The Hunt XC Wide MTB wheelset, as the name suggests, is aimed at cross-country riding with an alloy rim and reasonable weight at a price that makes them appealing. What is questionable is the "wide" claim but all things considered, it's a very good option among the perennial favourites that make up the best mountain bike wheels space.
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Hunt XC Wide MTB wheelset – Technical details
The XC Wide MTB wheelset from Hunt has been designed for “fun aggressive” cross-country riding, with 6066 T6 alloy rims that feature 28 triple-butted pillar spokes front and rear and Hunt's own-brand six-pawl hubs with rapid five-degree engagement. The rims on the XC Wide wheelset are the main difference between other models in the Hunt range, with wheels to suit all disciplines from an even lighter XC racing set through to Trail, All-mountain, downhill and wheels aimed at e-bikes.
The “wide” rims measure 30mm externally, and 25mm internally, and come set up for tubeless tyres, as you would expect for any modern wheelset.
Out of the box the wheels weighed 1,670g for the pair, with tubeless tape fitted and sans valves. This was split into 770g for the front wheel, and 900g for the rear. The figure is a little above the claimed weight of 1,649g, but not excessively so. While the weight is not among the lightest alloy wheelsets you will find, for the price, they will be very competitive. The recently tested Fulcrum Red Zone 3 weighed 1,635g, but cost almost double, at £600.
Hunt XC Wide MTB wheelset – Performance
Initial impressions when removing the wheelset from the box were not good and the tubeless tape was very poorly fitted. There was no hole cut to fit the valve, and one wheel had the tape finished over the valve hole and not on the opposite end as recommended. Under the tape of both wheels, there were lots of air pockets and this left me wondering if it was a Friday afternoon job.
The wheels were fitted with a Schwalbe Racing Ray and Racing Ralph 2,25in combination, and fitting was quite easy. Inflating was the opposite. The wheel that had the most air pockets in the tubeless tape leaked for several attempts until the sealant eventually plugged the gaps.
The wheels have a suggested tyre width range of 2.1- to 2.35in, meaning the tyres fitted should be perfect. During the first few pedal strokes, there was some clicking and pinging from the spokes, and this is usually a sign that the wheels have not been pre-tensioned, which isn’t uncommon for a budget wheelset, but it has the potential to cause some alignment problems owing to the unevenly tensioned spokes.
The hubs were the highlight of the build. The engagement is very quick, and this was especially noticed on more technical climbs, where the on/off pedalling means no wasted pedal stroke. The freehub does give a buzz that you can hear when coasting, but it is not as excessive as some can be.
While riding, the tyres were inflated to 19 psi front, 22 psi rear, which are typical figures for the riding style and areas I ride most often. The rims are labelled as “wide" but for a modern wheel, the 25mm ID measurement is more an average width for a modern cross-country wheelset. The relatively narrow width had an effect on the actual tyre width and shape, having a noticeably rounded profile and measuring undersize at 2.2in. Despite claims that the wheels suit “thrashing the downhills” and they will have you “grinning from ear to ear” I found the wheels lacked the stiffness you would hope for to really push, with noticeable flex on typical waymarked cross-country trails. The tyres lacked the support a genuinely wide rim would help provide.
While I enjoy the downhills, the wheels were used well within the design intention, never pushed beyond normal cross-country trails and, at 60kg, I am not the heaviest of riders to push the recommended rider limit of 125kg.
Comparing the wheels directly against a pair with an ID of 30mm the difference was noticeable - not only in terms of stiffness and being able to hold a line on the trails, but also the support for the tyres, which felt like a downgrade in comparison.
Hunt XC Wide MTB wheelset – Verdict
Despite the “wide” claim and poorly fitted rim tape, the hubs performed well, and the wheels stayed true throughout the test period. They didn’t excel on the downhills, leaving question marks over some of the claims. There is however a possible area to save the wheels, as it is available either with Boost 148/110mm axles or 142/100mm (the older standard for mountain bikes).
This is now the common standard for gravel bikes and, as that style of bike continues to progress, wheels with 25mm ID or even wider are becoming common in the gravel space. The ERE Research Tenaci GR20 gravel wheelset tested several years ago had a 24mm ID, and Zipp is pushing the boundaries with the 101 XPLR at 27mm.
But while the Hunt XC Wide MTB wheelset might make a great gravel wheelset, they are branded as a cross-country option and have been tested as such. If you are looking for a cross-country wheelset that will be better for the downhills, the Hunt Trail Wide that Liam tested and rated highly are the same price and features 30mm ID rims, although they are nearly 200g heavier.
At £350 the pricing is good compared to other alloy wheelset options. Examples such as the Fulcrum Red Zone 3 at £600 has a riding performance no better than the Hunt wheels. For £390 Just Riding Along produce the Trail Dog wheelset with a claimed weight of 1769g.
Hunt is certainly not the only company with a cross-country wheelset with 25mm ID, or even lower, but the claim of being wide is not accurate for modern riding. For more sedate riding they are a good option, or you can ignore the naming and use them on a gravel bike, but for the aggressive cross-country riders they are aimed towards, they don’t quite hit the mark.