Road Bike Upgrades: Easton EC70SL
Nothing improves the performance of a used bike like a set of new wheels. A bike even 6 or 7 years old can out perform the latest carbon wonder bike if the wheels are smartly upgraded. It is unquestionably the first upgrade any rider should consider if they just purchased a used bike on the Bicycle Blue Book. In fact, as you use the Bicycle Blue Book to research used bikes keep the possibility of a wheel grade in the back of your mind when you see bike values. One of our favorite wheel upgrades is from Easton, they offer the performance of carbon, with the convenience of alloy in a package with Easton durability.
In a marriage that is fitting for a company that first defined themselves as an industry leader in high-grade aluminum sporting equipment, and has now followed suit with the carbon movement, the EC70 SLs blend both carbon aluminum, extracting their respective strengths while keeping the price at a minimum.
Inside out your looking at Eastons smooth R4 hub set, Sapim stainless steel spokes and a 42mm deep carbon rim with aluminum braking surface, all hand built and acoustically tuned for proper spoke tension out of the box. Unlike some carbon/aluminum hybrids of old, the EC70s offer much more than a carbon faring. The aluminum hoop holds the tire and offers a braking surface, but the carbon rim is a structural part of the rim, carrying load, absorbing impact and anchoring spokes.
With the EC70 SLs you can stop worrying about carbon delamination from over heating on heavy braking descents and risking a catastrophic blowout. You can stop agonizing over breakfast if you straddle the weight limit for most carbon wheels on the market. You don’t have to worry about voiding the warranty on your $3500 pair of hoops because you used the wrong brake pads. There’s a security found in an alloy-braking surface these days, one that’s been around for a hundred years.
Easton did a great job with the look of the EC70 SL – sitting at the coffee shop these wheels are head turners. The ghost black on black decals laid out over the 42mm deep rims stands out in a subtle way.
Easton decided to keep the same hub in place that they have been using for some time now. While not as pure as some of the other high-end hubs on the market they do just fine for a wheel at this price point and are easily adjustable. We also liked how easy it was to swap out the hub body with minimal tools for a quick exchange between 10 and 11 speeds.
On the road the EC70 SLs moved along like you would expect a 42mm wheel to roll. Accelerations were on par for an entry-level carbon clincher, not as quick and light as we would like in a race wheel but certainly better than your average training wheel. Descending they held lines without worry and turned extremely flat. On the flats and in the wind knowing the 42mm rim cut through the air faster than a shallow box shaped rim was comforting. At almost 1700g the EC70 SL isnt a superb climber at the steeper gradients but on the false flats and lesser degree climbs they hold their own. Although, this weight certainly doesn’t seem to earn the SL designation.
Over the extended test period the EC70 SLs held up well. We never experienced any alignment issues, and we have no doubt they would hold up through rigorous training and racing alike. One improvement that Easton should consider next time they revamp the EC70 SL is going with a wider rim. At 20mm it is considerably narrower than some of the industry leaders that have adopted the wider is better mantra and the ride quality is dampened some because of this.
The EC70 SLs do match up nicely to the latest aluminum/carbon hybrid on the market. The Zipp 60 is certainly a more aero choice at 58mm and hybrid-toroidal, but looses the weight battle to the EC70SL by 160grams making Eastons wheel more of an all-arounder.
All in all, these wheels are an excellent choice for anyone in the over 200lb category as they are listed as having no weight restrictions. If you are looking for a wheel that will be used for both training and racing alike, are on somewhat of a budget, and don’t want to frequently replace expensive carbon brake pads you should swing into your local Easton dealer and check out the EC70 SL. If you want explosive acceleration and a deep aero section youll need to spend a few more bucks and go with a full carbon clincher.