Easton’s latest carbon wheelset has been put through its paces in one of the toughest environments, having been the choice of Cadel Evans for this year’s Tour de France. While he opted for the 1232g tubular versions, we’re more interested in the all-new clinchers. They may weigh 300g a pair more, due to the reinforcement needed in the sidewalls and bead track, but 1532g for a set of 38mm deep wheels is still mighty impressive.
Tension and bearing quality is excellent; tension is on the high side but even, and the hybrid ceramic cartridge bearings run smoothly with top notch sealing. Double butted bladed Sapim spokes add to the aero qualities. With carbon wheels, especially ones as tightly put together as these, we would expect a harsher ride than an equivalent alloy rim. That certainly isn’t the case here. They track straight and true and we couldn’t induce anything like enough ﬂex when sprinting to worry the brake pads. They also roll with a measurable amount of comfort; we tried different tyres, pressures and every surface we could ﬁnd and still they gave a smooth ride.
At 38mm deep they aren’t going to offer the same speed-holding characteristics of Easton’s own 56mm wheel. That said, they are noticeably quicker than a standard rim on the ﬂat, and on climbs extending beyond a mile or so we’d rather be running these than anything deeper or heavier. What’s really impressive, though, is the braking. Easton uses a thermatec surface, a ceramic-like coating rated to temperatures in excess of 500°C. What that translates into is a braking quality as far removed from carbon’s grabby reputation as we’ve ever tried. With the supplied SwissStop pads it’s superb: progressive, smooth and controllable, easily the equal of modern aluminium rims.
Overall, the EC90 is the most usable all-rounder of the latest crop of carbon clinchers. They have a proﬁle low enough not to be hindered by side winds and are light enough for the toughest climbs.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus