Crossing Boa wires is a thing. But why?

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I recently noticed that a colleague, CyclingTips business development manager Andy van Bergen, had unhooked the Boa wires on his shoes and criss-crossed them over in lieu of their usual parallel paths across the top of his shoes. It looked like a mistake. When asked if it was done on purpose, he just jokingly replied, “All the cool kids are doing it.”

However, Andy couldn’t tell me why he did it. Only that “it’s different.” And so the curiosity within grew. What’s the reason people are doing this? Does it actually do anything? And are there any issues in doing it?

I reached out to Scott Mavis, VP of marketing at Boa, for answers.

The Boa cross in action. If your shoes are equipped with open wire guides, it’s as simple as undoing the wire at the loop end and giving it a twist.

Mavis jumped quickly to the reason why some do this. “We have seen people do this as a way to alleviate pressure points in the shoe up towards the top of the tongue based on how that top lace sits on their particular foot.”

It’s something our own James Huang has since confirmed, stating that it was a trick he used for older shoes where pressure was an issue. Crossing the wire worked well on older Specialized S-Works shoes, for example, but James doesn’t consider it necessary for newer Boa-equipped shoes because they no longer seem to create those pressure points.

I then found myself wondering if crossing the wire could have an effect on the efficiency of the closure system. That is, would crossing the wire change the amount that the shoe could be closed with each click of the Boa reel? The wire seemed to travel a longer path when crossed, but I struggled to measure an significant difference over ten clicks of Boa’s S2 reel. Despite what the geometry would suggest, the Specialized S-Works 6 shoe that I experimented with closed by 4mm with the same amount of winding on the reel, regardless of whether the wire was crossed or uncrossed.

Whatever the explanation, assuming that crossing the wire helps relieve pressure for you, are there any issues to be aware of? According to Mavis, “the system and configuration is designed to produce the lowest closure force, so the extra lace crossing will change that, resulting in slightly more effort to close the shoe.”

It’s something I can attest to in my brief testing: the system was noticeably harder to bring up to tension when the wire was crossed, although that also means it isn’t as easy to inadvertently overtighten the shoe, either. Additionally, I found that the wire was more likely to derail from its guide for at least one model of shoes I investigated (Shimano S-Phyre) with the eventual risk of getting caught in the Boa dial. It’s a small issue to be aware of, and one that suggests that crossing the wire won’t be effective for every shoe.

Boa wires crossed on Specialized S-Works 6 shoes

As for long-term consequences, there appear to be none, even when crossing the wire contravenes the initial design intention of the shoe. According to Mavis, “it does not create additional risk or lower durability of the system in cycling shoes.”

So, there you have it, a simple trick for Boa-equipped shoes that might bring you some relief and help you score a few style points to boot. Have you tried it? Did you see any benefit in it? Chime in in the comments below.

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