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The Easton EA90 SL is the lightest and most expensive stem in Easton's aluminium range, using titanium bolts to help drop the weight even further. It's available in a wide range of lengths and is designed for different styles of riding. But there's no getting away from the price, and you really have to want those titanium bolts to make it a worthwhile purchase.
Easton has a long association with high-quality aluminium components, with a naming format that makes it simple to know the component's position in the range – the higher the number, the higher up in the range the component is. The A in the name tells you it's made of aluminium, with Easton using the EC prefix for its carbon stems, which have the same higher-the-better numbering system.
At this sort of price, you could of course buy a carbon stem such as the Prime Primavera, but even in the pro peloton some riders prefer an aluminium stem (and handlebar) over carbon for the metal's ability to survive a high-speed pile-up, which aren't in short supply in pro races.
The test stem is the EA90, the top model in the range, with SL standing for Super Light. The only difference over the standard EA90 model is the addition of titanium bolts. These bolts drop the weight by approximately 10 grams, with our 90mm test stem weighing 110g.
The EA90 SL is only available with a 7-degree angle, but there is a good range of lengths, from 70mm to 120mm.
The stem has a clean, minimal look, with steerer tube bolts in a position where they don't protrude too far, which should help prevent any knocks on your knees when you're climbing.
I found the installation simple, as you would hope and expect would be the case, with the recommended torque measurements clear to see. The titanium bolts have deep heads for a secure fit with the hex key when you're tightening them. All the bolts are the same 4mm size too, which might sound basic and obvious, but some stems require different-sized bolts for the different locations or an odd-sized fixing bolt. None of that here.
The faceplate has what Easton calls ICM, which allows you to fit an out-front computer mount, which could be useful if you've only got limited room on your bar. The faceplate is not too wide either, which is crucial for some aero handlebar designs where space can be limited.
Once installed there was little to report: the stem felt absolutely fine, there was no flex despite the low weight, and no creaking or any other noises. It was a stem, plain and simple, although a very expensive one...
At £150 the EA90 SL is dearer than any other aluminium stem we've tested. The non-SL version, with steel bolts instead of titanium, will save you £50 with a weight penalty of just 10 grams.
Around 50 quid cheaper still is the Easton EA70 that costs £49.99, weighs in at 140g and I liked it for all the same reasons I appreciated the EA90 SL – the clean looks and deep recessed hex keys – but there are a lot of other quality options around this price, many of them coming in at a similar weight too. This includes the 115g Genetic STV that Stu rated when he tested it recently.
For a more radical silver look, which won't work with all our bikes, Zipp makes its Service Course Stem, which Stu found stiff and thought it looked classy. It only costs £56 but is a little heavier at 165g.
With its rounded finish and subtle anodised graphics, I think the Easton stem looks great, and based on its performance there is little not to like. It's light, sufficiently stiff for almost all of us, but you must really want titanium bolts to make it a worthwhile purchase.
Clean-looking lightweight aluminium stem with titanium bolts, but at a price to make you wince
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Easton EA90 SL stem
Size tested: 90
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Extraordinary strength, featherweight control.
Your stem may seem inconsequential, but it is the point of transfer between your skilled handling and the bike itself. An impressive refinement of our popular top level Easton alloy stem, the 2019 EA90 stems have a larger boom diameter for increased stiffness and, by utilizing our highest quality alloys, we were able to remove excess material for even more weight savings. We've also created a custom Garmin mount that is compatible with all our stems for cleaner lines and improved aerodynamics. With lengths ranging from 70mm to 130mm we can accommodate fits for all sizes of frames and riders.
We shaved our new EA90 down to 120 grams for a 100mm stem, while the EA90 SL stem utilizes Ti bolts for a further weight reduction to 110 grams.. With weights like these, we surpass much of the alloy and carbon competition in the market, while giving you the durability, confidence and control you expect from Easton.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Finish: Black Ano
WEIGHT: 110g (100mm)
RISE: +/- 7&DEG;
LENGTH: 70 / 80 / 90 / 100 / 110 / 120mm
CLAMP DIAMETER: 31.8mm
MATERIAL: EA90 Alloy / Titanium Bolts
It's light and stiff.
I'd expect no problems with the stem, and one benefit of titanium bolts will be the material's resistance to corrosion.
Weight weenies take note! Those titanium bolts will save you a whopping 10 grams. Woohoo!
Easton has taken what is already an expensive stem, the £90.99 EA90, and added titanium bolts that cost you an extra £50.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The stem was easy to install, and fitting the bar was simple with the torque markings easy to see.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Plenty of stiffness, and low weight.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing… except the cost.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes – it's stiff, light and easy to install.
Would you consider buying the product? No – the benefits just aren't worth the extra cost.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? No – unless they have a big thing for titanium... and money to burn.
Use this box to explain your overall score
In terms of performance the stem works well, and it proved stiff enough for every type of riding I used it for. But the cost is difficult to justify, even for the most ardent weight weenies among us.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is: Cannondale SystemSix
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo cross, sportives, mtb, Lots of gravel style riding
Matt is an endurance nut who loves big rides and big events. He's a former full-time racer and 24hr event specialist, but now is also happy riding off-road on gravel bikes or XC mountain bikes and exploring the mountains and hills of Mid Wales.