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HUNT Race XC Wide Wheelset Review: Race Performance for under $500?

Hunt XC Wide Wheelset review vittoria 2.35 rear thomus world cup side
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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 XC Wide Wheelset review build card

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. 

Hunt XC Wide Wheelset review "The Chase Is On" sticker

The Race XC Wide wheels lace two-cross front and rear using lightweight triple-butted straight-pull Pillar spokes. 

Hunt XC Wide Wheelset review vittoria 2.35 rear thomus hub

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.

Hunt XC Wide Wheelset review front hub non drive side

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. 

HUNT XC Wide Wheelset review tire 2.4"

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. 

HUNT XC Wide Wheelset review front tire knobs

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.

HUNT XC Wide Wheelset review front hub holt

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. 

HUNT XC Wide Wheelset review 2.4 tire holt

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.  

HUNT XC Wide Wheelset review Vittoria 2.35 rear thomus world cup side

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. 

Hunt XC Wide Wheelset review vittoria 2.35 rear thomus rim

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. 

HUNT XC Wide Wheelset review Vittoria 2.35 rear thomus knob

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. 

HUNT XC Wide Wheelset review Vittoria 2.35 rear thomus clearance

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. 

HUNT XC Wide Wheelset review Vittoria 2.35 thomus hub front

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. 

HUNT XC Wide Wheelset review Vittoria 2.35 rear thomus front

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. 

HUNT XC Wide Wheelset review Vittoria 2.35 rear thomus top tread

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! 


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10 months ago

they are too narrow.

most of us are on 30mm rims, even for xc

10 months ago

The term “wide” should not be used anywhere in their naming convection. How are you going to call a 24mm Inner Width rim ‘wide”? 24mm wasn’t even wide in XC 10yrs ago. Holy smokes. literally most ROAD BIKE rims are wider than 24mm these days.

10 months ago
Reply to  tech9

It’s not so narrow for an al wheel. 30mm wide strong enough al wheelset will end up significantly heavier. Some time ago i was riding 2.35 and those were happy on 30mm wide but once you put insert in it is not a very lightweight setup. I went down to 2.25 which works well at 25mm with an insert and comensate for the added weight. Then you’re free to play with pressure to get back to a similar feeling.

10 months ago

2013 called and they want their wheels back, 24mm internal??

Jeff Hargis
Jeff Hargis
10 months ago

I own a set of the Trail Wide Hunt rims (30mm internal) and have been very pleased with their performance and durability. The engagement is plenty fast. One doesn’t notice any lag at all on the Hunt’s, and several times when I’d switched back to my bike with a wheel set of Stan’s Crest rims laced to XT hubs, I thought I was having mechanical issues before realizing I was experiencing engagement lag. Rear hub is tool free and can accommodate HG, Microspline, and XD freehub bodies which are all reasonably priced if you want a second standard to swap with the one of your choice that comes with the wheel.
As to quality and durability: first wheel set I haven’t had to true after a break-in period and they’ve now gone a full season still running true. Singletrack with all the trail features, poor decisions leading to dirt naps, rims are unfazed. All weather riding almost daily and the bearings are smooth. I’m talking like new, not a hint of grit or slop and pendulum to rest.
They have an understated style and, again a first, I felt the stickers didn’t require removal prior to my acceptance of them on my bike. These rims represent an awesome value–they have the quality, durability and performance characteristics of wheelsets that are twice the price. Makes you realize how overpriced many other brands are (I’m looking at you, Stan).

10 months ago

I know that Hunt’s website says these are laced 2 cross, but I’m pretty sure that those are 3 cross laced front and rear. The pictures also look like 3 cross lacing here and in Hunt’s pictures.

I’ve been wrong about stuff before, and I’ve built a few (thousand) wheels in my life…any straight pull wheel I’ve built was set at the maximum number of crosses mathematically possible for the hole count, which is 3x at 28 hole, whether it was a TOC hub, Pulstar or a DT 350. I’ve always assumed that was a byproduct of the machining of the hub shell, but I have no data to back that up.

As far as the hunt wheels I’ve seen myself, build quality seems pretty good, their tubeless tape is mediocre at best, and like any aluminum rim, they like to dent themselves on rocks and curbs and such. As far as width goes, this model is likely narrower so that they are lightweight, Hunt makes wider rims that they call XC, they just weigh more.

10 months ago

If you have the means, I highly recommend it.

I’ve been riding these for the past eight months on my 2021 Epic Evo Comp. Bike dropped a lot of weight and these things are bomber. Survived plenty of stupid lines at UCSC and they haven’t needed anything besides an occasional washing. I’d need to spend real money to go lighter.

10 months ago
Reply to  richard

Interesting. I have the exact same bike and a carbon wheelset just for racing, but I was thinking this wheelset would be a great replacement for the stock boat anchor wheels that came on the bike that I use for the majority of my rides.

9 months ago
Reply to  Cody

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