There are few technologies that exist in the world of mountain biking that really make a noticeable difference. The kind of thing where once you have experienced it, you never look back and can’t imagine what you ever did without it. The most obvious would be the advent of the disc brake, and it seems that most mountain bikers today would agree. Right up there with disc brakes for me, would have to be tubeless tires. Which, depending on who you speak toÃ‚Â are either the best or the worst thing they have ever tried. I have to say that in most cases the folks I’ve talked to who hated tubeless weren’t using the right equipment, and you can be sure they definitely weren’t riding the new Haven wheels.
Apart from being stunningly beautiful, the new Haven’s pack a serious functional punch. While clearly the first feature that gets attention is the flashy gold anodized finish and machined X’s in the hub shell, as soon as someone picks up the wheel their curiously turns to amazement at how burly yet light these wheels really are.
Much more info, pictures, and a few things to consider before buying these wheels after the break…
The Haven wheel marks Easton’s first attempt at providing a tubeless wheel. While there are many wheel companies that have had tubeless wheels on the market for a long time, Easton’s offering jumps right to the front.
Rather than go the route of a tubeless ready system that needs rim strips to seal, Easton decided to go with a UST (Universal Standard Tubeless) rim which utilizes a completely sealed rim cavity. Spoke attachment to the rim is accomplished by use of a dual threaded nipple, which threads onto a spoke and is then threaded into the rim. This elegant solution, which is similar to other UST rims (think Mavic), allows UST tires to be run without sealant and allows non-UST and Tubeless Ready tires to be run with sealant. Like any other tubeless wheels in the event of a tear in the tire that is unsealable, you can remove the valve core and install a tube.
Also like most premium wheel sets these days, the Havens are out-of-the-box compatible with bothÃ‚Â 9mm quick release and 15mm thru axle. What did I mean by “something to consider before purchasing?” Well, for starters note that these wheels will not work with 20 mm thru axle forks. Not only is the industry split now between 15 and 20mm forks, but it looks like some wheels will now go one way or another as well. Also, while the front hub axle system is well thought out, it requiresÃ‚Â some tools that home mechanics may not have in their tool box. Specifically,Ã‚Â the hub requires an 18,19,Ã‚Â and a 22mm cone wrench for adjustment and swapping between the QR and Thru-axle systems. The 18 and 19mm wrenches are used to change the axle system, while the 22mm wrench is used to adjust the bearings on the front hub.
Fortunately, I had ordered the whole run of over sized cone wrenches from Park Tool (I already had the 18 and 19) and was all set. I did however try to perform the service without the cone wrenches. While it is possible with some adjustable wrenches, I wasn’t too keen on scratching the Ano surface on my brand new $849 wheels so I didn’t actually finish the job and went back to the cone wrenches. Something to keep in mind so that you don’t get home with your latest purchase to find that you can’t install your wheels and have to miss a day or two of riding. Most well equipped bike shops should have the larger cone wrenches by this point, so if you’re nice maybe they’ll let you borrow one.
So how do these wheels stack up against other comparable all mountain wheels? For starters, the wheels weigh in at 1650 g (for the 26″ model) according to the Easton website. My wheels actually weighed in at 1642g with valve cores and the 15mm adapter installed. Compared to other suitably flashy, high end wheels like the Crank Brothers Iodine (1903 g) and the Industry 9 All mountain wheels (1750 g) these wheels are light. The Haven’s also sport an almost identical rim geometry with a 21mm internal rim width matched to a 26mm external rim width. Haven’s are built with a double butted DT spoke that is a straight pull design from the hub to the alloy nipples, with 24 spokes per wheel. MSRP is set at a very reasonable (given the performance) 849 dollars, and are available in both 26 and 29 inch versions.
I was previously riding the Easton AM Havocs, which were one of the most stiff and quick wheel sets that I have personally ridden. Unfortunately they were not tubeless compatible, so I was running them for over a season employing the ghetto tubeless method. Naturally, when I heard that Easton was going to be releasing a UST wheel, I knew I had to sell the Havocs fast! I currently have my havens set up with a UST Continental Mountain King 2.4 on the front, with a standard Schwalbe Nobby Nic 2.2 with Snakeskin casing on the rear. Both are set up tubeless with Stans, and both sealed up without any issue. On the subject of sealing, I have had mixed luck, dependent on tire, with getting the tires to seat with a regular bike pump. I have been able to get some to seal, but using the shops air compressor is obviously the easiest method and I haven’t been unable to seat a tire with this method yet.
Look for a complete review later in the season, once I have some serious miles on these wheels. If they perform anywhere near as well as they look, I’m in for a treat!