On Test: Easton EC90 Aero Wheelset

EC90 Aero Tubulars are Easton’s medium-depth, 56-millimeter, profile carbon wheels. With most ProTour teams road racing on medium-depth aero wheels, Easton responded with a bladed-spoke wheel with a carbon rim that is lightweight enough to be a contender in a fast-paced criterium event, and slippery enough to provide an advantage for time trialists, or to stick a solo breakaway in a road race.

Easton developed a rounded aero shape for the EC90 rim that tests surprisingly well in the wind tunnel with low drag in a straight line and excellent performance in crosswinds. The 21-millimeter-wide carbon rim is 56-millimeters deep and has a modified composite braking track to withstand higher temperatures and provide smoother stops. Spoke nipples are internal for aero purposes. The smooth-rolling R4SL hubs are upgraded from last year with ceramic hybrid bearings and a more precise one-tool bearing preload adjustment feature (last year’s were finger-adjustable). The rear hub is a high/low configuration. Spokes are Sapim-bladed stainless steel, and the 18-spoke front wheel is radial-laced, while the 20-spoke rear is radial on the left and two-cross on the drive side. Aluminum freehubs are sold for either Campagnolo (our wheels) or SRAM/Shimano, and the wheelset comes with Swisstop brake pads, Ti-shaft quick-releases, valve extensions and a spoke key for $1800. Weight is 1358 grams a pair without quick-releases.

We mounted the Easton EC90 Aero wheels to Schwalbe tubular tires inflated to 130 psi. The test bike was a BH G5, and the Easton wheels replaced a Campagnolo Eurus 2-Way Fit clincher wheelset for a weight savings of 170 grams. We had a few minor setup issues-the Easton-supplied cassette retainer nut was too thick to provide axle clearance for the right dropout (we used the thinner Campagnolo retainer with success). Minor, but worth mention, was that Easton’s valve extensions did not seal well with our Silca or Genuine Innovation pump heads.

BEST USE: Road racing, hilly time trials, criteriums, triathlon.

Initial setup: 2
Glue-on tires require some knowledge to mount, and if you don’t get a good seal on the valve extensions, you must remove the tires to refit them. Use a stock Campy cassette retainer and have a buddy help seat the pump head so you can get an accurate pressure reading on the pump.

Weight: 4
1358 grams is good for a laterally stiff, 56-millimeter-profile wheel.

Acceleration/climbing: 3
Smooth, fast acceleration. Easton’s EC90 Aero wheel feels fresh under power, and climbing performance is good, but we didn’t get the ‘snap’ of an ultra-lightweight climbing wheel.

Road comfort: 3
Deep-section wheels tend to ride harshly, but not Easton’s. We ran them at 130 psi (moderate pressure for tubulars), and they managed to mute sharp bumps and smooth broken pavement. EC90 wheels are not plush, but they are smooth enough to fit into the road racing category.

Cornering feel: 5
Quote: ‘I’ve never cornered that fast before in a crit and held a steady line.’ In a word: magical.

Braking: 3
Stopping power was good using the supplied Swisstop yellow pads. There was no pulsing, but the pad contact initially felt gritty with an audible hiss, and there was a bit of lag time before the brakes began stopping with authority.

Windy conditions: 5
Quote: ‘Just looking at them, I thought that I’d be all over the road, but they overachieved. They are really stable in high winds.’

Durability: 4
Still tight and true after 500-plus hard miles.

Easton EC90 Aero Tubular wheels are perfectly suited for a racer who needs a truly aerodynamic wheelset that can be used for a wide range of conditions, from criteriums and road races, to hilly time trials. It is one of the rare deep-profile aero wheels with easy-to-ride handling qualities.

Note: If you shy away from tubular tires, consider the fact that tubulars mute the normally rough ride of deep-section carbon wheels-and Easton’s EC90 Aero wheels are a match made in tubular heaven.

PRICE: $1800
WEIGHT: 1358 grams/pair (without QR’s)
COMPATIBLE: SRAM/Shimano, Campagnolo
INFO: www.eastonbike.com

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