First ride review: Hunt Race Aero Wheelset

In years gone by I had a default recommendation for anyone who asked me what’s a great all round alloy wheel set that rides well, lasts well, climbs well but doesn’t cost the earth – the Mavic Kysrium Elite. These were about 1500 grams a pair, tough, stiff but comfortable for around about £500 a pair retail.

A lot of bikes come with relatively cheap wheels, lower end Fulcrum’s, Shimano’s, or Mavic and whilst these are all tough and durable, none of them are light and none of them help bring the best out of a bike either. They make for competent commuting or winter training wheels but heavier wheels make your bike feel a bit more sluggish, so a well-chosen upgrade always makes a difference.

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In my view, the wheel market has changed in the last couple of years and there are now a range of choices out there that to me make a stronger recommendation than the Mavic’s for noticeably less money. One of these wheels is the Hunt Race Aero wheels that I’ve just been sent to try.

The Hunt’s retail at £349 a pair, which is a noticeable saving on the Mavics, which will be very welcome if they perform but it’s not just about the price. On paper the Hunts have another few tricks up their sleeve that made them stand out to me. Firstly the 1420gms a pair weight. My rule of thumb is that any wheelset under 1500grms a pair will climb well, so that’s a tick for the Hunts. The rim that Hunt have chosen is a wide profile with a 17mm internal width that Hunt  say is fine for up to 45mm tyres but perfect for 25 – 28mm rubber, which is what I spend 99% of my time riding now. Wider rims, give a more rounded shape on the road, more comfort, better handling and ultimately better grip and cornering. All good things.

The rims are 28mm and 22mm wide (externally), are tubeless ready and come with tubeless rim tape fitted.

The Race Aero run 20/24 spokes which helps contribute to the lower weight (less spokes, means less weight) but also means a rider weight limit of 95kgs and a suggestion from Hunt that you get them checked reasonably regularly by your bike shop if you’re over 85kgs, which is the down side of lower spoke counts and lighter wheels. However Hunt have other choices if you need a bit more toughness from your wheels.

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The hubs Hunt use contain quality Japanese EZO bearings to help them roll smoothly and reliably. They also have a steel insert in the freehub body to stop your cassette chewing up the freehub as can happen on many alloy bodies. I’ve never found it an enormous problem but it’s a nice touch. The hubs are 9 to 11 speed Shimano compatible and they ship with a cassette spacer. There is also a campag freehub body option.

 In the box you also get tubeless valves, Hunt quick releases , spoke key and aero spoke holder as well as spare spokes and nipples.

On my scales the wheels with the tubeless rim tape fitted weighed in at 1449gms a pair, with the skewers at 75gms a pair.

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If you take the plunge and buy some, you also get a 60 day ride and return warranty in case you change your mind and there’s a two year warranty. Hunt sell their wheels in batches and the next shipment of these wheels arrives in early September. If you decide to get some, you’ll need to place a pre-order on the Hunt website. My request to review the wheels fell into a gap in supply, so I’m trying lightly used demo wheels (as you may notice from the photos).

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I’ve recently been reviewing both a NeilPryde Zephyr and a BMC TeamMachine SLR02, which are both Ultegra builds but with entry level wheels. This has been perfect to get to know the Hunt wheels. I’ve shod them with Continental GP4000s II’s in 25mm (not tubeless) and tried them on both bikes. Getting the tyres on and off the rims wasn’t especially tricky, so no issues there.

First riding impressions have been very positive. The mainly black finish is very smart and should look good on most bikes. They certainly do on the three bikes I’ve tried them on so far. Out on the road, the Hunt wheels feel responsive, lively, comfortable and light – exactly what I’d hoped. On both the NeilPryde and BMC, switching to the Hunt wheels helped bring the bike to life a bit more and made the ride more fun. It’s an excellent start!

Interestingly the wide rims really do give you a wider tyre profile. The 25mm Continental tyres I’m running measure 27.6mm on the Hunt wheels, which I think is a further benefit.

I’ll report back in more detail in due course.

You can check out the full Hunt Wheels range here: http://www.huntbikewheels.com/

Thanks for reading.

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