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review

Hunt 36 Carbon Wide Aero Wheelset

9
£749.00

VERDICT:

9
10
One of the best bang-for-buck wheelsets you can get for your rim brake bike
Wide
Stiff
Fast
Light
Great value
Shallow depth might not appeal to all
Mysterious whistle from the freehub...
Weight: 
1,430g

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Hunt's 36 Carbon Wide Aero wheelset delivers outstanding performance for the money, keeping your pride and joy rim brake bike firing on all cylinders without breaking the bank.

A popular choice for riders looking for the best bang-for-buck performance, Hunt's wheels have impressed various road.cc testers over the years. In fact, Stu had a sister wheelset on test over the summer of 2020 in the 3650s, concluding that it was 'an excellent wheelset with some expertly chosen parts, at a very good price'.

The 36mm versions here are every bit the performance bargain Stu found that set to be.

> Buy now:  Hunt 36 Carbon Wide Aero Wheelset from Hunt for £699.00

Taking a quick half step backwards, you can have the Carbon Wide Aero rim brake wheelset in three formats: with 36mm-deep rims front and rear, 50mm rims front and rear, or the 3650 versions which (you probably guessed it) feature a 36mm front wheel and 50mm rear wheel – as tested by Stu.

These 36mm versions are practically identical to the 3650s. Stu gives a great account of the tech and design choices Hunt has made in his review, but the key specs bear repeating here.

In terms of dimensions, the 36mm-deep rims measure 27mm wide externally and 19mm wide internally, offering near enough the maximum width you can comfortably get away with on a rim brake road bike. My Shimano Dura-Ace R9100-shod Canyon Ultimate is capable of sporting 28mm wide rubber on paper, with acceptable room to spare, and the Hunts definitely make the most of this capability.

2021 Hunt 36 Carbon Wide Aero Wheelset - rim bed.jpg

For the majority of testing, I fitted a set of 25mm Hutchinson Fusion 5 clinchers which blew outward to a nudge over 27mm at 85psi, aligning nicely with the rim. The Hunts come tubeless ready with rim tape fitted, if you're a tubeless fan.

Braking is taken care of with a track reinforced with a high Tg resin (meaning it's more resistant to high temperature extremes), and supplied Griptec brake pads that are designed to work optimally with the track. There's no truly visible texture treatment here, but Hunt does claim that the Griptec Basalt Ceramic brake track produces extra friction for improved performance.

2021 Hunt 36 Carbon Wide Aero Wheelset - brake blocks.jpg

The rims are laced to the hubs by straight-pull, triple-butted bladed spokes, 20 radially laced at the front, and 24 spokes on the rear, arranged in a two-cross pattern on the drive side. The nipples are alloy rather than brass – which arguably could result in more corrosion in the long term.

While aero performance is never going to be the main purpose of a 36mm-deep rim, Hunt has paid due attention to creating a rim profile that is rounded rather than angled, the aim to produce fast but stable performance in real world conditions.

2021 Hunt 36 Carbon Wide Aero Wheelset - spoke nipples.jpg

Meanwhile, the hubs feature high quality steel bearings with a very fast-engaging freehub. The 48-tooth ratchet design results in this fast pickup, with each of the pawls featuring three engagement points (or teeth) aimed at sharing the load when you put the hammer down, as well as marginally increasing the efficiency of the power transfer.

2021 Hunt 36 Carbon Wide Aero Wheelset - rear hub 2.jpg

All this results in a wheelset that tips the road.cc Scales of Truth at 1,430g, and lightens your wallet to the tune of £749. On paper, they're compelling.

Performance

Out on the road, there's no doubt that this wheelset is impressive. Its light weight, with my relatively light Hutchinsons and Continental tubes on top, brings with it the ability to rocket up steeper climbs. Coupled with the fast-engaging freehub design, as soon as you choose your moment you get incredibly direct and satisfying reactions to your efforts.

Low weight might make some fear a lack of lateral stiffness, but I've seen none of it here. No matter how hard I tried, I wasn't able to make the rims flex and cause brake rub; even when whipping the bike side to side in a full gas effort over a steep rise, they remained resolutely firm underneath.

2021 Hunt 36 Carbon Wide Aero Wheelset - front hub.jpg

Of course, longer and steeper climbs is where the 36 Carbon Wide Aeros really excel. Their stiffness married to their light weight means they're appreciably quick however you like to ride. Every pedal stroke results in a direct response, and when you do need to get out of the saddle the stiffness makes accelerating to get on top of a gear again that little bit easier.

I'm also impressed with the overall ride quality. I've often found that the lightest wheels can feel a little 'raw', as if that light build results in a slightly rougher ride than you might find in a deeper wheelset when riding over grainy or rough tarmac. But I suspect the wide rims are playing their part in smoothing out the experience here.

2021 Hunt 36 Carbon Wide Aero Wheelset - rim tape.jpg

A magic carpet ride? I wouldn't quite go that far. But I've covered well in excess of 600km during the test period, through winter, while working on my base fitness from a relatively low start point (and so a little more susceptible to the various levels of fatigue that a grippy UK road can exert). I know my body, and these wheels have proven to roll kindly, taking much of the harshness out of the road – allowing me to enjoy the final 10-15km of a long ride, rather than suffering with aches and pains on my way home.

If you're a tubeless fan, your chosen setup will dictate how much this improves the ride for you. I tend to stick with a known clincher setup for testing purposes, but I did fit a set of tubeless tyres to make sure that was easy enough to do, given the tighter tolerances involved. In short, I had no unexpected issues.

On flat terrain, the 36mm rim depth results in very stable (if unspectacular) speed, almost relaxingly benign in behaviour. I'm confident that the slightly deeper (and more expensive) Vision SC 40s that I reviewed last year are faster on a pan-flat road or a long sweeping descent, but there is an obvious answer to that with Hunt's 3650 or 50mm versions if you want speed geared more towards aero gains.

2021 Hunt 36 Carbon Wide Aero Wheelset - valve hole.jpg

The stability shines on downhills too – they gave me lots of confidence thanks to a blend of the shallower, rounded profile that easily shakes off wind gusts and the width of the rim itself, maximising the tyre profile for improved grip. The lightness and reactivity means you do need to be on your game when descending (just the lightest input is enough to dictate your direction of travel), but once you've dialled yourself into how they handle, they're confidence-inspiring and fun.

> Buyer’s Guide: 10 of the best rim-braked road bikes

Braking effectiveness is good too. The lack of texture in the brake track means that in the wet the pads can take a millisecond longer to 'bite' if you haven't used them for a while and suddenly need to pull them hard, but there's plenty of power when they do. I can't comment on how they and the supplied pads perform in the height of summer when barrelling down an Alp, but on dry days in this UK winter I've found them to be enjoyably effective, with decent 'feel' and modulation.

The freehub is characteristic of Hunt freehubs of recent times. Noisy. It's the 'downside' of the design, which results in very fast and efficient engagement when you put effort in. In my experience, some like a noisy freehub, some don't. What's for sure is that this is not a wheelset for those who like to sneak in a freewheel in the draught of their ride buddies unnoticed. Rest assured, everyone will know when you're not pedalling!

2021 Hunt 36 Carbon Wide Aero Wheelset - rear hub 1.jpg

This leads me on to the one very small 'issue' that I've had with the 36 Carbon Aero Wides: when I spin them up on my bike stand in a big gear and leave them to freewheel down, just audible over the freehub sound is a slight intermittent whistle noise.

Checking with Hunt's specialists for their opinion with video evidence of the spin down, I was assured that the noise was just a result of the frequency resonance of the pawls engaging and disengaging so quickly. I can't detect any excess drag in the system nor hear the noise when riding, but I'll continue to use the wheels and report back if there are any further developments that might be cause for concern.

Value

If I had been told that these wheels were in the region of £900-£1,000 I would have believed it, and would still have considered them good value given the performance they deliver.

At £749, they're bordering on outstanding value – in many cases outstripping wheels from larger brands that cost a chunk more. The closest like-for-like comparison on paper is the 40mm Parcours Grimpeur wheelset, currently retailing at £849. These look to have been updated since we reviewed them back in 2016, now lighter and slightly deeper.

> Buyer’s Guide: 58 of the best road bike and gravel bike wheels 

Vision's SC 40s add a little more aero performance at around the same weight for around £300 more (they've gone up to £1,049.95 since I tested them) – plus a 'bigger' brand name.

If you're looking for something even cheaper, Liam rated the £599.99 Prime RR-50 V3 clincher wheelset highly. Those are 50mm deep, though, a little heavier, and Liam found they could occasionally flex slightly on steeper climbs.

Conclusion

If you're looking for that high bang-for-buck wheelset for your rim brake bike, this offering from Hunt is up with the best. They're perfect for those who prefer lightweight and stable characteristics over a deeper rim, and are especially great if you enjoy climbing.

Verdict

One of the best bang-for-buck wheelsets you can get for your rim brake bike

If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website

road.cc test report

Make and model: Hunt 36 Carbon Wide Aero Wheelset

Size tested: 36mm deep, 27mm outer and 19mm inner width

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: "THE ULTIMATE WHEELSET FOR MOUNTAINOUS RIDING. AERO, WIDE, ULTRA-LIGHTWEIGHT, SERIOUSLY FAST FOR CLIMBS AND DESCENTS ALIKE

"These are seriously fast wheels for seriously undulating terrain, ideal for long climbs and descents but with great all-round aero performance for rolling terrain too. The 27mm rim width opens out your tyre profile providing incredible grip, low rolling resistance and superior aerodynamic performance. As used by the Canyon dhb p/b Soreen UCI Continental pro team."

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

Hunt lists:

Key features:

- Rims: Toray T700/T800 carbon-fibre. Unidirectional sidewalls with 3K weave bed and spoke areas, Griptec friction brake-track with 3K re-enforcement for excellent braking and durability.

- Tyre compatibility: Tubeless-ready for lower weight, rolling resistance and improved puncture resistance. Also work excellently with clincher tyres and tubes.

- Hubs: Race Season SPRINT straight-pull, 15mm diameter 7075-T6 axle. Circular dropout interface steps for added stiffness. 3x treble-tooth pawl engagement for instant acceleration. Engagement angle of just 7.5 degrees. Steel spline insert to protect cassette body.

- Quick release: Hunt Race Season. Super-light,polymer with durable heat-treated alloy/polymer cam with stainless steel springs.

- Included: QRs, Pads, Tubeless tape fitted

- UCI Approved

- Weight (claimed): 1,417g

Rate the wheel for quality of construction:
 
9/10
Rate the wheel for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the wheel for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the wheel for weight
 
9/10
Rate the wheel for value:
 
8/10

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

I had no problems here – to the naked eye, perfectly true on arrival and have remained so.

How easy did you find it to fit tyres?

My clincher Hutchinson Fusion 5s went on incredibly easily. My 25mm tubeless-ready set weren't much tougher to get on and seat – just a natural side effect of tighter tolerances.

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

Hunt had left the tape 'unholed'. So on arrival, I had to cut the hole needed for the tube/tubeless valve. Skewers are adequate.

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

As a set of carbon wheels with more of a focus on climbing, they're excellent. Those after more aero performance should probably look towards the 3650s or 50mm versions.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the wheel

Razor sharp responses to pedalling inputs.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the wheel

The mysterious intermittent whistle from the freehub still niggles me when on the stand, but it hasn't caused any actual problems on the road. I'll report back if anything worsens and should cause concern.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

At £749, they're outstanding value, in many cases outstripping wheels from larger brands that cost a chunk more. The closest like-for-like comparison on paper is the 40mm Parcours Grimpeur wheelset, currently retailing at £849. These look to have been updated since we reviewed them back in 2016, now lighter and slightly deeper.

Vision's SC 40s add a little more aero performance at around the same weight for around £300 more (plus a 'bigger' brand name).

If you're looking for something even cheaper, Liam rated the £599.99 Prime RR-50 V3 clincher wheelset highly. Those are 50mm deep, though, a little heavier, and Liam found they could occasionally flex slightly on steeper climbs.

Did you enjoy using the wheel? Yes

Would you consider buying the wheel? Yes. For my personal use, I'd probably lean more toward the 3650s or 50mm-deep versions, but that's not a criticism of the 36s.

Would you recommend the wheel to a friend? Yes. (I already have!)

Use this box to explain your overall score

Hunt knows how to smartly put together a wheelset, no question. The design choices here (as Stu found with the 3650s) are taken to maximise performance, and they do so without costing the earth. As far as bang-for-buck goes, they're hard to compete with.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 32  Height: 188cm  Weight: 80kg

I usually ride: Canyon Ultimate CF SL (2016)  My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 5-10 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, Dabble in Zwift training and racing

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