Easton EA90 SLX Clincher Wheelset
- Item: EAS0249 Actual Weight:"Actual Weight" means we weighed this item ourselves. 1425 g
Hubs are easy to forget. When you're talking about the <$1,000 price category for a new wheelset, the conversation tends to focus on striking the best possible balance between aerodynamics and lightness. The precision of your hub shells and the quality of your bearings often get overlooked, yet the irony of the very highest end of the wheelset spectrum (e.g. Campagnolo Bora Two, Zipp Zedtech) is that one of the big drivers of cost is the fabulous quality of the hubs.
The EA90 SLX Clincher Wheelset stands apart in its price range for a simple reason: Easton's engineers put as much thought into their R4SL hubs as they did the rims and the spokes. The most dramatic thing going on here is their Grade 3 ceramic hybrid bearings. Ceramic bearings have been so widely embraced for reasons now familiar to most of us: They're rounder and harder than steel, so they have less friction. The resulting reduction in hub drag means you get more speed for the power you put into the bike, which is why ceramics are standard equipment throughout the ProTour. It's rare (dare we say "unprecedented"?) to get ceramics in a ~$1,000 wheelset, but that's exactly what's going on here. It's a complete redefinition of what you can get for your money in a mid-priced wheelset.
Other hub-related upsides include the fact that they're 36g lighter than last year's due to a pared-down rear axle and that both axles are made from 7050 aluminum. And the hub story goes beyond weight: You get tool-free bearing pre-load adjustment and the pawl carrier has been redesigned to be wider with a larger diameter to improve its ability to resist flex under high-torque loads.
The Gen 4 SL welded rims of the EA90 SLX are made from Easton's proprietary EA6X aluminum alloy, so they're durable enough for everyday training. Due to this alloy they can make the walls thinner, removing 61g of rotating mass per wheelset in comparison to the EA90 SL. They're plenty light for race day, no matter how hilly the course might be. Keep in mind, too, that they have no rider weight limit.
This is a wheelset that can slice through the wind, to boot. With 18 front spokes and 24 rear, the count is low enough to be aero when spinning fast. The 19mm wide rims have differing depths. The front rim is 21mm deep for lightness and easy crosswind handling. The rear rim is 25mm deep for greater stiffness and aerodynamics.
The EA90 SLX Clincher Wheelset is the pinnacle of Easton's aluminum-rimmed offerings. If you're looking for sophisticated wheels for race day, but you'd like it to do double-duty as an all-purpose set for the rigors of daily training, go no further. The Sapim spokes are double-butted and straight-pull, and they're mated to alloy nipples. The front wheel is radially laced while the rear is radial on the non-drive and cross-two on the drive. The freehub body is available configured for either Campagnolo or Shimano/SRAM.