10 things you need to know about Boa Technology

Makers of reel-based shoe closure systems storming cycling world

Gear Shoes
Boa works with hundreds of companies and claims to have 25 million Boa-equipped products out in the world.

Boa works with hundreds of companies and claims to have 25 million Boa-equipped products out in the world.

By now most cyclists have at least heard of Boa Technology. In the last few years, the Denver, Colorado-based company that makes reel-based closure systems primarily for athletic shoes has become a significant player in the two-wheeled world. Boa dials regularly show up on road and mountain bike kicks, as well as some apparel, helmets and protective gear.

For the uninitiated, the Boa dial offers a replacement to traditional laces, ratchets, Velcro straps, or any of the other various closure mechanisms, instead utilizing a steel lace, nylon guides and mechanical reel to keep shoe snugly on foot. The device’s primary feature is the ability to equalize pressure without isolating on friction points. They’re also claimed to offer more precise fit due the micro-adjustability of click-by-click fit. Boa’s newer two-way dials make it easy to tighten and loosen shoes with one hand, and of course they never come untied.

Under the expert guidance of marketing coordinator Michael De La Rosa, we got to tour the company’s four-story headquarters in Denver’s up-and-coming RiNo district (River North) earlier this year. Here are our 10 most interesting discoveries.

Specialized helped lead Boa into the cycling space, and its shoes are still outfitted with exclusive dials that are more flush than on other cycling shoes.

Specialized helped lead Boa into the cycling space, and its shoes are still outfitted with exclusive dials that are more flush than on other cycling shoes.

1. Boa, as in boa constrictor, was founded by Gary Hammerslag, who had grown tired of tying the laces on his young son’s hockey skates and snowboard boots. Hammerslag previously spent time in the medical supply business and realized that the steel lacing being used for certain equipment could be the perfect antidote to his problems. He went to work on a prototype and by 2001 had founded the new company and established partnerships with the likes of Vans and K2. Today, Boa works with hundreds of companies and claims to have 25 million Boa-equipped products in the world.

2. Besides cycling shoes, Boa dials are spec’d on shoes for golf, snowboarding, trail running, hunting, fishing, and skiing, as well as a wide array of utility applications such as the military and construction. Boa dials are also used on medical equipment such as braces and prosthetics. Dials are broken into three main categories (low, medium, high) based on the amount of tension provided. Low is typically found on below the ankle shoes (cycling, golf, running); medium are for above the ankle (hiking, hunting, utility boots); and high is high torque above the ankle (snowboarding, backcountry skiing). The power of the dials is measured in tensile force and gear ratios, which together determine closure force.

Boa dials are spec'd on all sorts of shoes, including these "moon" walkers.

Boa dials are spec’d on all sorts of shoes, including these “moon” walkers from Under Armor.

3. Thanks primarily to sales in Asia, golf is the No. 1 application for Boa dials. Among the largest purchasers of Boa dials is Engelbert Strauss, a German manufacturer of work shoes, clothes and equipment. Boa also just set up a European office in Austria. Surprisingly, running is not a strong segment for Boa, but changing that is the company’s current No. 1 initiative.

Continue to page 2 for more from our tour of Boa HQ »
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About the author: Jason Sumner

An avid cyclist, Jason Sumner has been writing about two-wheeled pursuits of all kinds since 1999. He’s covered the Tour de France, the Olympic Games, and dozens of other international cycling events. He also likes to throw himself into the fray, penning first-person accounts of cycling adventures all over the globe. Sumner, who joined the RoadBikeReview.com / Mtbr.com staff in 2013, has also done extensive gear testing and is the author of the cycling guide book "75 Classic Rides: Colorado." When not writing or riding, the native Coloradoan can be found enjoying time with his wife Lisa and daughter Cora.



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  • Michael Khaw says:

    The article tantalizingly mentions aftermarket kits to replace conventional laces with Boa laces, but doesn’t provide any links to finding them! Where does one find them?

    • Carlo Ritschl says:

      Hey Michael,

      My name is Carlo and I am the Social Media Coordinator here at Boa. We currently do not sell an aftermarket kit. We have our Retrofit Lab where we can add the Boa system to a pair of low-cut shoes, but that is something that we only do at various events (for free!).

      Send me a message on Facebook or Twitter and I will find out if there is an upcoming event near you.

      Thanks for your interest!

  • Trout Bum says:

    I’ve ridden with a pair of Specialized S-Work shoes with Boa for the past 5 years and logged over 17,000 miles in them. I won’t even consider another closure system on my shoes then Boa. They are so easy to loosen or tighten on the fly and you have even pressure all over the top of your foot. I’m glad to see over bike shoe makers are finally starting to catch on.
    I have had to replace broken cable twice but it is not a difficult procedure.

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