Sea Otter 2011 tech coverage continues with all new product relevant to cyclocrossers. In this installment, we take a look a mountain bike wheels from Easton and WTB that are ready for the disc brake cyclocross bike and give us a preview of upcoming tubeless-compatible cyclocross wheels.
by Clifford Lee
Easton has revealed their new technology for the mountain bike crowd with the carbon rimed, disc specific EC90 XC carbon wheels. The wheels are a slimmed-down version of the Haven wheelset, and the use of carbon rim technology produces a UST rim yielding a stunning 1280 gram wheelset (26″, 29er weighs 1410g) that Easton claims is “the lightest carbon rimmed, UST compatible wheelset on the market” and features the first carbon rim designed to be sealant compatible.” The 19mm inside rim width makes it quite wide for a cyclocross tire, but on par with a NoTubes.com 29er rim, one of the CXM staff’s favorite for tubeless cyclocross conversions. With such a wide rim, you add volume to any cyclocross tire, but also modify its profile. Of course, given that this is a mountain bike wheel, it’s currently only relevant if you are looking to race cyclocross on your mountain bike or 29er, or have a 135mm rear-spaced disc-ready cyclocross bike. Also at $2500 list ($2600 for the 29er model), it’s certainly not priced on intended for the masses, even if it’s built to withstand the use.
Recognizing the growing popularity of the cyclocross segment, Easton says to look out for a cyclocross specific tubeless carbon clincher introduction this fall with rim brake compatibility, but the company would not give a specific date. The company also may release its disc brake-ready carbon tubular wheels that we got an early look at prior to Sea Otter on the TRP Parabox-equipped Stevens cyclocross bike.
Also on the wheel front, WTB has finally embraced tubeless tires and has introduced its WTB tubeless system, available initially for 26 and 29 disc specific bikes. This looked remarkably similar to a Stan’s setup with yellow plastic tape to seal the rim holes, and the company even resells Stan’s famous NoTubes.com sealant, but WTB says its yellow tape is stickier than Stan’s’ tape. Also, WTB’s rims are UST certified and comply with ETRO standards. I’m not convinced that will make a difference in actual use, but certainly I can rest easy knowing no stone was left unturned for tubeless compatibility.
The rim is available in three inside widths: 19, 21, and 23 mm, with the 19 mm being the most ‘cross compatible, but no rim brake version of the rim is available at this time and WTB says it is not in the plans at the moment as they concentrate on introducing their system of tubeless mountain rims and matching tires. With their tubeless rim and tire system, they were able to demonstrate that the tire could be mounted and inflated with just a floor pump.