You've seen all the fast, lightweight race wheels, but more often than not, those desirable attributes come at the expense of out-and-out strength. That's why we’re so impressed with the Easton EC90 Aero 55 Carbon Tubular Wheel. As part of Easton's race-ready EC90 lineup, they'll slice through the air like a hot knife through melting butter, but the real surprise is that they're bombproof enough to withstand a full season of 'cross without flinching. Not bad for a wheel that, according to Easton's published test results, outperforms much deeper rims in a wind tunnel at just about every imaginable yaw angle.
It may sound like hyperbole, but the EC90 Aero rim is a feat of modern engineering. Easton's engineering team opted to ignore convention, most notably rejecting the long-held belief that a mid-depth rim couldn't be the fastest thing on the road. The result of this grand experiment is the new Fantom rim profile. It's noticeably massive, with an external width of 28mm at the widest. Also noteworthy is the blunted internal profile that is said to greatly improve both stability and speed in crosswinds.
According to Easton's published test results, the Fantom rim profile is faster at a variety of yaw angles than anything it was tested against, including its own 90mm deep section TT rim. Due to a lack of available data, it's possible that a few of the very deepest TT-specific rims are marginally faster in some circumstances, but they'll give up a great deal of stability, and at significantly higher weights, it's easy to see why Easton calls this the single wheelset arsenal.
Unlike the clincher version, the Aero 55 tubular uses internal nipples. It means you'll have to remove the tire to replace a nipple, but this sacrifice means that the rim is considerably lighter than its clincher counterpart, which relies on a rivnut style nipple insert to provide an undrilled inner rim wall, for tubeless compatibility.
The rim profile isn't the only new aspect of the Aero 55 wheelset. In fact, one could argue that the Echo hubset is an improvement of similar magnitude to the Fantom rim profile. The reason for this is simple — namely the bearings have been placed as far apart as possible, improving both stiffness and bearing life. For the rear hub, the bearings are a whopping 95mm apart, which is an enormous improvement on the previous R4 hubset. To accomplish this, Easton had to place one of the load bearing bearings (please, bear with us) inside the freehub, which required a completely new approach to hub design. In addition to maximizing the bearing spacing, placing the pawls in the hubshell, instead of the freehub, allows the freehub to run on two enormous bearings. In case it wasn't clear, the Echo hub is stiff, light, and promises significantly improved bearing life over anything Easton has offered to date.
The Easton EC90 Aero 55 Carbon Tubular Wheel is sold individually. The rear wheel is available with a Shimano/SRAM 11-speed freehub, and both the front and rear wheels come in the color Black.