Easton EA70AX first ride review

Easton's new wheelset rolls deeper in to adventure ‘cross

Adding to its AX handlebars released in 2016, Easton has announced a purpose-built alloy wheelset for its Adventure ‘Cross lineup.

The new EA70AX wheels are a mash-up of existing Easton products. Easton’s product manager Adam Marriot says the brand approached the design similarly to how your local custom wheel builder might: find the ideal rim, pair it with a proper spoke count and lacing pattern, and finish with some fancy nipples. Each component has been chosen to complement the next for a ride quality that suits the terrain.

The rim is the same as the Arc XC, meaning the new wheelset is available in 650b and 700c dimensions. Like the mountain rims, they have a 24mm internal width (27mm external) and Easton claims they pair well with 35-40mm tires. That claim seems spot on with my first ride putting about 30 miles on 40mm WTB Nano tires.

24mm internal width, tubeless-ready with strips, valves included and a tasteful graphics package — pretty good all around
24mm internal width, tubeless-ready with strips, valves included and a tasteful graphics package — pretty good all around

Pardon the brief intermission, but the WTB Nanos are worth mentioning. The consistent center tread rolls like it’s void of tread, which is to say they’re fast. But when leaned, the edges really bite and you don’t have to go to the extreme lean to get them to hook up. I’d buy this tire without hesitation. Moving on…

Aside from the benefits of their width, the AX wheels also have a matched depth, given the application. At 20mm they’re easy to accelerate, but more importantly to me, they’re a good balance of durability and stiffness — at least that’s what my first ride indicated.

Between the tires and wheels, both of which were new to me, I never once felt any sort of sluggish sensation, nor did I feel like I was going to have to head straight to the truing stand afterwards.

If you’d like to relate the set up to your rig at home, the air pressure was set at 32psi rear and 28psi front. I’ll have these wheels for long-term testing and time will tell how they hold up.

Standards a plenty

Big Basin State Park was littered with downed trees and branches, making for plenty of tricky terrain
Big Basin State Park was littered with downed trees and branches, making for plenty of tricky terrain

The EA70AX wheels have claimed weights of 1,670g (650b) and 1,760g (700c), and come tubeless-ready with rim strips installed and valves to match.

Front wheels come with options for 15x100mm or 12x100mm thru axles, and can also accommodate 9x100QR.

The rear is suitable for Shimano or XD drivers, and can mate to 12x142mm or 10x135QR frame standards.

Easton was pretty stoked to be able to meet the needs of all the “standards” and both front and rear are center-lock only for rotor mounting.

The terrain chosen to learn about the new wheels was a mix of abandoned fire roads, singletrack and plenty of rocks and roots. If you’re familiar with the area, Big Basin State Park has plenty of features to trash some pretty new wheels, and despite my best effort, they were as straight at the end as they were out of the box. Furthermore, they were mounted up front to the new Fox AX fork, which allowed me to push far harder than I would on a rigid fork.

The route offered a lot more that just loamy goodness — these sandstone gardens provided some sweet punishment for the AX wheelset
The route offered a lot more that just loamy goodness — these sandstone gardens provided some sweet punishment for the AX wheelset

Although looks are the last thing on some people’s radar, it’s one of the top considerations for me, I liked the subtle graphic design package Easton opted to use. It’s not too noisy and gives just enough flash to complement the rim shape without being obnoxious, and it’ll mate to the color pallete of just about any frame or component selection.

Plus, even though the wheels are alloy they have a carbon appearance. Perhaps I’m admitting a bit too much to my vanity, but I like the look of carbon wheels and these fit the bill.

Easton EA70AX price and availability

If all that sounds awesome for your riding, terrain and vanity, the only issue left is price.

Despite wanting to have at least a little something to complain about, the $600 retail price is, in my book, an affordable option, and Easton says the wheels should be hitting your local dealer later in May.

Easton EA70AX first impressions

More than sandstone, sometimes things just got downright rocky. The EA70AX wheels are far more durable than standard road wheels
More than sandstone, sometimes things just got downright rocky. The EA70AX wheels are far more durable than standard road wheels

Based on only four hours of riding, I think Easton is on to something: more durability than a road wheel, not as overbuilt as a mountain wheel and a price point that’s pretty tempting.

Here at BikeRadar we’re pretty stoked to see how things hold up to long-term testing. More to come.

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