Easton EA70 AX Disc Wheels: Checkpoint- by Guitar Ted
The last we heard about the Easton EA70 AX wheels was back when we had copious amounts of snow blanketing the roads of the Mid-West where I live. Thankfully Spring has arrived and the riding has been happening in earnest. Throughout the “transition season” the Easton wheel set has been punished and in this post we will see how they have been holding up. Plus, we have an addition to the review as well.
Ride Performance: First, I need to add that Easton has also sent over a set of the 650B variant of the EA70 AX wheels. I will make a separate post on this model detailing spec and ride feel which will be coming soon.
Okay, with that out of the way, the Easton EA70 AX wheels, as you may remember from the first post, are “trail rated” by Easton. That means that they should be pretty tough wheels. So far, I believe this is the case. I have cased some potholes, banged these sideways off curb hops, and have been sideways on loose, sandy and rutted gravel with no appreciable effects to the wheels. They are as straight and true as they were out of the box.
I also have noted that these wheels are very smooth rollers. the bearings seem to be very nice and I don’t have any unwanted lateral play in them. The free hub body makes what I would term as a medium-loud noise when coasting. Nothing obnoxious, but it is there. The free-play in the hub’s pawl and ratchet system is about par for the course. Nothing spectacular, but it isn’t noticeably poor. All in all, these are wheels I haven’t had to think about while riding, nor worry about when things get rowdy and rough. That’s a good thing.
Another great trait of these wheels is how laterally stiff they are. this came home to me as I was riding on some pretty messed up gravel roads. The roads were rutted out from Spring thaws, and dried to a rock hard consistency in many spots. The EA70 AX wheels would sometimes get crossed up in these ruts and instead of bending or flexing, they would send the entire bike snapping sideways or popping over a bit as I rode. A less stiff wheel would not have acted in this manner. But the real tale was told when I hit some very deep, fresh gravel patches which are commonplace in Springtime. Unlike other wheels I have tested which I could see flexing and vibrating in these sorts of conditions, the EA70 AX tracked very true and calmly through the rough stuff. So, while they may be heavier than many other pre-built wheels, the way these wheels track through sketchy gravel and looser dirt/sand is a welcome thing.
So Far….. The Easton EA70 AX wheels are aimed at gravel/adventure riders looking for a durable, easy to get along with wheel set. What I’ve seen so far points to such a wheel here. They are not light, but they are not expensive either. Plus, they track true through the rougher stuff and have been rock solid in terms of durability and for remaining true. Look for the final “At The Finish” review on this wheel set and the 650B version in a few weeks. Also, there will be a separate post specifically looking at the 650B versions.
Note: Easton sent over the EA70 AX wheels for test and review at no charge to RidingGravel.com. We were not paid nor bribed for this review and we will strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.
7 thoughts on “Easton EA70 AX Disc Wheels: Checkpoint”
First of all – thanks for giving these and honest look. It’s been so hard to find anything but industry filler on them. I’ve been very interested in these wheels.
The posts keep mentioning their weight as a downside. This perplexed me. These are far lighter than most stock wheel sets that come on most gravel bikes (500g lighter than my stock). They also come with a healthy number of spokes which is good given these wheels will get beat up in rough usage. Light comes at a price – durability, cost, or both. I don’t see their weight as a downside – I’m more curious on their durability given that they are that much lighter than most stock wheel sets and that seems to be good so far on your test. How are the spike holes holding up?
In fact, the Boyd Jocasse wheels I am lucky to have weigh 1590g. I’ve been looking at these due to the cost and relative weight. Compared to these it’s a 1/3 the price for only ~100-150g. Not a bad trade off for a second set of wheels for when I want to go narrower.
Definitely don’t hold a light to some of the carbon options out there for 700c, but they do seem to be fairly competitive and a decent trade off for 150g or so.
@KM- It seems that you have a good grasp on what a little weight difference is versus price and for the durability factor which is pretty much top of the list in importance when you talk about wheels. It doesn’t matter how light your wheels are, or how much they cost, if they let you down in the middle of nowhere.
I haven’t been kind to these wheels, and so far I haven’t noticed one issue with the spoke holes. But I’ll take another look later and see how things look at the end of this review.
@Guitar Ted, thanks a lot for this review. Actually I am looking for a wheel set for a bike which has clearance up to 45 in 700c. Therefore I would like to utilize the most generous 10mm in terms of tire width, i.e. 35-45mm. I have looked at several tyre width/inner rim width compatibility charts. Most seem to point that from 25mm inner rim width wheels are best suits to 42mm tyre width and up. Which is too bad, as I think the Hunt x-wide alloy are nice wheels, but at 25mm inner width they may just be slightly too big to carry a 35mm tyre in good fashion. As for price reasons I am looking for an alloy disc wheel, it’s interesting that this is the only one with 24mm inner width on the market. Finnaly I have two questions for you regarding this wheelset.
1.) As you tested 50mm Donnely tyres to great success on these wheels, I wouldn’t have to worry about the upper limit of my 35-45 range. How about the lower range? Is it possible to test some tyres of 35mm width at these wheels, to see how they would fare? Perhaps a Panaracer Gravelking, Schwalbe G-one of John Bon Pass from Compass?
2.) Referring to my above comment on the Hunt x-wide alloy gravel wheels, to what extent do you agree with compatibility charts showing 25mm inner widht is too wide to pair perfectly with tyres below 42mm?
I think the second question could perhaps also lead to an interesting comparison. As looking at Alloy Wide Gravel wheels, these two at 24 and 25mm inner rim width are very lonely in the market, especially if you see how many 19, 20, 21 options there are. Whereas most gravel bikes still have clearance up to 700x40c, I would expect more to be able to accomodate up to 700x45c in coming years, leading to above two wheelsets being less lonely. But for now these wheels are likely to be pitched against each other by many potential buyers. I am wondering what the expert views are here!
@Peter Westende- Thank you for your comments. First, it seems that your concerns largely fall on the point of running too narrow a tire for a given rim width. So, this is certainly a concern, but there is no ‘cut off point”, in terms of tire width vs, rim width. In other words, some 40mm tires are more like 43mm tires and some 40mm tires are actually 40mm tires. rims are another story. That is going to be a determinable dimension.
So, take for example a tire marked as a 35mm tire that actually stretches out to 37mm wide. Then what do you say? is that too narrow a tire to run on a 25mm internal width rim? Take into consideration tire sidewall height, which doesn’t always contribute to casing width, (The Nano 40 from WTB being a great example of that), or a tire with short sidewalls and wide casing width. What then?
It isn’t a question answerable on a fine scale. In broad terms, what you have written is correct, but nearer to the line in the sand, the definitions get more vague.
I actually bought the wheels – really enjoying them so far. They are a more subdued freehub which is very nice (vs. the Jocasse which are very angry bee). They have less points of engagement so I find them a bit slower to engage when navigating rougher terrain (singletrack) than what I’m used to, but it’s a decent tradeoff for what I bought them for. Right now I’m using 42mm resolutes, but plan to run a Gravelking 700c 35mm slick as a bad weather road / light gravel tire.
What’s really nice is how close to spec they are for disc brake / hub spacing. I can straight swap with my Jocassee and these without a single tweak to disc brake calipers. I probably could do a 1/4 turn limit adjustment, but it’s so close it’s not worth fussing.
Howdy, you said the hub is medium loud…..would you say it’s louder than the Irwin hub? If so, then is the Irwin “loudness” close to what you get from a Shimano hub (ie: and XT for example) or noticeably louder? I like ’em quiet.
@Tom – This is VERY subjective- Okay? So, here’s the thing: I think the Irwin wheel is almost non-existent when I ride on gravel. The higher frequencies the Irwin hub emits seems to get drowned out by riding on crushed rock roads.
The EA70 hubs are about what I would expect from an XT type freehub. Different noise- easier to hear.