Product Review: Easton EC90 SL Road Stem

Easton didn’t set out to make the lightest stem in the world. No, they set out to make the lightest stem in the world that they’d feel good about you riding on or off road in any ‘normal’ circumstance.

The new EC 90 SL stem weighs just 110-grams in the 100mm length thanks to Easton exclusive TaperWall technology and a touch of titanium hardware. Because they wanted to be sure the EC90 would never leave you wanting more when it came to handling or durability, they have used proprietary DST or Distributed Stress Technology and Top Lock faceplate to maximize the handlebar/stem interface.

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  • Finish: Matte Carbon
  • Weight: 110g (100mm)
  • Degree Rise: +/- 10°
  • Clamp Diameter: 31.8
  • Length: 80mm, 90mm, 100mm, 110mm, 120mm, 130mm
  • Material: Matte Carbon

Easton Ec90 Sl Stem Review:

The EC90 SL Stem

I timed myself putting this review together so I would forget about the huge purchase I had just made. I figured that if I waited a few weeks it would help identify the real reason I bought the stem. Was it because of the EXTREME (for a stem) weight savings or did I really like the handling and the durability it promised? Well it was all of those things and some I hadn’t even considered when I bought it.

We live in the mountains, 8600’- 9500’ of vertical fun is a quick ride away from home and as aggressive as my wife is on the pedals she has had a few stem related issues. I am sure it has nothing to do with the fact that she is only five feet tall but still. When we moved up here I had a 27.0mm stem on the bike in the new longer length I had just purchased. I raced (and blew up) everything I could with it before giving up and ordering a new integrated BB/stem combo.

The first issue was that the new stem hit the cross bar and I just couldn’t get it low enough. So I ordered a 90mm stem to replace the 100. The real issue was that the weight of the stem was distributed over a 90mm length of aluminum rather than 80mm with the 100mm. The only way to get it low enough was to use the extremely old school types of spacers (aka bits of old bike tubes) that I had laying around the house. The one benefit I found was that the old school spacers let me move the handle bars back a bit and get more shoulder room so I traded off a few grams of stem weight to get some more room.

I noticed with the extra weight of the stem the handling did suffer but it was subtle. Or was it? With the extra weight I was quicker to grab it when I was trying to hold the bars steady and the geometry of the bike started to change more quickly under load. Actually It could be as simple as the extra weight at the stem being just enough to accelerate the upper assembly and cause the front wheel to either head for the sky or just start oscillating.

As I began to look around for a replacement I considered a few things. I wanted a lighter stem to help with bike handling but I also wanted something that would be able to handle abuse and not leave me with a sloppy feeling bar and stem even after a year of hard riding. I considered Cane Creek titanium but decided I wanted a cold forged stem that offered some of the same benefits.

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Easton EC90 SL Stem

I ended up settling on the new Easton EC90 SL stem because it was lighter than the Cane Creek and offered some interesting advantages for the rider.

In the 100mm length the stem weighs just 110-grams. This was a pretty important figure to me but it is not by itself a great indicator of the handling quality of the stem.

Easton doesn’t say a whole lot about it’s revolutionary TaperWall technology but it helps considerably with the handling. Here is what they do say,

“TaperWall technology lets the walls of the stem use a smaller diameter all the way up. This makes the stem lighter and strong, too.”

This technology is basically a smaller diameter wall was used higher on the stem to where the bar clamp is, similar to a tapered fork leg. This allows Easton to use a slightly wider and stronger material higher on the stem and lighter material lower down. The result is a stem that is extremely strong and durable.

The Easton EC90 SL stem is what I would consider medium to long length, 80mm-130mm in 100mm increments. I ran it in 90mm and like it a lot.

The EC90 SL offers a 5° of rise unless you count the TaperWall technology up front and in that case it will have a 10° rise. This is a bit of an issue if you are using an integrated bar and stem combo so I would think two things. First make sure you get the correct rise to match the bar and stem you are using, and second if you are using a Selle Italia (or Selle Italia copy) you might want to look at the 120mm stem as it should offer the same rise.

The finish Easton uses on the EC90 SL stems looks cool and is supposed to protect it from superficial damage and offer a more custom look. They do mention that it is not a glossy shiny finish but a “naturally occurring matte finish” that is good to have on the bike because it helps hide scratches and blemishes. Lets hope I don’t find that out the hard way. I have a lot of minor surface bumps and scratches on my bike and I figure a shiny stem would amplify all of them. The good news is that even on the glossy finish it looks pretty good. Definitely better than the matte finish on the bars we have been seeing lately.

I chose to run it in a 90mm length with a 1 1/8″ -1 1/4″ threadless stem clamp diameter because I had a Thomson stem already on the bike and I thought it would offer the best overall experience. I really liked how the 80mm felt on the town / road bike but I wanted something longer for the bike I ride up to the mountain behind me.

Done correctly you will never notice the weight difference between say a Cane Creek and a Easton EC90 SL stem but you will notice the handling. As much as I wanted a lighter stem I would not recommend buying the EC90 SL just based on the weight. The geometry change that the stem causes with your bike is the more important factor to consider. If you have a bike that favors handling over weight or vice versa then you will most likely want to choose a different stem.

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Written by Jahanzaib

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