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New Easton Haven Carbon wheels

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Easton also produces custom carbon fiber hockey sticks for the majority of pro players in the NHL - and as top-end players generally have their own preferences for blade shape and stiffness, Easton literally has to produce thousands of custom molds to accommodate them all.

Easton also produces custom carbon fiber hockey sticks for the majority of pro players in the NHL - and as top-end players generally have their own preferences for blade shape and stiffness, Easton literally has to produce thousands of custom molds to accommodate them all.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Workers open up one of the clamshell molds to remove a newly created Haven Carbon rim.

Workers open up one of the clamshell molds to remove a newly created Haven Carbon rim.
(Image credit: Forrest Arakawa)
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Careful engineering yields only the slightest amount of waste when manufacturing the Haven Carbon rims. Easton claims only a 1-2 percent scrap rate.

Careful engineering yields only the slightest amount of waste when manufacturing the Haven Carbon rims. Easton claims only a 1-2 percent scrap rate.
(Image credit: Forrest Arakawa)
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Mold blanks are received in this condition and are machined in-house to suit the application at hand.

Mold blanks are received in this condition and are machined in-house to suit the application at hand.
(Image credit: Forrest Arakawa)
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Water-transfer graphics are used for a higher-end look.

Water-transfer graphics are used for a higher-end look.
(Image credit: Forrest Arakawa)
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Threaded inserts are hand-installed into each Haven Carbon rim.

Threaded inserts are hand-installed into each Haven Carbon rim.
(Image credit: Forrest Arakawa)
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Each rim has to be painted in order to use Easton's preferred water-transfer decals.

Each rim has to be painted in order to use Easton's preferred water-transfer decals.
(Image credit: Forrest Arakawa)
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This station is used to drill the holes for each Haven Carbon rim. Four unique spoke angles are used per rim.

This station is used to drill the holes for each Haven Carbon rim. Four unique spoke angles are used per rim.
(Image credit: Forrest Arakawa)
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Wheels are handbuilt from start to finish.

Wheels are handbuilt from start to finish.
(Image credit: Forrest Arakawa)
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Easton's carbon fiber facility in Mexico is responsible for most of the company's carbon rims, some bars, and also all of its carbon hockey equipment.

Easton's carbon fiber facility in Mexico is responsible for most of the company's carbon rims, some bars, and also all of its carbon hockey equipment.
(Image credit: Forrest Arakawa)
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A vacuum pulls raw material down tightly against the surface of this table, where pieces are carefully cut using a computer-controlled blade.

A vacuum pulls raw material down tightly against the surface of this table, where pieces are carefully cut using a computer-controlled blade.
(Image credit: Forrest Arakawa)
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Rim molds are milled on this machine.

Rim molds are milled on this machine.
(Image credit: Forrest Arakawa)
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No, this worker isn't listening to tunes while building wheels - he's listening to the tone of each spoke as a measure of how even the tension is throughout the wheel.

No, this worker isn't listening to tunes while building wheels - he's listening to the tone of each spoke as a measure of how even the tension is throughout the wheel.
(Image credit: Forrest Arakawa)
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The hubs and spokes are borrowed from the standard aluminum Haven.

The hubs and spokes are borrowed from the standard aluminum Haven.
(Image credit: Easton Bell Sports)
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The Haven Carbon front wheel will be convertible between 9mm quick-release, 15mm thru-axle and 20mm thru-axle standards.

The Haven Carbon front wheel will be convertible between 9mm quick-release, 15mm thru-axle and 20mm thru-axle standards.
(Image credit: Easton Bell Sports)
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The rear Haven Carbon hub can be swapped between 135mm quick-release and thru-axle fitments plus the new 142x12mm standard.

The rear Haven Carbon hub can be swapped between 135mm quick-release and thru-axle fitments plus the new 142x12mm standard.
(Image credit: Easton Bell Sports)
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Easton says the carbon-HMPE fiber blend and special MRES-B rubberized resins used in the Haven Carbon rim give it unprecedented impact toughness.

Easton says the carbon-HMPE fiber blend and special MRES-B rubberized resins used in the Haven Carbon rim give it unprecedented impact toughness.
(Image credit: Easton Bell Sports)
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Safety and cleanliness are standout features of Easton's carbon fiber facility.

Safety and cleanliness are standout features of Easton's carbon fiber facility.
(Image credit: Forrest Arakawa)
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After the heating and curing process, molds are transferred to another station where the temperature is brought down gradually.

After the heating and curing process, molds are transferred to another station where the temperature is brought down gradually.
(Image credit: Forrest Arakawa)
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Workers lay pre-cut pieces of raw composite material into a mold. Contrary to popular belief, high-end carbon fiber production in incredibly labor-intensive - and expensive. Easton says each Haven Carbon rim costs over ten times more to produce than an alloy one.

Workers lay pre-cut pieces of raw composite material into a mold. Contrary to popular belief, high-end carbon fiber production in incredibly labor-intensive - and expensive. Easton says each Haven Carbon rim costs over ten times more to produce than an alloy one.
(Image credit: Forrest Arakawa)
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The precise molding process lends true UST compatibility to the new Haven Carbon with no need for additional rim strips or sealant when using proper UST tires.

The precise molding process lends true UST compatibility to the new Haven Carbon with no need for additional rim strips or sealant when using proper UST tires.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Easton's molds are produced in house and require no polishing after machining.

Easton's molds are produced in house and require no polishing after machining.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Raw rims are impressively well finished straight out of the mold with minimal resin or fiber flash to remove. Surface finish is impeccable.

Raw rims are impressively well finished straight out of the mold with minimal resin or fiber flash to remove. Surface finish is impeccable.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Easton's hockey stick molds, on the other hand, are machined with a conventional mill and require polishing and filing to remove the milling artifacts.

Easton's hockey stick molds, on the other hand, are machined with a conventional mill and require polishing and filing to remove the milling artifacts.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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These are the aluminum rivnuts that are used on each Haven rim.

These are the aluminum rivnuts that are used on each Haven rim.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The Haven Carbon's cartridge bearing-equipped front hubs use straight-pull spokes and require no disassembly for spoke insertion or removal.

The Haven Carbon's cartridge bearing-equipped front hubs use straight-pull spokes and require no disassembly for spoke insertion or removal.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Custom alloy nipples simultaneously thread into the spoke and rim eyelet.

Custom alloy nipples simultaneously thread into the spoke and rim eyelet.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Each Easton wheel builder has an arsenal of tools at his disposal.

Each Easton wheel builder has an arsenal of tools at his disposal.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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This acoustic pickup lets builders audibly measure the evenness of spoke tension throughout each wheel.

This acoustic pickup lets builders audibly measure the evenness of spoke tension throughout each wheel.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Wheels are individually logged and catalogued.

Wheels are individually logged and catalogued.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Easton's wheel building facility includes stations for recalibrating tensiometers.

Easton's wheel building facility includes stations for recalibrating tensiometers.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Hubs are easily adjustable for bearing preload.

Hubs are easily adjustable for bearing preload.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The riveted-in and threaded inserts supposedly distribute stress more evenly than traditional eyelets.

The riveted-in and threaded inserts supposedly distribute stress more evenly than traditional eyelets.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Easton says its new Haven Carbon rim far surpasses the impact strength of other carbon rims it's tested.

Easton says its new Haven Carbon rim far surpasses the impact strength of other carbon rims it's tested.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Rim sections are tested for impact toughness on this brutal-looking jig.

Rim sections are tested for impact toughness on this brutal-looking jig.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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For the rim's internal cavity, pieces of carbon-HMPE are wrapped by hand around a mandrel that is later removed.

For the rim's internal cavity, pieces of carbon-HMPE are wrapped by hand around a mandrel that is later removed.
(Image credit: Forrest Arakawa)
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Easton's new Haven Carbon all-mountain wheelset promises industry-leading durability plus cross country-like weight.

Easton's new Haven Carbon all-mountain wheelset promises industry-leading durability plus cross country-like weight.
(Image credit: Easton Bell Sports)

Easton's new Haven Carbon all-mountain wheelset builds upon its existing aluminum model with a feathery 375g true UST-compatible carbon fibre rim that brings the total weight down to a cross country-like 1,450g for the pair while supposedly delivering superior impact resistance, durability and ride quality.

Take flight

Billed as "the first carbon mountain wheel built for going ballistic", Easton says the key to the Haven Carbon rim's toughness is its proprietary Armored Ballistic Composite fibre and resin systems borrowed from the defense industry.

Instead of the more common carbon and aramid fibre mix, Easton uses a stronger and lighter carbon and high modulus polyethylene (HMPE) fibre blend that was originally developed by the US military for body armour and helmets. Holding it all together is an extra tough MRES-B resin that has also been rubberised for further impact strength.

Rim dimensions are similar to the aluminum Haven with a 26mm external width and 21mm internal width to better support wide-profile tires, a relatively shallow 22mm depth, and a solid true-UST compatible outer wall profile for easy and secure mounting of proper tubeless tyres.

Also borrowed from the standard Haven are the unique riveted-in threaded nipple inserts that are said to distribute stress more evenly than typical eyelets and allow for a thinner and lighter inner rim wall.

The convertible cartridge bearing alloy hubs – which can be configured for 9mm quick-release and 15/20mm thru-axle up front and 135mm quick-release plus 135mm or 142mm thru-axle rear standards – and straight-pull Sapim stainless steel spokes (which are conveniently all the same length throughout for easier repair) are wholly lifted from the standard Haven as well.

In total, Easton says the Haven Carbon rim is 100g lighter than the alloy version while also lending a more comfortable ride plus bomber durability. In fact, Easton is so confident of the latter that once they become available this summer, every Haven Carbon wheelset will come with a two-year unconditional insurance policy that covers everything imaginable from cased jumps, gnarly yard sale crashes and even absent-minded 'raccidents' so buyers can focus on the wheels' performance instead of worrying about damaging a pair of US$2,300 carbon mountain bike wheels.

Wagon wheelers will be excited to hear that Easton will even offer the Haven Carbon in both 26" and 29" variants.

Not just talk

Impressively, Easton's hype about military defense technology and background isn't just vapid marketing talk. Coming on board about nine months ago as research and development manager was Sayeed Syed, a 30-year-plus veteran of the aerospace industry who was formerly the vice president of composites at Westinghouse and a specialist in ballistics and fibre and polymer systems.

Syed brings with him enviable access to materials, contacts and knowledge in the composites world beyond what many in the bicycle industry can muster along with a background in specifically figuring out how to make composite materials tough and durable (not to mention having Oliver North on his speed dial list and holding the highest possible classified security access for a civilian).

Though even he admits that the ingredients in Easton's new Advanced Materials Systems aren't necessarily exclusive to the company, his experience affords him a more comprehensive knowledge of how those materials can be combined, what materials are available – and who to call to get them – and how they should be processed, engineered and handled to extract the maximum benefit.

Interestingly, Syed says that his new line of work is not only more challenging but also more fun.

"I'm trying to bring aerospace technology to [the bicycle] market," he told us during a visit to Easton's carbon fibre facility in Tijuana, Mexico. "Right now it's all standard materials: everybody is using the same procedure and the same supplier. I'm trying to change the technology to bring in better polymers and better fibres to make things lighter and stronger. [The bicycle composites industry] is mature but aerospace technology is ahead of the game. We want to be ahead of the whole game with systems that aren't even on the market yet."

What this means for the future of Easton – and your future, too

Easton makes no illusion to the fact that the status it once enjoyed in the early days of carbon bicycle components (you all remember the original Monkeylite, right?) has faded a bit but it's now making a more dedicated effort to retake it's "game changing status" with what Syed is bringing to the table.

The Haven Carbon is only the first product to come out of Syed's oversight but product manager Adam Marriott says that an ultra-strong carbon fibre DH-specific Havoc is coming soon – possibly before the end of the year – plus an ultralight cross country wheelset to supplant its current XC One.

Moreover, the new carbon fibre technologies currently in development will also be applied to an all-new range of components though Easton was still very tight-lipped on what that might include or any other specifics.

Either way, Easton's new Haven Carbon wheelset could very well be the product that signals the company's return to dominance in the field and while we weren't to test ride a set during our visit, we'll likely have the opportunity to do so at the upcoming Sea Otter Classic with a proper long-term production test pair arriving shortly thereafter. Cross your fingers.