Easton EC90 ALX Carbon Drop Bar: At The Finish – by Guitar Ted
It is time to lay this review of the Easton EC90 ALX Carbon Drop Bar to rest as I have ridden it over hundreds of miles over many types of roads, both paved and unpaved. If you missed the “Checkpoint” mid-term update of this three-part review, please check this link. Editor’s Note: Please refer to our guide to drop bar terminology HERE.
Ride Performance: Since the mid-term update, I have ridden this bar in an event, and afterward, over our typically rough gravel, dirt roads, and many forms of paved surfaces and other gravel types we have at hand here. Over all of these, I feel the smoother things are the better the bar feels to use.
One thing that the flare of a drop bar can do, and especially so if the extensions are slightly swept, is that you have a much more stable platform to work from over rougher grounds. A more traditional road handlebar layout is handicapped a bit when things get rough. It only makes sense when you think about why early off-road drop bar users modified road drop bars the way that they did. It was done for more control over the rough stuff.
This is where the Easton EC90 AX Carbon Drop Bar is different. It isn’t about “better control” in rougher stuff, but it is about being as aerodynamic as possible. I think this is really all you need to know if you are considering this handlebar.
At The Finish: Easton claims this bar has 10° of flare, but it may as well have none as it is almost imperceptible after you wrap the bars and use them while riding. For all intents and purposes, this is really a carbon road bar with a flattened tops section for ergonomics. In this light, the bar works well. Oh, and speaking of “light”, in terms of mass, this bar has little of that as well, making it desirable in terms of lightening up the bike. But this isn’t really a “gravel” handlebar, in my opinion.
That’s fine too. One should not feel bad at all if they prefer traditionally shaped road racing handlebars for gravel. However; you should understand the reasons why a flared drop exists to better enable yourself to understand why you might want a flared handlebar. Flared drops are for better control over rough grounds. Again – This may, or may not, appeal to you or be worth anything to you. However; in my opinion, loose gravel riding benefits from having flare in the drops. So, for my money, this Easton bar isn’t the better choice.
Who is this bar for? Racers who are counting every gram and want every aerodynamic advantage, or maybe if your riding is mostly paved and has random bits of gravel here and there. This may not be the best handlebar for those who want to use a gravel bike for some singletrack, rougher grounds, or have a lot of loose gravel and dirt to traverse. There having control is better than having the most aero bar, in my opinion. But if the racing aspect of gravel is your thing, and every advantage you can get is important, than this handlebar should prove to be an asset to you.
For more on the Easton EC90 ALX see their website here.
Note: Easton Cycling sent over the EC90 ALX carbon drop bar for test and review to Riding Gravel at no charge. We are not being bribed, nor paid for this review and we always strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.