It’s a good idea to update your MTB components every few years and the timing was perfect for me to give some 2010 Easton XC components a try on my Opus XC bike. Knowing very well that I toss my bikes around and really put them through their paces, I was stoked to install the Easton MonkeyLite SL low rise bar ($150 MSRP), the XC90 Zero seat post ($200 MSRP) and the EA90 stem in white ($90 MSRP). All three items sport new graphics and look clean on any XC bike.
My old carbon bar and seat post held out great over the years but both were showing signs of fatigue – chips, scratches, and small compression marks. The important thing to remember when installing carbon components is to follow all instructions to the letter using a torque wrench – otherwise you may cause serious damage. For the Monkeylite SL bar, tighten the stem bolts to 15 in/lbs and the master cylinder and shifter pods at 30 in/lbs. Careful attention here will also ensure you don’t develop compression marks on your shiny new equipment.
Starting at the front of the bike, the MonkeyLite SL CNT is not your run of the mill carbon handlebar. For starters you don’t see a flashy carbon weave. Easton decided way back in 2005 to use an enhanced resin which contains very small carbon nanotube structures that essentially fill the voids that would otherwise be pure resin. The upside is this makes a structure that’s much stronger than normal carbon and resin structures. At 135 grams and 635mm wide, this makes for a very lightweight bar that’s wide enough to help expand the rider’s chest and enhance breathing. The low rise, 9º back sweep, and 5º up sweep keeps both hands and wrists exactly where you want them. Like the MonkeyLite DH bars, these felt very comfortable over roots and rocks without the unpleasant sting you would get from an aluminum bar.
The white EA90 stem is a great addition to any XC bike, with lengths from 90 to 130mm and a sub-130 gram weight for the 120mm version. This is a stem with significant engineering behind it starting with the way the front plate is mounted. The front plate design evenly distributes stress loads onto the bars and the top locking mechanism improves stiffness and strength without adding weight. At a 0º, ±10° you can opt for a low front position or a slightly higher position which worked well for me. When installing this unit remember to tighten the top bolts first, then the bottom for an optimal fit.
Last but not least is the EC90 Zero seatpost. Available in three sizes (27.2, 30.9, or 31.6mm), I have to say this is one sexy seat post, as far as seat posts go. The EC90 Zero is full carbon, including the rail clamps. Easton uses a technology called EMC to shape the seat post, using essentially the same process used for forging metals. Extra long carbon fibers are compressed in a mold with a fiber to resin ratio of 60% and heat from the compression cures the carbon in the detailed mold. The result is a 3-dimensional carbon component that is both lightweight and strong.
The finished product comes in at 190 grams, is 400mm long, and uses CNT technology just like the MonkeyLite SL Bar. The EC90 Zero includes a clamping relief on the back side of the seat post which prevents the seat tube from digging into the post and causing damage.
Installation was mostly a snap – just remember not to use lube on a carbon post. There is a friction modifier that you can get from Finish Line called Fiber Grip which is probably the only thing I would consider using on this post. I had a somewhat difficult time setting up the angle and torquing the forward bolt because there’s very little clearance there. But once installed and on the bike, I haven’t had any issues – the post hasn’t slipped an inch or generated any creaks.
If you’re ready to upgrade your XC bike for next year’s race season, these are the lightweight, high performance components from Easton you need to make the podium. Next thing you know your mountain bike will be packing more tech than an F-15 fighter jet!
Thanks to the folks at Easton for providing the components for review.