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I've been thrashing the Hunt 30Carbon Gravel Disc wheels around the roads and bridleways of the south west, as well as using them for a touring trip to Cuba where they endured all kinds of surfaces, pot-holes and being lashed to roof-racks with string. And I like them, a lot.
Hunt wheels have made quite the splash since they were launched only two years ago. Offering a range of keenly priced, well-built wheels, Hunt has sold them by the bucketload and made it onto many riders' upgrade shortlist. Starting with wheels built with aluminium rims, in the second half of last year Hunt made the move into carbon wheels with a series of new models.
As the name suggests, the 30Carbon Gravel Disc wheels are aimed at the fast-growing new gravel/all-road/adventure bike category. Gravel bikes are aimed at riders who want to go quickly on the road, with the freedom to take a turn off the tarmac and explore further into the wild than you could on a traditional road bike. They're typically built tougher than a road bike, and consequently heavier. If you're looking for an upgrade to your gravel bike, wheels may be on your list, and with a weight of less than 1,500g, these are likely to be quite a bit lighter than most stock wheels.
The 30Carbon Gravel wheels use a new disc brake-only rim design, developed over the last year with Hunt's rim partner, and currently exclusive to Hunt. They're built from unidirectional T24/30 carbon and are 30mm deep and 26.6mm wide, and notably lighter than most wide aluminium rims at a claimed 370g (compared to 460g for the shallower, narrower Stans ZTR Grail disc rim, for example). Using carbon helps, obviously, but Hunt has also saved weight thanks to the absence of a brake track and bead hooks. Check our Facebook Live video for details on some of the factors behind the choice of carbon and resin grades used.
The inexpensive stock wheels on my gravel bike were proof positive that heavy wheels aren't automatically tough wheels, with a rather shonky build meaning that they went out of true disappointingly quickly. Fitting the Hunt 30Carbon wheels slashed more than half a kilo of weight from the bike, making an immediate and noticeable improvement to the bike's acceleration, with the bike feeling more lively on the road. The tapering 30mm rim shape has – one assumes – a very slight aero advantage over a standard box-section, but it's likely to be less noticeable.
At over 26mm externally, and 21.3mm internally, these are wide rims, as befits their intended use, and Hunt says they're suitable for use with tyres from 25mm to 50mm, making them an option for a really broad range of riding. Fit some racy 25mm tyres, and you're really giving nothing away against many high-end road setups in terms of weight.
That's impressive, as is the fact that Hunt hasn't cut corners to hit that low weight. A healthy 28 spokes per wheel laced 2-cross front and rear makes for a really strong, stiff build. Hunt gives a rider weight limit of 115kg for these wheels, and they've shrugged off everything I've thrown at them, including bridleways, towpath commuting, and touring with panniers on some pretty appalling roads. Even a nine-hour car journey with the bike lashed to a roof-rack across Cuba didn't result in so much as a bent spoke.
Most of the testing was done with Schwalbe S-One (30mm) and G-One (40mm) tyres fitted, which are a great match for the wheels as they offer really decent rolling performance while allowing for some off-road forays.
Hunt Wheels is a big advocate for tubeless, and the 30Carbon Gravel wheels are supplied taped and with valves included. Unlike the majority of road tubeless rims, there are no pronounced bead hooks, the small ridges intended to keep the tyre beads locked in position. Getting the tyre over the bead hooks is normally the fiddly part of inflating a tubeless tyre, and sure enough, fitting tyres to these wheels was – by a country mile – the easiest tubeless inflation I've ever experienced. Using just a track pump, they were sealed within three pump strokes, and needed only a few more strokes to get them fully seated.
Hunt maintains that with quality rims and tyres, there's no need for a bead hook, and cites the fact that cars, motorbikes and most mountain bike tubeless rims don't have them. Certainly I've had no issue with tyre seating or sealing – they hold pressure admirably. I mostly ran the 30mm S-Ones at around 50-60psi (Hunt gives a maximum of 70psi for 30mm tyres), and had zero punctures while testing the wheels. Hunt will supply the wheels with a choice of tyres already fitted if you want to save yourself the (minimal) faff.
What of the hubs then? They're based on those used in the 4season disc wheelset with uprated shielding and sealing on the EZO bearings to cope with off-road grot and the occasional jetwash. They're supplied with standard QR endcaps as well as 12mm thru-axle adaptors for the front wheel, and Hunt can supply 9mm, 12mm or 15mm thru-axle adaptors as needed. There are also Campagnolo and SRAM XD freehub adaptors available.
The 4-pawl freehub runs sweetly, and reasonably quietly. It's pretty straightforward to open up the hubs when needed (although no attention was required during testing) and getting hold of spares shouldn't be a problem, either direct from Hunt or from a local shop thanks to standard sizes being used for bearings, spokes and nipples. Hunt's business model was initially one of direct sales, but it tells us that it's more than happy to deal via local bike shops (for wheels and spares) for customers who prefer to buy like that.
A welcome touch is the inclusion of a steel strip in the splines of the freehub body, designed to prevent the cassette sprockets biting in. After more than 1000km of testing, I took the cassette off to check out whether it worked and found that it had been doing its job. The cassette slid off with zero jiggling required, and there's only minor evidence of any biting in the splines.
The hubs are designed for Shimano Centerlock rotors but Hunt includes 6-bolt adaptors as well. I mostly ran with Centerlock rotors, but did try fitting some 6-bolt rotors, to discover that my fork couldn't quite accommodate them; when I clamped up the thru-axle, the lock-ring was pressed against the inside edge of the fork and prevented the wheel rotating freely. This is a function of the fork design rather than the hub (with rotor positioning being standardised to suit where the calliper sits), but Hunt told me that Shimano has a slimline lockring which it can supply for customers with this issue.
Hunt has taken a grown up approach to styling with its whole range of wheels, with plain black rims and a small, classy logo. It must be said that this makes these wheels quite hard to differentiate visually from others in the range, and a number of people asked me if it was the (rather cheaper) 4Season wheelset. This actually suited me quite well, as I sometimes need to lock my bike up and leave it, and a bling wheelset makes me uncomfortable doing this.
Having used a number of carbon wheelsets on my race bike, these are the first I've tried on my gravel bike, and it's really hard to find fault with them. Light, wide, rugged and dependable, with genuinely easy tubeless setup, they're exactly what I'd want from a gravel wheelset. Carbon rims and disc brakes is a great combination, too. Priced at £999, they're a big step up in price from Hunt's aluminium range, with the popular 4Season Disc wheelset priced at £369.
If it were my money, the question I'd be asking myself is: how do these justify the extra cost? So that's the question I put to Tom from Hunt, and his lengthy answer can be summarised thus: the rims are wider, bringing a raft of benefits in terms of tyre shape, increased air volume and hence comfort; they are deeper and yet comfortably lighter than the 4season wheelset; there are upgrades to spokes and bearings, and they're built tougher, with four extra spokes per wheel. Hunt is also bringing out an aluminium 4Season Gravel Disc wheelset with rims that are a bit narrower and shallower, but with the higher spoke count, also priced at £369.
It should be no shock to anyone that the law of diminishing returns is at work here – Hunt's cheaper wheels are really good, and quite a lot less expensive. These 30Carbon Gravel wheels are even better, and quite a lot pricier. Measured up against competition from other brands, they certainly look very competitive. We liked Fulcrum's Racing Quattro Carbon DB wheelset a lot, and they're a bit heavier and a bit spendier. Although lighter, the Hunt wheels are also a better proposition when you get further from the tarmac, as they're built with more spokes and the rims are quite a bit wider, offering a broader base for the tyres.
If you're in the market for a posh set of wheels for your gravel bike, I really can't think of a better option. Hunt has set a benchmark with these superb wheels.
Wide, light and strong – pick three. Superb wheels for your adventure bike and highly recommended
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Hunt 30Carbon Gravel Disc Wheelset
Size tested: 30mm Deep, 27mm Wide, 28 Spokes
Tell us what the wheel is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Hunt says: "Your Gravel/CX weapons. Super-wide,4Season/CX sealed hubs &high 28 spoke durability for up to 115kg riders, plus they are only 1449g!
Thanks to disc brakes the line between road bikes and cross bikes has been well and truly blurred. Many of us now rightly see bikes as our keys to freedom; the freedom to roam and find undiscovered routes and just have a blast. We want to go fast on road, but often the routes we want to ride also lead off-road.The 30Carbon Gravel Disc wheelset couples our 30Carbon rim with our proven 4 Season Disc hub and a higher 28 spoke count for up to 115kg riders, creating a light-weight strong gravel, CX, bike-packing and heavy-duty road wheelset at well below 1500g! The extra-wide rim is ideal for gravel and cross tyres so you can explore, go bike-packing, rip any trails you fancy and thrash that CX course.
The 27mm rim width opens out your tyre profile providing exceptional grip and low rolling-resistance as well as providing great support for larger CX and gravel tyres especially at low pressures for killer off-road grip. Our H-lock tubeless steps grab the tyre beads when you're leaning hard into corners. The bladed spokes reduce weight, add strength and respond instantly to your accelerations. The latest breed of tubeless tyres give-up nothing in weight to their clincher counterparts, as well as removing the tube for weight saving and reducing rolling resistance, so tubeless-ready was essential."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the wheel?
Rims Unidirectional T24/30 with 3K weave re-enforced spoke holes. Disc specific. Tubeless-ready for lower weight & rolling resistance, featuring H-lock bead-seat for easy and secure tubeless installation. 30mm deep, Super-wide 27mm aero U-profile.
Tyres Wide 21mm rim bed creates a broad tyre profile, suitable for tyres from 25mm up to 50c. Not included.
Hubs HUNT 4Season Disc J-bend spoke hubs with extra bearing shielding.QR w/adaptable axles; front and rear thru 9, 10, 12, 15. Large double-sealed main bearings, 7075-T6 axle and freehub. Steel spline insert. SRAM XD Driver available.Centre-lock disc mount, 6 bolt disc adaptors included.
Spokes 28F/28R Pillar PSRXTRA Aero J-bend
Nipples 16mm alloy double square with washers.
QR Hunt 4Season Internal Cam for high torque tightening, secure fitting with low dirt ingress. Stainless steel springs.
Included QRs, Tubeless tape & valves, spare spokes, spoke key, 12mm front adaptor (other adaptors sold separately), pair of 6 bolt disc adaptors.
Weight 1449g (rims, hubs spokes and nipples)
Hookless rim makes tubeless inflation so easy, but with no apparent compromise on bead security or sealing – impressive. High spoke count makes for tough wheels if they're built well, and these are.
Excellent stiffness and good acceleration thanks to the lightweight rim. Probably a minor aerodynamic benefit too with the appropriate tyres, but not something I could really detect.
Hunt has thought this one through. Using a higher spoke-count, together with top-end spokes and enhanced bearing protection, it's built a really solid set of wheels. The higher rider weight limit will make them attractive to heavier or more aggressive riders.
Very light for a disc wheelset, especially one with wide rims and a high spoke count.
This is a premium-priced wheelset and it's worth pointing out that Hunt offers some much lower-priced options. You'll struggle to find much competition that can combine such a low weight, toughness and stiffness for this price, though, so it has to be a good mark.
Did the wheels stay true? Any issues with spoke tension?
They've been subjected to some pretty poor road surfaces, frozen towpaths and being lashed to a roof-rack for hours without any issues.
How easy did you find it to fit tyres?
Jaw-droppingly easy. Fitting 30mm Schwalbe S-One tyres was by far the easiest tubeless setup I've yet tried. No compressor, just a track pump, and they were sealed within three strokes.
How did the wheel extras (eg skewers and rim tape) perform?
They were supplied taped and that worked fine. The supplied QRs are quality items with internal cams – a real step up from what is included with most wheels.
Tell us how the wheel performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Flawlessly. I've used them on road, off road and loaded for touring and they've not put a foot wrong.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the wheel
Making a light wheelset that is tough enough for real-world use on and off road. The superlative ease of tubeless fitting. Discreet, grown-up styling – a carbon wheelset I felt comfortable leaving locked up in town.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the wheel
Did you enjoy using the wheel? Yes
Would you consider buying the wheel? Yes
Would you recommend the wheel to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
A faultless performance really – if this is your price range, these are as good as it gets right now for gravel/adventure wheels.
About the tester
I usually ride: On-one Bish Bash Bosh My best bike is: Rose X-Lite CRS
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
Jez spends his days making robots that drive cars but is happiest when on two wheels. His roots are in mountain biking but he spends more time nowadays on the road, occasionally racing but more often just riding.