It’s been more than half a decade since Easton has offered cranksets, but now they’re reaping the benefits of their merger with Race Face (and then Fox) and offering an all-new, ultralight EC90 SL crankset.
The new cranks share Race Face’s Cinch chainring mounting technology, making for easy swaps between the wide range of 1x chainrings offered. And those 1x rings suggest the crankset’s primary use is likely to be cyclocross and gravel, which makes sense after Race Face teased a CX option last year, but there are 2x chainring options, also. They also take share Race Face’s ultra lightweight carbon construction, making them very light.
Crank past the break for actual weights, all the tech details and more…
Driveside w/ 42-tooth chainring is 242g, non drive is 276g, for a total of 518g for 175mm arms. Considering they’re borrowing a lot of Race Face’s carbon fiber crank arm construction tech that produces the also very light Next SL cranks, it’s no surprise these are some of the lightest cranks now on the market.
The 44-tooth ring comes in at 106g, and the 46-tooth at 111g.
Depending on set up, there are various spacers included. The four small ones come in at 7g, and the two large ones at 17g. Mix and match as needed, though the instructions for BB86, PFBB30 and Threaded BSA all showed installation without them. Easton will offer a bottom bracket (a lot actually, with options for BB86, BSA 68MM, PF30 68MM, BB30 68MM, BBRIGHT, 386EVO, and OSBB), but they weren’t ready yet, so they sent along the Race Face PFBB30, which includes one small spacer for the driveside. It weighs in at 116g with dust seals and that spacer.
Race Face recently introduced wheels with their own hubs, borrowing from Easton’s wheel tech. Now, Easton’s pulling from Race Face’s tech bin for road and cyclocross cranks. From a branding perspective, it makes sense…who’s going to run Race Face cranks on their road bike? And while Easton’s more recent mountain bike wheels have been solid, the Race Face brand carries far more cred on the dirt. So, now, the partnership makes far more sense.
Single chainrings and a 2x spider all attach via the Cinch system, which uses
a specific Race Face lock ring an ISIS bottom bracket tool to remove. This, plus the fact that the spindle is attached to the non-drive arm, makes it very easy to swap chainring sizes before a race. Options for 1x include 38 / 40 / 42 / 44 / 46 / 48 / 50. Those taller sizes are crazy for cyclocross, but perfect for gravel racing. Wanna drop at least a quarter pound from your gravel bike? Go 1x with a wider range cassette.
Double chainrings use a separate spider that mounts via Cinch, then bolt on in the traditional manner. Options are 53/39, 52/36, and 50/34. The cranks come in 170mm, 172.5mm and 175mm with a 147mm Q-factor.
The chainrings (and spider) use an asymmetric four-arm pattern to reinforce the ring where loads are highest, much as Shimano has done for the past couple generations of Dura-Ace, Ultegra, etc. Seems like a good idea since the 1x rings here grow much taller than the mountain bike counterparts.
The 1x chainrings use a narrow-wide tooth profile optimized for the larger tooth counts used on road and cyclocross. The shape is designed to run quietly and reduce friction, too.
The carbon fiber arms are hollow and have a similar profile to the Next SL, but they are different. Slight angles carry forward about one third the length of the arms, but stop there. In contrast, the new Next SL arms get an almost bladed shape on one edge. In other words, these aren’t just repurposed RF cranks, they’re their own design.
The drilled-out alloy 30mm spindle carries over, though, as do the new lightweight alloy pedal inserts. The threaded ring on the non-drive side takes up any slack in the system during install and only needs to be hand tightened, then locked down with a 2mm allen wrench.
We love attention to detail, and even though we didn’t use them, the spacers have a tapered shape to remove a few extra grams and match the aesthetics of the cranks.
Easton says both the 1x and 2x chainline is optimized for modern thru axle bikes with 12×142 (or 135mm QR) spacing. They list a 47mm chainline with 1x setup (43.5mm for 2x), which puts the chainring just slightly outboard of the middle cog on our Parlee Chebacco test bike. That resulted in it being a little noisier on the tall end of the cassette, but the chain was also a bit dusty from the prior day’s ride. This is shown with an Ultegra Di2 setup and standard road cassette.
We received a set to test prior to the launch and they’re impressive. Not just light, but also stiff. Even the 1x chainring, with its slender arms and machined reliefs on the back, stayed straight under hard pedaling. To test chain retention, I rode back and forth on miles of rocky, sandy dirt and gravel roads. I even raced through a couple of short trail sections that had been misshapen by rain and subsequent prodding…which resulted in the same bumpy, irregular surface our NC ‘cross races typically have in the grass fields. Through it all, including bombing down stutter bump laden roads, the chain stayed on the ring. Considering there’s no clutch on the Ultegra derailleur, I’d say they work. Everything installed quickly and easily, too, which is always nice.
While I have no doubts they’ll perform just as well as the Next SL cranks I’ve been bashing about on my mountain bike, these will be going on my ‘cross race bike this fall for a season of muddy riding. There, it’ll be playing alongside a SRAM CX1 group with wide range cassette. Stay tuned…
Pricing and availability is:
- 1x Crankset without BB – $449 USD – Available early August
- 2x Crankset without BB – $499 USD – Available Fall 2016
- Single DM Rings $74 to $94 USD – Available early August
- Bottom Brackets – $59 USD – Available early August