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by Dave Rome
August 18, 2020
From wrist braces, to snowboard boots, to saddlebags and, of course, cycling shoes, Boa’s wire-based dials are found just about anywhere that velcro or laces would traditionally be used. Of the last 10 shoes we’ve reviewed, seven feature dials from the Colorado-based company.
Boa’s IP1 dial has served the company faithfully for a number of years and is the common go-to solution for performance cycling shoes. Now the company is superseding that dial with a whole new range of cycling-focussed options under the Li2 branding.
We’ll see the new Li2 dial feature on shoe releases from the likes of Shimano, Fizik, Rapha, Scott, Lake, Gaerne, and DMT over the next few months, while it’s rumoured that Giro, Bontrager, Specialized, and Louis Garneau will follow in the new year.
So what does the Li2 offer that the IP1 doesn’t? Well, I’m glad you asked.
The Li2 retains the IP1s dual-direction micro-adjustment, although the steps are now even finer. Also remaining is the easy release by simply pulling up on the dial. But while the action of use is much the same, just about everything else is different.
Boa has utilised a new glass fibre and polycarbonate composite which allows thinner and stronger walls. The result is a dial with a noticeably lower profile (by three millimetres) than the outgoing IP1 dial. It’s also said to offer vastly improved impact and scuff resistance and is better equipped to handle contamination (muck), too.
The Li2 offers a slimmer profile to the IP1. It’s comparable to the L6 dial in size but with many more features within.
Inside, the spool design now features three pieces for greater customisation of lace type and reduced chance of entanglement (sticking). A cartridge-based design also allows for an easy tool-free install in the event a crash or similar wreaks havoc on your footwear.
The dial itself features a back turn spring that should help guide you into turning the dial in the right direction. In other words, loosening the shoe requires more hand force than tightening it.
There will be three dial profiles of the Li2 used by cycling shoe manufacturers, which are as follows (and are shown in the same order, from left to right, in the photo at the top of this post):
Li2 Dial A: Specifically intended for dual-dial shoes. This one offers the smallest diameter (28 mm) with the most capable grip. This grip, which looks like an off-road tyre, is best for use in poor conditions. Expect to find this one on mountain bike and similar shoes. It’s the first time a true matte finish is available and is designed to better match the uppers of popular premium shoes.
Li2 Dial B: A simplified grip also allows a reduced stack height, meaning this one is designed for the aero road market. Boa claims to have verified the design in the wind tunnel. It also features a matte finish.
Li2 Dial C: This is basically a new version of the IP1 with a larger-diameter dial (29.4 mm) and simpler construction. With a fast lace uptake, this one is designed for use where only one dial on a shoe is used. This dial requires a new upper and so shoes currently using the IP1 won’t be able to be upgraded. There’s a soft grip on this one.
The new A and B dials feature a composite overmold grip construction around the perimeter of the dial which is said to provide the reduced size, increased finger traction, and improved durability. It’s apparently a first for Boa.
The overmold composite construction is a first for Boa.
However, it’s the way that Boa is using these materials that’s most interesting. The new Li2 lineup is said to reduce manufacturing waste with excess materials being reground and put back into the process. Add in the fact the new dials are supposed to be more durable in everyday use and it seems Boa is doing its part to reduce waste.
Expect to read more about these dials as new shoes start trickling in for review. In the meantime you can learn more at Boa.com.