Hunt is a small British company that has become quite popular in a relatively short amount of time. They have been specializing in smartly designed and affordably priced wheels for the road and gravel markets for a couple of years now, and last year branched out into the mountain bike market. Keen to see what they’re all about, we called in the Trail Wide 29” wheels for review.
The Trail Wide was launched last year, along with the Enduro Wide and XC Wide. As the name suggests, these are wide wheels, each with a dedicated width and spoke lacing to suit the demands of the intended usage. The Trail Wide is available in 27.5” and 29” and has a 30mm internal width aluminum rim running on the company’s own hubs, and come tubeless-ready with tape and valves pre-installed.
Hunt Trail Wide Wheels
• 30mm internal rim width
• 6069 aluminum rims
• 4.3° RapidEngage hubs
• 27.5" or 29" options
• 28F / 32R Spoke Count
• Triple butted (2.2-1.6-2.0) PSR reinforced Pillar Spokes
• Weight: 1,832g (29" actual weight)
• MSRP: $449 USD / £349
They can be ordered direct from Hunt's website with a choice of SRAM XD, HG or new Shimano Microspline-compatible freehubs, Boost or Super Boost, and in the box are included spare spokes and spoke key. A nice touch. Hunt also offers free worldwide shopping on wheels.
Picking the right wheelset is all about assessing the type of riding you do and the demands you place on your kit. It’s often a fine balance between maintaining low weight with enough ruggedness to not fail when you’re miles from home. The Trail Wide isn’t quite as beefy as the tougher Enduro Wide wheelset, nor is the rim as wide (30mm versus 33.3mm) but they are made from the same 6069 aluminum with a welded construction, and using 28 spokes in the front wheel and 32 in the back as opposed to 32 front and 36 rear. Spokes are triple-butted Pillar PSRs with alloy nipples. Those subtle differences help to trim the weight; the 29” wheels pictured weighing 1,832g on my scales (1,022g rear, 810g front).
Hunt reckons the use of triple-butted spokes contributes greatly to the cost of the wheels, but it's worth it as it adds strength and helps to reduce weight when compared to lesser quality spokes. The rims are tubeless-ready using an H-lock bead, and come with tape and valves pre-installed - the company will even fit tires for you if you want a wheelset that is truly ready to ride from the box.
Novatec aluminum hubs spin on Japanese EZO oversized double sealed bearings, while a RapidEngage freehub provides a speedy 4.3º engagement angle with six pawls for quick pickup when getting on the gas. You can choose from SRAM XD, Shimano HG or the newer Microspline freehubs. Disc rotors are attached using the 6-bolt standard and you can choose Boost or Super Boost spacing. Since I had requested Boost hub spacing there was no fiddling with end caps to worry about, so it was a case of slapping on an SRAM cassette to the XD driver and fitting the wheels to the bike.Setup
Tubeless setup was mostly good. A set of Maxxis tires inflated the first time with a regular track pump and I was out on the trail in no time. A set of Specialized tires proved a bigger challenge and required a couple of extra layers of tape and a tubeless inflator to get the bead to pop into place on the rim. That's less the fault of Hunt and more an issue around a lack of a clear tubeless standard in the industry; while tubeless is much easier than it was 10-15 years go, there's still room for improvement. With the tires installed there were no issues with the bead popping off through punctures or heavy landings. The H-Lock bead seat has raised bead locks on either side of the channel designed to lock the tire in place. It works - the tires stayed glued to the rims during use. Even when I had a puncture the beads stayed locked into the rims.Performance
There is a lot to like about Hunt’s Trail Wide wheelset when you take into account the specification and the price. But does the performance live up to expectations? I’ve been testing the wheels over several months on a Specialized Stumpjumper EVO and my riding has included all my local trails, largely a mixture of loamy singletrack with a few rocks thrown in to keep you on your toes, and a week in Andorra that was spent scaring myself silly in the Vallnord bike park, and also exploring the stunning natural singletrack hidden in the surrounding mountains with 15km long descents a taste of the stunning ride on offer there. Book a holiday there, you won't regret it.
Back to the wheels. For many people, weight is a key concern and is often the primary reason for an upgrade. The holy grail would be a seriously lightweight wheel with the strength of a downhill wheelset, but until that wish is delivered, it’s a question of compromise. The Trail Wide’s hit a pretty decent sweet spot and compare well to the competition, more so when you factor in the low price. The weight is comparable to other aluminum wheels and in some cases is lighter than carbon.
They certainly saved a load of weight compared to the aluminum Roval Traverse wheelset they replaced on my bike. On the trail, I noticed the change immediately. The bike felt snappier and faster, easier to get up to speed and livelier in the turns. It shows just how important wheels are to the way a bike rides, and especially on many entry- to mid-range bikes that are hobbled by lumpen wheels.
It’s really tricky to talk about compliance and stiffness when you’ve got a couple of inches of suspension and fat low-pressure tires, and outside of a laboratory in the real world with all its pesky variables, but I’d say the Trail Wides have a nice muted feel on the trail that holds back some of the vibrations from passing through to the contact points. They don’t have the pingy feel I’ve experienced with some carbon wheels I’ve ridden in the past. They are very assured though, and go about their business with little fuss or drama. And then you remember the price, which becomes increasingly astonishing the more you ride the wheels.
The freehub makes a satisfying noise when freewheeling, just enough to alert walkers to your presence if riding a shared access path on the way to the trails. Stamping on the pedals reveals near-instant engagement too. It’s funny talking about freehub engagement because these days most wheels are of such a high-quality that determining minute differences in engagement response is tricky. Unless the freehub is doing something janky, you’re not going to notice anything out of the ordinary.
The wheels look good too. A plain black finish and understated decals ensure they’ll look fine on any bike, from the cheapest to the most bling. They’re not chintzy or loud like some wheels with overbearing graphics, and I like that. The rims are shot-peened for durability and they are still looking good for the most part, though there are a few scratches where rocks or other impacts have sliced through to the metal. Bearing durability and spoke tension has been fine after several months of riding through all trail conditions, the wheels are still spinning as smoothly as when I pulled them out of their packaging and the spokes are still straight and the wheels true. I love the attention to detail in supplying not only spare spokes but a decent spoke key too. But I’m happy I’ve been able to leave them both in the packaging. At this price and with this sort of performance they make a very good upgrade over some cheaper stock wheels.
Wide and strong rims+
Smooth and quick engaging hubs+
Some tubeless installation issues-
Might have to wait until they're in stock