Welcome to the new Cross Bike Review!

Manufacturers

Easton EA90 XD Wheelset

Review: Easton EA90 XD Wheelset

shackett's picture

We Liked

Disc Brake Compatibility

Down to business looks

Wider Rim + Road Tubeless

Stiff, yet compliant predictable ride quality.

Durability

Decent Weight

Value

This shouldn’t be news to most of you that disc brakes for Cyclocross are here to stay. Easton sent us a set of their new EA90 XD one of the first wheelsets from a major wheel manufacturer designed specifically for the disc brake equipped CX bike rider. Being one of the first disc brake wheelsets from a major manufacturer it is logical that these wheels be the first to grace Project Privateer Litespeed CX Ti.

The Easton EA90 XD’s are a real nice looking set of wheels, simple black anodized rim, black hubs, black spokes and nipples with white graphics give the wheels a down to business understated look that works with just about any frame color scheme.

The rim on the EA90 XD’s is wider than the usual road rim typically use for CX, external rim width is claimed at 22mm, measured though they are 22.7mm wide and internal is claimed at 17.5mm, measured at 17.31mm. The wider rims are something I have always needed for clincher rims especially for CX applications. The wider rim holds the larger volume CX tire far better allowing the tire to achieve the correct profile. The correct profile increases the tire volume, lower pressure can be run for better traction and less rolling resistance with or without tubes. The wider rim also increase the stiffness of the wheel with minimal increase in weight a win no mater how you look at it.

The EA90 XD’s road tubeless design is different than what I was expecting the inside of the rim is solid the only hole is that for the valve, no rim strips are needed at all. Since there are no nipple holes on the interior of the rim the nipple design is really ingenious as the nipple is double threaded and the wheels. Stock Sapim double-butted black straight pull spokes are used, mated up to Easton’s M1 6-bolt standard disc hubs the rear hub has a 36 point, 10 degree engagement, both hubs are fitted smooth sealed cartridge bearings. The whole package makes for stiff, yet compliant wheel that is predictable in the handling with slight deflection under hard cornering loads is all I could detect.

It has been another dry fall and early winter here in Colorado so far only one day of less than an inch of snow means the majority of the CX courses here in Colorado are little more than non technical dirt / grass crits not my favorite type of races as I crave a far greater technical challenge of snow, ice or at least mud. The has not stopped me from putting the Easton EA90 XD wheelset through some serious testing the last three months since I received them. What I have been riding the Easton EA90 XD wheels on has been the MTB trails around Golden & Morrison areas and even hitting the dirt jumps at Valmont and Golden bike parks just for kicks. I almost have the big side L line dialed on the CX bike at Valmont, after that back flips on a CX bike. The trails I ride are quite rocky perfect for testing the durability of the EA90 XD’s. Take note I am not picking my way through rock sections generally point and rip and passing a lot of riders on 29r’s to 4-6” travel MTB’s on all but the nastiest of jagged rock sections.

A couple times that I pinch flatted then flatted again and wasn’t carrying more tubes so I just ride the flats in figure it all part of durability testing, as I hate walking. One flat was on the front wheel on the top of the Three Sisters Evergreen MtnTrail descending the west trail back to car was 2.8 miles averaging 13mph and rear flat on Green Mountain rode a combination of trail and road back home. From that abuse only a few little rock gouges on the outer rim surface from basically riding rim that was it. To date I have not a dent and have only done a minor true to the rear a single time. So jumping curbs and barriers on CX courses pose no real challenge to the EA 90 XD’s your good to go with these wheels.

The weight of the wheels came right in on the claimed 1620 grams, not super light weight but a nice balance of stiffness, durability and weight. At $900 MSRP the Easton EA90 XD wheelset is a great value as well.

We Didn't Like

That wheels did not come with a removable valve core. this makes it difficult if not impossible to use sealant with these wheels, that is if you can find a decent tire that will mount tubeless. The explanation I received was that removable valve cores break to easily. I do not buy this as over 25 years I have broken maybe 5-6 presta valves both removable and non removable presta valves and do not find either one to be more resistant to breakage. With a removable core I was always able to replace it and save the tube or tubeless valve.

Second: So far I have been unable to mount any non tubeless tire tubeless even though I have been successful with the same tires on other rims. The same tires always fit tighter on other rims so maybe the ERD is just not right as I can easily remove and install tires on the rims without any tools.

More of a suggestion. That is a real benefit of disc brakes is that the rim design should be Disc brake specific. That is since the rim no longer needs to act as the braking surface and support of the bike and rider the rim design can be optimized for the later has is done with MTB disc brake wheels for years now. Still I would like to see them just a bit wider maybe 24mm wide external, 18.25 internal. From looking at other Easton wheels it appears that the same rim as use on the Easton EA90 RT wheels that have a machined braking surface, whereas the XD’s are fully anodized over the braking surface that is still slightly visible.

This is to tire manufactures more tubeless CX and road tires please there is a market!

The Final Say

So you have a disc brake Cyclocross bike and you want if not need a set of wheels that can be the same ones you train and race on to replace those cheap anvils that came with your ride stock without breaking into the kids collage fund. The Easton EA90 XD are just that wheelset at $900 MSRP reasonably light at 1620g, super tough and they look great to boot. The only downfall is that they are limited to still using tubes at least for me as the current tubeless road and CX tires selection is very limited though I do hope this changes in the very near future.

I give the Easton EA90 XD’s a solid 4 Cowbells just about perfect at the price point for either if your building a Pro Spec CX fighter like we did with Project Privateer Litespeed CX Ti or upgrading a complete bike Easton has the CX disc wheels you been looking for in the EA90 XD.

Share this Review