Chances are one or more pair of your cycling shoes uses a BOA dial to snug them up. Ultimately, this story is about making a better mousetrap. After seeing people struggle with lacing systems, BOA founder Gary Hammerslag used his experience in medical device wires to fashion a mechanical wire-and-real closure system that allowed for uniform, consistent fit. Two things are important here: First, consumers weren’t thinking they needed something better. Second, Gary didn’t try to devise a better way of lacing up winter boots, he came up with something entirely new, different and better. He saw a problem for which a solution wasn’t even being considered, which means opportunity. The challenge, then, wasn’t just to create a solution, but figure out how he could bring it to market. And therein lie some of the key lessons in this episode – Gary talks about working with OEM partners, preserving capital, and marketing to two different audiences.

Yeah, I’m posting this one a little out of order since we’ve already published episodes #029 and #030, but I think you’ll enjoy it. For more photos, show notes and links about Gary and BOA, head over to The Build Cycle!


  1. BOA would be great if I wasn’t needing to replace the dials for the third time on a pair of shoes that aren’t even two years old…And it’s also too bad most mid-level and higher end shoes are going BOA. Won’t be getting it again.

    • Your experience could be the exception. There are loads of Boa systems on there on cycling shoes; yet there isn’t a flood of stories about failed Boa systems. A smart move might be to talk to Boa to see what’s going on with your shoes.

    • Small sample size; I’ve only had to repair 1 of my shoes with BOA fail and it took 7 minutes and zero dollars to fix. Whereas I’ve had sidi dials and straps fail and Northwave SLW2 dials fall apart and take weeks to arrive from Italy at 17 dollars a pop.

      • Honestly, I think my problem is that I use these shoes for everything. I commute with them, so I’m wearing them at least twice per day. Muddy cross races, singletrack, dusty gravel rides…The dial just loses it’s ability to hold tension after awhile and needs replacing.

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