Easton EC90XC 26 wheelset

When mountain bikers start to look at carbon wheels, two things are certain. They are cross country racers who want a light wheel, and they are serious about what they are doing – you don’t want to make mistakes off-road with a set of expensive carbon fiber wheels under you. Serious racers want every edge – light weight, stability, responsiveness, and yet they want a wheelset robust enough to take roots at speed and not let them down. It’s a tall order, but one Easton has met with the EC90XC wheelset.

Cross Country Masters

Now, The EC90XC wheels are hardly new. This model title has been around for donkey’s years, but yet every year Easton comes up with something to keep them at the top of the market. What we have now is a seriously fast, solid, and technical wheelset that is very, very hard to beat. Let’s take a closer look.

First, Easton wanted to find a carbon rim structure that could take the pounding of trails at speed, and where better to look that the military? They’ve adapted a resin-boosted carbon fiber technology called ‘Armored Ballistic Composite’ for their rims. Not only will it resist shearing if you land hard or ram a root, it also resists dents and tears from flying gravel or shimming rocks. The best part? These robust wheels weigh in at only 1285 grams for the pair – 200 grams lighter than their nearest tubeless rival. Frankly, they are light enough that even roadies might be jealous. Rumor has it that the Easton EC90XC outperformed their aluminum counterparts in durability tests, handling impacts that left aluminum wheels bent and broken.

But at that price, they better be tough…

That carbon fiber technology means that if you are splashing out on these wheels, you don’t need to ride like they are studded with diamonds. Not only can you go all out and take some chances on the race course, you can make your friends green with envy on the weekend daredevil rides too. The military carbon means you can let the pressure down a bit for more technical riding without worrying about the rim underneath. The tubeless, tapeless UST tire set up is convenient to start out, but not the greatest if you get into trouble – if you are heading out for a weekend ride bring a foldable spare or a sealant kit. Double sealed bearing will keep the hubs rolling smooth even in grot or mud.

What this means is, if you really are serious enough to spend $2500 on a cross country wheelset, you don’t need to keep these as your race-day darlings. These really can be your one and only set. Don’t get me wrong, these are carbon wheels, so respect the ‘XC’ tag. If you want to slot these into your big travel fork and huck some jumps, don’t expect Easton to bail you out – get a set of Havens with the Easton ‘idiot-proof’ warranty .  The EC90XC are cross country wheels. Have fun, but stay close to the ground. Likewise, as with most Easton XC wheels, the rim is a shade on the narrow side; you won’t get fatty tires into these rims and you should ride accordingly.

The best part – they come in a 29er version too, at only 1416g, so if you want to race big-wheel style, you can do that too.

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