Boyd Wheels Trailblazer Carbon Wheels- Getting Rolling: by Grannygear
There is a lot of disagreement on how much difference wheels make on a bike. Some hold that wheel weight is not much of a factor in how a bike performs, some say it is. Does aero trump weight? Can a wheel be too stiff and contribute to a harsh ride? I have read well documented reports saying no, but I have had seat of the pants, back to back to back comparisons between wheel sets that seem to disagree.
And then there is this: What makes a wheel great? Not just light weight. I have ridden MTB wheels that were too light for my weight and they were horrible to corner on. Maybe the spoke gauge or tensions were all wrong. I had a set of carbon gravel bike wheels that were uncomfortably stiff to use. Wheels are a complicated thing and not only do the parts have to play well together, you have to know what target you are trying to hit. Obviously Mrs. Grannygear can ride a lighter wheel than I can as the 55 pound difference in body weight, the amount of power we can produce, and the riding styles allow for some real differences in a wheel build such as spoke count, etc.
What makes a wheel great is part variable and part fixed. Fixed would be things such as durable, rebuildable hubs, overall build quality, and tubeless use. The variable is what fits your individual needs.
So we have a set of wheels on the loading dock in SoCal fresh off the assembly line from Boyd Wheels. The Trailblazer line of carbon wheels is listed as both a gravel wheel and an MTB wheel. Interesting. It’s wide at 26mm internal, its hookless, which is the fashion of late, its adaptable, and it’s darn light. How light? Well I weighed them at 1464g for these and that is with tape and stems. Quite good, that. Picking them up is like hefting heavy air. At an under 1400g (stripped) weight, and with the modern width, and in a hand-built, one-at-a-time-just-for-you process by Boyd Wheels (right here in the US of A)….not bad for $1664.00 including stems.
Boyd has this to say about the Trailblazers: from the website
The Ultra-light carbon XC wheel that pulls double duty as a nimble gravel wheel. Minimum tire size 32mm. Max PSI 65
With a modern internal width of 26mm, this hookless rim mates perfectly with fast rolling cross-country tires ranging from 2.1” to 2.4” and gravel tires from 32mm and up. At the center of the wheel are the Quest Disc MTB hubs (120 grams for the front and 245 grams for the rear) with their super quick five-degree engagement, tool free service and centerlock spline for disc brake rotors. Pillar Wing 20 J-Bend spokes and alloy nipples are laced double-cross with 24 spoke front and 28 spoke rear. The ultra-light, yet durable, 370-gram rim (370 gram/29er; 340 gram/27.5) measures 26mm internal, featuring a 2.8mm offset rim bed for better tension balance and a more responsive wheel build.
These specs total up to a 1380-gram (1380 gram/29er, 1330 gram/27.5) wheelset that has a modern day wider rim design and can handle the rigors of cross country mountain bike riding.
For more extreme terrain, the 30mm Ridgeline Enduro wheels are a perfect pick.
Out of the box, the light weight is evident. The rims look wide (they are) and the spokes look thin to my eye. The offset rim bed is something I see value in and wheels with that feature have been good to me at my weight class. Note the 32mm minimum tire size and the max PSI of 65. I cannot imagine getting even close to 65PSI for gravel use, but if you are being all roadie on some skinnies, well….even then 65PSI would be pretty much at the top end of inflation pressures anyway.
I have to say that the graphics on the Trailblazer wheels are less than sexy. Not sure if it’s the font or the arrangement, but there you go. The wheels came taped and with valve stems installed, including some cool tensioning nuts that give you more leverage for removing the stem nut. Why might we need that? Ever have mud or dried sealant cake up the threads on a Presta valve? That can make removing a valve stem a real chore. These ‘half wing nuts’ help with that.
The aluminum freehub body has no anti-bite guard, so keep the cassette quality high to help with cogs digging into the freehub. Alloy nipples are something that many pass on, but I have had many wheel sets with them with few issues. That said, brass nipples are less fragile, do not corrode over time, and are easier to tension. It’s one reason these wheels get under 1400g.
I installed the Hutchinson Touaregs on the Trailblazer wheels easily and needed no compressor or fiddling to get them to seat. The fit was ‘momma bear’ tight on the install where as on the FSA wheels, the Touaregs were a bit loose for my tastes.
I am set to do a weekend of road and light gravel riding and the light Boyds ought to be a good compliment to that trip. Be back soon.
Note: Boyd Wheels sent over the Trailblazer Carbon Wheels to Riding Gravel for test and review at no charge. We are not being paid, nor bribed, for this review and we always strive to give our honest thoughts and views throughout.