Hunt’s Limitless Aero project has been on our radar for more than a year and a half. But now we finally have all of the details on what Hunt says are “the world’s fastest road disc brake wheels up to and including 50mm” of depth – the same wheels ridden this spring to set a Strava KOM record on the brutal cobbles of the Trouée d’Arenberg, one of the toughest pavé sectors of Paris-Roubaix.

Hunt 48 Limitless Aero Disc wide tubeless carbon road wheels

We’ve been following along with the Limitless Aero wheel project since last spring when we caught up with Hunt in the GST wind tunnel. We then reported on them last summer at Eurobike before they had a final name. Developed entirely in-house by Hunt’s own aerodynamics engineer Luisa Grappone, the idea was always to create the best aero road wheelset for how we actually ride road bike now. That meant disc brakes were a no-brainer, but also that wide tires were a must. The wheels were to be designed to deliver peak aero performance with 25mm AND 28mm tires.

Aero road wheels, but for wider modern road tires

Hunt 48 Limitless Aero Disc fastest wide aero carbon wheels, Hunt Limitless Research KOM over Trouée d'Arenberg cobblestones

Most modern aero wheels lose much of their aerodynamic benefits when you put on anything wider than a 25mm tire. And when riders want a 28mm or 30mm tire, those gains are usually all gone because the wider surface of the tire determines the aerodynamics more than the rim that is in the shadow of the tire.

Obstacles to going aero AND wide

There are a few big obstacles to optimizing aerodynamics for larger tires. The first is that to make wide tires aero, you need wide rims. The simplest way to do that is increasing both inner & outer rims widths, which has the least impact on making the rims heavier. But if you do that, once you get out to 24mm or 25mm inner widths, you lose compatibility with even 25mm tires, and definitely lose a 23mm option. You also can’t go wider than around 28mm external with rim brakes, so thankfully discs are winning out in the long run.

Hunt 48 Limitless Aero Disc road wheels, Limitless Research wide tubeless aerodynamic carbon disc brake road bike wheels, world's fastest disc road wheels NACA profile

Hunt chose to keep a 22.5mm internal to maintain compatibility, with 23-30mm tires (compliant with ETRTO’s as yet unreleased Tubeless Road Standard), which meant they needed to just increase the outer rim width. Hunt’s time in CFD and the wind tunnel settle then on an ultra-wide 34.5mm overall outer width to maintain optimal aero performance with big tires.

Hunt’s patented multi-part Limitless aero rim construction

Now normally that would be very problematic from a weight perspective. The 12mm difference between inner & outer widths would mean seriously heavy rim weights, so Hunt spent the last year developing a solution that kept a regular width tubeless ready bead, but added a strong low-density polymer that completes that ideal wide, 48mm deep blunt aero rim profile at 44% of the weight of carbon.

Hunt 48 Limitless Aero Disc road wheels, Limitless Research wide tubeless aerodynamic carbon disc brake road bike wheels, world's fastest disc road wheels
graphics & images courtesy Hunt

(The low-density polymer is the black section above; fitting into the open channel in the image below.)

Hunt 48 Limitless Aero Disc road wheels, Limitless Research wide tubeless aerodynamic carbon disc brake road bike wheels, world's fastest disc road wheels

Doing so allowed Hunt to keep a reasonable wide 22.5mm internal width, a super wide 34/5mm external width for optimal aero performance with 28mm tires, plus overall light weight (1582g claimed for the complete wheelset) and even added rim strength in the end. The whole process makes the Hunt 48 Limitless Aero Disc rims truly unique, and resulted in a new exclusive patent owned by the core management team of Hunt.

Are the Hunt 48 LAD wheels really the “World’s Fastest”?

Hunt 48 Limitless Aero Disc road wheels, Limitless Research wide tubeless aerodynamic carbon disc brake road bike wheels, world's fastest disc road wheels

There are always tons of claims in the bike industry about how one aero product is faster than the next. Hunt knows that too, so they’ve tried to be totally transparent about how they make those claims. A full technical white paper is available that details their research protocols for wind tunnel testing methodology, including data/graphs and the full range of wheels that were tested against. Read it for yourself here.

So what does that mean for the wheels you can ride?

Hunt 48 Limitless Aero Disc road wheels, Limitless Research wide tubeless aerodynamic carbon disc brake road bike wheels, world's fastest disc road wheels

The result of all the technical development is a reasonably-priced, aerodynamic disc brake tubeless carbon road bike wheelset. Selling for £1289 (~$1650 / 1450€) the Hunt 48 Limitless Aero Disc (48 LAD) are actually still a fraction of what premium aero wheels from some of the biggest brands in the industry build.

Hunt 48 Limitless Aero Disc road wheels, Limitless Research wide tubeless aerodynamic carbon disc brake road bike wheels, world's fastest disc road wheels

And at the same time, Hunt says their 48 LAD wheels have significantly lower drag when tested with 28mm Schwalbe Pro One tires across a wide range of yaw angles. That’s pretty easy to believe when you see that only the Hunt rims are substantially wider than the 28mm tire itself.

Hunt 48 LAD wheel build details

Hunt 48 Limitless Aero Disc road wheels, Limitless Research wide tubeless aerodynamic carbon disc brake road bike wheels, world's fastest disc road wheels

The new “world’s fastest” road disc wheels get a solid build setup at that price. The wheels are laced up with Hunt’s straightpull Sprint Disc hubs using FastEngage 7.5° freehub bodies fast with 48 points of engagement. And those spin fast & smooth on premium CeramicSpeed hybrid ceramic bearings. Interestingly enough, the Danish bearing specialist reached out to Hunt to collaborate on their Limitless wheel project. The centerlock 7075 alloy hubs are standard with 12mm thru-axles (with pretty much every axle standard available) and offer Shimano, SRAM XD or XDR & Campagnolo freehub bodies.

Hunt 48 Limitless Aero Disc road wheels, Limitless Research wide tubeless aerodynamic carbon disc brake road bike wheels, world's fastest disc road wheels

Wheels are built up with Pillar’s latest Wing 20 butted & bladed aero stainless steel spokes that are actually a diamond-shaped aerofoil blade, optimized for aerodynamics across a wider range of wind yaw angles than conventional flat-bladed spokes. Interestingly, Hunt laces the disc brake 48 LAD front wheels 2x with just 20 spokes, while the rear sticks with a more common 24 spokes, again 2x.

Hunt 48 Limitless Aero Disc road wheels, Limitless Research wide tubeless aerodynamic carbon disc brake road bike wheels, world's fastest disc road wheels

The 48 LAD rims are rated to a max pressure of 100psi for 25-28mm tires (substantially lower when you go to 30mm of wider.) Hunt says the wheels are suitable for 23-50mm wide tires, with 25-28mm delivering peak aerodynamics. Like all Hunt wheels, when you order them, Hunt will also sell & install a wide selection of tubeless tires with sealant, so you don’t have to deal with the hassle or setup mess.

Hunt wheels are warrantied for 3 years from purchase (6 years for those CeramicSpeed bearings), and are rated for rider+bike of 100kg.

Pricing & availability

Hunt 48 Limitless Aero Disc road wheels, Limitless Research wide tubeless aerodynamic carbon disc brake road bike wheels, world's fastest disc road wheels

Like most of Hunt’s new wheels the claimed 1582g Hunt 48 Limitless Aero Disc are being offered first as a pre-order now for delivery by the end of July 2019. You can either pay a £99 refundable deposit of the full £1289 now, direct to Hunt’s web shop. Global free shipping on Hunt wheels is included in that price. So what’s stopping you from rolling on the new “world’s fastest” road disc brake wheels?

HuntBikeWheels.com

24 COMMENTS

  1. Yes. Transparency about testing methodology, impressive results, and a reasonable price are what I’d like to see more of. These look pretty killer.

  2. It is amazing how clueless the industry is about how wheel drag actually affects vehicle propulsion. That the industry accepts a faulty wind tunnel testing procedure for open-wheeled vehicles as being the standard for comparison is telling.

    A free body diagram of drag forces on the wheel demonstrates that wheel drag is actually centered near the top of the wheel, not at the axle. This upper wheel drag is actually greatly magnified against propulsive forces applied at the axle, having a much longer moment arm to the ground than the propulsive counterforce applied at the axle. So why would testing wheels while pinned to the ground at the axle yield an accurate measure of how wheel drag affects vehicle drag? It won’t.

    Such an arrangement changes the drag mechanics of the wheel on the vehicle, eliminating the affects of magnified drag being centered near the top of the wheel. So all this analysis is nearly worthless, causing the rim design to be optimized for forces level with the axle, rather than at the top of the wheel, where it is important. Go figure. Marketing.

  3. Gmagee…..so instead of relaying the problem in the testing, why don’t you give us the solution for an industry wide standard test that is controllable and consistent.

    • You may be sorry you asked. Mr. Magee prefers a more controlled and repeatable test protocol:

      “To test out (and prove) their system, Null Winds paired two identical aero tri bikes in a roll down test into a moderate headwind, then repeated it switching riders. The result was that the Aerodefender-equipped bike was always faster, on average 7 seconds faster per kilometer!”

      https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/aerodefender-wheel-fairings-slice-thru-headwinds#/

      Science ftw.

      • John Howard has recently confirmed the performance boost. Under fairing worst-case no wind conditions in the Fiesta Island time trial, he repeated a 20K on a tandem with and without the fairings in successive races. He attributes the over 6 percent speed gain due almost entirely to the fairings. He is a believer, commenting that his road bike actually now handles better. The fairings and spoke fins are now his preferred ride. Just ask him.

        Facing any headwind, the performance gains increase dramatically. Faster riders gain the most. So John really notices the difference. How about you?

        • Garth,

          The plural of anecdote is not data.

          You’re peddling the former, Hunt has taken the time to provide the latter. You doodads may have merit, but until you provide reproducible data from a controlled experiment talking smack about others’ products damages your credibility more than anything else.

    • In order to mimic an actual road condition to include the effects of magnified upper wheel drag, the vehicle must not be pinned to the ground. US 9,766,153 teaches a more accurate measure of propulsive efficiency in a wind tunnel for open-wheel vehicles, where the vehicle is unrestrained and self-propelled. This yields a direct measure of power being dissipated in drag as transmitted through the wheels to the road. Measure the power to drive the road, and that is equivalent to drag power dissipation on the vehicle. No need to guess about how drag forces actually affect vehicle efficiency. Formula One should get a clue. Bike guys have no chance.

  4. So, this only reinforces what we already knew…wider tires are less aerodynamic than narrow ones. Of course you can use them with much wider tires than intended. You can also run 75mm tires on 17mm inner width rims. That doesn’t mean you should bother buying carbon rims if that’s your plan. It’s not really feasible to produce a comparably aero and light rim for wider tires unless there are much lower pressure limits.

    I think they should have optimized this for 33mm max(UCI CX maximum), alongside a wider variant for 35-50mm.

  5. That channel fill solution for the width disparity is pretty cool. I have a lot of issues with patent culture, but I think Hunt deserves this one. Hats off, this looks like a well-considered and nicely executed product.

  6. Looks like the Hunt tests didn’t include any wheels from HED, Cannondale Knot or Specialized Roval. These wheels all have a rim profile from the HED patent which has a similar profile as the Hunt. Would like to see comparisons to these before claiming to be the fastest wheel.

  7. “You also can’t go wider than around 28mm external with rim brakes, so thankfully discs are winning out in the long run.” HED style rims are angled at the brake track, so a litte narrower than at the widest part. Old TRP R970SL brakes open up for 30mm rims (new Campy will also work), with narrower pads (e.g. Zipp) 32mm. Disc is worse aerodynamically, so this is not really faster, especially as the frontal area of 28mm tires on 34,5mm wide rims will eat up some watts at high speeds – we won’t see these in pro time trials. But hey, marketing rules! 😉

    • This is debatable. It seems the 34,5mm rims will cause less turbulence behind the wheel because air can better go around and therefore reduce drag. Because you would use those rims with slicks, I think the drag difference resulting from frontal area between 28mm and 23mm is not that big. The trick with being aero is avoiding shapes that result in turbulences behind the rider and bike.

  8. They forgot to mention that they’re designed and made in Asia and that hunt actually have bugger all to do with the design.

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