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The new Boyd Cycling 85 Hubs build on the development work they’d put into their Eternity Hubs to launch a premium road bike hub for rim brake wheel builds. The idea was to create an ultra stiff axle and bearing setup that pushed the flanges as wide as possible for a better racing angle. The Eternity Hub’s dual axle system proved too difficult to manufacture at the tolerances needed for it to work properly. So he went back to the drawing board.

Boyd Cycling 85 road bike hubs for rim brake wheels

The 85 Hubs are named for Interstate 85 that runs past their Greenville, SC, headquarters (and a brewery there, too). On the front, the bearings and flanges are pushed as wide as possible, which is easier because you don’t neeed to work around the cassette. Out back, Boyd found that eeking every last millimeter out of the flange spacing was a more effective way to improve bracing angle than creating an oversized driveside flange. As such, his is only marginally larger than the non-drive side, but managed to add a full millimeter more space than than normal by increasing the hub shell to 131mm instead of 130mm.


  • Center of hub to center of flanges – 39.0mm
  • Flange spoke hole diameter – 36.5mm
  • Claimed weight: 95g


  • Drive side spoke hole diameter – 55.5mm
  • Center of hub to center of drive side flange – 17.3mm
  • Non-drive side spoke hole diameter – 44.5mm
  • Center of hub to center of non-drive side flange – 37.7mm
  • Claimed weight: 254g

Boyd Cycling 85 road bike hubs for rim brake wheels

The result is a wheel that can be built with NON- driveside tension at about 49% of of drive tension (UPDATED to correct the drive vs non-drive tension statement), which founder Boyd Johnson says should be plenty to make the wheel very strong and stiff. Helping out are larger, premium Revo Cream bearings packed with Mobil grease, which Boyd says adds about 5g, but drastically improves durability. Using larger bearings also made room for a larger axle, which makes the hubs thru-axle ready. No, there aren’t a lot of thru axle RIM brake road bikes now, but they’re coming because you get the same improvements in stiffness here as with disc brakes, and, you know, incremental gains.

The freehub body is fitted with six pawls, three of which are engaged with the ratchet 32 teeth at any time, yielding tight 5.6° engagement. It’s the same FH body and system used in their Quest disc brake hubs. These new hubs will be availabe on all Boyd road wheels with rim brake rims, or get them for $75 (front) and $150 (rear).

Boyd Cycling tubeless tire sealant installation kit

This summer, Boyd introduced his bubblegum scented pink tubeless tire sealant, and now he’s got a setup kit to go with it. The blue keychain is a dual sided valve core remover that works for both Presta and Schrader. The syringe helps you get the sealant into the tire without breaking the tires seat, and his valve stems now come in black or silver.

JensonUSA end of season road cycling and mountain bike clothing sale offers deals on cycling gear and apparel


  1. L on

    Is interstate 85 the most innovative name they could come up with? Do local riders draft big rigs rolling on interstate 85 past Greenville? Nothing new or innovative about these hubs other than they are a better alternative to the cheap Chinese hubs they were using. These look like a step up perhaps in a partnership with one of the Taiwanese manufacturers that had a booth at interbike.

    • Boyd Johnson on

      We like to name all of our products after things in the Greenville area. 85 is also a brewery that supports the local cycling scene, just like quest brewery (our disc brake hubs are named Quest).

      We have been using high quality hub manufacturer in Taiwan since we started the company 9 years ago. However with this latest revision the press fit end cap, super simple cassette and freehub swaps, and quick engagement was prioritised. We’ve posted a video of the cassette swapping over on our Facebook page.

  2. Mikel on

    So the drive side flange is moved as far right as possible and axle is at 131mm? That’s been done by literally every hub manufacturer, always. They should hire engineers if they want to actually produce anything innovative, rather than relying on the engineers at their Taiwanese manufacturer to tell them what they can do.

  3. Bobby Sweeting on

    I like the free press for Alto, however subtle, haha. Thanks Boyd! We’ll put our Matlab optimization program up against guess work any time. Let me know when you’d like to send us a wheel for lateral deflection testing and we can publish the results here on BikeRumor.

      • Bobby Sweeting on

        Absolutely, we’ve done so on the same deflection jig. Although we only did it once, because it yields the same sort of result.

        For example, if an Alto wheel deflects 0.4mm under a 2kg load and a Zipp wheel deflects 0.8mm under the same load, then it will take roughly twice as long for the Zipp rim to return to center as it would for Alto. The elasticity of wheels are nearly identical (unless it’s alloy vs carbon).

        So we test deflection in order to prove out our designs and concepts, but we no longer test return rate because it never told us much.

        Please let me know if you have any other questions, I’m always happy to chat about our testing procedures!

  4. ericpmoss on

    The comments are a bit dickish. Seriously. It’s a hub — just how much innovation can be expected? It’s about refinement. The 85 front hub has the best bracing angles available, and great bearing support. Tool-free hub disassembly is a great thing compared to all the hassle of taking about a DT240 or a King hub. Moving to a better manufacturer is also a refinement. It’s all good, and getting better.

    • Boyd Johnson on

      You are correct!
      I’m sure Tyler is whooped after the long week in Vegas. I know he was texting me first thing this morning as I was hoping on the plane. . .so mixing up a non and drive side is certainly understandable in the article.

      FWIW, we lace the drive side up to 125KgF which gives us just over 61KgF for the non drive side.

      • mtbrider on

        That’s not a good thing. For a durable and strong wheel, you want the spoke tensions on either side of the wheel to be as evenly matched as possible.

        • greg on

          for a laterally stiff wheel, you want the greatest bracing angle, even if the left/right spoke tensions vary drastically. been proven time and again vs Ritchey and American Classic that had left flanges that were far inboard. over time, it’s been observed that 50% left/right tension difference is about as much as you can get away with before the left tension becomes too low, and you risk the spokes going slack under compression or large leftward lateral loads.

  5. Sam on

    Isn’t that great. I bought wheels with the Infinity Hubs and within weeks the rear hub broke. 3 months later I have it returned with a generic shitty hub and have Boyd tell me it’s awesome and the best. I’ll never buy a wheel set from a small manufacturer again.

    • Kernel Flickitov on

      You should buy Zipp instead. They like to hold off on announcing product recalls until people start taking trips to the hospital. #YMMV

    • Boyd Johnson on

      I am sorry about the Eternity (not Infinity) hubs and we were able to replace those for everybody. It was a very humbling experience and I never want to have to go through another situation where we have to contact customers and let them know that we let them down when they trusted us.

      The hub that we previously had (our prime hubs) were a great design. We had them in our lineup for almost 4 years and they almost never had any problems (about 1 in every 600 hubs would have something that would need to be addressed). They are actually still on my personal wheels that I am riding tomorrow.

      However, they did have a pre load system that sometimes would get ignored by people and instead of adjusting a pre-load they would ride with an improperly adjusted hub for months. Nothing major but it would mean the wheel would have play for that time.

      With moving to the press fit end caps there is nothing to worry about in terms of adjustment. Simply make sure the caps are on the hub and that your wheel is in the frame. Maintenance needs are kept to a minimum.

  6. Tyler Benedict on

    All – as Boyd mentioned, was typing this up early this morning after a long week at Interbike. And typing it on phone and iPad. Typos and errors have been fixed, sorry for any confusion. We’re getting a little more rest, then resuming fast and furious posting from the fall trade shows! Lots more great stuff to share!

  7. Boyd Johnson on

    Warning. . .long post! Really long!

    I’ve been thinking for a while about how I am going to respond with this comment. I have read a LOT of BikeRumor articles and have never seen the owner of a competing company come into the comments to try and sell their products.

    I’ve had a lot of respect for Bobby. He’s been able to produce a hub in the US, which is something we tried and had to pull back, so kudos there. I consider him to be a friend and we used to even be teammates, so it greatly saddens me to see this. However, I feel like I need to respond to the comments posted, even if I should probably just let it go.

    We have had our wheels tested by Velonews (sorry Tyler. . .going to mention a couple other media outlets here) in the testing lab they use. Velonews does a really good job of doing independent testing of wheels. Recently, they had a print article on what to look for in wheels based on five different factors and we were honored to be picked by them as their choice in an aero wheel.

    The testing that Alto did on their wheels for deflection was done by setting a water jug on a wheel held in a truing stand in a horizontal position to test deflection on the opposite side of the wheel.

    This is similar to telling people that they have a stiff wheel because it doesn’t flex into their brake pads. That is one of the biggest misconceptions about wheel stiffness. Slowtwitch posted an excellent article detailing information and misconceptions of wheel stiffness.

    The wheel that deflects the least on the opposite side is actually the least stiff wheel. Unfortunately, the video they posted shows that they had the least stiff wheel in this test.

    I like to think of this as a teeter totter. Imagine you have two teeter totters, one made out of plastic and the other made out of cast iron. The cast iron one is definitely stiffer. If you put a heavier person on one side of the plastic teeter totter, the teeter totter will flex in the middle and the lighter person would not go as high as the lighter person on the cast iron teeter totter. Yes, I did manage to say teeter totter a lot in this paragraph (it’s a fun word!)

    I am sure the reason why Bobby commented was the mentioning of flange height in this article. This is a conversation that has come up between Tyler and myself a couple times when we have talked about hubs. We like to stress the importance of flange width, and Tyler has even asked me about flange height. The Alto hub is noticeably different in that the drive side flange is about twice as large as most other hubs on the market. The marketing for this is it increases bracing angle and offers better tension balance.

    The claim is that the non drive side spokes should only be 35% less tension than the drive side spokes, as detailed in a CyclingTips article here (scroll down to after the ride):

    In the above article the actual tension measurements showed the non-drive side spoke tension was 50% of the drive side (same as our new hubs, but with 6mm less distance between flanges). In our Greenville facility we bring in a lot of other wheels for testing and measurements. Each one of the Alto wheels had non drive side spoke tension about 50% of the drive side spoke tensions. Spoke tension was very consistent for each side, so kudos on that.

    In terms of flange height affecting bracing angle, yes it does. . .very slightly. Trigonometry 101 says that the more under center an object is, the less changing in height affects the angle. For example, lets suppose the flange was directly under center. The angle of the spoke would be zero degrees, whether the flange was 1mm or 200mm tall. As the flange moves outward, changes in height affect the bracing angle more. Since the drive side is limited by the cassette you can usually only place it around 17.5mm from center and still have it be Campy compatible.
    At this 17.5mm center to flange measurement, changing the flange height from 50mm to 100mm gives the same bracing angle change as moving the flange outward by 0.3mm.

    The reason why I am putting all of this here is because I feel like I need to respond. Alto is probably going to have a story run in BikeRumor within the next couple days as there was some new interesting stuff they released at Interbike. However, as a friend and a competitor I would never go into that article about them to post stuff about why our wheels are better.

    • myke2241 on

      Boyd I don’t own any of you’re products (probably won’t as I am a mtb on onyx hubs). I feel you stayed true to you’re product and had a very good rebuttal.

      • Boyd Johnson on

        Thanks! I am actually digging those Onyx hubs. Some really cool stuff there, I might actually grab a set for a personal wheelset to ride occasionally.

        We do sell rims and work with a lot of custom wheel builders if it ever comes down to needing a set.

        However if the set you have is working for you that is perfect also.

      • MaraudingWalrus on

        I’ve built up several sets of Boyd rims with Onyx hubs, for myself and customers. I highly recommend this course of action. Boyd does MTB stuff now, which I haven’t seen but I’m sure it’s every bit as nice as their road stuff!

        I’m sure there’s a builder in your area who’d be able to get Boyd rims and build em up in the future!

    • Bobby Sweeting on

      Boyd, I think we all know that the only reason I commented is because I’m repeatedly having to deal with your passive aggressive jabs directed towards Alto. I’m honestly not sure why you and your employees decided to come after us, considering that we have done nothing to you. Hell, I was hoping to work with you on multiple projects and OEM partnerships!

      First, we build all of our own testing equipment for UCI impact, road fatigue, lateral deflection, heat transfer, etc. That test with the water bottle was in 2014 with our first prototype wheel, so take it for what it is. Regarding spoke tension balance, I never got confirmation of the tension meter use by CyclingTips but I believe it was spring loaded. The readings can vary depending on calibration and release. We record each spoke’s tension of every build through our digital meter and stand by every claim that we make.

      I would love to argue about engineering, design, testing protocol, etc, but I honestly don’t even know if it’s worth it. Our brand was founded by two engineers from within the industry who manufacture products in the US and own multiple design patents. You background is in… I don’t even know, art history or something? You rely on your manufacturers to tell you what they can do, what your layup schedule should be, what resin to use, etc, etc. Anyone can pay for a mold, that means nothing. Composites engineering is a lot more complicated than drawing a cross section and cutting a mold. So if I’m going to discuss innovation within the cycling industry with anyone, it should probably be the engineers. There is honestly nothing that you can do to convince me otherwise, but I know for a fact that nobody within your company has the depth of understanding required to produce anything from the ground up.

      There is a grey area between calling yourself a “manufacturer” or a “custom builder” and it’s frustrating, from an engineering standpoint, to see so many wheel companies that exist without purpose. Alto was started in order to solve real issues that we had as racers – brake rub, broken spokes, bearing wear, and other structural issues that were being ignored by the industry. So many other wheel brands, yours included, began by simply buying a rim and hub from overseas and winging it until you found the right vendors. I simply don’t agree with that approach because it muddies the waters between manufacturers and custom builders, which I happen to take personally.

      Not to get off topic here, but I actually do want to mention wind tunnel testing. We would test frames at Cannondale at the MIT wind tunnel and noticed huge variation in turbulence between our designs and others. For example, you may see 10% turbulence coming off of the down tube of an aero frame, and 40% off of a round tube. Rim profiles that perform well in turbulent flow do not necessarily perform well in laminar flow, it is lot linear in that way. So putting a wheel in a wind tunnel and running laminar flow over it in order to say “my wheel is better than Zipp” is garbage science. It means nothing, because a Boyd wheel might be great on a Trek and horrible on a Specialized, depending on how the rims interact with the flow of that particular frame. Aero testing has to be frame and athlete specific in order to eliminate enough variables to give you actual data. The design work and testing that we do is true for every athlete on every bike, which is why we do what we do.

      My offer still stands to put one of your wheels into our test lab to publish the results, which I only offered to do because we’ve now been repeatedly called out and I felt as though it would be rude not to respond.

        • Bobby Sweeting on

          I’m sorry to hear that, Robin! My preference would have been to not be included in any articles or social media posts by Boyd. But after being repeatedly goaded I finally decided to respond, albeit with a bit too much pent-up frustration.

          Perhaps I went too far and I apologize for that, but I will defend our company and industry until the end of the earth. I wish it hadn’t come off so crass, but I wholeheartedly believe that brands should exist to innovate and drive the industry forward. And when our patents are directly called into question by a brand that does not seem to strive for this, I do take serious offense to it.

          • Peter Loves Cycling on


            I had the opportunity to buy and ride some Boyd products, not yet Alto products but have followed your brand/technology/products since you started I think and have really enjoyed your effort to come up with something different (better ?).

            Having said that it sucks to see you guys “disagree” like this. And to be honnest I much prefer Boyd’s tone that sticks to fact and technical information than yours. Calling one’s company a “custom builder” and yours a “manufacturer” while you are essentially doing the same job in the same way is a bit cocky I think :
            1) hubs : Boyd develops (with what Boyd considered “optimized” geometry) hubs that work well for Boyd wheels but also other wheels and has them manufactured in a quality factory in Asia. Alto does the same, also for J-Bend spokes, only with a geometry optimized for a different kind of lacing pattern (radial DS / crossed NDS) and has them manufactured in the USA (good point but that’s still sourcing, correct ?), and you do sell hubs alone, right ? At least to some builders ?
            2) carbon rims : Boyd has molds cut with their own rim shapes (studied in CFD, checked in wind tunnel with alloy prototypes before cutting the mold) and have the rims manufactured in a quality factory in Asia, Boyd may not be part of the lay-up choices (per cyclingtips article) but gives specifications in term of braking, weight, stiffness, quality control and so on to achieve the desire products. Alto may or may not have proprietary molds in Asia with rims that you have designed (or not), you are part of the lay-up process + QC, etc.
            3) alloy rims : kind of a repeat from carbon rims
            4) spokes : you both buy spokes from Sapim but even if it was DT it would not make any difference.
            5) assembly : same techniques, same job.

            So what differs ? If Boyd is a “custom builder” maybe you are too or if you are a “manufacturer” then I’d say Boyd probably is too !

            Don’t get me wrong, I’m not pro Boyd and/or Alto hater, just trying to summarize the facts and make you understand that you are probably closer that you think you are, thus the fight on who is what is probably not necessary. When you say it’s grey, I’d say it’s VERY grey !
            A company like Lightweight or Corima when they make carbon hubs / carbon spokes / carbon rims in house is without a doubt a manufacturer. I agree manufacturing means you develop you components to work together as a system, but if you and Boyd sell hubs separately it does not mean your hubs are not optimized to work with rims you drilled with angles specific to your hubs with spokes you chose to achieve the desired stiffness/aero, etc. So you are custom builders or manufacturers… in the end who cares, as long as the wheels ride A awesome !

            • Bobby Sweeting on

              Peter, those are some good questions and I’m more than happy to go into detail! And I agree that I should not have gotten so personal in my response, so we can simply discuss what we do at Alto!

              In my opinion, manufacturing comes down to process control and product development. If you design a product that meets a specific need and it has never been done before, and then manufacture it in a way that allows you to control each process, then I’m 100% on board with that!

              Regarding hubs, we have two patents on our designs regarding the bearing closure system and hub geometry, and manufacture in Sarasota, FL. The design was programmed on Matlab as an iterative optimization problem that allowed us manipulate a single variable at a time until we developed the correct answer to hub geometry which would allow for the least amount of lateral movement at the rim. We can then work directly with Alcoa to source consistently pure materials and manufacture to tighter tolerances than anyone else in the industry. This design intent and purpose is, I believe, just as important as the manufacturing quality. Otherwise, why not just by a DT hub and be done with it?

              There is also something to be said regarding safety factors and FEA (finite element analysis). We’ve been able to create new designs because of the due diligence done in FEA and prototyping, which has ensured that our products will not fail and will function as intended. We don’t rely on a vendor to do this for us, we do it ourselves. Without engineering on staff, how do you run an analysis and ensure that your products are safe? What factor of safety do you put on a cyclically loaded axle or flange? Made from what material? What wall thickness should you use? Without this ability, it’s too dangerous to actually innovate. You can trust that the engineers at your vendor are doing it, but that’s always very risky. I don’t mean to bring up the Eternity hub, but there were inherent design flaws that would have been shown to crack in any sort of yield strength analysis, and it could have been prevented. Hell, I actually think the overall design was good, it just needed some tweaking to make it work. This industry has very little regulation to begin with, so customers put their trust in us to do our jobs properly and give you something safe to ride. Without the proper tools to ensure that a product is safe, it’s simply not possible to create anything new without assuming a huge amount of risk.

              Composites engineering is also a very complicated endeavor (A few details here: It’s very simple to draw a 2D outline of a rim and tell a vendor to make it, but owning that mold doesn’t ensure quality of any kind. While we do own our molds at Topkey, that doesn’t mean much of anything. We actually have to do the matrix math to determine where the T700 plies will be laid, where the T1000 will be laid, in which shape, in which orientation, how many plies, with what resin consistency, with what glass temperature, cured at what temperature and pressure, etc etc. There is a LONG list of design and manufacturing decisions that go along with making any product out of carbon fiber, and there are a LOT of wheel manufacturers that no longer go through this process. In my opinion, that does not qualify someone to say that they manufacture anything, because the important aspects of the design are controlled solely by the vendor. I don’t know the situation with Boyd so I’m speaking generally, but if a company is only controlling the cross section profile of the rim then they probably should simply buy an open mold rim in the first place, as they are not likely to see much improvement in stiffness, heat transfer, impact strength, etc. And obviously this changes with alloy rims because you can’t manipulate grain structures, so the metal finishing becomes a more important design aspect.

              Spokes, assembly, etc are all the same between almost every brand, no doubt about it.

              Those are really my main points regarding design intent, manufacturing, and safety. It is not meant to sound cocky, but I do think that it separates us from many other companies that do not have the ability to do these things in house.

              Please let me know if you’d like me to expand on any of these points! You are also welcome to send an email, as I don’t wish to take up any more space on the forum within Boyd’s post. It’s his article, and this isn’t the place to talk about Alto. But I’m happy to answer any other questions you may have.

    • J on

      Pretty sure the guy who won Elite Crit Nats and the overall USA Crits series was on Boyd Cycling wheels (and hubs)…sound stiff enough to me.

  8. Ira Goldschmidt on

    I’m considering a set of Boyd Altamont Lite (climbing) and Altamont (speed) wheels. The rims have a great reputation so that’s not a concern. However is there any feedback yet on the durability of these new 85 hubs? They appear to be a nicely-upgraded version of the Bitex RAR/RAF hubs which have a good reputation (and are easy to service for me as a home mechanic), though it’s unclear why the rear hub weighs ~40g more than the RAR12. If so should I expect these to behave similarly to the Bitex hubs? Answer what you can and I’m not trying to stir up the pot re: whether these are really Bitex hubs or not, if that’s a good thing or not, etc…just want some good wheels. Thanks!

  9. The Cycling Marmot on

    I have the front and rear hubs, but I don’t have enough experience with them to give you a reliability data point.

    The bearings are larger than the Bitex RAR/RAF hubs. That explains some/all of the weight difference.

    The main contributors to longevity (IHMO) are (not necessarily in order):
    1. The size of the bearings
    2. How well the bearings are sealed/shielded by the design of the hub
    3. The quality of the bearing and whether it is a sealed/shielded/open design. In general, the better the sealing, the more friction. Bearings in Fulcrum freehub bodies are open in the interior side.

    The tool-less disassembly makes it very easy to get at the bearings.


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