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review

Easton EA90 SL stem

7
£149.99

VERDICT:

7
10
Clean-looking lightweight aluminium stem with titanium bolts, but at a price to make you wince
Low weight
Good range of lengths
Titanium bolts!
Very expensive
Only one angle option
Weight: 
110g

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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.

2023 Easton EA90 SL stem - 8.jpg

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.

2023 Easton EA90 SL stem - 7.jpg

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.

2023 Easton EA90 SL stem - 6.jpg

The EA90 SL is only available with a 7-degree angle, but there is a good range of lengths, from 70mm to 120mm.

> How to choose the best stem length

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.

2023 Easton EA90 SL stem - 3.jpg

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.

2023 Easton EA90 SL stem - 4.jpg

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.

2023 Easton EA90 SL stem - 5.jpg

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...

Value

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.

Conclusion

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.

Verdict

Clean-looking lightweight aluminium stem with titanium bolts, but at a price to make you wince

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?

Easton says:

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?

Easton lists:

SPECIFICATION

Finish: Black Ano

WEIGHT: 110g (100mm)

RISE: +/- 7°

LENGTH: 70 / 80 / 90 / 100 / 110 / 120mm

CLAMP DIAMETER: 31.8mm

STEERER: 11/8"

MATERIAL: EA90 Alloy / Titanium Bolts

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10

It's light and stiff.

Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

I'd expect no problems with the stem, and one benefit of titanium bolts will be the material's resistance to corrosion.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
9/10

Weight weenies take note! Those titanium bolts will save you a whopping 10 grams. Woohoo!

Rate the product for value:
 
3/10

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?

The EA70 version weighs 30g more but is £100 cheaper. The carbon Zipp SL Sprint stem is heavier and more expensive but it is very stiff.

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.

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 35  Height: 168  Weight: 62

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.

Add new comment

8 comments

Avatar
ktache | 11 months ago
0 likes

I kind of like it. Easton make good stuff. Looks better without the spacers on top.

Got myself an EA 70 seat post for the ultimate commuter, lovely thing.

Avatar
Pot00000000 | 11 months ago
0 likes

I don't want to join the grumpy masses, but I agree. This looks terrible, it's not light and it's expensive.

Uno and a bottle of acetone to remove the pinted graphics - sorted for under 30 quid. 
 

no reason for this to exist 

Avatar
JohnnyEnglish | 11 months ago
0 likes

Clean look? It's got logos everywhere. Front, top and sides. Not to mention the bars...

Avatar
Joe Totale | 11 months ago
1 like

If you want a lightweight stem I'm not sure why you wouldn't buy a Kalloy Uno for about a fifth of the price if this one.

Avatar
Off the back | 11 months ago
2 likes

The same amount of weight over a 'cheaper' stem could probably saved by just cutting that bloody steerer down, 

Avatar
Secret_squirrel | 11 months ago
1 like

Stem pricing never ceases to amaze me.  Once you get to around 130g-140g at around the 30-50 quid range the cost spirals for exceptionally marginal gains in weight - or even no gains at all.

The hairsine ratio isnt kind to them.

Avatar
mark1a replied to Secret_squirrel | 11 months ago
3 likes

There's an interesting exception to that, from Wiggle. Their Prime Doyenne Lightweight stem is 110g (100mm) and only £25.99. I've got these on a couple of bikes (hillclimb and Ti) and haven't had any issues as yet.

https://www.wiggle.com/p/prime-doyenne-lightweight-stem

Avatar
I love my bike replied to mark1a | 11 months ago
2 likes

Kalloy Uno stem is the other alternative (105g for 100mm) with full range of lengths & angles. Add ~£10 for x6 Ti bolts to probably drop weight to sub 100g, and still cost £100 LESS than the Easton stem!

Prime Doyenne stem has small steel bolts, so not really worth replacing with Ti.

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