Easton EA90 SLX Clincher Wheelset Pro Review

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Easton EC90 SLX Clincher Wheelset Pro ReviewBy Twain Mein

  • Hand built, fully aluminum rim
  • Sapim double butted and stainless steel spokes, 18 front radial, 24 rear radial/2-cross on drive side
  • 20mm deep front, 24mm deep rear
  • Weight: Front: 600 grams, Rear: 820 grams, total 1420 with rim strips. Estimated 1390 actual versus claimed weight of 1398 grams.
  • Ceramic bearings with tool-less bearing preload adjustment
  • Included quick releases skewers, 121 grams
  • No rider weight limit
  • $1000 msrp for the pair

A few years back, Easton bought a wheelmaker, Velomax. Velomax made some fantastic wheels, including what became the 2006 Easton Ascent II. They were highly regarded as being a great value in a superlight wheelset (1430 grams w/o rimstrips). Some folks complained that they were a bit flexy; I own a pair and they have been plenty stiff for me and the only issue I had was the need to replace the rear wheel bearings last year. Easton customer service was excellent and installation was a breeze.

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About the author: Twain Mein

Twain Mein has been a fan of mtbr.com & roadbikereview.com since 1996. After meeting Francis, he became fascinated with the technology and gear aspect of cycling and became one of our first product reviewers. Twain has been doing triathlons since 1987 and was ranked in the Top 50 U.S. National Age Group in 2012. He’s recently been learning swimming tips from his 10 year-old daughter who has way more natural talent!


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  • LT says:

    Could you also compare it to Bontrager RaceXLites?

  • Mike says:

    Does the EC90SLX rear wheel retain the Velomax Ascent’s off center rim design? Can’t quite tell from your pics/text. I have the Ascent IIs & liked that design since the drive/non drive spoke tension is more even, is stronger, & requires less frequent trueing.

    Also think you should consider throwing the Roval Fusee SL wheelset (not star) into the mix as they are very close in price/weight, have fantastic hubs, DT aerolite spokes, & a clever spoke nipple attachment that virtually eliminates potential eyelet cracking. If I hadn’t crashed my back Fusee back wheel, I’d choose them over the Ascents/EC90SLX

  • Chris says:

    I expected a review for the low-profile carbon rimmed EC90 SLX, not a review for Easton’s top-of-the line aluminium EA90 SLX.

    Funny how a single letter can actually have some importance. Look at the wheels’ graphics – yep, I can read EA90 there. Not EC90.
    The title is misleading :)

  • Bob says:

    These rock. You won’t be sorry. I wouldn’t waste time comparing them to You can pick ‘em up on ebay for 500 bucks from time to time. Not sure how those sellers get them (back of a truck in NJ maybe?) but who cares.

  • don says:

    How do they compare to $2000.oo zipps?

  • Brent says:

    I’m fortunate to own the 2008′s and they are great wheels. I wouldn’t trade them for anything. Bob, there’s no way you’ll be able to find these latest ones with ceramic bearings for $500. One downside to the 2009′s are the HUGE vinyl graphics. Dirt and grease will slowly stain them and after a few years those giant stickers won’t look so nice. Mine are more subdued, and even after just a year there are some spots and smudges that even wax won’t take out.

  • greenslade says:

    Hi-
    I own a pair of Hed Ardennes and they are fantastic. The Easton wheels, from this review do not stand up well against the HED wheels.The Easton’s are light – big deal, so are allot of wheels. Read up on the HED wheels. Log drag coefficient, lower rolling resitance – lighter than the Eastons. Same price. Question (oh great web reviewer)- what is the rim weight? That is a pretty basic question? How about the skewers? Where is the wind tunnel data? Do your homework before you write a review.
    “The black, white, red and grey scream performance.” That’s a review? It SCREAMS performance!!?? Dude. Write a review. There are far to many reviews that spew back manufacturer white paper BS – your review is the latest in a long line of junk reviews that provide NO USEFUL information.
    Don’t waste our time – go SCREAM performance and enjoy the view of my backside.

  • Twain says:

    Greenslade-
    I don’t doubt that the Ardennes are fantastic and I did compare these to the Heds; please see page 4. And Roadbikereview users have given them very high marks. To be clear, I am a big fan of Hed and own both the Alps and Jet 60/90 wheels. (A review of the Jets will be forthcoming). The new C2 rims featured on Hed Jet’s and Ardennes, however, are 23mm wide (vs 19mm) and I’ve found they pose some fitment issues, especially with Zero Gravity brakes.

    In terms of rim weight, Easton is 403 grams front, 432 rear. Hed is 430 each; they uses lighter spokes for the lower overall weight. Additionally, the Hed’s have a rider weight limit of 190lbs and don’t come with ceramic bearings unless you upgrade to the sweet Flamme Rouge package for ~$400 more.

    Regarding the skewers–which I explained weigh 121 grams, I said “The only ding on the design is the quick release levers. While they have great clamping power and the levers feel comfortable, they are a bit heavy and mundane looking.” I’ve found that the new Ritchey and American Classic skewers really nail the weight, clamping force, and ergonomics.

    Lastly, the review was more done to illustrate the multitude of incremental gains
    that the manufacturer has focused on to continue to improve an already very good wheelset. In other words, that they are competing against themselves to keep improving, which I think is admirable.

    Sorry that you didn’t find this useful.

  • greenslade says:

    Twain,
    Thanks for responding. I am very frustrated (obviously) by reviews that are a rearranging of information found in a catalog or a reprint of a press release. Real information and FACTS about performance what is needed.
    Before a rider drops $1000 on a wheels set the rider needs information – not impressions. Impressions are subjective.
    Rider impressions are interesting for sure, but wind tunnel data, rim weight, rim width – information.
    Ceramic bearing. If you call HED – they will tell you not to waste your money unless the guys in your local ride need to hear that you dropped the coin for bling.
    I chose HED’s but there are plenty of other wheels that would do the job I’m sure. I apologize if your review was intended to be a “product update”. Too many wheels are sold for the bling factor. “they scream performance” is probably just what Easton was looking for when they designed the graphics – and it will probably help sell wheels – whether they perform or not.
    A review that contained real performance in formation would be refreshing.

    Thanks
    greenslade

  • M-theory says:

    I thought the review was very useful. Clearly Easton has made a quality wheel. With no weight limitation and ceramic bearings, its certainly worth considering.

    I’d probably go with the EA90 AERO version cause they have more bling…even if they are a bit heavier.

  • JDL says:

    15 seconds on Old La Honda you say? I need about 1:10 to make it under 20 minutes. I need every second I can get. maybe have to look into new wheels

  • a_avery007 says:

    well greenslade,
    Heds are reportadely very good wheels, but i would seriously look at other data supplied about wind tunnels and inertia etc before going off on the Easton’s, not talking about HED’s own data either. there is another site that has tested many wheels for stiffness, weight and aerodynamics and the HEDs faired poorly…

    have you even ridden the Eastons?
    i have and i find them to be even better than Dura Ace 7850 sl tubeless and that is saying a lot….

  • Eliott says:

    I also just recently rode the EA90 SLX wheels, and compared to my Ascent II’s, they do seem to be a strong improvement in smoothness and rigidity. I had previously noticed some flex in my Ascents on a Lemond frame, where the tire was rubbing under load on narrowly spaced rear chainstays. I’m going to put the Ascents back on now after riding the SLX’s and see how they fare. I’m also going to compare spoke tension to make sure the Ascents are properly adjusted to remove any issue of flex due to a need for tuning. That said, the EA90 SLX’s felt very fast from Old La Honda down to highway 84 and handled descents with aplomb.

  • Scott says:

    Wow Greenslade… If the review doesn’t suit you, why not just try asking for the data that you feel is missing – in a nice way? You admited to being frustrated with reviews that aren’t in the format you like, but that doesn’t entitle you to take it out anyone by being an ass. roadbikereview is free – unlike many things in life. I’ve helped with a “Pro review” on mtbr, and I can tell you many reviewers are not paid staff – just cyclists who ride a lot, who can write reasonably well (or at least not in ALL CAPS), and are passionate enough to donate their time. Try being kind when asking a reviewer to improve their review. And, just because you don’t want to hear subjective reviews, doesn’t mean others feel the same way as you do. I myself find aggregate personal opinions of products very helpful, and I know others do as well – in my mind, that’s really what mtbr and rbr are all about. The “Facts” (weight, wind resistance, etc.) – I feel the manufacturers should be providing that stuff. If they don’t, and you want it – go bitch to them about it. Yes, it would be great to have those types of facts checked in reviews. That stuff is interesting and helpful, but in the end, if the thing develops a crack or a creak, or a broken whatever (spoke, nipple, freehub, etc) – that’s the kind-a stuff I want to learn from reviews on roadbikereview and mtbr. If a reviewer can actually make direct comparisons to other products in the same class – that’s even better. While it would be fantastic if all of the reviewers had access to equipment like a windtunnel, that’s a luxury that I don’t expect they’ll have anytime in the near future (unless Francis has something in the works).

    Twain – thanks, I found the review very informative.

  • Twain says:

    Well done, Scott! Really well said–and thanks for providing a broader explanation like this.
    I can’t wait to try Francis’ wind tunnel but until then we’ll do the best we can.

    Thanks again!

  • Kris says:

    Only thing with these wheels that is a problem. The preload. It will loosen on it’s own and you will be left with a wobbly wheel. Sure you can adjust this fairly quickly, however if you decide to get the “new preload” you will need to carry a cone wrench. I’m over this wheelset. They will stay true however and the ceramic bearing are sweet. They would be the perfect climbing wheel if it wasn’t for that preload design. I’m thinking of putting a bit of thread lock on that adjuster. Haha. If anyone wants these wheels I’ll sell them cheep. Easton customer service is average. It took three weeks to get a new bearing. And then the guy told me the preload issue is due to not installing the bearing properly. Wish they could just tell me that they are working on a new design and to be patient.

  • Darren says:

    I would like to see these wheels compared to a handbuilt set. I think the ultimate set would be a 28 hole Velocity Aerohead or A23 front laced cross 2 to a White Industries H2 hub with sapim bladed spokes and alloy nipples. On the rear a 28 hole Velocity Aerohead or A23 laced cross 2 to a White Indusrties H3 rear hub with brass nipples on the drive side and alloy nipples on the non drive side.

    That set would weigh about 1475 grams.

    It would have more spokes to support rider weight, be serviceable by just about any bike shop and be competitively light. Make it 32 spokes on the rear, go cross 3 and alternate brass and alloy nipples for a more durable set. I would love to see these in a back to back comparison.

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