Bike Radar: Jocassee 650b Review

Bike Radar: Jocassee 650b Review

    Project Description


    Boyd Cycling Jocassee 650B wheelset review$1,650.00
    Smaller is better, sometimes

    BikeRadar verdict
    “An easy and smartly designed option for changing the ride characteristic of any gravel bike”
    Highs: Durable, wide, easy tubeless set up, Centerlock, adaptable hubs, smart details
    Lows: Wide gravel tires are necessary, but few options exist
    Buy if: You want to make your gravel bike smoother and/or more capable

    Boyd Cycling’s Jocassee 650b wheelset takes the limits of gravel riding a step further with added tire volume for a smoother, more supple ride.

    Boyd Cycling Jocassee specs

    • Carbon 27.5in / 650b
    • 36mm rim depth
    • 2.9mm spoke offset
    • 24mm inner rim width
    • 430g weight
    • Hookless bead
    • 1,550g with Boyd Quest hubs wheelset weight

    Not a mountain bike wheel

    27.5in (or 650b) is currently most recognized as a mountain bike size wheel. With that in mind, and considering the Jocassee’s 24mm width, I asked Boyd what makes these wheels ‘gravel’?

    “The hooks (hookless hooks) are a bit thinner. On the MTB (rim) we are doing 3.5mm thickness, whereas on the gravel rim it’s 2.8mm thick.” said founder and namesake Boyd Johnson.

    “Then there is also the depth. A lot of gravel events take place at higher speeds. It’s not uncommon to spend a lot of time above 18mph, and with those higher speeds, there is an aero advantage. Having a nice aero shape on the rim does help conserve a bit of energy, which can be helpful on some of those super long events (like Dirty Kanza),” Boyd added.

    Boyd Cycling Jocassee install and set up
    Setting up tires sans tubes and swapping over the cassette and disc brake rotors were simple tasks on the Jocassee.

    A Centerlock disc rotor attachment meant both rotors were installed in seconds, rather than minutes of futzing around with 12 tiny Torx head bolts. Centerlock is a better solution, I’m glad to see Boyd using it.

    Throughout testing, I used the Jocassee wheels with both WTB’s 40mm Byways and Panaracer’s 1.9in GravelKing SK tires. Both tires, front and rear, aired up tubeless with only a floor pump.

    One note on the inflation, the included valves were a bit short for the Jocassee’s 36mm tall rims, which made it tricky to get the pump head to attach. Boyd does have longer valves that would work better.

    Smart details
    Examining the Jocassees, the little details make it crystal clear that Boyd Johnson and his team ride and understand the frustrations that riders face.

    The hubs have replaceable end caps to work with various thru-axles. Beyond that, each end cap is clearly labeled with what axle it’s for, and on which side of the hub it belongs.

    Also, the valve locknut is more than a standard issue round nut. Boyd smartly specs its oblong wingnut. I’ve seen and experienced stuck on valve locknuts a few times, this little detail should negate that potential issue.

    Boyd Cycling Jocassee ride impressions
    Coming from standard-issue 700c wheels with 40mm gravel-specific rubber, it was surprising how much — but at the same time how little — the smaller 27.5in Jocassees changed the bike’s ride.

    First, the biggest change and greatest benefit was the softer overall ride quality. It was immediately apparent how the wide rims and low-pressure tires smoothed bumps and negated road buzz.

    Slamming into embedded rocks and washboard sections of road was met with noticeably less jarring and harshness. The bike simply floated above the chunder and isolated me from the hits.

    The other surprise was how little the 27.5in wheels affected handling despite being not quite 2cm smaller in overall diameter. The bike did have a more planted feel, likely due to being a bit lower; overall the added stability made the ride arguably better.

    And since pedal strikes aren’t an issue on gravel bikes, the lower feel encouraged speed and laying off the brakes.

    On real gravel roads with rocks, ruts and bumps, the Jocassees felt faster. But on rock hard, pavement smooth gravel, the extra tire footprint and decreased momentum was noticeable.

    Boyd Cycling Jocassee 650b wheelset bottom line
    These wheels excelled in the rough stuff. Any road where you’re at the limit of a gravel bike is their forte.

    They still managed good speed on smoother gravel and on pavement too. That’s within limits though, as the smaller wheel size and wider rubber took more effort to maintain speed. But it was less than I expected and a very worthy tradeoff.

    Other than the pricetag (which is in line with other carbon wheels), and the small range of suitable tires (not the wheel’s issue), there’s little fault to find.

    If your current bike beats you up, or you want to take a drop bar bike farther into no man’s land, the Jocassees are a really easy way to make your existing gravel bike a smoother, more capable gravel bike.

    Boyd Jocassee pricing and availability
    Softening up your gravel bike is easy as Boyd sells the rims individually or as complete wheelsets.