These Easton EA90 SLX tubeless-ready aluminium wheels are lightweight and quick while at the same time being strong and durable. Although designed as race wheels, they're robust enough for daily use year round.
I've been using these wheels regularly for months (sorry, Easton, I know this review was due ages ago) and they've proven to be pretty much bombproof. They're the sort of wheels you can fit and forget. Hit a huge pothole? No worries. Take on some gravel? Pah! They've handled everything I've thrown at them and they've not needed so much as a tweak.
Despite being sturdy, the EA90 SLX wheelset is also lightweight. Ours hit the road.cc Scales of Truth at 1,430g without the quick releases. They feel lightweight in use too.
I've been running them with inner tubes and Continental Grand Prix 4000 S tyres and with Schwalbe Pro One tubeless tyres, both types in a 25mm width. They've performed impressively both ways.
The alloy rims are 25mm deep with a 22mm external, 17.5mm internal rim width. That's not as wide as many rims these days but it's similar to a Mavic Ksyrium Elite (£525) and Ksyrium Pro (£775), for example.
There's no need to add rim tape because the rim bed isn't drilled. As well as meaning that there's no danger of air escaping from a tubeless system, this adds to the rim's rigidity.
I didn't find setting these up tubeless any more or less difficult than any other wheels I've used. It's worth noting, though, that the valves supplied don't have a removable core so you need to pour tyre sealant directly into the tyre rather than via the valve. I prefer to do it like that anyway. I had no trouble with air escaping even when riding tyres at low pressure over bumpy gravel surfaces. The rims handled all that without any drama.
Although they've been around for a while now, the Echo hubs are a highlight. They use sealed cartridge bearings so you don't have to adjust them at any time. Those bearings are reasonably well protected and no water or gunk has got in during testing.
The Echo rear hub is the interesting one in that Easton has moved the axle bearings super-wide (they're 95mm from one another) to improve durability.
Easton has also reversed the design of the hub's drive mechanism. Unusually, the individually sprung steel pawls are attached to the rear hub shell and the drive ring is on the cassette body.
Engagement (producing drive when you start to pedal) is quick because there are 51 teeth on the drive ring, so you're looking at just 7° before your power starts to kick in.
The front wheel has 16 radially laced spokes while the rear has 20. They're laced one-cross on the non-driveside and two-cross on the driveside. The spokes are straight-pull double-butted spokes from Sapim. Easton's own UST alloy nipples – threaded on both the inside and the outside – are externally adjustable although replacements might not be available from your local bike shop.
The EA90 SLX wheels might not have the ability to slice through the air like something with a deep-section rim but, on the other hand, the 25mm depth means crosswinds have very little effect.
To me, the key aspects of the performance are that these wheels are light enough to be lively and responsive yet they're strong and durable enough that you can use them day in, day out without giving them a thought. Some people won't want to spend this amount on an all-round wheelset, but if you do you'll be rewarded with a top-end aluminium performance.
Light and lively tubeless-ready wheels that are durable enough for fuss-free everyday use
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Easton EA90 SLX Wheels
Size tested: 700C
Tell us what the wheel is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Easton says, "The EA90 SLX is Easton's top-of-the-line aluminum wheelset. These are race wheels by all accounts, yet strong enough for daily duty and cyclocross riding. These wheels roll smooth and fast, thanks in part to the wide 17.5-millimeter (internal) rim. And with durable Echo hubs, EA90 SLX wheels are built to keep rolling smooth season after season. Don't be fooled by all of the technology packed into these wheels''they are easily serviceable. They roll on sealed bearings and standard double-butted straight-pull spokes. The only proprietary pieces are the dual-threaded spoke nipples which are serviced just like standard nipples with no special tools necessary"
I'd agree with all that. You might save these for best but one of their key attributes is the ability to stand up to everyday use and abuse.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the wheel?
Easton lists these technical features:
FINISH SAND BLASTED / WATER TRANSFER DECALS
TYPE ROAD TUBELESS ALUMINUM CLINCHER
RIM MATERIAL EA90 ALLOY / WELDED
RIM DEPTH 25mm
INTERNAL RIM WIDTH 17.5mm
EXTERNAL RIM WIDTH 22mm
SPOKES SAPIM STRAIGHT-PULL / DOUBLE-BUTTED
FRONT SPOKE PATTERN 16 / RADIAL
REAR SPOKE PATTERN 20 / 1x NDS / 2x DS
BRAKING SURFACE MACHINED ALUMINUM
NIPPLE TYPE EASTON UST ALLOY
FRONT/REAR HUB EASTON ECHO
BEARING TYPE SEALED CARTRIDGE BEARINGS
Did the wheels stay true? Any issues with spoke tension?
No issues at all, and I've ridden these loads in all conditions.
How easy did you find it to fit tyres?
Fine. Nothing to report there. Getting tubeless tyres to inflate first time can be a pain, but it's the same with all tubeless wheels I've used.
How did the wheel extras (eg skewers and rim tape) perform?
There is no rim tape because the rim bed isn't drilled. The skewers work fine.
Tell us how the wheel performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The wheels are lively and durable. That's a good combination.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the wheel
Lightweight and durable. Easton's Echo hubs, particularly the rear one, perform very well.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the wheel
Nothing springs to mind.
Did you enjoy using the wheel? Yes
Would you consider buying the wheel? Yes
Would you recommend the wheel to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
These are a straightforward 8/10. They perform really well at a good price.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.