Easton EC90 SL Disc wheelset review£2,400.00

Stiff, tough, tubeless road or rough wheels for deep wallets

BikeRadar score4/5

Easton’s chunky rim, MTB hubbed wheels are a super-strong and precise option for the toughest drop-bar action but not as supple or subtle as the latest fatties.

Easton has plenty of experience building carbon-fibre wheels that have a great reputation for rim strength and easy tubeless compatibility. No surprise then that the EC90 SL’s ‘Fantom’ format rim is supplied pre-valved with a hard sealing strip to avoid accidental damage from tyre levers. This all makes tubeless set-up simple, though not quite as easy as the best in class, with some tyre combinations needing patience to seat and seal. 

They are extremely precise in terms of steering control, despite only having 20 spokes up front

They’re wide enough to work well with 28-30mm tyres and they’re fine with up to a 40mm, if you don’t mind a more pinched/rounded profile than you’ll get with the widest road rims such as Stan’s.

They’re also an interesting barometer for how much wheel performance and benchmarks have changed recently. When the EC90 SLs were introduced two years ago we raved about their smooth ride quality but the fat, rounded, eyeleted 38mm deep rims now feel unforgivingly stiff off-road compared to the latest fatter/smoother rims. 

They don’t feel as fast as narrower V section wheels in light wind/straight headwind situations either and their relatively high weight mean they’re not the snappiest accelerating wheels.

The flip side is that they are extremely precise in terms of steering control, despite only having 20 spokes up front (24 rear), and they handle very predictably in random wind conditions at all speeds. 

The sturdy rims and fat-bodied hubs can transfer serious torque without feeling soft too, making them great for power-house pedal-strainers rather than lightweight pedal dancers. 

While early M1 hubs on MTB wheels had a terrible reputation for premature death, the tweaked version used in the EC90 SLs have proved far more robust and better sealed. 

Add in the hand-built, acoustically tuned construction using straight pull Sapim spokes and our long-term set has survived years of hardcore all-weather cyclo-cross/gravel abuse without any ill effects whatsoever. That’s a good job too as the nipples are internal so it’s a tyres-and-tape-off faff if you do need to tweak them.

They’re quick release, 12mm and 15mm front-axle compatible thanks to provided end-caps and 12 x 135 or 142mm rear axles are also available.

Easton EC90 SL Disc wheelset specs

  • Weight: 755 + 935 = 1690g
  • Width: 18.5/28mm
  • Engagement: 12°
  • Price: £1100 (front) / £1300 (rear) / $830 (front) / $970 (rear)

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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