American wheelset company Boyd has new aero hoops. The 55 mm deep carbon road disc offering is designed to be versatile and fast. A wide internal rim bed makes it jam well with 28 mm road tires and very capable with even wider rubber. Whether you are racing or just want a really nice durable set of fast wheels for your bike, the 55 mm Boyd make a compelling case that the investment in good carbon rims is definitely worth it.
Boyd Cycling’s 55 mm carbon tubeless-ready clincher is 55 mm deep, 28 mm wide with a 22 mm internal rim width. The American wheel builder is a big believer in tubeless so the rim is taped up and ready to be mounted with tires and sealant. The tubeless valves which use a nice quality wing nut came on the rims we received and are easy to remove if you chose to run the wheelset with inner tubes as well.
The rims are built around Boyd’s Quest Disc hubs. A 6 pawl freehub body can be replaced without any tools. The simple design makes it easy to clean and regrease bearings or replace them. The Quest freehub is available for Shimano/SRAM and Campagnolo cassettes.
The 28 spokes in the rear are laced two-cross while the 24 in the front are laced radially. The higher spoke count may add a few extra grams but adds strength and durability to the rims if they are being used as everyday wheels. Pillar Wing 20 spokes are installed with Pillar DSN double square brass nipples over lighter alloy ones, choices that Boyd make to ensure their wheelsets are built for durability.
The rear wheel can be purchased for 12 mm x 142 mm or QR x 135 mm thru axles while the front has options for 12 mm x 100 mm, 15 mm x 100 mm or QR x 100 mm. The 55 mm disc wheelset weighs in at 785 g for the front wheel and 915 g for the rear for a total of 1,800 g with tubeless tape installed. Not the lightest wheelset on the market but competitive with similar mid-profile carbon rims but arguably more durable thanks to the brass nipples and spoke count.
For the majority of my riding, I had the Donnelly EMP 38 mm gravel tires installed tubeless on the Boyd 55 mm. Not the conventional choice necessarily but suitable for the type of riding I had in mind for late-summer and fall. Another option I briefly tried was 28 mm clincher Donnelly LCV tan wall tires that looked and performed fantastically for road riding. It being autumn, adventure and ‘cross riding was my primary calling. While a 55 mm rim is well suited for high speeds. Never-the-less, the rim is well suited for mixed surfaces with the deep rim profile well suited to shedding mud and efficient aerodynamics on flat or rolling roads.
Both tires weren’t too tough to install on the rim with the narrower road tire required a little of delicate assistance from tire levers while the bigger volume gravel tire was also easier to get on with some assistance.
Boyd’s stock dark grey decals are relatively understated and aesthetically suited the No. 22 Broken Arrow the wheels were outfitted on. The two companies have actually recently teamed up to offer wheelsets with the American titanium frame builder’s gorgeous offerings. No. 22 sell their wheelsets with custom No. 22 decals. Wheel aesthetics are definitely a consideration and while it’s evident by the large Boyd decals on the stock offerings which brand the wheels are from, the font is fairly neutral and the decal colours relatively subtle (you can choose more colourful ones if you so choose).
For the first few rides on the Boyd 55 mm, I had the 28 mm road tires on. Once up to pace, the wheels hold onto their speed very well. They didn’t feel as lively as a lower profile rim but were very satisfying to ride in a wide variety of situations. They feel very stable and despite the wide profile cut through crosswinds predictably, though being alert to sudden gusts is always advisable with a 55 mm deep profile. I found the wheels rode very smooth with none of the harshness sometimes associated with deep carbon rims. Over various terrain, the wheels felt very sturdy with the road rubber.
These would be an excellent choice for an everyday roadie looking for a very nice wheel upgrade. They’d also be more than suitable for the fast pace of racing. They consistently delivered speed that had me grinning and always looking forward to my next acceleration. What I was really looking forward to however, was testing their versatility.
Once I swap the skinny tires for the gravel tubeless set, I was treated to an even comfier ride on pavement. Then riding through rough singletrack, mud and bumpy gravel, the Boyd proved they were more than up to the task. While I was a little concerned I’d lose some of the speed I felt in the wheels with 38 mm tires and sealant, the 55 mm continued to feel really racey. I definitely appreciated their stiffness and responsiveness even when I was riding at slower speeds.
Tracking through mud, the rim didn’t collect as much debris because of the higher profile proving that there are valuable applications of a 55 mm aero rim for adventure riders. Once I hit gravel or paved roads, I was thrilled to have such a fun riding wheelset beneath me to give me that slight edge when going fast.
I didn’t venture into a ‘cross race with them but the Boyd 55 mm would have been an ideal fit for the competitive environment. Sprinting for the line or through fast sections, a racer would take advantage of the slight aero advantages while giving no compromise in the weight or responsiveness of the wheel. The sturdy build made me confident that even taking them on rocky trails where even at 30 psi I bottomed out a few times, they were up for the rumble tumble of anything thrown at them.
Over the course of the test period, I never felt held back by the wheelset. They are well built, worry-free and reliable ensuring that I was never hesitant to turn down an unknown trail or down an unfamiliar road. I was really pleased with their versatility and they felt faster in a wide variety of conditions.