First Impressions: Easton AX series adventure wheels

Two new carbon fibre gravel options arrive

August 28th, 2019 by | Posted in Gear Reviews, Wheelsets | Tags: , , , ,

Easton’s rolling into fall with two new high performance adventure wheels, the EC90 AX and EC70 AX.

Both wheels roll on new versions of Easton’s EC90/70 carbon fibre rims, updated for mixed surface riding.

Easton’s new wheelsets grow to a more versatile, gravel-ready 24 mm internal width. This makes the carbon fibre wheels compatible with the wider range of tires gravel riders are starting to use while still ensuring the tire is performing as it should. Easton recommends the AX series wheels be used with tires 35 mm and larger.

Amity Rockwell pushes all-road well into “Adventure” for the EC90 AX product launch ride from Deep Cove to Whistler. Photo: Easton

While the wheels are just rolling out to consumers now, Easton’s Overland gravel team has been putting in big miles on the EC90 AX wheelset at gravel races across North America all season. Most notably, Amity Rockwell rode a prototype version to her new title as Queen of Dirty Kanza 200, with Amanda Nauman rolling a set of AX prototypes to 6th, behind her.

Canadian cyclocross national champion Michael van den Ham has been putting in mixed-surface miles, including 4th at Lost and Found gravel, with fellow Canadian and Easton Overlander Craig Richey finishing 6th.

Easton EC90 AX. Photo: Easton.
EC90 AX

Easton’s top end wheelset for the harshest adventures, the EC90 AX comes with 24 double butted Sapim straight pull spokes, laced 3x. The wheelsets roll on Easton’s Vault hub, which give a quick, 6-degree engagement.

The EC90 AX’s are 24 mm internal, as mentioned, with a 31 mm external width and hookless carbon fibre sidewalls. The rims are tubeless ready, with Easton rim tape and tubeless valve installed.

Easton’s Vault hubs are 10, 11, and 12-speed compatible, across Shimano, Campagnolo and SRAM. They feature too-free endcaps and freehubs, so you can switch between standards with ease.

EC90 AX are covered by Easton’s Carbon Confidence Guarantee, and retail for $1,995.00

Easton EC70 AX
EC70 AX wheels with 40c gravel tires
EC70 AX wheels

The second in Easton’s AX line carries many of the same features of the top end wheelset, with a few minor tweaks. The Vault hubs are replaced by X5CL hubs, and the EC70 AX rims use slightly slimmer sidewalls for a 28 mm external width.

Like the EC90 AX’s, the 70’s use double butted Sapim straight pull spokes, and are set up for center-lock rotors. The wheelset comes set up ready to ride tubeless, with rim tape and tubeless valve installed.

Easton’s EC70 AX wheelset is covered by Easton’s standard product warranty, and retails for $1,550.00.

First impressions – EC70 AX wheelset

I’ve been testing a set Easton’s EC70 AX wheels for the past little while. I’ll be putting more kilometres in off-road this fall, but here’s a few first impressions of Easton’s adventure wheels after several dry, dusty summer rides.

At 24 mm internal width, the EC70 AX wheelset has you covered for a solidly wide range of tire widths. The rims are wider than some competitors, without going too over board into mountain bike territory. With 40 mm tires mounted, tubeless, to the EC70 AX’s, the tire had a good round profile, not ballooning out from the side of the rims. The tires were easy to set up, and snapped into place with a solid “snap,” leaving little doubt whether or not they were seated on the rim.

As riders start pushing further with tire sizes to get more cushion in the rough, or float in looser sandier surfaces, wider rims become essential to keeping proper handling and control. Because what fun are wider tires if they feel like they’ll roll any time you push hard into a turn?

While the higher end EC90 AX’s are lighter, by about 45 g, but there’s more to that story than weight. Easton gives the EC90 AX’s wider sidewalls and it’s top end Vault hubs, in a nod to off-, or all-road performance being about more than just grams. At 1,515 g, the 70’s still feel quick to accelerate. On the scale, the EC70 AX’s I’ve been riding actually came in slightly under weight, at 1,491 g (with through-axle end caps).

The X5CL hub feels smooth, and has a nice freewheeling sound, without being overly aggressive. (Which is secondary to performance, sure, but you spend alot of time listening to that noise on a ride, and not everyone loves an extra loud hub on an 8 hour adventure ride).

On that note, Easton’s made the freewheel on the X5CL easily interchangeable. Not that you should you ever urgently need to switch between different brand groupsets mid-ride, but it makes the EC70 AX’s more versatile. Run them on a cross bike, gravel bike or, since they’re light enough, road bike with generous tire clearance, without worrying about needing to carry a full tool box around with you to switch out parts. You can also move between different axle standards on the same hub, either with Easton’s tool-free endcaps, or with full axle kits.

Easton Overland riders test the EC90 AX wheelset riding the back route from Vancouver to Whistler.

I’ve had a few rides on Easton’s EC70 AX wheelset, but Easton’s own riders have been putting in the hard miles. Check out the teams backwoods adventure below. For details on the route, which extends from Deep Cove to north to Squamish, then follows the 90’s Cheakamus Challenge XC race course, check here.

Details and Pricing: Easton EC90 AX and EC70 AX Wheelsets

EC90 AX Wheelset

Weight: 1,470 g
Finish: Gloss carbon / Vinyl decals
Tubeless ready carbon fibre clincher
Rim depth: 21 mm
Internal rim width: 24 mm (internal) / 31 mm (external)
Spokes: Sapim straight-pull double butted (28 spokes, three-cross lacing)
Braking surface: Disc brakes (center lock rotor mount)
Hub – Easton Vault cente-lock, 12×100 / 12×142 (convertible, with Easton’s tool-free end caps)
Engagement: 60 point (6-degree engagement)
Freehub compatibility: Shimano, XDR, Campagnolo (convertible with tool-free removal)

EC90 AX are covered by Easton’s Carbon Confidence Guarantee
EC90 AX Wheelset MSRP: $1,995.00

EC70 AX Wheelset

Weight: 1,515 g (1,491 g, measured – w/through axle end caps)
Finish: Gloss carbon / Vinyl decals
Tubeless ready carbon clincher
Rim depth: 21 mm
Rim width: 24 mm (internal) / 28 mm (external)
Spokes: Sapim straight-pull double butted (28 spokes, three-cross lacing)
Braking surface: Disc brakes (center lock rotor mount)
Hubs: Easton X5 center-lock 15/100/QR or 12×100 / 12×142 / QR

EC70 AX are covered by Easton’s standard product warranty
EC70 AX Wheelset MSRP: $1,550.00