HUNT Race XC Wide mountain bike wheelset looks to strike a note with performance-driven and cost-conscious riders. The Race XC wheelset pairs 6069-T6 alloy rims, HUNT’s 5° RapidEngage hubs, and a killer price point of $466 to offer performance and valve to the XC racer. We put these wheels through the paces and crummy East Coast winter conditions, and the results are good, but can this wheelset face off against low-cost carbon competitors?
HUNT Race XC Wide Wheelset: Construction
The HUNT Race XC Wide wheels roll on a 28-hole, 24mm wide alloy hookless rim, designed around 2.1- to 2.3-inch tires. The rim construction is a 6069-T6 alloy that HUNT says offers superior strength compared to conventional alloy. The work-hardened shot-peened finish helps the rims deflect minor-use scratches and plays a big part in overall durability and life. The graphics and presentation are classic HUNT, slightly understated with fabulous pops of unique personality like the “The Chase Is On” sticker.
The Race XC Wide wheels lace two-cross front and rear using lightweight triple-butted straight-pull Pillar spokes.
The hubs are HUNT’s in-house MTB hub set, boasting a 5° RapidEngage driver (four-pawl, 36-tooth internals) and a H_CERAMIK coating to extend the spline and overall hub life.
The hub set employs asymmetric hub flanges on the drive and braking sides. The hub offers both center-lock and 6-bolt rotor options, so choose wisely. The bearings are large 6902s for the front/rear that are double-sealed, with enough room to accommodate all frame/axle sizes.
As for upgrading an old frame, HUNT states on its site: “We will fit the axles you need, just complete the simple form shown after checkout or add a comment in the notes section of the cart page.”
HUNT Race XC Wide Wheelset: Tech Details
- Rims: 29″. 6069 T6 (+69% tensile strength vs. 6061-T6) sleeved construction, 24mm wide (internal), work-hardened shot-peened finish
- Hubs: 5° RapidEngage and H_CERAMIK coating for increased durability and strength; large double-sealed cartridge bearings; Boost (110/148) fitment with RockShox Torque Caps and Boost QR adapters (110/141) available. (“We will fit the axles you need, complete the simple form shown after checkout or add a comment in the notes section of the cart page”). Hubs are available with a 6-bolt disc mount or center-lock option.
- Spokes: 28 spoke count, straight pull PSR reinforced head Pillar spokes
- Tires: Optimized for 2″ to 2.3″ tires set up tubeless, but also work very well with 2.2″ to 2.5″. Also great with standard tires and tubes.
- Axles: Oversize 7075-T6 heat-treated aluminum alloy axles
- Hand-built: All wheels are built and finished by hand, including a full quality-control inspection; ours were built by Victor.
- Weight: 1,517 g (including tape, not valve cores)
- Available drivers: Shimano HG, SRAM XD, Shimano Microspline
- Price: $466 (as tested)
The Ride: Setup and Dial-In
I was eager to get these wheels on the trails, excited to see what a $460-ish hookless alloy wheelset would/could do. Most alloy wheelsets aim at the introductory rider, but the HUNT Race XC Wide Wheelset looks toward more experienced riders and those looking to update their old machines.
The wheels arrive taped and dialed in — with a build card (like all HUNT wheels) and basic usage instructions. The valve cores are HUNT’s in-house and looked to hold up to the standard in lightweight alloy tubeless valve fashion.
My initial test tires are another low-price ($45), high-performance item: the American Classic Mauka 2.4″ down-country tire. The rim, on closer inspection, is super quality with a 3mm thick hookless bead and a modest height. Admittedly gun shy, I inflated the combo gingerly on the first wheel, but after the easy seating, I went full tilt with the next wheel.
The Ride: On the Trails
When fully inflated to a healthy 20 psi (I ran around with 18 psi front and 19 psi rear for most of my riding) the tire came to a plump 2.5, and the 24mm internal rim could handle it for the most part. In the brief snowy conditions, this tire and wheel combo was excellent. The extra volume was well appreciated, and the wheels/hubs took a healthy amount of winter slush without a problem. The 2.4-inch tire felt slightly tugged on the narrow rim and squirmish on the hardpack surface on dry trails.
The American Classic Mauka 2.4″ measured much wider than advertised (more like 2.5 inches), and I wanted to roll something more in line with the wheels’ purpose. I mounted up some Vittoria Arrgo 2.35″ and they measured more at the 2.3 inches — right on the money for the 24mm rim. As the weather changed, I went from 2.4 inches to 2.35 inches.
I spent most of my riding on this setup, on my hardtail and full-suspension XC bike, and was very pleased with the outcome. The wheels mesh better with a 2.2- to 2.35-inch tire. The rim is narrow enough to keep the cornering knobs in place but wide enough to supply excellent contact. I could feel the wheels’ performance more with narrower tires and dry trails. The boxy rim soaked up most of the bumps and didn’t ride abrasively, as some overbuilt carbon wheels can.
In heavily bermed-out corners and pushing the limits of XC into freeride, the wheels don’t have the stiffness and pump speed you get from a super beefy carbon wheelset. This slight flex is not a drawback for my use and the intended use of this wheelset. It’s hard for an alloy wheel to be compliant and super stiff in the corners. The rim for the XC Wide version of this wheelset weighs in at 380 g per rim, and it gives the wheels an excellent pop-in acceleration. Suppose you’re looking for a mix of the two, with a leaning trail riding. I’m guessing these wheels’ wider and only slightly heavier “trail” version would easily bridge that gap.
These wheels replaced a set of heavier, budget-carbon wheels I used for training, and I was unsure how they would be fair in comparison. Besides knowing they are alloy and priced way less than the others, I expected the HUNT Race XC wheels to be on the same level. I didn’t expect to like them more. The climbing performance with the weight reduction is fantastic. The wheels spin up quickly and are responsive under effort. I bottomed out more than a few times and cut side walls, but the rim stayed the same. Rock gardens and root monsters are totally within the realm of this wheelset.
As far as performance longevity, these wheels went through an entire Pittsburgh winter, with many power washes and rainy training rides on gravel double track. The hubs spin just as freely as the day we received them, and the rim, though it took many dings, has yet to show them. I attribute this to the coating, lack of decoration, and a round profile.
Conclusion: HUNT Race XC Wide Wheelset
After many rides on the HUNT Race XC Wide wheels, I’m very impressed with the performance. The rim put up with lots of lousy line choices and questionable drops. HUNT offers a replacement rim for $100 from its website if and when the rim has had enough. These wheels would significantly upgrade many bikes and provide an excellent training wheelset for those who only use high-end carbon offerings.
I only had to true the wheelset once, mainly because I was switching tires and decided to give them a look over. The front wheel was as straight as when I received them and the rear needed a light true, but it has been fine since.
I recommend this wheelset for anyone looking for a low-cost performance upgrade for their cross-country bike, especially for those on heavy OEM wheels or for a lighter wheelset for race day. The price is superb for the product quality and top-notch customer service.
If you’re a dedicated trail boss and heavy rider, there is a 120kg weight limit on the HUNT Race XC Wide Wheelset. HUNT’s Trail Wide (1,860 g) or the Enduro Wide Wheelsets (2,065 g) are heavier but will offer a sturdier platform for huckin’ and shredding. Plus, replacement rims are the same $100 price!