Review - Easton EA70 AX Handlebars and EA70 Stem

Easton EA70 AX Handlebars Review
With the growing popularity of sweep handlebars (a.k.a. wood-chipper bars), I thought it was about time to see how they could improve the ride of one of my cyclocross bikes. To test the concept, I fitted the new Easton EA70 AX handlebars and Easton EA70 stem to my Kona Private Jake.

I haven't upgraded much on my 2016 Kona Private Jake; the stock components are genuinely superb. With the most recent models of the KPJ featuring sweep handlebars though, it suggested it would be a worthwhile upgrade to test.

The Easton EA70 AX Handlebars are an alloy sweep bar, aimed at the 'gravel' and 'adventure' market. The handlebar features the same top section as the well praised Easton EA70 road handlebar, but then the drops flare out at 16 degrees; providing a wider grip for greater control on rough terrain and descents.

Sweep bars come in varying degrees of angles, some with a very extreme flare. Easton deemed that a 16 degree flare was optimal for easy switching between hand positions, and also for retaining good usage of the shifters and brake levers.


My Set-up

I opted for the same width bars (44cm) as came on my Private Jake, and for a slightly shorter stem (80mm) to compensate for the slightly longer 80mm reach on the tops of the Easton EA70 bars.

Out on the trails, the Easton EA70 AX set-up has certainly impressed.

The additional stiffness of the bar and stem set-up is what I first noticed; it provides a more direct feel, both on the hoods and when sprinting in the drops.

Heading off-road, and onto some gnarly terrain, and the sweep bars really showed their virtue. The wider grip does provide significantly more control, and helps with both descending and cornering. The 120mm drop in the bars is still relatively small though, so it is quick to transition down to the drops from the hoods.

I agree with Easton that 16 degrees seems to be an optimal amount of flare. I have previously tried far more swept bars on the GT Grade, and found it difficult to use the brake levers. By contrast, on the Easton EA70 bars the sweep actually seems to make the brake levers (mine are SRAM Rival) more accessible; because the brake levers are swept too, to around a 16 degree angle, it means they are actually inline with the flared section of the bar, which makes them easier to hold.


Overall

I am converted. The flare handlebar design is definitely an improvement for off-road riding.

The EA70 handlebars and stem have impressed both in terms of feel and finish, and they are a notable upgrade over the stock cockpit that they replaced.

The Easton EA70 AX weighed in at 310 grams for my 44cm sample, and 145 grams for the 80mm stem. Those are respectable weights, even when compared to carbon bars. [Note: having snapped a pair of carbon bars in a crash last year, I would definitely opt for alloy for off-road use].

This Easton set-up would be a great choice of cockpit for any gravel or adventure bike.


Easton EA70 AX Handlebars Review

Easton EA70 AX Handlebars

Easton EA70 AX Handlebars review

Easton EA70 AX Handlebars

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