Aero carbon may be fast, but Hunt says alloy can be too! Their newest 34 Aero Wide Disc aluminum road bike wheelset may be the first modern alloy road wheel optimized for aerodynamic performance. And Hunt have proven it – wind tunnel testing the new alloy wheels faster than everything in their class, even lower drag than some premium carbon wheels – all that at about a third the cost of even the most affordable carbon options…
Hunt 34 Aero Wide Disc aerodynamic alloy road bike wheels
With all of the modern crop of mid to deep section aero carbon wheels with blunt-nosed rim profiles, you would be excused for thinking the only way to lower drag is to open up your wallet. But even after developing what they call the “world’s fastest” road disc brake wheels, Hunt are back with the “world’s fastest aero tested alloy disc-brake wheelset”.
They call this an extension of their Aerodynamicist developed wheels.
What does that mean?
After the lessons learned developing their 48 Limitless project over the last couple of years, Hunt’s aero engineer Luisa Grappone set about reshaping some affordable aluminum rim shapes as well.
The result is a new 34mm deep alloy rim shape that is wide (20mm internal, max 26mm external) and tubeless-ready for a fast everyday wheelset. The overall shape is quite similar to the deeper carbon 48 Limitless wheels for smooth airflow from rim to tire & across the spoke connection for a wide range of wind yaw angles.
Wind Tunnel Tested alloy
Not a lot of attention has been put to properly testing the aerodynamic performance of aluminum wheels in recent years (as the aero wheel has taken off.) But most riders probably are going to keep riding alloy wheels day-to-day because of cost concerns, because of the generally high price of carbon. So, Hunt figured since they were in the wind tunnel developing & testing their latest carbon, it made sense to improve in alloy too. And the result is that you can see the new Hunt AWD (red line, above) has a drag graph shaped much more like a modern aero carbon wheel, with lower drag at crossing wind angles.
Another interesting takeaway from testing… carbon isn’t always faster than aluminum. Hunt had been testing their new carbon wheels against other carbon wheels with 25 & 28mm tires. The new aluminum AWD wheels were being tested with 25mm tires. They put a set of premium carbon Zipp wheels in the mix just for comparison and they were slightly quicker than the AWD with 25mm tires. But… when they put 28mm tires on both the AWD & Zipps, the new affordable AWD is actually faster than the $3200, 1475g, 32mm deep carbon Zipp 202 NSW.
That’s just a reminder that sometimes paying more for a set of wheels doesn’t guarantee less drag. Read the full Hunt 34 AWD wind tunnel test report to learn more…
Not quite as wide as their new aero carbon wheels, the new 34 Aero Wide Disc (AWD) balances weight & width for a happy medium that will produce the lowest drag around a 25mm tire, for all conditions riding. The weight comes in at just 1548g (actually lighter than most aero carbon, albeit deeper wheels) thanks to a high-strength 6069-T6 alloy.
Beyond the new rim, the new AWD wheels feature the same diamond, elliptical Pillar PSR Wing aero spokes as the 48 Limitless wheels, which have better drag performance than conventional aero spokes in cross winds (20 front, 24 rear laced 2x). And the wheels are built on Hunt’s Race Season Disc straight pull, centerlock 6061-alloy hubs with Sprint series 7.5°, 48 points of engagement freehubs. The hubs are 12mm thru-axle, and available also with other axle adapters & any standard road free hub body.
Pricing & availability
The new 34 Aero Wide Disc wheels are available for pre-order now for £479 / $549, with delivery scheduled for the middle of September 2019. Worldwide shipping is free, and Hunt offers both a 60-day ‘ride & return’ trial period & a three-year warranty on the wheels. They’ll also fit them with tubeless tires & sealant when you order, to eliminate the mess & hassle of road tubeless altogether.