Hunt Bike Wheels, based in Sussex, England, has a worldwide following of its value-priced wheelsets. Hunt is relatively new to the US, establishing an office in Boulder, Colorado just this year. The company was founded by Peter and Tom Marchment and their father, John Marchment. Peter and his father John have composite engineering backgrounds, while Tom provides the business acumen. All are cyclists in various disciplines.
Luisa Grappone is the new chief engineer with aerospace and bicycle composite and aerodynamic experience. Before moving to Sussex from Italy, she worked for a decade in the development of aerodynamic composite wheels for other high profile cycling brands with WorldTour experience.
While the company handles engineering and design in Sussex, England, Hunt teams up with a Taiwanese partner to build the wheels. We have the opportunity to evaluate two pairs of Hunt carbon wheelsets, the Hunt 650B Adventure Carbon Disc, and the 700C Hunt 35 Carbon Gravel Disc X-wide.
Go Smaller to Get Fatter: Hunt 650B Adventure Carbon Disc Wheels
Hunt 650B Adventure Carbon Disc has 28 spokes for a stout build of the small-diameter wheelset. The carbon rim has a shallow 22mm depth with a wide 24mm hookless internal width. Hunt calls its locking bead shelf H-Lock bead seat and without the hooked rim there is a strong tire recommendation for use only with tires designated as tubeless or tubeless-ready with carbon beads. There are also maximum tire pressure recommendations, the highest being 65psi for a 35mm tire, and lower as the tire width increases.
The debate of hooked vs hookless rim sidewall profile is ongoing. The hooked design came with the onset of high-pressure clinchers, especially when folding aramid beads became the norm. The aramid or kevlar bead saves significant weight, but stretches more than the steel beads still used on inexpensive tires. The hook aids retaining the tire on the rim as the tube presses the bead into the groove. Even without a tube, the hook can aid in retention.
Manufacturing the hooked profile with a molded carbon rim is considerably more complicated than extruding an aluminum rim section. The molding technique also adds weight and results in a structure that is relatively weak against impact. A hookless rim profile can work if you can retain the tire on the rim. Motorsport tires do not use a hooked rim, but can rely on unstretched steel beads and machinery to mount and dismount the tire. A carbon bead tire, if sized precisely to the rim, can offer an unstretched tire fit with lightweight and reliable tire retention. Rim design aids (such as the deep center channel) can allow manual tire fitting and dismounting.
We consider the Hunt 650B Adventure Carbon Disc a mid-weight wheelset with actual weight with tape installed (no valves) of 782 g for the rear wheel with an XD driver. The front weighs 673 grams. The 1455 gram per pair weight is about 2% over the 1425 gram claimed weight and the weight of the rim tape easily accounts for this.
The 28 spokes lace the rim to center lock hubs with a 2-cross pattern. The driver has 6 pawls with 5 degrees of engagement. Driver options include SRAM XD/XDR or Shimano standard. Axle options are 12mm TA or QR (135mm). The spokes are aero butted Pillar brand cold drawn from stainless wire from Sandvik of Sweden. The wheels are hand-built in Taiwan with brass nipples and washers. There is a card attached to the wheels signed by the builder. The rim uses an external nipple design for easy maintenance.
Twenty-eight spokes are an uncommon find these days among carbon wheelsets, and many manufacturers claim there is no need for four additional spokes. The stiffness of carbon rims allows a greater span between spokes with less consequence compared to an aluminum rim of the same weight. Also when a spoke breaks, the stiffness of a carbon rim resists deforming, so the wheel stays truer even when unevenly tensioned. Technically, the four extra spokes reduce the span between tensioned areas. This means either less tension required per spoke or less rim stress between spokes, or both. Thus a 28-spoke wheel will still be stronger and more durable than a 24-spoke wheel despite the argument that the extra 4 spokes are unneeded. Weight gain and aerodynamic deficit are minimal consequences.
The build quality appears to be flawless. The wheels are round and true out of the box with even spoke tension and perfect dishing. Perfectly installed rim tape, centered without gaps and a marked valve hole show care. Included in the box are a set of replacement spokes and nipples, a spoke and nipple wrench, valve stems, and 6-bolt rotor adaptors.
A 650B wheel’s smaller diameter allows a larger tire while still allowing the entire wheel to fit within many 700C framesets. The expectation is to use these 650B Adventure Carbon Disc wheels with 47mm or larger tires to at least match the rolling diameter of standard 700C road wheels with a 25mm tire. 49mm is nominally 1.9”, a popular width for cross country mountain bike tires through the early 2000s. For our initial test rides we used 27.5 X 1.9” Panaracer Gravel King tires. The tire width is indeed 49.2mm-true to size. A sticker fastened to the rim states the maximum tire pressure for a tire of this dimension: 40 psi
The best part is the $779 (USD) price tag for this well-built wheelset. You’d be hard-pressed to find a new carbon wheelset with a 60-day ride guarantee and a 3-year warranty.
Hunt 35 Carbon Gravel Gravel X-wide 700C Wheels
The second set of Hunt Wheels I'm testing is the Hunt 35 Carbon Gravel gravel X-wide 700C. The asymmetric carbon rim of this set is 35mm deep with a 23mm internal width, this time with a hooked rim profile. 23mm is not the widest we’ve seen in this category, but is still plenty wide to give 35+mm tires a good profile.
The 700c rim features an H-Lock bead seat, and is pre-taped for tubeless setup. The asymmetric profile offsets the spoke holes from the centerline of the rim to allow more even spoke bracing angle with a dished wheel. With a disc specific wheel, even the front wheel requires dishing. Hunt says the rims are “optimized for tires around 40mm.” We would agree that a 33mm+ tire would work nicely with the 30mm outer width. With the hooked rim profile, even a 28mm tire could work and be optimally aerodynamic, but with certainly less rim protection from impact. The rim has a maximum tire pressure of 90 psi with a 28mm tire, and again, the maximum tire pressure decreases as the tire width increases.
The Hunt 35 Gravel X-Wide 700C rim also has 28 holes. Pillar aero butted spokes have a 2X lacing pattern to the same Centerlock hubs as the 650B Adventure wheelset. Our review set comes with a Shimano cassette body with the Hunt Ceramik coating for surface durability against the bite of the individual cogs.
The Hunt 35 Gravel X-Wide are mid-weight wheels weighing 723 grams for the front and 850 grams for the rear with the tape installed (no valves). 1573 grams is less than 2% over the claimed wheelset weight of 1548 grams. Again, the rim tape easily accounts for the disparity.
Also included in the box are three extra spokes and nipples, a spoke wrench and nipple driver, rotor adaptors and valve stems. The Hunt 35 Gravel X-Wide 700C also has a check card signed by the builder, coincidentally the same signature as the 650B Adventure set.
Just as with the 650B Adventure set, the build quality appears excellent. Tire mounting is easy and reliable. We initially mounted a Schwalbe G-One 38mm which measures 39mm on the Hunt 35 Gravel X-Wide, and a Specialized Tracer 38 that measures 39.8mm mounted.
The Hunt Gravel X-Wide 700C wheels for $969 (USD) outprices the competition. With this build quality and materials, and Hunt’s guarantee and warranty the Gravel X-Wides seem hard to beat.
Initial rides revealed no spoke ping or other build issues. I haven’t had any tire mounting or burping issues. It’s also worth noting when deflated completely, the tires on both wheelsets do not unseat, and dismounting the tires was not burdensome as it is with some wheelsets. Both conditions are troublesome in the field.
I’ll determine long-term build and material durability over more bumpy, mixed terrain miles. Initially, the value Hunt provides with these examples make them wheels to consider for your gravel adventures.
Hunt 650B Adventure Specs
Weight: 673 grams front, 782 grams rear, (SRAM XD) 1455 grams pair with tape, no valves
Rim: Carbon rim, 22mm deep, 24mm internal with hookless wall, 30mm external
Spokes: 28 bladed spokes X2 f/r
Axle: 12X100mm front, 12X142mm rear; 135mm QR available with endcap change
Freehub: SRAM XD/XDR driver, Shimano cassette body available
MSRP: $779 USD
Hunt 35 Gravel X-Wide 700C Specs
Weight: 723 grams front, 850 grams rear (Shimano), 1573 g pair w/ tape, no valves
Rim: Asymmetric carbon rim, 35mm deep, 23mm internal width with hooked wall, 30mm external
Spokes: 28 bladed spokes x2 f/r
Axle: 12X100mm front, 12X142mm rear; 135mm QR available with endcap change
Freehub: Shimano driver has Hunt Ceramik coating for surface hardness, XD/XDR driver available.
MSRP: $969 USD
More info: us.huntbikewheels.com