By Brandon Bilyeu
- Same function as previous version IP1 with improved durability, sustainability
- Lower profile
- Small increment loosening and tightening, quick release
- Fast and easy on-bike adjustment, even under shoe covers
- BOA Guarantee covers Dials and Laces
- Single side cable pull makes loosening and quick release a little slow
Price: Varies depending on the shoes
How obtained: review sample
Available: anywhere bike shoes are sold
Website: BOA Li2
RBR Sponsor: no
Tested: 6 months
BOA Li2: Successor to the BOA IP1
I have owned several pairs of cycling shoes with BOA IP1 dials and find them a considerable improvement over laces, Velcro, and ratchet systems. When BOA announced the Li2 as a “new and improved” replacement for the IP1 I was a little worried. All too often “improved” versions of already good products turn out to be worse than the original. But after 6 months of indoor and outdoor winter testing, I can confidently say that BOA did not mess up the special sauce recipe.
If the Li2 name seems oddly familiar it’s likely because it sounds like Shimano’s Di2 electronic groupsets. But that is where the similarities end, the Li2 is still a manual dial and not driven by an electric motor controlled by your cycling computer.
There is no learning curve if you have already used the IP1 as the function is the same. For those not familiar with BOA dials, cycling shoes typically feature one or two dials per foot and each dial allows the following adjustments by a turn/push/pull on the dial:
Compared to the classic laces/Velcro/ratchet closure systems, the BOA dials offer easy and quick adjustment of shoe tightness with very small increments in both directions. The dial is also possible to turn when underneath shoe covers, a nice feature on cold and wet rides.
Also unchanged is BOA’s Guarantee. When you buy a pair of BOA-equipped shoes the dials and laces are covered for life. If a dial or lace breaks (I’ve never experienced this) you simply contact BOA and they will send the correct replacement parts free of charge. To help with the correct part identification, the new dials are now clearly labeled with “Li2.” You can also purchase spare parts to have available in case of a problem so you don’t have to wait for the claims process. Not covered are parts that are sewn into the shoes like the lace guides and housing for the dial. If these fail you will have to contact your specific shoe manufacturer.
So What Has Changed?
With the previous IP1, both ends of the lace are actively moving when the dial is turned or released. So when tightening, both ends of the lace are pulled into the dial simultaneously. For the Li2, this changes and only one end of the lace is active, the other end fixed. This means that the friction between the lace and guides plays a more important role. The new Li2 design works great with the high tightening forces, but there is a slight decrease in performance for loosening and release. Loosening is not instant and takes a pedal stroke or two to work the lace through the guides. This effect is most noticeable on release, where it takes much more force to open the shoe (overcome lace/guide friction) than the IP1 (both lace ends easily spool out of the dial). While certainly not an improvement over the IP1, overall performance on the bike is not affected.
The other changes to the new Li2 are not apparent to the end user but do make for an improved product. First, the dial has a slightly lower and cleaner profile than the IP1. The less bulky dials look sleeker and make getting shoe covers on a little bit easier. And while BOA doesn’t make any specific aero claims, I’m sure there is at least a 0.0000000000001% increase in aero efficiency.
Second, durability has been improved. With 350 field testers and internal wear tests to torment the dials, BOA has improved the dial housing and internals to be more resistant to failure. I’ve never had a failure with the previous IP1 dial and the Li2 performed without issue over my six months of testing. I exposed the Li2 dials to sweaty indoor rides, freezing/wet/salty winter rides, and dusty dry rides without issue.
Finally, the sustainability of the dial production has been improved. The Li2 uses 10% less plastic than the IP1. As a company, BOA is committed to reducing the use of virgin plastics and eventually becoming zero waste. Currently, BOA uses some recycled material in 38% of its products and plan to reach 100% by 2027.
BOA dials offer smaller adjustment increments and ease of use when compared to laces, Velcro, or ratchets. The IP1 was a great dial and the new Li2 makes small refinements while keeping the same performance level. If you want the best closure system for comfort and fit try out some shoes with BOA dials.
Brandon Bilyeu is an avid recreational roadie who lives in Regensburg, Germany. He’s a year-round bike commuter and is a mechanical design engineer by trade. Click to read Brandon’s full bio.
The same as the BOA IP1, only more difficult to release. Sounds like a step back to me, based only on what was written in the review. Yes, improvement in other areas, like the increase in non-virgin plastic. I’m wondering how much of an impact on the global environment will be measurable when all cyclists are using BOA Li2?( I’m guessing virtually no impact at all.)
I’ve used BOA and don’t like it. Velcro is much simpler and quite durable. Maybe if I was a high-end, elite cyclist I’d have a different opinion. But there’s a lot more of cyclists like me out there than elite cyclists, so making products that are practical and functional for our use makes a lot more sense.