May 6, 2015 – It’s no secret that critical testing, research, development, and engineering put on loop is typically the recipe needed to produce outstanding products in the bike world. In modern day cycling most of the top players in the industry understand this and implement it in all levels of product development. But each company does it a little differently, and their unique methods always play out in different ride feel and durability.
Ryan Yee/photos courtesy Easton
We stopped in for a visit at Easton Wheels Bay Area testing facility to take a first hand look at how Easton, a company known for its carbon prowess handles its product development as well as take a first ride on the new EC90 line of wheels. After a quick tour of its new facility in Scotts Valley, a building they have been in since last summer after the purchase of Easton Cycling by component manufacturer Race Face which subsequently purchased by FOX, we stepped into the product torture chamber.
RELATED: More tubeless carbon clinchers.
The Easton product torture chamber consists of machines concocted to destroy bike parts in heinous ways. The popping, cracking, and snapping sounds that come from inside the walls of this room are the sounds you never want to hear while on the open road, and if they do their job right you won’t. Some of the tests preformed are standard tests specified by the UCI, EN, or ISO that products must meet if they are going to be raced at the highest level while other tests are used as standards for a level of acceptance which once met can be used by marketing to let consumers know that the product is safe to ride.
However, the tests we always find to be the most interesting are the above-bar tests that engineers develop after getting rider feedback and then try to recreate a road like experience through machines in the lab. Easton engineers have every toy imaginable to test their creations as well as benchmark them against other brands. They can test the heat resistance of the brake track, the rim wall’s ability it withstand tire pressure and even simulate brake track performance in rain. The wheels can be brutalized on the drum tester for days on end and subjected to massive impacts with a gravity sled.
While we can’t disclose all of what we witnessed due to the highly competitive nature of the industry where each brand is seeking to gain its own competitive advantage through rich proprietary techniques we can say with confidence that Easton’s testing standards are some of the best we have ever seen. So it’s no mystery that they are bringing such complete products to market, including tubeless carbon clinchers, while some competitors are still standing by with a watch and wait mentality. To be fair, most serious manufacturers have many of the same machines in their labs and where all of this gets truly proprietary is in the testing protocols, which are kept carefully hidden.
Easton’s EC90 line of wheels gets us excited because they are offering a full carbon rim that not only has been engineered with aerodynamics in mind, but also boasts a super wide internal rim width of 19mm, external rim width of 28mm, and are ready to go out of the box as tubeless if you choose clinchers within the line.
To wrap up the day we went exploring in the Santa Cruz Mountains only a short distance away from Easton HQ. In just 25 miles we logged over 4,000 vertical feet of climbing with enough twists and turns to give Mr. Toad his own wild ride and give us a great read on how these wheels would test long term. Not to spoil it, but we were impressed. Look for a full long term review in the next issue of peloton.
Check out some clips we managed to ‘smuggle’ out of the top secret lab – drum testing, hub testing and a look at Easton handle bar testing.