I get the question all the time, "What made you decide to start making wheels?".
I have been fortunate enough to have been riding and racing my bike most of my life. I started racing when I was 13, and by the time I was 18 I was traveling around the country racing. As I kept going I was fortunate enough to be sponsored by many different wheel companies, and had a chance to race pretty much every major option out there. I saw what made wheels good, what made them not so good, and what we could do different. In 2009 I was finishing up my final season on a professional team and the timing was perfect to launch this company. At the time I launched the company I was racing full time, coaching cyclists, and working as a developer for the iBike power meter. . . life was busy.
We launched Boyd Bikes in September of 2009. When we started the company we were doing a lot of different products. We had wheels, bike frames, and accessories in our line up. Things actually started off fairly quickly, and we were learning the business on the fly. It was very quickly becoming too much for me to handle by just myself. Three months into starting the company, my wife Nicole left her stable and established job at Hincapie Sports to come on board and help make Boyd Bikes grow.
We were all in!
We very quickly realized that if we wanted to grow and have the quality be as high as possible, we had to focus. The wheels were doing very well and we were starting to pick up a lot of nationwide recognition as being a great value. In early 2011 we decided to focus on just the wheels and changed our name from Boyd Bikes to Boyd Cycling. Part of this focus would also concentrate on making sure the quality was as high as possible. Until this point we had been using an "open mold" rim on our wheels. The quality was good, and they definitely weren't the rims you see floating all over eBay or Alibaba. However, having our own designs and contracts in place for materials, construction methods, layup methods, and where the rims were made was an important step in ensuring we could have consistent quality on every order.
In late 2011 we made the trip over to Taiwan, met with dozens of manufacturers, and moved forward on our own line of rims and hubs. There was a pretty long development lead time and in early 2013 we launched the new and improved line. This was met with great reception and the brand really started taking off. We started transitioning from all web based direct to consumer sales to more selling through bike shops throughout the country. Bike shops are loving working with us because we are a smaller company with very attentive customer service. The wheels are the same quality (or even better) compared to some of the main players in the industry, yet because we are a smaller family run company we are able to keep our pricing more reasonable.
There is still some misconception that because our pricing is half of some of our competition that the wheels must be half the quality. In fact, the main reason for our pricing structure is the sale of our wheels goes to support a family, whereas with a lot of the competition the sale of a wheelset goes to support a large company. . . many times owned by even larger corporations.
Through all of this my passion for making wheels remains the top priority. I am a wheel junkie (not just self-diagnosed), and the wheels we have created are for myself. Sure, we sell a lot of them, but there's not a single wheel that I wouldn't take from the shipping rack and put on my personal bike. Again, as a wheel junkie, this has happened more than you may realize.
I look at our company like a craft brewery in the beer industry. The beer industry has a few monster size companies that are known throughout the world. They have the money to mass produce, hire professional athletes to endorse, and have an enormous advertising campaign. They try to appeal to a mass market, and are driven by sales and profit. They have investors to make happy, many levels of management, and a very corporate feel. Making a profit almost always outweighs all else.
Then there are the craft breweries. These are smaller companies, driven by a passion to make the best possible product. There are no celebrity endorsements, no major advertising campaigns, just an internal drive to make something that they are proud to put their name on. We view Boyd Cycling like these smaller craft breweries. We don’t have pressure from investors or upper level management to cut corners and produce something we are not proud to sell. We are driven by that same passion to have the highest possible quality while enjoying every day. There is not a day where I don’t look forward to working, I love that our designs which we have worked so hard on are making people smile whenever they hop on a bike.