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review

Hunt 54 Aerodynamicist Carbon Disc Wheelset

9
£969.00

VERDICT:

9
10
Fast and light aero wheelset at a great price
Noticeable real world aerodynamic gains
A good weight for the depth
Well priced
Can be twitchy in a crosswind
Weight: 
1,620g

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Hunt's 54 Aerodynamicist Carbon Disc Wheelset employs the aerodynamic thinking behind some of its top-end wheels. The result is a hugely fast yet reasonably light pair of wheels with some amazing windcheating effects. They're also solidly built and well priced.

Back in 2020 I spent plenty of time on Hunt's 48 Limitless Aero Disc wheelset. These, it claimed after spending a huge amount of time in the wind tunnel, were the fastest disc brake-compatible road wheels up to and including 50mm in depth; Mat wrote about them here.

After riding them in all kinds of conditions I had no reason to doubt that claim, and now Hunt offers those aerodynamic benefits in wheels like these 54s, which are deeper and a bit cheaper.

> Buy now: Hunt 54 Aerodynamicist Carbon Disc Wheelset from Hunt for £869.00

Wheels above 50mm were mostly used by time triallists or triathletes, with the added depth and material increasing the weight but offset by the aerodynamic advantage when at racing speed. The roads and routes tending to be used for these two pursuits were often not very hilly, either.

With modern materials and build techniques Hunt has managed to bring this set of deep-section hoops down to a claimed 1,524g (1,620g on the road.cc scales with tubeless rim tape fitted), which would be impressive for even a set of wheels at half the depth.

2022 Hunt 54 Aerodynamicist Carbon Disc Wheelset Rim Bed.JPG

With that in mind, they don't hamper you on the climbs, and you get that aero boost on the descent so they can sit happily on your road bike with all of the advantages and none of the trade-offs.

Well, there is one small one. They can make the steering a bit twitchy in a crosswind.

Personally, it wasn't a big problem for me, but if you are a light rider then you might find yourself getting buffered about a bit. If that's the case then you might be better off with the slightly shallower 44mm-deep versions that Liam tested recently. He is a lot lighter than me and found no issues in windy conditions.

Hunt also offers an option of 44mm front/54mm rear, giving the best of both worlds.

Out on the road the 54s feel noticeably fast, especially once you get the bike above 22-23mph where the aerodynamic gains start to take effect.

Maintaining that sort of speed feels like a breeze once you are cracking along, and thanks to the low overall weight, they don't produce any lag as you hit the lower part of a hill or tackle undulating terrain.

The level of stiffness is impressive too. Using this much material without accumulating weight often sees stiffness being the first thing to vacate the party, but that hasn't happened here. Hard efforts out of the saddle didn't seem to promote any lateral flex at all.

2022 Hunt 54 Aerodynamicist Carbon Disc Wheelset Rear Wheel.JPG

I went with a 25mm tyre for the majority of testing, pumped up to 90psi, and after swapping the Hunts around on a few different test bikes that stiffness didn't translate into harshness or discomfort. In fact, they are quite a pleasant wheelset to ride on all but the worst of road surfaces.

The Limitless wheels I mentioned earlier were wide, almost bulbous at 34.5mm externally, but that is what Hunt found worked from plenty of wind tunnel testing. The Aerodynamicist's rim follows a similar theme, just not quite so extreme.

They have a 29mm external width which Hunt says has been optimised for 25-28mm tyres, yet will happily work with much bigger, up to 50mm.

> Buyer’s Guide: 46 of the best road bike tyres

By keeping the internal rim width at just 20mm the Aerodynamicists don't lose the ability to be able to cope with those narrower tyre widths either – 23mm anyone?

Fitting the 25mm Continental Grand Prix 5000 Transparent tyres required a bit of thumb work, but nothing over the top, and once in place they pinged sweetly up to the hook of the rim.

These tyres aren't tubeless, but running tubes isn't an issue on the Hunts.

For tubeless duties I went with Goodyear's 28mm Vector 4Seasons, what with it being winter and all that. Using the included valves, and with tubeless tape already fitted, the whole process of setting them up was a breeze with just a track pump.

Hunt offers various packages if you need tyres at the same time as ordering the wheels, with your wheel/tyre combination turning up ready to roll.

Material-wise, it's a mixture of T700 and T800 grades of uni-directional carbon fibre, with a stronger ratio of the T800 fibres to achieve what Hunt says is a greater strength-to-weight ratio. The spoke areas and rim bed are reinforced with a 3K weave.

Linking the rims to the hubs are Pillar Spoke Re-enforcement PSR XTRA spokes with an aero profile, laced using 20 on the front wheel, and 24 on the rear. The nipples are alloy with a black anodised finish.

2022 Hunt 54 Aerodynamicist Carbon Disc Wheelset Front Hub.JPG

The Sprint hubs use a 6061-T6 aluminium alloy body with 7075-T6 axles, which, while not massively flash, should give plenty of reliability over the coming years and miles.

The hubs are adaptable to various axle standards including quick release, and are easy to swap out. You also get a Center Lock disc mount which makes swapping rotors quicker and easier than the six-bolt standard.

Hunt has used Japanese EZO bearings and they've continued to run smoothly throughout the test period, which started at the tail end of last year. They have seen salt, plenty of rain, and mud-coated lanes. Even though three months is a short time for testing durability, a quick look inside shows no signs of ingress by the elements.

A range of freehub options are available, and they're easy to switch between or replace.

2022 Hunt 54 Aerodynamicist Carbon Disc Wheelset Freewheel.JPG

On the Shimano bodies you'll find a stainless steel insert to stop the cassette biting into the splines of the body under load.

Internally, the Sprint hubs use three multi-point pawls with three teeth each, paired up with a 48-tooth ratchet ring. Engagement is achieved in 7.5 degrees, so feels snappy when diving into a sprint or a quick surge away from the lights. The freewheeling noise is noticeable, but not irritating.

Value

The Aerodynamicist wheels are £869 a pair, which I think is impressive value for money, especially at a time when we are seeing some huge increases in price. As I write there looks to be decent availability too, something else that is impressive.

In the box, on top of the itted tubeless tape you are also getting a cassette spacer for 8/9/10-speed cassettes, spare spokes with nipples and washers, plus some tubeless valves.

The build quality is great, with no issues of durability at all, including remaining well tensioned and true.

> Buyer’s Guide: 41 of the best disc brake road wheelsets

As for competition, the Hunts are easily as fast as the deeper Reynolds AR 58/62 X DB wheelset I tested in the summer of last year. As the name suggests, they come with a 58mm-deep front rim, and a 62mm rear. They are a bit heavier at 1,711g, and pricier too at £1,500 – up £150 from when I tested them.

Scribe offers its Aero Wide+ D wheelsets in both a 50mm depth (which I tested in 2020) and 60mm. The 50mm version weighed just 1,463g on our scales with rim tape fitted, which is impressive, and both options cost £870.

Conclusion

Overall, I really can't fault these wheels as long as you don't mind getting buffeted about a bit on windy days. They offer real world performance gains while being light enough to be used as an all-rounder, even on the climbs. You can't knock the price either.

Verdict

Fast and light aero wheelset at a great price

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 54 Aerodynamicist Carbon Disc Wheelset

Size tested: 54 deep, 29 wide ext, 20 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?

Hunt says, "The 54 Aerodynamicist Carbon Disc benefits from the further trickle-down effect of Luisa Grappone's Aerodynamicist rim profiles, as first seen on the 48 Limitless Aero Disc. The rim used is the same as in the 54 UD Carbon Spoke Disc, but paired with conventional steel spokes."

They certainly have similar performance qualities as the Limitless wheels, at a lower price.

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

From Hunt:

RIMS

Aerodynamicist profile, disc-specific & aerodynamically optimised for 25-28mm tyres

Unidirectional T700/800 carbon fibre with 3K weave re-enforced spoke holes

29mm outer and 20mm internal, ideal for 23-50mm tyre widths

54mm depth

H_LOCK bead-seat up-kicks, for easy and secure tubeless installation

Matt black base finished with matt white contrasting graphics

SPOKES

20 front and 24 rear laced 2 cross.

Aero Butted 2.0-2.2/0.95-2.0 then PSR section is 2.2.

Straight-pull for excellent torsional strength and direct power transfer

Cold drawn from high grade T302 (18/10) stainless steel wire by Sandvik Sweden

Patented Pillar Spoke Re-enforcement, butted again just before the spoke head providing more durability in high stress area.

Black stainless treatment

NIPPLES

Alloy square body for external adjustment and square head for easy internal adjustment/tensioning. square spoke key included

16mm length with washer for a strong connection to the spoke added durability

14 gauge

Black anodized finish

TYRES INFO

Maximum tyre pressure for this rim is 100psi when used with 25-28mm tyres. 100 psi is more than enough for any rider on road. Click here to listen to a podcast exploring the science of why lower pressures were found to be faster by pro teams.

Maximum tyre pressures for other tyre sizes: 30mm - 32mm do not exceed 70psi, 33mm do not exceed 50psi, 35-45mm do not exceed 45psi, 45-50mm do not exceed 40psi.

Please do not exceed the maximum pressure stated on your tyre.

Suitable for tyres from 23mm up to 50mm wide.

Suitable tubeless road, gravel and CX tyres are available from a huge range of companies including Schwalbe, Hutchinson, Panaracer, Maxxis and many more. Schwalbe Pro One 25mm tyre weighs just 255g, is tubeless ready and is Schwalbe's class leading clincher racing tyre.

FRONT HUB

All existing road/CX disc front axle standards are available including:

Quick Release (skewers included)

12mm Bolt Thru

All axle adapters are also available separately.

Forged and CNC'd 6061-T6 heat treated aluminium alloy body.

7075-T6 aluminium alloy axles.

Centre-lock disc mount.

Polished anodized black finish with laser graphics.

Hunt Race Season Disc straight-pull super-light alloy.

REAR HUB

All existing road/CX disc rear axle standards are available including:

Quick Release (Quick release skewers included)

12x142 Bolt Thru

12x135 Bolt Thru (uncommon)

10x135 Bolt Thru (uncommon)

All axle adapters are also available separately.

7075-T6 heat-treated aluminium alloy freehub body.

Steel Spline Insert freehub body reinforcement provides excellent durability against cassette sprocket damage to the freehub often seen on standard alloy freehub bodies.

3x treble-tooth individually leaf sprung pawls with 48 teeth on the ratchet ring for fast 7.5 degree engagement and instant acceleration.

All freehub standards accounted for, including:

Shimano/SRAM

Campagnolo

SRAM XD Driver

SRAM XDR Driver

Hunt Race Season Disc straight-pull super-light alloy.

Forged and CNC'd 6061-T6 heat treated aluminium alloy body.

7075-T6 aluminium alloy axles.

Centre-lock disc mount.

Polished anodized black finish with laser graphics.

BEARINGS

High-grade Japanese EZO bearings.

Rear hub upgraded to even faster rolling LU/LB low-friction sealed internal face, dual sealed external face bearings.

Incredibly fast rolling.

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

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

The wheels stayed true and tight throughout the test period.

How easy did you find it to fit tyres?

I had no issues with fitting tyres from 25mm and upwards.

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

Come fitted with great quality rim tape and the valves worked faultlessly.

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

Great wheels for on the flat while being light enough to tackle the climbs too.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the wheel

They feel very fast above 20mph.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the wheel

A bit twitchy in the wind.

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

They are competively priced against other direct-to-consumer brands such as Scribe, and are good value for money compared with brands like Reynolds, as mentioned in the review.

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

Very difficult to fault at all as they deliver on speed and weight, plus they are very well made. If you are a lighter rider you might find them a little twitchy in the wind, but overall they're excellent.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 42  Height: 180cm  Weight: 76kg

I usually ride: This month's test bike  My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,

With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!

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