Hunt makes a mean wheel at a mean price. Just in case you are in need of a great carbon mountain bike wheelset, see my review of their $780 All Mountain H_Impact wheels. After another year on them, they are still in bangin’ shape.
With a great impression left by their mountain set, I opted to try their carbon gravel wheels. These looked just as promising.
The Hunt 35 Carbon Gravel Disc X-Wide wheels, first off, are a mouthful of a model name. As the title implies, the X-Wides are 35mm deep, made for “extra-wide” gravel tires, and disc brakes. Furthermore, they are 30mm wide from the outer wall to outer wall, and have a 23mm internal rim bed. “Hit the trails, HARD!” says Hunt in their wheel description. They aren’t quite as affordable at $1,150 but are still priced very well for a carbon wheelset.
The rims are made of unidirectional carbon fiber with reinforced spoke holes and an asymmetric profile. Hunt’s H-Lock bead design promises to make tire set up easy and secure.
Spoke count on the X-Wides is 28 front and rear, laced in a 2-cross pattern, with stainless steel J-bend spokes and alloy nipples. For an added $60, Hunt does some sweet Oil Slick Ti-Nitride spokes that make for a really unique look and enhanced durability.
The rear wheel is driven by Hunt’s snappy RapidEngage freehub body with 5° of engagement and a 6-pawl, 28T driver, available in Shimano HG, Campagnolo, SRAM XD or XDR. Disc brakes are mounted onto the hub body with a Centerlock design. Hunt is kind enough to include 6-bolt adapters in the package.
Axle compatibility comes in 12×142, 12×135, and 10×135 with either through-axle or quick release depending on the spec, and they are interchangeable. Hunt uses sealed cartridge bearings with waterproof grease.
Lastly, the wheels weigh a claimed 1,548g. My test set with brake adapters weighed 1,669g total.
The X-Wides were a breeze to set up and seal. They came pre-taped, so all I had to do was push in the tubeless valves and lock them in, mount the cassette, brake rotors, and tires, and voila. The Hutchinson Touareg tires that I have ridden with the Hunts over the past several months snapped up quickly, and I haven’t had any sealing issues with the wheels over the months they have been in play.
Ahead of having the Hunts installed, I was riding a set of premium alloy hoops from Industry Nine, and they provide a unique reference point that contrast with these Hunt carbon wheels.
On the trail
My initial impressions on the Hunt X-Wides were that the carbon helped smooth out much of the vibrations and small bumps translated through the alloy. Hopping on the trail, the X-Wides tracked smoothly down singletrack without any sense of harshness, despite the stiffer material and increased spoke count.
Harshness was one quality that was distinctly different between the prior aluminum wheels and the carbon Hunts, which should say that ride quality comes down to the way a wheel is built rather than directly on the construction material. When it comes to gravel or rigid bikes, ride quality is felt much more directly, so having a wheel that isn’t too harsh and won’t bang up your palms is just as important as having something that is stiff and efficient.
The X-Wide wheels ride this line on rails. They feel both stiff and mindful of how they carry their speed, without going overboard. What’s even more impressive about this feat is that they aren’t the lightest gravel wheel set out there.
At nearly 1,700g on my test wheels, they weigh more than XC and trail bike wheel set options on the market. Maybe this is related to the X-Wide’s 35mm depth – something not discussed very widely in mountain wheelsets as it relates more to aerodynamics. The wheels here, deep as they are, add more carbon fiber material to the wheel, but this also helps creates a more efficient shape through the air. For myself, since I’m not overly concerned with reducing drag on my gravel and light trail rides, the result feels like a more robust gravel wheel and one that can take some abuse.
You don’t have to shy away from riding rocks or popping off of water bars. The X-Wides soak up the hits and maintain confidence riding through patches of chunky trail or jarring brake bumps on gravel roads. All together, the tracking and ride quality, durability, and the price have left an excellent impression on me.
And, not only are they a quality wheel set at an affordable price, but their adaptability means that you can keep them around for a while. I’ve had the X-Wides installed on my aluminum Salsa Journeyman with QR axles, but Hunt makes them easily adaptable, and sells the end caps and interchangeable axles on their site, for $10 a piece. My test set came with skewers, and the correct adapters installed.
The Hunt 35 Carbon Gravel Disc X-WIDE wheels are not the lightest gravel wheel set out there, nor are they priced as competitively as some of their other sets, but for a carbon gravel wheel set, they pack a lot of value. They track well over choppy terrain and ride efficiently without feeling harsh. It’s even better that users can take them from one bike to the next by dropping $20 on a different set of hub adapters.
If the carbon rims are still too much to think about, Hunt has a few different sets of aluminum gravel wheels for half the price or even less, with weights that aren’t much higher than the carbon X-Wides, and I assume they are just as durable, if not more so.