The Hunt 34 Aero Wide Disc wheels prove that aluminium can work for more than just 'training' wheels, offering excellent performance at a fraction of the price of carbon
Hold speed well
Aerodynamics for aluminium wheels is cool
Sluggish on hills
The Hunt 34 Aero Wide Disc wheelset was selected for an Editor's Choice award in 2020. This year's list contains 78 items which scored a 9 or 10/10 with our tech team - this gear is the best of the best, and has received the Cycling Weekly stamp of approval.
Aluminium rims are not often created to be 'aerodynamic', not in the same way that carbon wheels are. Reducing drag and optimising shaping has, for the most part, been the preserve of top end hoops and it's here where brands have typically poured their research and development cash. However, with the 34 Aero Wide Disc wheelset, Hunt are hoping to shift that perception.
Although it first released the Hunt 48 Limitless Aero Disc wheelset, a carbon set of hoops, Hunt has applied this acquired wind tunnel knowledge to its aluminium 34 Aero Wide Disc Wheelset on test here.
The principles behind the two wheels remain the same, which is that the wider the rim profile the more aero the shape. On its carbon fibre sibling, that external rim width tops out at a whopping 34.5mm, but given the limitations of aluminium and the weight that would accompany such a width, Hunt stopped at 26mm on this model. If you're interested you can read Hunt's white paper report on its own testing, though.
Watch: Which aero helmet is fastest?
Out on the roads though, they feel fast. While it's impossible to determine wattage savings made by optimised aerodynamics, they're still one of the fastest sets of aluminium wheels I've used, especially on the flat. In fact, I took 30 seconds out of my Richmond Park PB using these wheels on my Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL6. In a straight line they held their speed very well and were comfortable to sit above 30kph with minimal input from my legs.
On climbs they were a little tougher to move along and they definitely didn't have the zip of a pair of shallow carbon wheels. However, at 1548g they're featherweights compared to other aluminium wheels I've tested.
As with all of Hunt's wheels these are tubeless ready, and with an internal rim width of 20mm. I've been running them with Specialized's S-Works Turbo RapidAir tyres which have held a seal well.
These wheels are disc brake only (the braking tract impeded the width of the rim and therefore it's aerodynamics) and they use 7.5 degree Sprint Disc straight pull hubs, with added inserts to protect against cassettes biting into the freehub body. It's a nice touch that I found particularly useful as I've been shifting cassettes across wheels a lot lately.
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