A quality wheelset that ticks all the boxes when it comes to weight, stiffness and speed on the flats, and they’re terrific value for money too, so there’s no excuse not to give your bike a boost
- Quite light
- Good level of stiffness
- Comes with tubeless valves, spare spokes and spoke key
- Relatively inexpensive
- Easy to mount tubeless-ready tyres
- High quality
- No aero credentials, despite the name
- Not the best for winter riding due to alloy nipples
Hunt produces a wide range of wheelsets, from its entry-level winter 4 Season wheelset (which you’ll find outfitted to a lot of premium winter bikes from the factory these days), up to its flagship wheelset with carbon spokes and Ceramicspeed bearings.
And, unlike many other manufacturers out there, Hunt thankfully still makes some of the best road bike wheels for rim brake-equipped bikes. In fact, it makes more non-disc wheelsets than it does disc wheelsets – as far as dedicated road wheelsets are concerned anyway.
Which is good news if, like myself, you still prefer riding rim brakes; you ride a classic, or you just haven’t made the ‘progression’ to discs yet. There’s loads to choose from, meaning plenty of options for those wanting to upgrade their ride. Our pick of the bunch at present is the Race Aero 30 wheelset - ideal for those who like the idea of a significant upgrade without spending too much cash.
Available in three different flavours - Race Aero with a 23mm wide and 27mm deep rim, Race Aero Wide with a 24mm wide and 31mm deep rim, and a big boy ‘Superdura’ version for heavy riders. Though not the lightest of the three at 1496g (the Race Aero are just 1479g), the Race Aero Wide option - the wheelset on test here - is the top pick, offering the best balance of features, making them the fastest option for all types of use, whether you want to go faster up hills or on the flat, plus their extra width should give your tyres more grip.
They might be a reasonably inexpensive upgrade, but Hunt hasn’t scrimped anywhere on the spec in order to meet its £359 price tag. You get decent hubs, in the form of Hunt’s Race Straight-Pull with 10-degree RapidEngage four-pawl freehub, high quality sealed cartridge bearings from Ezo, and the freehub is coated with H_CERAMIK coating, which Hunt says increases protection from cassette damage. Having personally chewed up a few alloy freehubs in my time, this is an overlooked, but useful feature to have (if it works as claimed).
You also get Pillar Spoke’s premium quality Re-enforcement PSR XTRA aero spokes, which are very light but double-butted, to provide greater strength where they come under a lot of stress. Longer alloy nipples also save weight whilst offering added strength, though if you’re riding in the winter you might want to weigh up your options as, in my experience, you may suffer from corrosion after just a few years use - brass is a more durable, if slightly heavier, option in that regard.
As with all Hunt wheelsets, the Race Aero Wide are tubeless-ready, so you can mate your favourite tubeless road tyres to these without issue. They also come with tubeless-specific valves (along with some spare spokes and a spoke key).
I chose to pair them with Vittoria’s fairly new Corsa Control G 2.0 tubeless tyres in 28mm; though they also now come in the fashionably more bulbous 30mm size, that would have been just a touch too wide for my frame’s seat stays. The Corsa Control G 2.0 tyres offer much of the speed of the race-ready Corsa G 2.0, but with added puncture protection and longevity, making them more suitable for all-round use. Check out our Vittoria Corsa TLR tyres review.
Fitting the tyres to the Hunt wheels was pretty straightforward, though being a bit of a cheapskate with a standard track pump meant that I had to use some soapy liquid to get the sidewalls to snap into the rim channel upon inflation. This is more to do with the tyres, I would imagine, not the rim itself, but it’s worth mentioning that there were no issues to note here - you’ll be fine using a compressor. Hunt says that the Race Aero Wide’s H-Lock profile gives a more secure seating of the bead, making it especially good for low pressures off-road; nice to know as the wheels can accommodate up to 45mm gravel tyres.
In terms of quality, the Race Aero Wide is a smart-looking wheelset, with some neat, if not totally discrete graphics around the rims - they’d look better with just the single logo and without the needlessly descriptive text, but that’s probably me being picky. The braking track features wear indicators on both sides, allowing you to keep tabs on remaining lifespan, which is handy.
Our tip if you’re planning on buying these wheels and want them to last a bit longer: get some rim friendly pads that also as a side bonus produce less dust, such as the Swisstop Flash Pro BXP pads.
With the name ‘Aero’ in the tag, you’d expect these to be aerodynamic, right? Well, while Hunt does describe them as having low aero drag - not surprising given their 31mm rim height - it doesn’t actually back up said claim with any hard data. So, it’s entirely up to you whether you believe that or not. Personally, I think they are - from a non-scientific seat-of-the-pants point of view, mind you.
On my usual 22-mile test loop, which is where I like to put different bikes and a variety of gear through their paces, I wanted to see if the Race Aero Wide felt like an improvement over the outgoing wheels (which are neither particularly aero, nor quite as light).
On hills, the difference isn’t that noticeable, which isn’t surprising given there’s only 100g less per wheel saving per wheel, but on the straights, or mild inclines, it certainly feels a bit quicker, where it’s been possible to easily maintain higher speeds without having to really push it. Of course, this isn’t a back-to-back scientific test, but I’d say it feels like there’s a small improvement in overall speed on the flats. I had no troubles with cross-winds either, but then the rims probably aren’t deep enough to affect a bike’s stability anyway.
More of an improvement for me personally is the increase in stiffness over the old wheelset. I’m not a particularly heavy rider (about 180lbs), but as I’m very tall I’m a reasonably powerful rider (for reference, I run an old school 53/39T and 12/25T and I live near the very hilly Mendips). When getting out of the saddle and mashing the pedals, I have a habit of tickling the chainstay on the non-drive side. But that hasn’t been an issue with the Hunt wheels, and so the frame hasn’t lost a bit of paint since then. There’s no brake rub to report either, even with the pads set at a hair’s thickness away from the rim.
Hunt’s recommendation of 83-88psi on 28mm tyres for an 80kg rider seemed a little high to me, and at this inflation I found the ride feedback to be a little too harsh with little, if any, benefit to speed. I found the sweet spot for me to be around 70/75psi. Comfy and fast.
A small word of warning: the Race Aero Wide are exceptionally loud when freewheeling - as in the kind of volume that negates warning people of your approach as they can hear you about a mile away if you’re not pedalling. You might love this or hate it; sometimes it’s good for pedestrians that might want to walk into the road, but other times you might feel like everyone’s giving you disapproving looks.
So, is there a catch to Hunt’s Aero Race Wide wheelset? Yes, but the only thing we can think of is that they’re too popular, and getting hold of a set might prove to be difficult, with pre-orders not being delivered until May. But, it’s a small price to pay, in more ways than one, because this wheelset is incredible value for money when you consider what you get in the box. At this price point, there doesn’t appear to be anything that can match them. They’re light, they appear to be faster on the straights for the same effort, and they’re also very stiff without being uncomfortable. If you’re looking for a relatively inexpensive wheelset that will suit the majority of your types of riding all year round (save for the harshest of winters), and can even be used off-road as well as on it.
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