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review

Hunt 35 Carbon Gravel Disc X-Wide wheelset

10
£899.00

VERDICT:

10
10
Tough, adaptable and wide as you want, these are an excellent choice for getting seriously gravelly
Weight: 
1,548g

The Hunt 35 Carbon Gravel Disc X-Wide are the UK brand's flagship gravel wheelset. The step up to 23mm internal rim width sets them up for the new breed of mega-wide-clearance allroad bikes – and the adaptable hubs mean your investment now is almost guaranteed to fit any future bike purchase.

  • Pros: Mega-wide rim bed, modular hubs, cheap retrofitting, disc adapters included, good weight for the dimensions, super-strong for off-road action
  • Cons: Apart from the price? Nothing. Unless you're north of 100kg, in which case you may be too heavy loaded

Two years back Jez fell in love with the narrower 21mm-rim-bed Carbon 30 wheelset – then £100 more at £999, for basically the same weight (OK, 59g lighter), not as much carbon beef and with a 30mm profile. Now going both wider and deeper, the new 35s up what was already some serious 5-star ante.

> Buy these online here

Out of the box the X-Wides look quite the business – jet black with subtle white branding. With an outside width of 30mm and depth of 35mm (hence the name) they look huge – but at only 1.5kg for the set, there's clearly carbon witchcraft going on inside.

Getting tyred

Being a 'tubeless-first' wheelset, the setup was child's play: pop in supplied valve, no taping needed as it's already done, add tyres, inflate using air tank. Fitting my go-to supple multi-surface rubber Rene Herse 38mm Steilacooms needed fingers only – A Good Thing especially for carbon rims. But no concerns re tubeless fit – when inflated there was a very loud snap as the tyre beads popped over the rim's internal 'H Lock' shoulder and into place. First time up, no faff, stayed sealed, the way tubeless should be. If I can slip a tyre around a rim prior to inflating it – say, to get the logo aligned with the valve – I worry that's a sign that it won't be a secure, airtight fit once inflated. However, Hunt's H-Lock rim profile ensures both ease of fitting and ultimate security/airtightness once inflated as well.

> Buyer's Guide: 18 of the best gravel & adventure tyres

At 35psi the 38mm Steilacooms measured up at the magical 40mm that Hunt says the wheels are optimised for. This widening is a consequence of the radically wide rim bed – so do pay attention to tyre purchase choice if you're close to your clearance limit.

Hunt 35 Carbon Gravel Disc X-Wide - rim bed.jpg

Sticking with tyre pressure for a sec... Hunt strongly advises: 'Maximum tyre pressure for this rim is 60psi when used with 35-40mm tyres. Maximum tyre pressures for other tyre sizes: 28mm do not exceed 90psi, 30-34mm do not exceed 70psi, 45-50mm do not exceed 45psi'.

Now these pressures may seem ridiculously low, but only in the historic 21mm 100psi-plus yesteryear view. Large tyres don't need as much pressure to retain their shape, and to have the same amount of pressure acting on the sidewall. In short: follow the instructions; harder is not faster. Or safer.

Setting up

In the box you get a bag of bits including the tubeless valves, three spare spokes/spoke tool and bladed spoke holder if you need to replace or tension them (I didn't), 8-9-10-speed freehub adapter spacers, and the axle endcap adapters. As with other Hunt wheels, these really are the X-Wides' party trick, and one of the main reasons to seriously consider them as your next set of gravelly hoops.

The beauty of the Hunt system – and the major reason for investing in its wheels, as I see it – is the plethora of axle setups open to you, now and in future.

According to Hunt, the system will: 'Fit all current axle sizes and are easy to change; Front - QR, Bolt thru 12/15/9mm, Rear - QR, Bolt thru 12x142, 12x135, 10x135.'

Hunt 35 Carbon Gravel Disc X-Wide - rear hub 2.jpg

So that's pretty much every possible option on the market today, and for the foreseeable future. And no doubt should a new 'standard' arise, Hunt will make adapters to fit. The adapters are available from Hunt for a tenner, should you need more for different bikes or to lend to a friend.

The bikes I used for the review were a mix of QR and 15mm thru-axles. I was reviewing the Mason X Hunt 4 Seasons Disc wheelset at the same time (review to come), and swapped tyres between them and the X-Wides to test out their on and off-road ability. As the more-gravelly bike uses SRAM Rival 1x11 with the XD driver hub body, I was swapping not only axles and endcaps, but the entire cassette/freehub body too. This was a perfect opportunity to live the life of a customer with multiple wheelsets, possibly multiple bikes, and who liked to mix and match wheels, tyres and drivetrains depending on the riding to hand. As Hunt's hub specifications have evolved over the years, if you are considering running an ecosystem of wheels it would be best to check with Hunt for compatibility between wheelsets.

Hunt 35 Carbon Gravel Disc X-Wide - front hub.jpg

I would bang on the thinner-tyred, lighter Mason X set for longer tarmac rides up the glens, then swap over to the hugely strong, wide Carbon Gravel set shod with the Steilacooms for oodles of chunky, rough drop-bar biking about the Perthshire hilltops.

Swapping out the axle endcaps from the other wheelset took a few seconds. You do need to remove the disc rotors to access the QR and 15mm axle endcaps, but as they are Centerlock rotor holders this is an easy, quick operation – just have a standard Shimano 16-notch bottom bracket tool and 40Nm torque wrench to hand.

As my bikes used different brake pads, I had to swap rotors as well – no major issue as removing the QR and 15mm endcaps requires removing the rotor lockring anyway. My original wheelsets were standard 6-bolt rotor hubs, not one-piece Centerlock rotors, so I had to use the provided 6-bolt adapters to hold the rotors in place. These went together easily, and held the rotors securely. If you want to make swaps really fast and faff-free, the one-piece Shimano Icetech rotor is an option that Hunt has 'extensively tested', although if you're running 15mm front thru-axles, clearance for the tool might be an issue requiring axle removal first. Hunt's UK-based helpline is very good at clarifying exactly what you need.

One issue with swapping hubs and rotors between bikes is the opportunity for miniscule variations in engineering tolerance in the hub, rotor, dropout or calliper to lead to a slight amount of rotor-pad rub, especially if you have a calliper with a minimal amount of pad travel between open and closed. Thus when swapping the wheels onto one bike (SRAM Rival) I had to perform a bit of calliper shenanigans to prevent rotor rub. Not a full re-alignment per se, but as the pads were partly worn, the setup needed just a light bit of 'encouragement' with a pad spreader lever for one piston to be a bit more retracted than the other, so as to balance out the centre point they would bite onto. Literally, remove wheel, press the pad you know is going to rub a bit inwards, squeeze the brake to get the other piston pushed out a bit further (ie fooling it into thinking the pad had worn more that side) and job done. Of course you may be running callipers that have enough pad retraction so as not to rub when swapping wheelsets.

Swapping over the freehub body/cassette was similarly easy: pop on some gloves and pull lightly outwards on the cassette – the whole thing coming off the axle without recourse to the locknut. The only thing you need to watch out for is a small red spacer shim that goes between the freehub inner bearing and hub bearing – I'm guessing that's why Hunt made it in red, so it was obvious when missing.

Hunt 35 Carbon Gravel Disc X-Wide - rear hub.jpg

A benefit not immediately obvious here is that if you break a rear driveside spoke in the middle of nowhere, say on a bikebacking tour, replacement is dead easy – no need for a cassette tool, chain whip and spanner to get the cassette off to thread a new spoke on.

Hunt specifies high-quality Japanese EZO bearings, and supplies replacement sets at £12 per hub. As the axles aren't 'shouldered' so can be removed in seconds, bearing replacement is easy with a basic bearing puller kit; just be aware Hunt inserts an alloy tube between the bearings, so it will need to be a proper 'lip-free' blind bearing puller.

On/off-road performance

The main reason for getting the X-Wides is the super-wide 23mm rim bed, backed up by a few square acres of carbon chunkiness to keep things in one piece. There's a great deal of comfort to be had from the rim profile when you're bombing about taking drop bars where no sane person would consider sensible or even possible. Everything about the X-Wides murmurs 'Find Your Limits', and it didn't take me long to trust that they were more than up to the job.

Setting up my now-40mm Steilacooms for about 32psi, no byway or gravelly road was beyond them. I sought out increasingly-lumpy mountain bike trails and footpaths (perfectly legit up here in the Bonnie Republic), the only limits to hand being my own skills and willingness to risk considerable personal pain should things go awry.

The pre- and post-gravel commutes on tarmac amply demonstrated the X-Wides' ability to hold a decent turn of speed, even in a nippy crosswind. Obviously the asymmetric profile is going to favour wind from one direction over another, but I couldn't work out which, even battling along a snaking road over a North Yorkshire moor. No doubt the aero butted spokes help out here, keeping things swishing along.

Hunt 35 Carbon Gravel Disc X-Wide - rim.jpg

After a particularly unfortunate rock sliced a gash in my rear Steilacoom I swapped to the 38mm Barlow Pass – more restricted in the mud, but even better on the roads to/from the rough stuff. The aforementioned loop of a few moors and then a restomping of my old Hampshire Highlands lanes reinforced that the X-Wides feel just as suited to the smooth as the rough.

With so much supple rubber underfoot, the idea of being able to ascribe 'comfort' to the X-Wides is kinda moot – so Hunt doesn't. What it does say is thanks to a special resin that cures at lower temperatures and retains more elasticity than other mixes, the X-Wides are less prone to vibrations and are more resilient to impacts – just the ticket for a rough-road rim.

Hunt also advises that the upper limit for the wheelset is 115kg including luggage, so if you're more at the brick-outhouse end of the weight scale you may want to have a chat with the Hunt helpline about your use case. Given it's unlikely anyone would be bikepacking with more than 15kg of kit, you're probably good up to 100kg dripping wet.

Value/rivals

Looking over the fence into the around-a-grand-chunky-carbon-disc paddock, grazing on the gravel are a few other contenders.

The £1,199 Bontrager Aeolus Pro 3Vs that Dave reviewed are very good, but for your extra £300 you get to fit your own tubeless tape, and get no QR option (granted, unlikely on a modern graveller). Critically for gravelling, there's no SRAM XD driver option for a 10T smallest-sprocket cassette, should you want to go 1x now or in future.

Then there's the equally priced Mavic Allroad Pro UST wheelset, pretty much a match for the X-Wides in every respect – until you realise they're alloy, not carbon. And are only 21mm deep.

> Buyer's Guide: Tubeless wheels from £114 to £2,400

Stu gave the £819 Parcours Grimpeurs 4.5 stars – mostly for the 1,406g weight and the fact they didn't bend. You can see where the missing 142g is, though: the Grimpeurs are only 19mm internal width, thus limiting you to less-than-the-fattest of gravelly treads.

Conclusion

All in all, for £100 less than the previous Carbon Gravel wheelset, for about the same weight, with pretty much guaranteed futureproofness baked in, the X-Wides are a very hard wheelset to go past. Yet again Hunt knocks the ball out of the park – and if you are on these wheels, you'll have no problem heading into the rough to find it.

Verdict

Tough, adaptable and wide as you want, these are an excellent choice for getting seriously gravelly

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Hunt 35 Carbon Gravel Disc X-Wide wheelset

Size tested: 35mm deep, 30mm wide ext, 23mm wide int

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?

They're for anyone wanting no-compromise rough-road performance and longevity.

Hunt says:

Introducing, the 35 Carbon Gravel X-Wide. Hit the seriously rough stuff with confidence, owing to a super-wide 700c rim optimised for tyres around 40c. Further, a 35mm depth is selected for its stiffness & burly strength for off-roading.

Featuring the same 5 degree RapidEngage 6-pawl hub as our 30 Carbon Gravel Disc (inclusive of H_CERAMIK freehub), this wheelset offers riders a more burly option for hardcore gravel/drop-bar off-road riding and racing! Benefitting further from a 24/28-spoke count (for up to 115kg riders), the result is a strong gravel/bike-packing wheelset for the heaviest of duties! The extra-wide rim is ideal for gravel and off-road tyres above 35c, with the ideal width sitting between 40-45c. The minimum tyre width for this wheelset is 28c. Hit the trails, HARD!

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the wheel?

From Hunt:

SPECS OVERVIEW

GRAVEL RIDING SUPREMACY

Rims | Super-wide (30mm external, 23mm rim bed) unidirectional T24/30, with 3K weave re-enforced spoke holes. Disc-specific. 35mm deep, ultra-stiff and ready for the burliest of drop-bar off-roading.

Tyres | Tubeless-ready for lower weight & rolling resistance, featuring H_LOCK bead-seat for easy and secure tubeless installation. Also works excellently with clincher tyres and tubes.

Hubs | HUNT 4 Season Disc J-bend spoke hubs with extra bearing shielding. 5 degree RapidEngage 6-pawl freehub, with H_CERAMIK coating for enhanced durability. SRAM XD Driver available. Centre-lock disc mount, 6-bolt disc adaptors included.

Axles | Easily adaptable & we fit them for you. Fit all current axle sizes and are easy to change; Front - QR, Bolt thru 12/15, Rear - QR, Bolt thru 12x142, 12x135, 10x135.

Included | Tubeless tape & valves, spare spokes, spoke key, axle adapters (please fill in the simple form after checkout to select your required size), pair of 6bolt disc adapters.

See the full specs here

Weight | 1548g

Rate the wheel for quality of construction:
 
10/10

Flawless. Can't fault them. True as a die, still.

Rate the wheel for performance:
 
10/10

These are uber-stiff, with no variation from true over the hardest of rides.

Rate the wheel for durability:
 
10/10

They still look like new.

Rate the wheel for weight
 
10/10

For a profile this wide and deep, with a good spoke count, the weight is admirable.

Rate the wheel for value:
 
7/10

DT Swiss's GRC 1400 42mm-deep carbon wheelset is heavier, and £872 more expensive. That's a lot more cash for another 7mm of aeroness.

Stu really liked the JRA Geckos, which are £49 cheaper and lighter, but they are narrower.

Yes, £899 is a lot of cash, but look at what you get.

Did the wheels stay true? Any issues with spoke tension?

True as a die.

How easy did you find it to fit tyres?

Fingers-only. Couldn't be easier.

How did the wheel extras (eg skewers and rim tape) perform?

Exactly as expected. No issues.

Tell us how the wheel performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Fabulous. Fast as anything over the rough or smooth.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the wheel

The hubs – I love the future-proofness.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the wheel

Nothing.

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 overall score

Given Jez's verdict two years ago, and the fact they've only gotten better in pretty much every respect including price and width, nothing less than 5 stars will do. I just can't fault them. These are serious wheels for the toughest of rides – you're buying certainty. Well, as much as you can.

Overall rating: 10/10

About the tester

Age: 46  Height: 183cm  Weight: 72kg

I usually ride: Merida Ride 5000 Disc  My best bike is: Velocite Selene

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: A few times a week  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, club rides, general fitness riding, mountain biking, Dutch bike pootling.

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