Here’s one for the DH/FR crowd: the Easton Havoc DH-specific wheel set. Can you say awesome?! I can, and will. For starters, the Havoc DH wheels are reasonably priced at $799 MSRP (right now JensonUSA is selling the ’08 set for just $359). And the Havoc DH wheels aren’t just a beefed-up version of the Havoc AM: the hub design is very different and although the Havoc DH shares a similar look to the AM with straight-pull spokes, the Havoc DH front wheel has a double-rowed bearing on the braking side and a single row bearing on the non-disk side. The Havoc DH rear wheel has a whopping 4 bearings and the drive side bearing sports a double bearing row for extra strength and precision.
When Easton set out to design these wheels, they started with a rim that is a full 32mm wide (the biggest they make) and focused on a careful design of the cross section. The designers wanted to make sure the rim was as light as they possible while maintaining great strength. Instead of designing an extra deep rim they came up with a rim design featuring stronger side walls that maintain roundness even if you do manage to pinch your wheel on a rock.
Another great design detail many riders may overlook is the way the straight-pull spokes are single-butted with a 2.3mm cross section at the base of the spoke tapering to a 2.0mm cross-section at the spoke nipple. Constructing the wheel in this manner places weight toward the center of the wheel rather than toward the outside which speeds the wheel in both acceleration and braking as well as in cornering. Running these wheels with just 28, 2.3mm butted spokes results in a wheel that is 46% stiffer than one with 36, 2.0mm spokes.
The Easton Havoc DH hubs use high quality bearings with double rows on the braking and drive sides (front and rear, respectively). This results in a hub that’s smooth as butter in rotation and wheels that are very stiff laterally. The new and improved 7050 aluminum freehub body and drive mechanism are super durable and promise to last for years. All the bearings rotate on a new 7050 alloy tapered axle which reduces flex significantly over previous designs. Easton increased the width and the diameter of the pawl carrier to improve torque capabilities as well. Overall weight on the Havoc DH wheel set is 2,295 grams for the pair which is hard to believe based on the light ride feel.
After installing a set of Maxxis High Roller DH tires on these wheels I was off to the slopes. I had Bob_the_Builder give these wheels a shot and after his first run he was amazed to find out how much the wheels actually weighed. Like I said before, the Havoc DH wheels feel super light and very free rolling, riding like a much lighter wheel set. Just like the Havoc DH’s little brother Havoc, these wheels also have a super smooth and quick-engaging cassette body. That fast action is great for those who also plan on using these wheels for their FR bikes running skinnies and such.
Tossing the Havoc DH wheels around the slopes, getting big air off jumps and drop downs, and railing built-up berms we always got a solid laser-like feeling without a hint of flex or fear of collapsing a wheel. The really amazing thing is how fast these wheels got up to speed and how light they felt through sudden direction changes.
The only bad thing that I encountered with my wheelset was that someone assembled my wheels with too much grease which gummed things up a bit, resulting in less than smooth operation. Fortunately all it took was five minutes to take the wheel apart to remedy the problem. Once that was taken care of there were no further issues and the cassette worked flawlessly. After a few events and runs the wheels didn’t come out of true nor did they need any tensioning. To me that is a good indicator as to how well-built the wheels are.
I have to say if you’re looking for a tough, well-built wheel that can go the distance down a slope, take a good look at the Easton Havoc DH wheel set. This is a great pair of wheels built to last! Just make sure you can take what these wheels can dish out – this is one piece of equipment that can probably take more than you can!
Specs from Easton:
|Hubs||F-28h Havoc DH 20mm dedicated
R-28h Havoc DH 150x12mm dedicated rear
|Spokes||DT Single-butted 2.3-2.0 black, brass nipples
Precision Handbuilt 3-cross
|Details||Proprietary DH spokes are 46% stiffer than 36 2.0sg spoke, and 23% stiffer than standard Havoc 2.34/1.85/2.0 spoke.Advantage of thicker butting towards center is lower rolling inertia, 38% more area in 2.35 section as compared to 2.0 section. This makes for faster acceleration, a livelier feel and better braking|
Thanks to the good folks at Easton for providing these wheels for review.