Easton EA70 AX Handle Bars: Quick Review – by Guitar Ted
Easton Cycling has made a few items specifically aimed at gravel/all-road cycling. We’ve tested the EA70 AX wheels here, but Easton was also eager for us to try out the new EA70 AX handle bars and an EA70 stem along with that. Handle bars with flare and sweep have become standard fare in the world of dirt road riding, but it wasn’t always easy to find a good bar for this niche of cycling. Is the Easton EA70 AX bar a good one? That’s what we aimed to find out.
What It Is: The EA70 AX bar has a close sibling in Easton’s EA 70 bar which this flared drop is based off of. Here’s a snippet from Easton’s site telling us more:
” Building off the highly successful and critically acclaimed lineup of MCD road bars, the EA70 + EC70 AX bar utilize the same top shape and reach as well as ergonomic drop shape. But AX turns up the flare: from 4 degrees to 16 degrees. Why 16-degrees? Based on extensive testing and rider feedback we determined that 16 degrees was the perfect balance of maximum bar flare which still allowed for efficient access to the shifters and brakes in both the hoods and drops. The wider stance in the drops provides more control on gnarly terrain and long gravel assaults. ”
Okay, so maybe you are not familiar with why having “flare” is a good thing for a handle bar. This term is descriptive of the way the drop section is canted outwards. It is measured in degrees from “0” which is perpendicular to the ground. So, a 16° flare would mean that the drops are “bent” outward at that angle from straight up and down in relation to the ground. If a bar has “sweep”, that is different from flare. This term describes whether or not the extensions of the drop (the part of the bar that points back at the rider) is bent outward at the ends of the bar. A “no sweep” bar, like a traditional road racing drop bar, has extensions which are parallel to the stem.
Another common feature of off-road/gravel drop bars is to have shorter “reach” and shallower “drop”. Reach is described as the amount the bar bends forward of the stem clamp and Drop is the measure of distance from bar top to the lower hand position on the extensions. You can see the spec chart for this handle bar’s Reach and Drop measurements. They are fairly typical for bars in this category. Finally, there is the shape of the “hook” or you can think of this as the curve downward of the bar. Some have a profile which looks like a “C”, or like a traditional, old school road racing bar. Most newer drop bars have what is called a constantly varying radius bend which softens the curve a bit into the extensions. this is what the EA70 AX has.
Easton claims a weight of 290gm for the 42cm size bar. Our sample came in at 300gm right on the nose for the 46cm size on test. So, pretty spot on there.
The bars were done up in a nice black anodization with subtle bluish-gray graphics. The levers for the Warhawk were mounted easily and wrapping the bars was like any other bar, so no big issues with installation. I was able to find my preferred brake lever position and match that side to side easily with the markings on the drop section. This is becoming a standard feature of handle bars now. Why this wasn’t done for us before is a shame. Making your levers level and even is so much easier now!
The EA70 AX bars do not have any appreciable “sweep”, (see description above), so the hand position in the drops is pretty normal in that regard. However; with the added 16° of flare, and coupled with the shorter reach of these types of bars, you can stay in the preferred drops position when descending, or when things get rowdy, and have no fear of smacking your wrists or forearms into the bar tops. Plus, with a wide range of widths available up to 46cm, you can fine tune your cockpit for the appropriate amount of leverage. This allows you to keep the bike more stable in loose and rough terrain, plus I find it is easier to correct the bike when the rear end breaks loose on you.
Ride Performance: I found that these handle bars were pretty average as far as what I felt through the bar tape. These EA70 AX bars transmit about the average amount of feedback you’d get from most bars in this category. They weren’t noticeably flexy either, which is a good thing when you have to correct for a loose back wheel, or when bunny hopping an obstacle. The reach from a dropped position to the levers was acceptable, and the bar tops were average in width so I had no problem grasping the bars along side the stem when I wanted to.
I should also note that the Easton stem sent along with the bar contributed to the solid overall feeling of the cockpit as well. Otherwise, the stem did its job. It’s a stem. It held everything securely and wasn’t flexy.
The flare, which is a bit more than a Salsa Cowbell’s, which is 12°, and not nearly to the extreme of, say a Cowchipper, which is 24°, made it so that the levers weren’t canted over too far, and the position felt more “normal” than not. Overall, comfort and ergonomics are very good with these bars. Really, in the field of flared drop bars, the Easton EA70 AX is pretty much a Goldilocks choice between not very different from a traditional road bar to the extremes of the Cowchipper/Woodchipper types of bars.
At The Finish: With so many choices now in flared drop bars, (something I never thought I’d write ten years ago!), the EA70 AX handle bars have a large group of competitors. However; not everyone pumping out flared drop bars gets the recipe right. Some have too much drop, too weird a radius on the drops, or the flare and sweep is so extreme only a weirdo like myself could love them, (Ragley Luxy Bar anyone?). So, when I looked at the EA70 AX bars, I saw a recipe that was cooked up right. Good radius, nice amount of flare, and really no appreciable sweep to keep things familiar for those coming off traditional road bars. Yet the EA70 AX bars do this with decent ride feel and light weight to boot.
There are lighter, far more expensive carbon options, (Easton makes an EA70 Carbon AX bar) and there are cheaper, harsher riding options as well. The perfect bar? Perhaps it would be for someone looking for a flared drop with no sweep. Those wanting a swept bar, like a Cowchipper or a Woodchipper should look elsewhere. This isn’t your bar, but at around 80 bucks, it is a good value for those looking to upgrade from a heavy, stock bar, or for those wanting to set up a new bike. Good job, Easton. Not everyone gets this type of bar right, but the EA70 AX is a winner in a field of handle bars with some hits and more than a few misses.
Note: Easton Cycling sent over the EA70AX handle bar and an Easton stem at no charge for test and review. We were not paid, nor bribed for this review and we strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout. (Some images courtesy of Easton Cycling.)