Easton have various tiers in their carbon fibre goodies, but EC90 is their top-of-the-range, lightest, stiffest offering. And it really is stiff. Take the bars in your hands and squeeze the drops in (like some kind of chest expander) and there’s minimal flex – although I’m not exactly The Hulk, to be fair. Similarly when you’re riding you can hardy shift these things at all, no matter whether you’re really pulling on the bars up a steep incline, or sprinting your heart out.
As you can see, the EC90 Aero bars have a definite profiling compared to their round-tubed cousins, the EC90 SLX3. These aero-profiled tubes also come with a small weight penalty, as the SLX3’s have a claimed 199g weight, while the Aeros tipped our scales at 216g.
As well as the aero tubing, the Aero bars come with an ergonomic bend, and the flat section in the drops ostensibly makes it more comfortable to stay deeper in the drops for longer. The one other obvious touch is the finger-shaped grips on the tops and the aero sections of the drops, designed to help you achieve a better grip on the bars, even when they’ve been taped. Obviously, the thinner the tape, the easier it is to feel the indentations and if you’re a fan of super thick tape you’ll have to be grabbing those bars like a man clinging to a cliff if you want to notice any difference.
I matched this set of bars with Easton’s own EC90 SL Stem, the 120mm version of which weighs in at an amazing 143g. That would be light for a 100mm stem, let alone one with another two centimetres of substance on top of that. The SL stem is designed to combine that low weight with maximum stiffness as its impressively chunky profile shows but, as you’ve probably guessed, that kind of performance comes at a price and the stem itself will set you back an eye-watering £199.99.
The handlebar, meanwhile, is £219.99, and, as you can imagine, if you’re thinking about dropping over two hundred quid on a set of bars, you’ll want to make sure that you don’t damage them at all. With that in mind, I can’t stress enough what a good idea it is to use carbon assembly paste when you install them. To anyone who hasn’t used it, it might seem like a gimmick, but carbon assembly paste reduces the torque you need to obtain the required grip between components and, as a result, reduces the risk of over torqueing, which can be terminal, especially for high end carbon components which are lighter, and therefore use less material, making them slightly more susceptible to being damaged.
In terms of numbers, these combine a 75mm reach with a 130mm drop, which isn’t extreme in either direction, and the 130mm maximum drop is more of a number than a practical possibility because I found the bottoms of the drops too flat to comfortably rest my hands on. That does mean, if you’re the sort of riding who likes to chug along with your hands on the end of the drops (and I quite like that position), these might not be the bars for you. It also means that when you’re in the drops you’re committed to quite a long reach, so make sure you’re comfortable in that position before you take the plunge and purchase. Clamping diameter of the bars is 31.8mm, so you’re by no means committed to the EC90 SL stem and they’ll work with almost any standard stem you can find, plus there’s enough extra clamping space to fit all manner of computer mounts. Several at a time if you’re so inclined.
One final touch nice touch is the indents underneath the flats of the bars, to allow you to tuck the cable housing out of the way. Route your cabling properly and you get a wonderfully clean look with these bars, and it means the cabling won’t disrupt any aero benefit the bars provide.
If you’re after a light set of bars with an aero leaning to complete a super-light build, then these might be for you. Easton’s EC90 carbon has a deserved reputation for excellence, and you won’t find much better on the market from anybody. However, as always with these expensive components, it’s important to point out that a set of bars like these would be a wonderful finishing touch to a fantastic build. But you have to also be realistic about the benefits of a top-end set of bars and, while they may be expensive, they wont, of themselves, transform your £1,000 entry-level carbon bike into a Tour-ready super machine.
– Light, strong and stiff
– They look good, too
– Very expensive
– The fairly extreme shape of the drops wont suit everyone, and that goes for the finger-shaped sections as well