Tripel Hub and Boyd Ridgeline Wheels Review
During our recent quest to find durable, adequately wide wheels for gravel drop-bar bikepacking rigs, we identified Boyd’s Ridgeline wheels as a promising option. Now that we’ve put them to the test with gear-breaker TJ Kearns at the helm, here’s the full review…
Wheels. Where do you start? There are so many options on the market these days. From more expensive carbon rims to alloy. Steel spokes to aluminum. Two-cross to three-cross lacing. Spoke counts of 24, 28, 32, and 36. Not to mention hub engagement, color options, and Logan’s favorite topic, rim widths. The possibilities are endless, and it seems like every company is competing for your hard-earned cash.
Enter Boyd Cycling. Boyd is a small, family-run business out of Greenville, South Carolina. Boyd Johnson established the company in 2009 after years of racing bikes professionally. During his seven years as a pro cyclist, Boyd had the opportunity to compete on many different wheelsets from different sponsors and manufacturers, which he said “…allowed him to see what makes a good wheel and what makes a not so good wheel.” Using this first-hand knowledge he acquired over the years, Boyd decided to start his own company, Boyd Bikes, at the end of his final professional race season in 2009.
During its infancy, Boyd Bikes was producing wheels, frames, and accessories, and the brand took off quickly. Within three months, his wife Nicole left her job in the bike industry to focus solely on the company as well. In early 2011, they changed the company’s name to Boyd Cycling after the couple realized that if they wanted to produce a high-quality product, they needed to focus on one thing: wheels. After using open molds at first, in late 2011 they traveled to Taiwan to find a factory that could produce their own line of rims and hubs. This switch allowed them to control the whole process, leading to a higher quality product. In 2013, they launched the new line and the company took off. Flash forward to 2019 and Boyd now specializes in making high-end carbon and alloy wheels for road, mountain, gravel, and cyclocross bikes. And, from the Wide Gravel Wheels article: Boyd Cycling has a rather unique wheel building process, all done in their HQ in Greenville, South Carolina. They have a machine that threads and starts the wheel building process. However, the spokes aren’t tensioned or tightened by machine. Instead, their team of wheelbuilders complete the process, which makes them a handbuilt wheel done efficiently.
Boyd loaned us a set of Ridgeline Carbon wheels for review. As its name implies, the Ridgeline is designed for use on mountain bikes and is touted as “your go fast wheel for the woods.” For 2019, Boyd updated the wheelset with its new quick-engagement Tripel hub, one of the more intriguing things about their wheels, which was likely inspired by other wheel companies such as Industry Nine. With 3.5° of engagement, ultra-low drag, multiple axle/end cap options, the new Tripel hub looks to be a perfect match for the rims it’s laced to. A closer look into the Tripel rear hub reveals a six-pawl freehub mechanism that looks a lot like Industry Nine’s Torch series hub. The six pawls on the Tripel free hub use a three-tooth design that all engage simultaneously (18-points total) and 102-point drive ring to deliver 3.5° of engagement. The Industry Nine Torch hub uses a two-tooth design with a 120 points, resulting in 3° of engagement. The pawl springs are different as well, and result in the Tripel hub’s freewheel being a little bit quieter than Industry Nine’s signature buzz.
Ridgeline Carbon rims come in either 27.5 or 29” sizes. The outer width of the rim is 33mm, with a 26mm inner width. Rim width seems to be a big topic these days, but I feel like a lot of it boils down to personal preference. I’m not going to go into too much depth on this topic as it could be its own article. Suffice to say, Boyd recommends this rim width for 2.0 to 2.5” tires. I tried both 2.0 and 2.6” rubber with no problems. I’d say 2.35” is the ideal tire width for these rims. Boyd also makes a gravel wheelset with 29mm outer width and 23.5mm inner width, should you be interested in rims for smaller tires.
The Ridgeline comes pre-taped for tubeless and have Boyd’s tubeless valve installed, which uses a wing-style nut to secure the valve to the wheel. I really appreciate this feature, as it allows you to get the valve seated without the use of a tool. The wheelset’s weight is in line with most other manufacturers. As tested, they came in at 778g for the front wheel and 958g for the rear. Boyd Cycling provides a two-year (24 month) warranty to the original purchaser against defects in workmanship and/or materials. This is pretty much the only con I have with these wheels. Most wheel manufactures these days have lifetime warranties on carbon rims, with some offering lifetime “no fault” replacements. This is likely hard for a smaller company like Boyd to compete with, but is becoming a must in the industry. When asked about warranties, Boyd had this to say:
“We are actually in the process of revamping our warranty policy to also be a lifetime warranty against manufacturer’s defects. This will be for carbon wheels purchased after January 1st, 2018. Alloy wheels will move from a 2-year to a 3-year warranty.
We will continue to offer our lifetime crash replacement policy (repair at a very reduced price) that follows the wheels, not the original owner. We are not offering the “no questions asked” replacements, but when you look at our pricing on our crash replacements, you would have to crash and demolish the wheels six times before you are at the retail price of the wheels that offer a no questions asked warranty. So instead of building crash replacement into the initial price of the wheels, we prefer to support riders in the unlikely event that they need a crash replacement.”
Tubeless setup was a breeze on the Ridgeline. I was able to successfully mount up and seal a pair 29 x 2.6” Maxxis Ikons with a floor pump. It’s always nice to not need a compressor to seat a tubeless tire, and charging up one of those new fancy tubeless blast pumps can be a lot of work. One thing worth mentioning is that Boyd hubs only come with Shimano centerlock brake rotor configuration, which means you’ll need new rotors or adaptors if you have six-bolt rotors.
On the Trail
One interesting thing about the Ridgelines is that they implement a “tuned wheelset” by using a 28-hole, two-cross spoke pattern in the front, giving a bit more compliance than the stronger and stiffer 32-hole, three-cross spoke pattern in the rear. Being a bigger rider, I usually stray away from anything under 32 spokes, but I found that out on the trail, the 28-spoke front wheel provided a bit more vertical compliance that I could actually feel compared to the previous WTB i35 rims laced to DT 350 hubs I was running on my rigid Salsa Fargo. Overall, I can comfortably say that this translated to less fatigue over a multi-day trip. This was very apparent on a recent trip that included a ride on Gorges State Park’s Musterground and Auger Hole roads. These two roads are, in my opinion, the roughest roads in western North Carolina. They’re steep, remote, and super chunky, so anything that helps dampen the ride is greatly appreciated. I found myself coming in way too fast in couple sections and not being able to avoid smashing into some square-edge rocks. I winced as I heard the distinct sound of the tire bottoming out on the rim. I expected a flat, or worse, a cracked rim, but everything was A-OK and the journey continued. Had this been an aluminum rim, I would no doubt have dented the wheel, and maybe even suffered the dreaded tire bead puncture that’s always a pain in the ass to plug.
As mentioned, the Boyd hub is quite quick, which was useful on the sometimes chunky and technical Auger Hole. The 3.5° of engagement of Boyd’s Tripel hub was welcome when things got technical or when short burst of power were needed to get up and over something.
The Triple hub and Ridgeline wheelset is available in 135QR, 142mm, or 148mm BOOST rear spacing. The front comes in either 110mm BOOST or 100mm. One drawback to the Ridgeline wheels is that the 100mm front hub is only available in QR and 15mm thru; there are no 12mm thru-axle end caps currently available. However, while many 15mm hubs have an outer axle cap diameter of 20-21mm, which doesn’t fit on many 12mm thru-axle specific gravel forks that have a dropout pocket diameter of 19mm, the Tripel front hub 15mm end cap has a 19mm outer diameter. So, all you’d need is a 15mm > 12mm conversion shim.
- Tuned ride quality allows for less fatigue over longer trips
- Fast and efficient rolling
- Quick engagement hubs
- Tubeless setup is painless
- Only available for Centerlock rotors
- Other wheelsets at this price point come with “no questions asked” lifetime warranty
- Carbon rims may be a turn off to those going on big expeditions
- Wheels tested Boyd Ridgeline Wheels (non-Boost rear)
- Spokes 28/32-spoke (F/R), J-bend
- Internal Rim Width 26mm
- Weight 1,736 grams
- Price $1650
- Place of manufacture Tiawan/USA
- Manufacturer’s details BoydCycling.com
Overall, I was very impressed by the ride quality of the Boyd Ridgeline wheelset. The 28-spoke front wheel provided a smooth, supple ride while the 32-spoke rear gave the strength and stiffness required in the back. The Tripel hub’s low drag didn’t affect the speed and its 3.5° of engagement are great for accelerating out of corners or getting up in techy sections. Set up was a breeze and the price and weight fall in line with other wheelsets in this category. The only thing that holds me back from a five-star recommendation is the lack of a lifetime warranty.