About Easton Cycling
“Born in 1984, with a lineage spanning almost a century, Easton Cycling is a company steeped in creative thinking and innovation. Since the creation of Easton Sports by James D. Easton in 1922, the over-arching ethos has been one of performance without compromise.”
A lot of water has passed under the bridge since 1922. Forward almost 100 years later, handlebars of carbon fiber / fibre construction are the norm, and gravel bikes have become the hottest property in the cycling industry, circa 2018.
Easton’s AX line of components are about taking the road less traveled. Or as Easton puts it, “escape the city and redefine where a road bike belongs with Easton’s growing line of AX components. The AX lineup is designed around increased control and durability when tackling unconventional terrain. Beyond the limit is where adventure beings. #EastonAdventure”
Part of that line-up includes the Easton EC70 AX Carbon Adventure handlebar, a bar that Easton touts as “The Gravel King”.
“Easton’s new AX series line of bars meets the needs of the growing drop bar adventure and gravel segment.”
Drop handlebars, like everything else in the world of cycling, are a personal choice. For yours truly, I’m an ardent fan of the classic curve drop handlebar, although lately, I’ve become smitten with the latest iteration of the classic drop, aka the compact drop. No matter your thoughts on the matter, handlebars come in all shapes and sizes, and in the world of gravel, anything goes.
“Building off the highly successful and critically acclaimed lineup of MCD road bars, the EA70 + EC70 AX bar utilize the same top shape and reach as well as ergonomic drop shape. But AX turns up the flare: from 4 degrees to 16 degrees.”
Love them or hate them, flared handlebars are here to stay. Compared to the handlebars offered by some competitors, the drop bar flare of Easton’s EA70 AX bar isn’t that radical. The 16 degrees of flare are touted by Easton as having better control on gnarly terrain and long descents, but maintaining ease of use when accessing access shifter and brake levers from either the hood or drop positions.
Sounds intriguing, right?
Easton doesn’t provide the weight of this particular component, but on my trusty gram scale, the 40cm center to center sample handlebar weighs 218 grams.
ON THE BIKE
In the photo above, the ergonomic shape of the drop portion of the handlebar is evident, as are the cable grooves and indicators for shift lever positioning. That’s a small thing, but features such as this aid for an accurate installation, which is handy, particularly if you’re trying to replicate decently similar positions among multiple bikes. Don’t you hate these first world problems?
The indicator marks continue where the stem would clamp. Also, note the recesses for cables housing.
Mounted to the Niner RLT 9 RDO review bike, the flared drop is more evident from this front-side view.
The transition from brake hood to handlebar is flat, which lends itself to comfort. I love compact drop type handlebars, and this handlebar is no exception. This is a handlebar I could ride all day in the drops.
The clamping area of the Easton EC70 AX handlebar is textured for grip with one’s stem, and is reasonably small. If you’re the type of rider using cantilever brakes with cross top levers, this handlebar wouldn’t be the best choice.
Now, about that flared drop…
I’ll be honest, a 16 degree flared handlebar isn’t a bar to my liking, but it does live up to its promises. My first ride on this handlebar was at the 2017 Rebecca’s Private Idaho, namely Stage One of the Queen’s Stage Race. Stage One of that race included about three miles of tricky singletrack with plenty of descents and tight corners.
Above, one of the many descents of Stage One of Rebecca’s Private Idaho – The Queen’s Stage Race.
If riding singletrack was a regular part of my cycling diet, this would be my go-to handlebar. I was blown away by the control offered on the drops. The Niner felt so much more stable and controllable on the drops versus the hoods, for this type of riding. If I possessed actual single track skills, I could fly with the aid of this handlebar, but it certainly helped to compensate for my less than stellar skills.
The rear view is a little more exaggerated but gives the impression the flare is wilder and wider than it really is.
Brake lever and hood positioning on this handlebar is the one thing I don’t like. They mount somewhat diagonally, as pictured above. I felt a small measure of comfort had been lost to me when riding on the brake hoods, but other riders may find this position perfectly fine. With that said, it didn’t take me very long to adjust, and I attribute my grumblings to riding regular drop handlebars for some 25 years!
The following gallery of images from the 2017 Rebecca’s Private Idaho illustrates I was quite at home on these handlebars, despite some initial complaining.
Above, the flat transition from handlebar to brake hood was comfy (once I got used to the brake lever angle), especially on the longer and flatter sections of Stage Three.
Climbing on the tops is once again a nice exercise in comfort.
Even under the duress of Stage Two’s uphill time trial (kinda hard for a bloke who resides in Florida much of the year to ride well at altitude), the EC70 AX handlebars were the furthest thing from my mind. Legs and lungs, not so much. Ouch.
Despite a brake lever position that wasn’t optimal for me, I was able to climb out the saddle with no worries – and no dire effects on my wrists post-event.
But on tricky descents is where the Easton EC70 AX really shines. I didn’t set the fastest time on the final descent of Stage Three, but flew down well enough to pass several riders, while maintaining complete control of the bike at all times. Link to video descending segment from 2017 RPI, Stage Three.
Is the Easton EC70 AX handlebar for me? Yes, but only if I’m expecting a ride or race with singletrack and a gnarly descent or two. As alluded to earlier, hood position was my only real complaint, and the fact I felt like a gym rat on the drops with my hands and arms jutted outward. I would prefer a more aerodynamic and svelte profile on the drops, particularly when you’re the epitome of a very average gravel cyclist 🙂 But, of the two or three flared handlebars I have ridden, this is the one I would choose.
The Easton EC70 AX’s carbon construction is light, strong and I have no way of measuring this, but the carbon construction likely knocks down the level of road and gravel buzz just a smidge. And, carbon fiber handlebars don’t corrode, which is a real problem for riders who perspire all over the place.
Priced anywhere from $US 180.00 to $US 220.00, it isn’t the cheapest option, but it is one of the best 16 degree flared handlebar option going.
|Easton EC70 AX Carbon Handlebars 40cm
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|Easton EC70 AX Carbon Handlebars 42cm
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|Easton EC70 AX Carbon Handlebars 44cm
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