, the thing he wants most is to, “spend a weekend in a log cabin in front of a fireplace with my family.” He knows the memories will outlast any one thing you can buy, and we couldn’t agree with him more.

Merry Christmas to all of you from all of us at Boyd Cycling!