The nature of our coverage here at Bikerumor doesn’t always lend itself to long term reviews. After all, before we can finish the story about one new wheelset launching, we’re already hearing about the next. But every once in a while, a product’s performance encourages a longer look. Or more appropriately, it performs so well that we don’t want to swap it out.
That’s the case with the Easton EC90 AX wheels. What started as a simple review turned into a near two year love affair with these impressive hoops. After riding them on a number of different bikes, the verdict is in.
Sitting at the top end of Easton’s gravel wheel lineup, the EC90 AX wheels utilize a carbon rim meant for tubeless ready clincher tires.
Measuring 31mm wide externally and 24mm wide internally, the rims have a relatively shallow 21mm depth, and come pre-taped with Easton’s usual translucent orange tape. Easton also includes their own tubeless valve stems which seal nicely without fuss.
It’s a similar story for the tubeless set-up in general. I’ve always had great luck with the tape on Easton & Race Face rims, and the EC90 AX was no different. I’ve tested these with tires from 700c x 40-50mm, and all sized and tire models popped easily into place, sealing almost instantly. More importantly, that tubeless performance has continued unabated.
But the rims are only part of the story. At the center of the wheels, you’ll find the Easton Vault Center Lock hubs. These offer pretty much everything you could want out of a hub. The end caps are easily replaceable without tools – which is important if you have bikes with both 12 and 15mm thru axles up front like I do. Being able to swap back and forth quickly is very nice. At this point I wish all gravel bikes used a 12mm thru axle, but I digress…
At the back, the Vault hub offers 60 point engagement ring with three pawls that provides 6° engagement. Vault hubs use a reverse drive ring configuration where the ring is on the freehub, and the paws are located in the hub. This results in a light hub, with a wider bearing stance than previous Easton hubs. But all you really need to know is that the hubs roll well, engage quickly, and have been completely trouble free.
I’m a sucker for detail, and I love the printing on the freehub body. Not sure if you need to use a spacer for that cassette? Easton has it printed right on the freehub. It even has a measurement mark to make sure you have a 1.8mm spacer. They’ve also highlighted the key spline making cassette changes a little bit easier.
SRAM XDR freehubs are also available, and freehub swaps can be done quickly without tools.
Easton gives a claimed wheelset weight for the EC90 AX at 1470g. It’s not clear if that’s with or without tubeless valves and tape, but it doesn’t really matter since our review wheels came in well under that – fully taped and with valves. At 628g for the front and 771g for the back, total wheelset weight is 1399g.
‘Gravel’ can be a fairly ambiguous term these days. While one person’s gravel set up could be essentially a road bike with 35mm tires, another could be a fully loaded bike packing rig pushing 50mm rubber. That’s one of the main reasons I like the EC90 AX wheels so much. No matter what the set up, they improved the ride of the bike.
Most of my riding on these falls into what I consider the tire sweet spot of 700c x 45mm. But I’ve also ridden as small as 40mm and as large as 50mm. In nearly every case, the wheels feel light, agile, and offer impressive power transfer without feeling overly harsh or ‘wooden’.
Plenty of mountain bike trail riding and stints under a fully loaded bikepacking set up also lead me to believe that these wheels should prove to be impressively durable. Other than swapping axle caps and freehub bodies to fit different bikes, I haven’t touched the wheels since they were new. They’re still perfectly true with smooth spinning bearings.
Overall, these are an easy wheelset to recommend. Light and fast enough to win Unbound Gravel (formerly DK200), yet strong enough for aggressive off-road riding, the EC90 AX wheels seem to be worth the price ($1,419.98 for the set).