Boa laces are possibly the best cycling shoe tensioning system ever devised. I’ve tried them all; Velcro straps, ratchet straps and Boa laces. Velcro is Velcro. Enough said. Ratchet straps are reliable, but they lack panache. Boa lacing systems are slick, have panache in spades, but the coated cable laces will eventually fray and snap. They’re guaranteed for life, though.
My first lace broke after a year of constant use on my Specialized Torch 2.0 shoes. I filled out an online replacement form at Boa’s website and they sent me two replacement laces with new dials. Free of charge. The down side, they had to be tied and assembled. A YouTube video made the process easier, but it was still intricate work.
The replacements worked for another year, but there was something off… the dials and lacing system just didn’t work like it did, new. I noticed the right lace fraying again, just last week.
This time, rather than wait till the lace snapped to get my replacement (you have to submit a photo to get a right and left replacement set), I decided to look around at other options. Sure enough, Specialized sells full sets for $10. I bought two sets, one for my shoes, and a replacement set for just in case.
The best part, these came pre-assembled. No tying, no screws or special screwdriver tool, you just loosen the lace, unwind it, thread it around the eyelets, and snap the new dial in (you removed the old one with a flathead screwdriver, per the instructions)… I thought that did the trick, one worked perfectly. The other was close, but not quite. So I did a little sluething and figured out what went wrong. Or more to the point, what I did wrong.
The trick is getting the cross-over lace on top. In the following photo, the right shoe is correct, while the left shoe is wrong – the cross-over lace runs under the other:
So, specifically, the “cross-over lace” is the lace that goes from hoop to hoop. The other goes hoop to dial. If the hoop to dial lace is on top, when the system tightens, you end up pinching the cross-over lace to the shoe which binds it up as illustrated with the shoe on the left. The right shoe tightens up evenly and without binding. To remedy this, just pull the loops, making sure when you lace everything through the hoops, the cross-over hoop-to-hoop section of the lace is over the hoop-to-dial part of the lace.
One other interesting tip when installing the pre-tied system; you start with the boa dial upside-down. This way, when you cross the laces over, the dial is right-side-up.
Friends, in my humble opinion it’s worth paying $10 for the set, to have them pre-assembled and to be able to have a spare set waiting should you break a lace and need the replacement immediately. Instead of 10-15 minutes extra per shoe, trying to get them tied right, installation takes less than a minute.
My rule for spare time goes as follows; if I’m saving $150 an hour, it’s worth my time because that’s what I value my free time at. A set of pre-tied dials costs $10 and saves me 20 minutes, or 1/3 of an hour. 1/3 of $150 is $50. In other words, worth it times five.