Review: Easton EC70 AX Carbon Adventure Handlebars

easton ec70 ax carbon adventure handlebar review and weight

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.”

easton ec70 ax carbon adventure handlebar review and weight

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 ec70 ax carbon adventure handlebar review and weight

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 ec70 ax carbon adventure handlebar review and weight

“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.

easton ec70 ax carbon adventure handlebar review and weight

“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.”

easton ec70 ax carbon adventure handlebar review and weight
Recessed areas for cable routing.
easton ec70 ax carbon adventure handlebar review and weight
Easton’s Taperwwall technology features on the EC70 AX.

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 ec70 ax carbon adventure handlebar review and weight

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.

easton ec70 ax carbon adventure handlebar review and weight

ON THE BIKE

easton ec70 ax carbon adventure handlebar review and weight

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?

easton ec70 ax carbon adventure handlebar review and weight

The indicator marks continue where the stem would clamp. Also, note the recesses for cables housing.

easton ec70 ax carbon adventure handlebar review and weight

Mounted to the Niner RLT 9 RDO review bike, the flared drop is more evident from this front-side view.

EastonAX70Review2018-11

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.

easton ec70 ax carbon adventure handlebar review and weight

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.

EastonAX70Review2018-11

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.

EastonAX70Review2018-11
Photo by Linda Guerrette Photography.

Above, one of the many descents of Stage One of Rebecca’s Private Idaho – The Queen’s Stage Race.

EastonAX70Review2018-11
Singletrack descending at 2017 RPI. Video capture by Ian Hylands of Niner Bikes.

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.

easton ec70 ax carbon adventure handlebar review and weight

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.

EastonAX70Review2018-11
Video capture by Adventure Scout Media.

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.

EastonAX70Review2018-11
Video capture by Ian Hylands of Niner Bikes.

Climbing on the tops is once again a nice exercise in comfort.

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Smile in pain for the camera! Video capture by Ian Hylands of Niner Bikes.

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.

EastonAX70Review2018-11
Video capture by Ian Hylands of Niner Bikes.

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.

EastonAX70Review2018-11

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.

SUMMARY

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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14 comments on “Review: Easton EC70 AX Carbon Adventure Handlebars

  1. I use this bar and really like it. It replaced a Salsa bar and offers a better feel in the drops, as well as being much lighter.

  2. This review is spot on and I would simply add that the issues with how the hoods felt and so forth are, as stated, likely due to riding road bars for so long. I was in the same position, having ridden standard road bars since 1973. I got used to them after a few weeks and believe they are one of the best features of my Niner RLT 9 RDO. Riding fast in the drops on running trails, doubletrack and such is so much fun.

  3. The slightly angled levers with flered drop bars have felt natural to me from the first time I tried them. After a few years of riding Salsa Cowbell bars on my gravel bikes and having run Nitto Randonneur bars on a road bike several years ago, the vertical hoods position on my road bike sometimes feels a little odd to me when I ride it. I’m thinking of going with a flared bar on the road bike now.

  4. I’m running 2 cowbells and a cowchipper. I like them both but may get the Easton AX for a forth bike. The AX flare @ 16 degrees falls half-way between the two Salsa bar models.

  5. I like it as a middle of the road option..
    I have noticed in my work as a bike fitter that the seriously flared bars (Mtn-drop-bars) make it very hard to achieve a great position both in the drops and on the hoods.
    At the same time, there are big benefiting to a flared bar for gravel/off-road riding.

    For me, the 16 degree flare presents a perfect compromise for my (dirt)road focused gravel bike (Salsa Warbird).
    I also use SRAM levers, and set the top op my bar up level instead of sloping down like this, that might affect my feeling very comfortable on the hoods.

    It allows a me a narrow, comfy and aero position on the hoods, combined with a wider, very natural, and secure grip in the drops for rough terrain. If I want to be aero in the drops I can pull my elbows in, if I want maximum control I stick them out wide. It also prevents wirsts hitting tops on the bar when in the drops.

  6. I’m coming from a cat 1 road racing background and would be riding a gravel bike on road rides with gravel/singeltrack and then events like lost and found, the hammer rally, grinduro etc.

    I see 3T makes some bars with significantly less flare — what bar do you recommend if you don’t want to have such much flare? Perhaps the 3T Ergoterra TEAM, Supergo or SuperGhiaia – let me know ideas as we have a lot of events here in CA that are 100 miles, 7500+ feet of climbing and 80% road and the rest dirt and I’d be using this bike to also train on roads – i.e. climb up Mt. Tam and descent fireroad or poach singletrack…

    cheers

  7. @Mark Newton
    I have been riding the Salsa Cowbell 2 for several years and love it for everything from road to gravel/mixed surface rides and races. It is AL and has 12 degrees of flare, and I feel this is perfect. Salsa now makes a carbon version with the same amount of flare (12 degrees) but it lacks the grooves that the Easton bar has for cable routing. This makes me sad. If it had the cable grooves, I would pick one up in a heartbeat. As it is, I may just keep riding my AL version and hope to one day see an Easton EC70 AX on sale in my size and hope greater degree of flare isn’t too off-putting.

        1. I obviously don’t know what JOM did but are my suggestions.
          Assuming you have correctly sized bars with a straight vertical drop.
          If you get the same width at the tops, you will have an extra wide grip in the drops, good for control in rough terrain.
          If you go for the same width at the drops you will have a very narrow arm/elbow position, probably very aero. I worry this sacrifices control for gravel riding.

          I suggest splitting the difference: pick a flared bar that is on the narrow side of your shoulder width. If your current bar was on the wider side, this might be 1 or 2 cm narrower. If your current bar was already slightly narrow(arms coming in a tiny bit from shoulders), I would stay with that size.
          Note this requires measuring, since actual width varies depending on exactly you mount and measure the brake levers.

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