Hunt Wheels – Enduro Wide 27.5” Wheels – Review
Traditionally there have been a relatively small number of, fairly large, brands in the MTB wheel space but in the last year or so you might have seen a new wheel builder picking up a number of positive reviews for various wheel sets coming in at prices generally below the big brands (e.g. the likes of Mavic, DT Swiss or perhaps even Enve). Hunt Wheels was previously a road-only brand but last year introduced a range of mountain bike hoops and recently picked up a 10/10 from MBR for its Trailwide wheels, and from the sounds of the responses out there on the forums they are receiving positive responses from riders. However, I’m conscious that there could be some hype here and I’m aware of wheel builders with a positive perception coming unstuck under testing – (cough, Enve…).
Conveniently, a few weeks before going to Whistler I managed to pretty badly ding my rims at Bike Park Wales on the aptly named Rim Dinger. With a few weeks to go before a trip to ride the rough rock rolls of British Columbia I was definitely concerned that my existing eThirteen wheels wouldn’t be able to cope, particularly given that they wouldn’t hold up for tubeless after my exploits in the Valleys. I could have replaced my wheels with a like for like substitute but I thought that it was time for a change. Hunt Wheels came to the rescue with the enduro wide MTB wheelset, these bad boys had a whopping 33mm inside width rim that should help with dissipating the impacts of hard rocks of Whistler and work better with my Maxxis Minion DHF Trailwides. Hunt bike wheels claim that these are the toughest wheels in their line up, and I really did try to put that statement to the test on the rocks and wood of Whistler.
First impressions were good. When the wheels arrived there appeared to have been a lot of care and attention put into their construction and delivery. They came in a nice box, well packed and most importantly came with an extra set of spokes (drive side and non-drive side for each end), a Hunt spoke tool and tubeless valves. The packing list also clearly set out who had tested the wheels and signed off each aspect of the testing process. The wheels were well tensioned, tubeless ready and looking basically pretty cool in the matt black finish. I was pretty excited to try them out.
The wheels in question were the Enduro Wide 27.5” Boost version, albeit you can pick up just about any combo required for 27.5” or 29”. They had a fairly whopping 33mm width rim and a 48 tooth ratchet on the rear hub (Hunt has now moved to 60 tooth ratchet since) and they weigh just under 2 kilograms for a 27.5” wheel. This is not a lot considering that a pair of Santa Cruz Reserve Carbon Wheels, which would set you back £1,600, would only weigh about 100g less. I’ll just skip tonights pizza, thanks.
Perhaps unusually, Hunt spec the front wheel as a 32 spoke wheel, whereas the rear wheel, which is likely to take the brunt of big hits and hard impacts has 36 spokes. It is worth noting that Hunt also went to town on the spokes, using triple-butted variants to provide further strength, also without a weight penalty.
Given how wide the rims were I did wonder what the set up would be like but getting my Maxxis Minion DHF 2.5” TW and DHR 2.4” tyres on went fine. I will say that this was not the case with a set of Michelin Wild Enduro 2.6” tyres, which took blood, sweat and tears (plus several hours and a hairdryer) to get them on eventually. However, in all cases once the tyres were successfully loaded up and tubeless was set up, the wider rims worked really well with wider profile 2.5/2.6” tyres, which really need to be spread out wider to get the benefit of their tread pattern.
When sat down on my bike for the first time after installing the wheels I found them stiffer than the wheels I had before (E13 TRS) but in no way that was a disadvantage. The bike felt much more stable round the corners, more predictable and less twitchy and I would blame this on the bigger inner width of the wheel. If you are a fan of a loud hub then you are in for a treat as they sound like a busy bee, think Hope hubs but a slightly different pitch. You could definitely hear me coming from far away on these hubs, this will not be some people’s tastes. Interestingly Mr Betty bought a pair of Enduro Wides which use a 60 tooth hub and they are significantly quieter, so far.
The hub has a 4.3 deg engagement which is fairly quick and holds up against other wheel manufacturers. I could definitely feel the pedals engaging quicker than on my previous eThirteen set, especially when ratcheting through techy, rocky terrain in North Yorkshire.
When sat down on my bike for the first time after installing the most important point for me when picking wheels is their durability, I don’t want to be buying new sets every few months and don’t want to have to be checking them in fear part way through a ride. Hunt balanced the durability against weight well, minimising the number of spokes up front, making sure to keep the weight down and putting extra reinforcement where it matters, at the back. This makes sure that the front wheel is more compliant and the rear is less prone to twisting, particularly good for me with an already fairly flexy Commencal Meta. 6069-T6 heat-treated aluminium alloy (science!) provides extra tensile strength making the wheels stronger on impact and the steel spokes are triple-butted. All this science made sure that when I rode Top of the World and pin-balled from large rock to large rock my wheel stayed perfectly true and there wasn’t a ding in sight. I somehow managed to disform my rear tire as well which showed the possible outcomes of this trip, but my wheels were fine.
Hunt claims that the wheels have been made for the British weather in mind, and with dual full contact rubber seals and large diameter ball bearings with a precision seal on the hubs seem to be the ticker. Whistler weather was filled with rain, and August in the UK was not kind to us mountain bikers but so far I have not noticed any issues or grittiness emanating from the hubs. I’m conscious that a UK winter will be the true test of a durable wheel, so i’ll check back in with you all for my long term review when we all emerge from our burrows in Spring (a.ka. July).
The other factor is the price. MTB wheels are expensive generally but it’s hard to dispute that these wheels are great value for money at around £360 at the moment. This is particularly the case given that the wheels come with a 3 year guarantee and 40% crash replacement policy. If you are building up a new bike or looking for a replacement for your stock wheelset, these should definitely be on the list.
As an aside, Hunt have been quick to support female riders as brand ambassadors, for example Becci Skelton and Emma Whitaker, who have both been running Hunt wheels in recent months.
To read more about the wheels and learn more about Hunt, go here.
September 5, 2019