Easton EA70 AX Handle Bars: Quick Review

Easton EA70 AX Handle Bars: Quick Review – by Guitar Ted

Easton Cycling has made a few items specifically aimed at gravel/all-road cycling. We’ve tested the EA70 AX wheels here, but Easton was also eager for us to try out the new EA70 AX handle bars and an EA70 stem along with that. Handle bars with flare and sweep have become standard fare in the world of dirt road riding, but it wasn’t always easy to find a good bar for this niche of cycling. Is the Easton EA70 AX bar a good one? That’s what we aimed to find out.

Easton EA70 AX Handle Bar
The Easton EA70 AX bar is very similar to their EA 70 bar, only this one has flare.

What It Is: The EA70 AX bar has a close sibling in Easton’s EA 70 bar which this flared drop is based off of. Here’s a snippet from Easton’s site telling us more:

Building off the highly successful and critically acclaimed lineup of MCD road bars, the EA70 + EC70 AX bar utilize the same top shape and reach as well as ergonomic drop shape. But AX turns up the flare: from 4 degrees to 16 degrees. Why 16-degrees? Based on extensive testing and rider feedback we determined that 16 degrees was the perfect balance of maximum bar flare which still allowed for efficient access to the shifters and brakes in both the hoods and drops. The wider stance in the drops provides more control on gnarly terrain and long gravel assaults. ”

The EA70 AX handle bars mounted to a State Bicycle Co. Warhawk.
The EA70 AX bars were mounted to the recently reviewed State Bicycle Co. Warhawk.

Okay, so maybe you are not familiar with why having “flare” is a good thing for a handle bar. This term is descriptive of the way the drop section is canted outwards. It is measured in degrees from “0” which is perpendicular to the ground. So, a 16° flare would mean that the drops are “bent” outward at that angle from straight up and down in relation to the ground. If a bar has “sweep”, that is different from flare. This term describes whether or not the extensions of the drop (the part of the bar that points back at the rider) is bent outward at the ends of the bar. A “no sweep” bar, like a traditional road racing drop bar, has extensions which are parallel to the stem.

EA70 AX bar spec chart

Another common feature of off-road/gravel drop bars is to have shorter “reach” and shallower “drop”. Reach is described as the amount the bar bends forward of the stem clamp and Drop is the measure of distance from bar top to the lower hand position on the extensions. You can see the spec chart for this handle bar’s Reach and Drop measurements. They are fairly typical for bars in this category. Finally, there is the shape of the “hook” or you can think of this as the curve downward of the bar. Some have a profile which looks like a “C”, or like a traditional, old school road racing bar. Most newer drop bars have what is called a constantly varying radius bend which softens the curve a bit into the extensions. this is what the EA70 AX has.

 Easton stem
Easton also sent along one of their fine stems to go with the EA70 AX bars.

Easton claims a weight of 290gm for the 42cm size bar. Our sample came in at 300gm right on the nose for the 46cm size on test. So, pretty spot on there.

The bars were done up in a nice black anodization with subtle bluish-gray graphics. The levers for the Warhawk were mounted easily and wrapping the bars was like any other bar, so no big issues with installation. I was able to find my preferred brake lever position and match that side to side easily with the markings on the drop section. This is becoming a standard feature of handle bars now. Why this wasn’t done for us before is a shame. Making your levers level and even is so much easier now!

The EA70 AX bars do not have any appreciable “sweep”, (see description above), so the hand position in the drops is pretty normal in that regard. However; with the added 16° of flare, and coupled with the shorter reach of these types of bars, you can stay in the preferred drops position when descending, or when things get rowdy, and have no fear of smacking your wrists or forearms into the bar tops. Plus, with a wide range of widths available up to 46cm, you can fine tune your cockpit for the appropriate amount of leverage. This allows you to keep the bike more stable in loose and rough terrain, plus I find it is easier to correct the bike when the rear end breaks loose on you.

An image of a hand on the drop section of the EA70 AX bars
Plenty of clearance for the wrists/forearms while in the drops of the EA70 AX bars.

Ride Performance: I found that these handle bars were pretty average as far as what I felt through the bar tape. These EA70 AX bars transmit about the average amount of feedback you’d get from most bars in this category. They weren’t noticeably flexy either, which is a good thing when you have to correct for a loose back wheel, or when bunny hopping an obstacle. The reach from a dropped position to the levers was acceptable, and the bar tops were average in width so I had no problem grasping the bars along side the stem when I wanted to.

I should also note that the Easton stem sent along with the bar contributed to the solid overall feeling of the cockpit as well. Otherwise, the stem did its job. It’s a stem. It held everything securely and wasn’t flexy.

The flare, which is a bit more than a Salsa Cowbell’s, which is 12°, and not nearly to the extreme of, say a Cowchipper, which is 24°, made it so that the levers weren’t canted over too far, and the position felt more “normal” than not. Overall, comfort and ergonomics are very good with these bars. Really, in the field of flared drop bars, the Easton EA70 AX is pretty much a Goldilocks choice between not very different from a traditional road bar to the extremes of the Cowchipper/Woodchipper types of bars.

The EA70 AX bars on the State Bicycle Co Warhawk in a rural setting
I found that the EA70 AX bars were a great compliment to the State Bicycle Co Warhawk.

At The Finish: With so many choices now in flared drop bars, (something I never thought I’d write ten years ago!), the EA70 AX handle bars have a large group of competitors. However; not everyone pumping out flared drop bars gets the recipe right. Some have too much drop, too weird a radius on the drops, or the flare and sweep is so extreme only a weirdo like myself could love them, (Ragley Luxy Bar anyone?). So, when I looked at the EA70 AX bars, I saw a recipe that was cooked up right. Good radius, nice amount of flare, and really no appreciable sweep to keep things familiar for those coming off traditional road bars. Yet the EA70 AX bars do this with decent ride feel and light weight to boot.

There are lighter, far more expensive carbon options, (Easton makes an EA70 Carbon AX bar) and there are cheaper, harsher riding options as well. The perfect bar? Perhaps it would be for someone looking for a flared drop with no sweep. Those wanting a swept bar, like a Cowchipper or a Woodchipper should look elsewhere. This isn’t your bar, but at around 80 bucks, it is a good value for those looking to upgrade from a heavy, stock bar, or for those wanting to set up a new bike. Good job, Easton. Not everyone gets this type of bar right, but the EA70 AX is a winner in a field of handle bars with some hits and more than a few misses.

Note: Easton Cycling sent over the EA70AX handle bar and an Easton stem at no charge for test and review. We were not paid, nor bribed for this review and we strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout. (Some images courtesy of Easton Cycling.)

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13 Responses to Easton EA70 AX Handle Bars: Quick Review

  1. Ted June 9, 2019 at 7:32 am #

    GT- great primer on sweep vs flare. Before this, I confused the two since we rarely ever see sweep specs listed for drop bars. With that in mind, something I’ve looked for, but never found, is the “sweep” on the Luxys. Any idea on that?

    • Guitar Ted June 9, 2019 at 5:43 pm #

      @Ted- You are asking “what was the sweep on a Luxy?” or “Are there any other bars like that?”

      Luxy Bars had massively swept extensions, something around what a Woodchipper has, (I have both and they are very similar) which was matched with a massive amount of flare. More than 25°, but not a lot more. All that held together by a straight section of 31.8mm tubing for the tops.

      A super unusual design for sure. I haven’t seen anything that quite approaches its features and design. That said, we have just received a Spank Industries Vibrocore drop bar that has about the closest look to a Luxy Bar I have seen. Stay tuned for that review soon.

  2. Tom in MN June 9, 2019 at 11:14 am #

    The carbon version (as for all their carbon stuff) is EC not EA.

    I also liked your sweep vs flare explanation, even some bar makers get these confused, so you need to look carefully when looking for flared bars.

  3. Eric June 9, 2019 at 3:44 pm #

    Nice review. I’m tempted to try out a set of bars with more sweep than the stock bars that came on my 2018 Norco Search XR (steel), but my stock bars are also somewhat flattened on top, which is REALLY nice to have. And i do not see that feature on any bars, unless you look at pricey aero road bars (without any sweep or flare). Or am I missing something?

  4. Paul Rowland June 9, 2019 at 6:52 pm #

    The Ritchey bar has 12 degree of flare with the ovalized top sections. I tried the Easton and liked the 16 degrees of flare but unfortunately the top sections felt super skinny even with fat tape on them so I went back to the Ritchey.

    • MARK BURZYNSKI June 10, 2019 at 12:42 pm #

      Paul, are you referring to the Ritchey ERGOMAX bar? Would you recommend this bar?

  5. Slim June 10, 2019 at 8:36 pm #

    I have the Carbon version of this bar. I taped a piece of Cable housing along the back edge of the tops to create a wider, flatter shape. Other t Han that, I think they are a great, moderate shape.

    Whether that is the right shape for you is extremely personal, but I think it can work for any people.

  6. John June 20, 2019 at 9:42 am #

    So far conventional wisdom is that riding in the drops is best position for gravel descending control. I wonder, does Shimano GRX change that thinking? From pictures of the levers, it appears that hands on hoods will offer the best descending control with GRX?

    • Guitar Ted June 20, 2019 at 3:50 pm #

      @John- Shimano knows that descending in the drops is the best position, but they also know that as riders fatigue, they will tend to ride up in the hoods more. This is why they optimized the brake pivot (on the high end levers only) for braking and shifting from the hoods to be easier than their traditional pivot placement. This was communicated through their extensive press release and to me via a direct conversation with Shimano representatives.

      Shimano probably will trickle down this feature throughout all the GRX line in the future, but it does not mean that they intend for use “only from the hoods”. Not at all.

      Of course, once GRX hits the roads we can make better observations.

  7. dontcoast June 25, 2019 at 1:46 am #

    EC 70 AX is fantastic so far.

    like a nice road bar in the hoods, more flare than cowbell (nice!) without being all weird feeling like a cow chipper.

    usually a salsa fan but easton wins this round- just put these on a new warbird and agree with the “goldilocks of bar shapes”assessment*
    *for modern gravel bikes

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by Riding Gravel 2014