The Golden Wrench

A blog about bicycle repair and maintenance by the mechanics at Freewheel Bike.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Contemplating Easton Freehub Compatibility

We are an official dealer (and, unofficially, fans) of Easton wheelsets, and can't wait to see how they perform over the long haul. Word on the street says to expect good things.

These wheels are as snazzy as fruit bread, but their freehub system can be somewhat mystifying. Rather than just playing it safe and offering "Shimano" and "Campagnolo," Easton custom-machines their freehub splines to interface magically with specific cassettes from specific manufacturers. That way, they can use the metal that you don't need on your freehub for baseball bats, hunting arrows, snowshoes, and time travel devices (that may be dealer only information: if it is, forget that you read it here). So you have specific interfaces for SRAM Red, Dura-Ace 10sp., Campagnolo, and Sturmey-Archer 3sp. internally-geared with drum brake. For some reason, the Sturmey model wasn't in the catalog when I just checked, so you may have to contact the dealer directly to work out a special deal.

Here's some pertinent info:

For starters, any Easton freehub works on any Easton wheel. Since "all cassette bodies fit on any R4, R4SL, XC One, or Havoc hub," this opens up a whole new world of possibility: You could have a freeride bike with Easton Havoc wheels and Campy Chorus 10sp. if you wanted to! However nifty this may be, and it's pretty nifty, there are some tricky things to keep in mind.

If you get a Campagnolo-splined wheel, it will be compatible with 9, 10, or 11sp. Campagnolo cassettes. It will also cook you breakfast on Saturday mornings and sing Italian love songs at you in Italian, and will become jealous and pine away if you ride other bikes. It's quite a commitment in other words, but if you're a Campy sort of dude, you know that already.

The standard freehub that comes on the Easton EC70 and EA70 wheels is compatible with all Shimano-splined 8, 9 and 10sp. cassettes. So you can run anything from HG50 to Dura-Ace 10 (with a spacer, naturally), and SRAM PG-850 up to Red. You could probably run some fly-by-night, snake-oil, aftermarket special if you wanted to--as long as it has standard Shimano splines. Yay, versatility!

The mountain bike freehubs are the same as the ones on the EA70 wheels, and are compatible with everything except fixie cogs and Havarti cheese: they break out in hives for some reason. Muenster is fine, which is a mystery all unto itself. We did not test them with Velveeta, Brie, Barry Manilow, or Jarlsberg Swiss, so proceed with caution.

EA70/EC70/XC One/Havoc. Recognize those splines?

The standard freehub that comes with EA90 SL, EA90 Aero, EA90 TT, and EC90 TT is compatible with any Shimano 10 speed cassette except certain sizes of Ultegra 6600 (including 13-25, 14-25, 15-25, and 16-27--basically, no Junior gearing). It's a fetching blue color, too. My picture didn't turn out, so you'll have to close your eyes and imagine it.

The freehub that comes on EC90 SLX, EC90 SL, EC90 Aero, and EA90 SLX wheels is only compatible with Shimano 7800 and 7900 Dura-Ace cassettes. I heard that and went, "Naaaawwwwww!" and tried to cram an Ultegra 10 sp. on a new EC90 SLX wheel. It was ugly: the carrier that holds the three largest cogs slopped around like a hula hoop, and the rest of the cogs wouldn't slide onto the splines without significant effort. OK, apparently they weren't joking.

Ultegra fits ugly.

But this doesn't make any sense! It's not fair! I'm writing to my congressman and Easton is going to jail! The Ultegra 10sp. cassette fits on a Dura Ace 10sp. hub, and the Dura Ace 10sp. cassette fits on an Ultegra 10sp. hub (Pete checked). Pete determined by lots of measurement that Shimano and Easton are using different standards for compatibility. Picture in your mind a splined freehub body. It has "peaks" (the high points) and "valleys" (the low points). Shimano standardizes by the diameter of the valleys; Easton standardizes by the diameter at the peaks. So when Easton measured a 7900 cassette, they made their freehub body to mate perfectly with the splines and paid less attention to the diameter of the body itself. Huh? Right. We could have just read the sticker and took their word for it, but Pete's an empiricist and I'm an idealist, so "easy way" just isn't in our lexicon.

Another thing that can go wrong with the EC90 and EA90 freehubs: you can get your cassette out of phase. There are three different ways that a cog or carrier can line up on the freehub, but only one will bring you fame and glory. Recently they have started putting an anodized stripe on the freehub to idiot-proof the operation (because we all have our days!) and slow down the nasty-grams in the tech service inbox. Check out these pictures marked "right" and "wrong."



We'll be stocking all available Easton freehubs, including the SRAM Red specific unit and Campagnolo, as well as the 8/9/10sp. Shimano unit so you can upgrade your new TT wheels to Sora 8sp. like you've always dreamed!

We expect good things from Easton wheels. Some of the employees will be pummeling demos at various local events and will be able to give a report on their serviceability, durability and performance, as well as how they wheelie and stuff.

Edit: 2/22/10 10:20am
After all that talk about cheese I think it's time to give a way $10 worth of gift cards to our Midtown Bike Center cafe. The first person to e-mail the correct answer to wins. What is the maximum cooking temperature used for making Brie cheese? Hint: I usually get my trivia question information from Wikipedia.

Click here for more info about Easton freehub body compatibilities.

We have a winner. The answer is 37C (98.6F).