Hunt’s 42 Limitless Gravel Disc Wheelset is deep, wide and fast. It’s ideal if you’re chasing speed, on or off road, and is perfect for large volume tyres
- - Stable in crosswinds
- - Responsive acceleration
- - Wide internal is suited to wide tyres
- - All freehub options
- - Excellent build quality
- - Hooked design suits clincher or tubeless-ready tyres
- - Great customer support
- - Not the fastest all-round option
If you want to go fast — really fast — on the rough stuff, then Hunt’s range-topping aero wheelset could be the perfect solution for you, and is well suited to the new breed of racy or aero gravel bikes. The wheels also work well on all roads, not just gravel, and have been designed so that they’re suitable for use in windy weather — that’s good for expansive landscapes in the USA but it’s also ideal for typical UK riding where the weather tends be on the blustery side more often than not. They aren’t quite as capable on mixed terrain, that weight penalty making itself felt on inclines. If you’re aiming them at the flats, though, these could be among the best gravel bike wheels for you.
Design and aesthetics
The Hunt 42 Limitless Gravel Disc Wheelset are designed to be, as Hunt puts it: “aerodynamically optimised for maximum speed and crosswind stability”. As a result, the rims use Hunt’s Limitless technology to achieve optimum airflow around the rim — making them not only fast but stable in strong winds. In wind-tunnel testing, Hunt discovered that you could counteract the effect the wind has on deeper rims by making the rim wider than similar competitors. Hunt has made the T24/30 carbon-fibre rim as wide as possible to create the ideal U shape. Internally, the rim measures 24.5mm, while on the outside it’s a whopping 36mm, making them seriously wide — though not necessarily the out–and–out widest there is.
The downside of making the rim wider is obvious: it increases weight. Hunt has addressed this issue by using a low density expanding polymer insert inside a channel carved out during the construction process of the rim. Weight is claimed as 1,548g, though on our scales they came in at 1,595g (with tape and valves installed). They’re not exactly going to trouble the best lightweight wheels, then, but competitive in the gravel scene. That said, they’re not that bad comparative to their aero abilities. 3T’s Discus 45/40, admittedly a slightly deeper and wider wheel (45mm deep, 40mm wide externally and 29mm internally) comes in at a claimed weight of 1,665g, which is a fair bit heavier.
At 42mm deep, the Limitless Gravel Wheelset offers significant aero advantages that make up for the minor weight penalty. Hunt’s wind-tunnel testing has proven the wheels to be not only more aerodynamic than non-aero gravel wheels, with a not-insignificant claimed saving of 16.8 watts, but best in class among competitor gravel wheels under 50mm depth (3T’s similarly-wide aero gravel wheels — the Discus 45/40, weren’t available at the time of testing, though). While the less-than-one-watt saving isn’t exactly going to get you fired up, it shows that the design work carried out by Product Engineer Manager Luisa Grappone has paid off.
Hunt could have gone deeper, but didn’t want to sacrifice too much compliance. Keeping the rim depth slightly shallower also means the wheels are less susceptible to strikes from rocks. Similarly, the wheels aren’t so wide that they’re wider than the tyre which is offering some protection from loose terrain.
Other aero enhancements include Pillar Wing spokes, which feature an aerofoil profile — chosen as the best option aerodynamically versus similar competition. These straight-pull spokes are laced to the rim with 20 front and 24 rear, and feature reinforcement around the spoke head for extra durability, which is ideal for rough terrain.
Visually, Hunt has stuck with its usual matte black finish to the rims but added a splash of excitement with its signature Limitless design. This consists of a subtle white logo next to the brand name, denoting its enhanced aero abilities, along with several slightly less subtle white criss-cross lines, which we can only assume makes the wheels look a bit faster. You’ll either love it, or (like me) like it, but prefer the subtlety of the all-black rim — more so on a less racy–looking frame, such as the titanium number we tested the wheels on. We understand the need to distinguish the halo wheels from the rest of the pack, though.
Hunt says the Limitless wheels are designed with a 38–42c gravel tyre in mind, but due to their width, they will work an of the best gravel tyres, as well as a few road tyres with a minimum of 30mm for road use, and up to a gargantuan 54c for gravel. That’s good to know if you’re intending to go really off-road. A maximum tyre pressure of 45psi is recommended for tyres between 35-45mm; about 40psi felt just right on our Schwalbe G One tyres in a 40mm width. For reference, the tyres measured in at a little less with a pair of callipers, which is slightly narrower than we were expecting — given that a wider internal rim should in theory widen the tyre further.
Installing these tyres was a breeze on the hooked rims, with just a bit of resistance that required tyres levers to get them over the final part of the rim lip — an issue we’ve encountered on other gravel rims with these tyres. They seated first time using a tubeless-specific inflator, and once up to pressure, there was no issue with them sealing right away. The hooked rim design means these wheels are suitable for use with clincher tyres as well as tubeless-ready tyres.
Hunt supplied our test wheels with CeramicSpeed bearings installed — a mighty £400 optional extra over the standard EZO (Steel) bearings. Hunt claims these are more durable than the standard bearings — lasting up to 7.5 times longer, though whether you think that’s good value for money depends on how often you go through wheel bearings. Otherwise, the CeramicSpeed option is just a ‘nice to have”, in our opinion.
Included with the wheelset is tubeless tape and valves already installed, and you get some spares in the box — spokes plus nipples, a cassette spacer, and axle adapters (if you need them). The Limitless Gravel Wheelset is compatible with all freehubs, including Shimano, Campag and SRAM XDR. You also get a three-year warranty, and a lifetime crash replacement is included — as with all of Hunt’s Limitless-branded wheels.
With a rapid 7.5-degree engagement, thanks to the leaf-sprung three-point pawls and 48 ratchet ring, the Hunt 42 Limitless Gravel Disc Wheelset is very responsive, and thankfully the freehub doesn’t make a racket (unlike some of Hunt’s other SPRINT hubs). They’re seriously quick to get up to speed, and when you do get there, they hold it well, requiring less effort at a given speed thanks to the aero advantage.
Hunt’s Brand Manager, Ollie Gray, explains that these wheels will give the biggest boost above 20mph, benefitting faster riders, though I felt they were fast pretty much everywhere, provided the horizon was fairly level.
Hunt’s focus on cross-wind stability seems to have paid off too, with very little movement from the bike on the rough stuff, even when coming up against the stormy weather that prevailed during part of the Christmas testing period. Even if you’re not riding in wide-open landscapes, you’ll notice just how stable the Limitless wheels feel on windy days. They also inspire a ton of confidence on steep downhills, too, and when you’re going a bit quicker than you should, it’s reassuring to know that you’re not going to be thrown into a hedge should a gust come your way. As Hunt puts it: “When descending at high speeds on loose, unpredictable surfaces, it is very important to have complete confidence in the handling attributed by the effect of wind on the wheels.”
Where these wheels don’t excel quite as well is in riding where there’s a good deal of variation in elevation. Sudden elevation gain is definitely more of a struggle — the added weight of these deeper, wider wheels having a noticeable effect on speed, more so on technical off-road sections where average speeds dropped even further.
Product manager Ollie admits that the wheels are better suited to gravel racers looking for maximum performance on flatter gravel terrain, so bear this in mind if you plan to make these your quiver–killer wheelset for mixed riding. They’re certainly still a good upgrade, but you might not appreciate the full benefit that these aero wheels offer.
Even though some might prefer shallower rims for a bit more compliance on uneven surfaces, the Limitless wheelset was no less comfortable than other carbon gravel rims previously tested. Especially if you’re using big-volume tyres that will take up the majority of the slack.
A shallower and therefore lighter carbon gravel rim might suit your type of riding better if you tend to stray off the flats often, but regardless it’s hard not to see the appeal of the Hunt 42 Limitless Gravel Disc Wheelset. Whether you’re going off-road or riding on poor quality surfaces on-road, it’s a premium wheelset that delivers on many levels.
Though you might not fully appreciate the aerodynamic benefits at all times, you will certainly appreciate the wheelset’s ability to keep your bike planted, even in strong crosswinds. This is an aero wheel for any road, and any weather.
As usual, Hunt’s excellent pricing applies, provided you don’t go the CeramicSpeed route (and even then, it’s still not that bad). Plus you get a three year warranty, lifetime crash replacement, and the comfort of knowing that this UK-based company is on hand to sort you out if there are any issues with your wheels.
Sure, £999.00 isn’t small change, but given that these wheels outperform similar aero gravel competitors such as Zipp’s 303 NSW and Enve’s 3.4 AR SES, both of which come in at well over £2,000, it’s a relative bargain. Both of those wheelsets are narrower, too.
A closer competitor would be 3T’s Discus 45/40 LTD, as mentioned earlier, which we suspect would have given Hunt’s wheels a run for their money, had they been available at the time of testing. They’re an even wider, deeper option, and are also designed specifically for large volume tyres (35-40mm). They’re about £2,275 at the time of writing, so again — way less bang for your buck.
Tech Specs: Hunt 42 Limitless Gravel Disc Wheelset
- Price: £999 (£1,399 CeramicSpeed option)
- Weight: 1,595g (taped and valved)
- Axles: Front — Bolt thru 12/9mm (as tested), QR; Rear — Bolt thru 12x142 (as tested), 12x135, 10x135, QR
- Size: 700c
- Width: 36mm external, 24.5mm internal
- Spoke count: 20/24
- Freehub options: Shimano/SRAM, Campagnolo, SRAM XD Driver, SRAM XDR Driver
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