A rather large set of boxes appeared on my door step that, curiously, weighed next to nothing. Perplexed, I opened them to reveal a set of ultra-lightweight Easton Haven Carbon 26in wheels. Did I die and go to heaven!?
For those of you who are trying to build up an enduro / trail bike into an ultra-lightweight rocket that would make any World Cup rider envious, Easton has your back! The Haven Carbon group of components are the answer. Combine ballistic-grade carbon, a bit of Merlin’s magic, and Easton’s know-how, and you’ll begin to understand how these wheels came into existence.
The Haven 26ers come in at a shockingly-low 1450 grams for the pair. Most XC race wheels have a hard time getting to that weight! Even the Haven alloy versions are 1650 grams per set.
These wheels provide an internal cross section made to conform to the UST standard of 21mm, which works great for higher volume tires. Conveniently, the Havens are available in present axle configurations, including QR 15 or 20mm front, and QR 10x135mm or TA 12×135/142mm rear. Helping keep the overall weight down is the surprisingly-low count of 24 butted Sapim spokes.
Like all high-end wheels from Easton, these wheels are hand-built and tensioned using their acoustic tuning method.
To top it all off, this year the Havens come in all black. Nipples, spokes and hubs are ano black with low vis graphics. The carbon rim is constructed using unidirectional carbon without a flash coat of extra resin. Graphics mimic the hub using low vis print for maximum stealth!
Out of the box, all I had to do was install the valves, cassette, and rotors. Slapping on two Kenda Slant 6 UST tires was easy enough. There were no issues whatsoever beading these tires to the rim. In fact, both beads snapped in place at a low 25lbs of pressure with my Topeak floor pump. Just follow all recommendations from Stan’s when installing tires.
When I think of all the hardships I endured lugging around heavy wheels on my all-mountain bikes in the past, I could cry. All those long, hard, drawn-out climbs spent struggling up the hill, coughing up a lung and bursting my pancreas trying to keep up to some of the younger riders.
I cannot believe how much of a difference the Havens have made to the overall ride quality of my Santa Cruz Nomad Carbon. There are a few nearby climbs that I rarely make it up. The Havens’ low masses make it feel like I’m accelerating up some climbs!
A recent ride at the Don sticks out most in my mind. The trail was loamy with small, annoying patches of slick clay mud. I got caught in a high-speed corner when my front wheel fell in a mud hole. Since it caught me by surprise, the handlebar torqued my wrists and caused the wheel to turn perpendicular to the trail. By the time I could react, the bike rolled out of the mud back onto solid ground, nearly catapulting me over the bars. I did mange to catch it and yank the front wheel back in place.
That impact would’ve tacoed most normal wheels, especially with a rider of my weight traveling at that speed. Nevertheless, the only things that were damaged were my ego and some of my knuckles.
As far as durability, I couldn’t ask for more. Over the course of my review, the wheels stayed perfectly true. I am thoroughly impressed with how well the rims perform in the rock gardens. I thought I’d hear things crumble undertire when going over those square-edged rocks, but that wasn’t the case.
As far as engagement, the familiar three-pawl design from previous models is still here, with a pleasingly-quiet rapid engagement. I tested a wheelset with the M1-121 rear hub, which has an upgrade kit available that further increases rear bearing life. So far I haven’t needed to install the kit, but I do have one on order. The upgrade will increase bearing life, and for those who already have a set of either the carbon or alloy Havens, the upgrade is free.
The Easton Haven Carbon 26in wheels are almost everything a person could ask for in a wheelset: super strong, stiff, responsive, and uber-light! The only draw back for many is the unfortunate cost that is associated with technology at this level: $2,500 MSRP.
These wheels are definitely expensive, but considering that other brands like ENVE sport similar price tags, it’s clear that the cost isn’t without precedent. While not everyone will be able to justify a $2,500 wheel purchase, I say if you can afford it, buy a pair. They will totally change your ride!
Stay tuned for a long-term review of these wheels later this year!
Many thanks to the folks at Easton for sending down a set of Haven wheels for review.