Easton EC90 SL Wheelset Review
The EC90 SL wheelset is marketed with some bold claims from Easton. They say: “light enough for climbers, strong enough for cyclocross and aerodynamic enough to rip a hole through the wind on the flats, the new 38mm EC90SL is the perfect do-everything race wheel”. It’s a bold statement, and we were keen to see if it was true, because at a relatively modest $1799.99, and these full carbon rims weighing in at 1222g, seemed like a very good value wheelset. So were they too good to be true (pardon the pun…)?
The first thing you notice about these wheels is the excellent build quality. New out of the paper, we did not have to carry out any adjustments either to the spokes or to the hubs. Spoke tension was high and even on both wheels, producing 2 perfectly round hoops. Good start.
On the road, the EC90 SLs did cut through the wind extremely well. The rim depth on the EC90 SL is 38mm, which is substantially less than a Zipp 404, and closer to a 303. This means that you still derive an aerodynamic advantage from a deep section rim, but when the wind picks up, there is less surface area to be blown around. That said, if your “thing” is attacking off the front on rolling or flat courses, a rim profile more akin to the Zipp 404 would lend greater aerodynamic advantage. That said, we like the EC90 SL because we have to agree that it is a highly versatile wheel. It feels good, and rolls smoothly on its grade 3 ceramic bearings on the flat, and it rides great in the hills.
The wheels are very stiff and responded very well to accelerations, with only the merest hint of flex when our heaviest rider got out of the saddle to sprint. On the descents, the EC90 SL felt relatively nimble and vertically compliant, and we were also impressed by its braking ability. This was due in no small part to the Swiss Stop Yellow King Pads which were included with the wheels. This is not standard with most carbon wheels, by any means, and when you consider that brake pads for your new carbon hoops can cost up to $50, this factor makes these wheels an even better buy.
All in all, the Easton EC90 SL wheels performed very well on our tests. They remained smooth and true throughout, which is just as well, as recessed nipples mean that a glued on tire would have to be removed before truing. If you are looking for a “do it all” carbon wheel, the Easton EC90 SL provides a complete package that is excellent value for money.
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