Easton has a long history in aluminum and composites and winning titles, including taking a Tour de France title under Cadel Evans, Cyclocross National Championships under Jeremy Powers, and a road World Championship under Philippe Gilbert.
However, Easton’s experience isn’t limited to cycling. Although Easton Cycling is now owned by Fox Factory, the sister Easton brands are dominant players in hockey, baseball, lacrosse and even mountaineering. All of those sports value products that are light, stiff, and strong, but may not boast the rapidly-evolving technology of the bike industry, which each year cranks out a new size or width of rim, axle or bead shape.
Despite the company’s top-level cycling victories, including Power’s 2014 National Championship in Boulder, you could argue that the company fell behind a bit in terms of the biggest trend in wheels: wide rims. As wider rims grew in popularity, and cyclists appreciated the extra volume, cornering support and improved aerodynamics, Easton’s road offerings still maxed out at 17.5mm internal width, and the carbon deep section rims featured a traditional V-shaped profile.
Easton’s Newest EC90 SL Wheels Round the Corner, Emerge Wider
That’s all changed, and now Easton boasts some of the widest road rims with its new EC90 SL and Aero 55 rims, with a 19mm internal width and a blunt, super-wide section that maxes out at over 28mm wide. Easton maintains that the new rim isn’t just a trend-follower, but rather a standard setter. Its own wind tunnel tests verify best-in-class results for the tubular EC90 SL, and close results with the EC90 SL clincher. Furthermore, the extra width clearly adds some volume to road tires, adding to comfort while typically reducing rolling resistance.
The company also revamped its road hubs, launching the new Echo front and rear hubs for rim brake wheels. The hubs offer what Easton boasts to be the widest bearing stance in the industry, which should provide better support for the axle to create a stiffer system, and possibly extend bearing life.
The hubs have a unique, reversed drive design, with the pawls on the hub shell and the drive mechanism on the freehub body, and only seven degrees of rotation before engagement. This change also results in a featherlight axle, said to weigh just 11 grams.
Bearing adjustment from the R4 hubs is gone, and by removing the manual adjustment, the company says it’s actually created a more durable, longer-lasting system (partially due to simply removing the chance for user error). The hubs are laced to the new rims with Sapim straight pull spokes, the recent gold standard for wheels.
Easton didn’t just add girth at the rim and bearings. It also is now one of a select few companies that we’re aware of, along with Bontrager, Reynolds and Velocite, to offer a carbon clincher tubeless rim for road (high pressure), and the only one that’s Road Tubeless certified with a rim that’s fully sealed (no tape needed).
Have a tendency to participate in skinny tire rides or races in the offseason? The Easton EC90 SL clincher and tubular wheels may be worth a look. But is it a relevant product for cyclocrossers and gravel racers? Or a multi-use wheelset that can justify the investment? Keep reading on page two for our initial impressions.