A Tiny Dial May Be Your Ticket to a Speedy T2

While many triathletes like to put on their race kicks the old-fashioned way, anyone looking to shave seconds off their PR is still likely to go the elastic route when it comes to lacing up in T2. Recently, BOA—the brand responsible for the little plastic dial/wire fastening systems found on the back of so many helmets—announced a new version of their run-shoe lacing system that could give triathletes an edge.

Though it wouldn’t be the first time that a BOA closure has been spotted on tri footwear (Zoot’s Ali’i race flat has had a different iteration of the BOA system since the release of their 6.0 version in 2013), BOA is now seriously partnering with major traditional running shoe brands for the first time. In BOA’s announcement, they say that this summer we will see the release of newly BOA-equipped running shoes from New Balance, Under Armour and a brand partnership with Asics.

While it may not seem like much on the surface, many triathletes have had plenty of success with Zoot’s Ali’i shoe—its tightening system is both quick and incredibly simple to adjust on the fly: Coming into T2, the setup is fully loosened, and you quickly slip your foot in while the BOA wire holds the shoe top together; once on, you press down the dial and tighten. The ability to reduce pressure from swollen feet during the late stages of a hot marathon or tighten up a hastily-made exit out of T2 with the ratcheted dial is helpful. Not to mention the obvious ability to get the shoe on quickly, without the uneven pressure that is a common complaint from elastic lacing systems.

Already the BOA system has seen some success on trail running shoes from Vasque and North Face, but the footwear dials have mostly been relegated to hiking shoes, snowboard boots and golf shoes. Popular road cycling shoes from Specialized, Bontrager, Giro and Shimano have been BOA-equipped for years and have become the gold standard for secure closure. Recently, we even had an opportunity to ride the custom D2 TriWire triathlon cycling shoe—one of the first tri-cycling shoes to offer a BOA system—and we were impressed with the snug fit, easy adjustment and speed in transition.

According to their press release, BOA has “conducted four rounds of field testing that spanned 100+ testers, 1,800 hours, and 20,000 miles.” They say the result is a new textile-based system that is meant to be more low-profile than previous offerings. As we’ve spent many hours testing the D2 TriWire tri-cycling shoe for our recent August “Hardware” feature, we’re excited to see how the new partnership actually stacks up. Check back with Triathlete.com in the next few weeks for a complete product review and preview of the yet-unreleased New Balance Fuel Core Sonic with the latest BOA system. Until then, just keep tying those old cotton laces up tight.