Easton have entered the carbon wheel scene with some fanfare. A new carbon facility in Mexico and a recently imported carbon expert from the US military aerospace industry have set them alight with new materials and construction technologies. Their new Haven all-mountain line is at the forefront, with an alloy and a carbon 26in option.
We were expecting great things from the carbon version costing a whopping £1,950 – after all, there are plenty of very tidy complete bikes that cost that much. Cost aside it comes down to performance. Is there enough gain in the use of carbon to warrant digging up Granny for her gold teeth? As much as we’d love to side with the anti-carbon-rims-on-all-grounds brigade we have to say yes, dig Granny up.
These tubeless-ready (excellent tubeless seal) wheels have proven to be some of the stiffest feeling, smoothest rolling, lightest and resilient to deliberate mistreatment wheels we’ve ever tested. They make a good bike feel and handle brilliantly, especially those in the long-travel trail bike genre, which often need all the acceleration they can get.
At 1,450g they're as light as several alloy-rimmed cross-country orientated wheels, but with a remit for you to go nuts. The Havens use a wider 26mm outer width (21mm inner), allowing use of up to a 2.4in wide tyre without rolling off the rim in hard cornering.
Talking rims, the ABC (Armoured Ballistic Composite) material is also used in US military-spec infantry helmets and body armour, and is designed to withstand extreme impact without shattering or splintering, which is great for soldiers and awesome for mountain bikers scared of breaking carbon rims.
Laced with 24 Sapim three-cross straight-pull spokes each, the ride of the wheels has two distinct features. Firstly you can feel the wheels’ suspension qualities banging over the big stuff, feeling soft to frontal impact yet stiff laterally. Backed with Easton’s two-year guarantee, we’re happy to dish out the pain. We’re now two months into testing and haven't been able to make them ﬂinch. We’ve been jumping them, riding them hub deep in mud and hitting rocks at low pressures and so far they’re still A-okay.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.