There’s no doubt that Easton has long been a top player in the wheelset market. As one of the early leaders in carbon fiber wheelsets, their carbon offerings have been stellar for years. But, at the same time, Easton has continued to lead the charge in alloy components and wheelsets. The Easton EA90 SL Disc wheelset is an excellent testament to Easton’s belief that alloy wheelsets are still relevant in a market that gravitates to carbon.
Easton EA90 SL Disc Features
- EA90 aluminum welded rims
- Easton M1 hubset with standard 6-bolt design
- Convertible axles sold separately (12×142 and 12×100/15×100)
- Versatile 27mm rim depth
- Sapim straight-pull round spokes and alloy nipples
- 20/3x front and 24/3x rear lacing patterns
- 19.5mm internal and 24mm external width
- Actual Weight: 690g (front), 875g (rear) — 1565g total as tested
- MSRP: $950
EA90 SL’s are excellent, affordable tubeless clinchers
Easton has been in the alloy wheelset game for a long time. Over the years, they have certainly pushed the limits of carbon fiber design, but the aluminum EA90 SL’s have proven to be capable and competitive in today’s disc road market.
When it comes to wheelsets these days, one of the first specs I look at is inner rim width. While 19.5mm is not the widest on the market, it’s well beyond your typical road wheelsets and provides a solid footing for today’s wider tires for road, gravel or cyclocross. On top of that, the EA90 SL’s are also tubeless-ready so you can finally make it through your next cx race flat-free — huzzah.
Easton’s M1 hubset is a proven design that features convertible axles. I mean that in the literal sense because the M1’s don’t simply have different endcaps, instead you do have to swap out the axles — which can be a bit of a laborious task to be honest. Luckily, once that’s done, the bulk of road disc bikes are 100×12/142×12 front and rear so I’m hoping to not have to do that again. I used Easton’s tutorial video on their YouTube channel as a guide.
My testing was exclusively with a pair of Bontrager R3 TLR 25mm tires running tubes and then tubeless. These are fast-rolling tires and filled up quite nicely on these rims. The test bike was the new Trek Domane SLR Disc, and I served up a steady diet of pavement with a smattering of gravel mixed in for good measure.
The EA90 SL’s rim profile is rounded for aerodynamics standard and comes in at a good 27mm depth, which just right for all-round use. You’ll notice that the rims do feature a bump-out for brake tracks because they are the same rims as the rim-brake version, but are obviously fully-anodized and prepped for disc-only use with classic Easton branding on the sidewalls.
Curiously, these feature standard round spokes instead of bladed ones. While spokes do play into aerodynamics, they are only one part of the mix and I obviously can’t reliably measure the impact of round vs. bladed spokes in the real world. Still, road purists may take notice. On the positive side, replacement spokes should be easily-sourced if you should ever need them.
Hitting the pavement
I have a coast-to-stop test I use for all my wheelsets to see how far they roll. These performed on the lower end of that test, stopping well short of the best wheelset I’ve tested (Bontrager Aeolus D3) in spite of rolling on the same rubber. Again, those are $3000 wheels and these are less than $1000, so that’s to be expected, but I hoped for smoother-rolling hubs here.
On the road, the EA90 SL’s really come to life and show just how good these wheels really are. The 19.5mm inner width coupled with 25mm tires makes for a comfortable ride with excellent tire grip and handling. With tubes, I was running 95psi. and found the ride to be quite pleasant. I’d say these are some of the best-riding alloy wheels I’ve tested and only get better when set up tubeless in the 80psi. range.
With quick engagement and a relatively low overall weight, these wheels do make for excellent climbers and don’t flex at all under load. Of course, disc brakes are more forgiving in that regard, but there’s no noticeable flex here during standing climbs or sprints. I do notice that they don’t spin out as fast as other wheels on the descents, but they certainly hold their own.
On mixed terrain, these continue to shine and with tubeless road or knobby gravel tires they will only get better. I’ll add that tubeless setup and seating is a breeze and I’d recommend going that route if you’re so inclined — you drop some rolling weight, improve comfort/peformance and can kiss flats goodbye.
While their 27mm depth isn’t all that tall, some may wonder how they handle crosswinds. I honestly didn’t have any issues with crosswinds as these just handled like champs and didn’t get blown around at all.
Update: For 2018, these wheels get Easton’s new Vault hubs that offer tool-free endcaps, faster engagement and a stiffer body. They are also going with bladed spokes. They obviously heard my complaints and the chorus of others saying the same things.
- Excellent weight for tubeless disc wheels
- Tubeless setup is a breeze — and makes for an even better ride
- Laterally-stiff and responsive when pushed
- Classic Easton looks
- Good rim depth for aerodynamics
- 19.5mm inner width delivers fuller tires
- Converting the axles is a pain
- Not the fastest rollers
- Bladed spokes would make the roadie purist in me smile
The Bottom Line: Easton EA90 SL Disc
While everyone wants a set of carbon clinchers, they remain out of reach for the most of us. As an alternative, the EA90 SL Discs offer excellent overall performance, good looks and a tubeless-ready design that can tackle road, gravel or cyclocross duty quite well.
Learn More: Visit EastonCycling.com
Don't fear a good set of alloy clinchers -- and the EA90 SL Discs are among the best. I'd say they are the most comfortable alloy wheels I've ridden and offer the flexibility to go tubeless for worry-free performance on the road or cyclocross course.