There’s no getting around it, good carbon fibre handlebars and stems aren’t cheap, and those engineered for aerodynamic benefit usually cost more still.
What makes such a cockpit appealing, compared to an equivalent aluminium version, and can it ever be good value? That question depends on your priorities, because components such as Easton’s EC90 Aero bar and EC90 SL stem are designed to perform in top-level competition, where results usually trump budget considerations.
Also available in 40cm and 44cm widths, my 42cm EC90 Aero bar has compact 125mm drops with 80mm reach and weighs 238g.
The broad, flat aero tops are surprisingly comfortable to hold and, if left untaped for maximum wind penetration, show off the matt UD carbon’s bold water transfer graphics and offer decent grip with or without mitts on. Since you’re only likely to hold the tops when climbing seated or cruising along, this is rarely an issue.
A tight bend into the drops and slight flare create ample wrist room for descending and sprinting, and the hand position in the drops is supportively comfortable. Internal routing keeps all hoses and cables tucked well away from onrushing air until close to the stem.
There may be a few slightly more aero-looking stems on the market, and several that are lighter, but Easton’s goal wasn’t absolute mass reduction. In fact, it claims the EC90 SL carbon stem is the lightest that will ably cope with years of heavy use on challenging terrain such as Paris-Roubaix, cyclocross or mountain bike racing, something that should give buyers reassurance.
Lengths from 80mm to 130mm are available, and Easton’s TaperWall technology, four titanium faceplate bolts, and a large single bolt for the steerer clamp mean that my 110mm example weighs 132g.
Easton’s Top Lock faceplate ensures excellent handlebar security, with generous width and maximum contact area around its 31.8mm diameter.
General road buzz is very well damped, and sharp impacts are dulled significantly to reduce muscle fatigue and improve control. Whether racing into short climbs and attacking over the top at full gas, climbing for extended periods, or trying to beat your mates in the town sign sprint, I couldn’t detect any torsional flex or unsettling spring from this combination, and it’s proved the ideal companion on day-long rides.
I can’t judge aerodynamics, but a handlebar can offer significant drag reductions, and if every watt matters, and the price doesn’t scare you off, the EC90 is a great, reliable choice.
Easton EC90 Aero Bar specifications
- Material: EC90 carbon
- Width: Available in 40, 42 , 44cm
- Reach: 80mm
- Drop: 125mm
- Price: £280 / $300
EC90 SL Stem specifications
- Material: EC90 carbon
- Clamp: 31.8mm
- Length: 80, 90, 100, 110, 120, 130mm
- Rise: (+/-) 10°/ 0°
- Price: £230 / $250