Admittedly, amongst well-designed aero wheels, once you throw a wide, knobby gravel tire on there, the differences between brands drop to near zero.
That’s not to say there aren’t aero advantages over non-aero rims, it’s just that the tires do a pretty good job of equalizing category leaders, especially when it comes to average riders and those looking to pack their bikes with gear or head out on rough and rowdy rides. In those cases, knobby tires basically force all good wheel brands to find other ways to differentiate.
For Hunt, they do that by starting with their otherwise very aero 42 Limitless rims, and rebuild them with more spokes, stronger parts, and a simpler, easier-to-service design.
The new 42 Limitless Gravel Adventure wheelset does claim to offer class-leading aerodynamic performance, which they say amounts to a whopping 0.12 Watts at the “pointy end of the spear of elite racing”. For the rest of us it offers specifications tailored for fast, loaded ultra-adventures without creating unnecessary drag, and maintaining good crosswind stability.
Developed for their HUNT Beyond sponsored athletes and ultra-endurance events like the Traka, Unbound XL, and the Silk Road Mountain Race, they’re also ideal for bikepacking and offroad touring. Sofiane Sehili, Beyond Athlete and one of the world’s top Ultra-cyclists, helped with development and testing, then rode them to victory in the inaugural Bright Midnight Ultra-race in Norway, covering 1040km of mixed terrain in an unbelievable time of just 2 days and 3 hours.
Compared to the standard 42 Limitless wheels, the Adventure spec has increased spoke count front and rear (24/28, up from 20/24, with Pillar Wing J-bend spokes) with brass nipples rather than alloy, and a new J-bend H_Ratchet hubset that makes spokes easier to source from many shops.
Inside is a dual-sided, floating ratchet drive system with 40 teeth and 9º engagement that’s able to handle the extra weight and stress of long-distance touring with full luggage, and the extra torque of grinding up steep climbs in ultra-low gearing.
The 36mm wide rim profile is aero optimized for 38-42mm tires, but the 25mm internal width with hooked bead walls can easily handle 700×48 (or maybe a bit more) for those conditions that benefit from more rubber and/or more air volume. The hooked rims provide a little extra security when running lower pressures, too…or wide road tires with higher pressures.
Claimed weight is 1,642g for the pair (766g front, 879g rear), and MSRP is $1,649 with a pre-order discount available for a limited time. Ships in late August.