The hubs roll on mundane-sounding steel cartridge bearings but they’re fitted with high-quality SKF grease, custom seals and adjustable preload – a rarely seen and highly undervalued feature. Though not as fashionable as hybrid ceramics or even stainless steel, the R4 hubs yield one of the silkiest rolls around, as long as you take the time to set them up properly.
Straight-pull Sapim bladed stainless steel spokes and easily trued external nipples (brass on the rear drive-side, alloy elsewhere) join everything together and build quality is superb. Our wheels arrived dead straight and round, but more importantly, with fantastically even spoke tension – as measured with an FSA spoke tension gauge – that bodes well for long-term durability.
Actual wheel weights are 666g for the front and 910g for the rear, plus another 118g for the included skewers.
The total package delivers a firm, responsive and communicative ride quality on the road. Though never harsh, the EA90 Aero still might be a tad too stiff for lighter riders, those looking to temper an overly rigid frame or cyclists cursed with poor roads. In those cases, something with a shallower rim profile like
Power delivery on the EA90 Aero is very good with minimal wind-up when you’re really on it and relatively lively 12-degree rear hub engagement – Mavic’s FTS-L measures a positively comatose 20 degrees in comparison. Once up to speed, the modest aerodynamic enhancements and ultra-smooth hubs seem to help the EA90 Aero stay there, too, as they cruise noticeably well on long, fast sections of road.
The medium-section rims’ extra stiffness relative to shallower hoops undoubtedly contributes to the ride but the downside is their so-so 475g/490g front/rear claimed rim weights. Save for accelerations from a dead stop, the extra mass is essentially unnoticeable, though, and only the most ardent climbers are likely to complain.
As the even spoke tensions suggested, our test set has held up admirably well over nine months of abuse with nary a quarter-turn of a single spoke nipple required in spite of the dirt roads, curb jumps and brief ‘cross stints we threw at it. Mix that in with the good overall performance and reasonable cost and you’ve got a winner all around.