The Hunt 36 UD carbon spoke wheels are true performance orientated hoops, which are impressive off the mark and superbly responsive on hills. They may be quite harsh on rougher roads, but for this price you'll get some fast and versatile racing wheels.
Harsh on rough roads
UK brand Hunt has continued to grow and grow in its popularity with road and off-road riders thanks to its competitively priced and highly praised wheels.
The Hunt 36 UD carbon spoke wheelset is one of the brand's latest road releases and, despite entering at the top price point in its range, pack in some intriguing features for the cost.
The rim brake wheels feature Hunt's unidirectional carbon spokes, which are intended to reduce the weight of the wheels as well as improve lateral stiffness. Hunt claims the carbon spokes provide "up to 30.16 per cent reduction in lateral flex over equivalent steel spoked wheelsets."
I'll focus more on how the wheels performed and felt out on the road in this review; if you want more on the technical specs and testing methods Hunt used, you can find that information through its website (opens in new tab).
One very appealing aspect of Hunts carbon spokes though is its 'TaperLock' technology, which means the carbon spokes are held mechanically rather than bonded to the rim, meaning you can true them much like a steel spoke making upkeep that much easier.
The 36 in the name refers to the shallow 36mm depth of the carbon rim, while the wheels also feature CeramicSpeed bearings in both the front and rear aluminium hubs. The rims, are wide enough at 27mm (19mm internal) to handle a wide tyre profile, meaning better grip and lower rolling resistance, according to Hunt.
The wheels are tubeless ready and come fitted with tubeless rim tape as standard, but can also be used with tubes and clinchers.
I've been lucky enough to put in over 3000km on these wheels, with a week in the smoothly tarmaced hills around Calpe, Spain prior to lockdown and on the pot hole strewn rodes of south London and Surrey ever since.
With no interest in returning to any racing or time trialling, I prefer using shallower rims for day to day riding, primarily because they feel more adaptable to the changing conditions or terrain I'm riding in. The 36mm Hunts in that respect felt right in the sweetspot for me, having enjoyed using 40mm depth regularly in the past, with these particularly providing some excellent stability in crosswinds.
These wheels hold speed really well, though I can't say it felt quite as striking as using a deeper section wheel like the Roval CL50 in this respect. But where these really flourish is in their acceleration. The light weight (around 1300g for the pair) combined with how stiff these wheels are really give these a responsive kick when you're accelerating on the flat, up short, sharp climbs, or the final punch at the end of a long climb; some of the best wheels I've used in this respect.
There was nothing notably outstanding about the braking on these compared to many of the other carbon rim brake wheels I've used in recent years, but they handled some long and some steep descents with confidence and I didn't find myself having to give the brakes a second thought.
Paired with an S-Works Tarmac I did find that riding around the Surrey and Kent lanes meant any unavoidable collisions with potholes were quite jarring. The wheels have absorbed a lot of impact and are running as true as they were before, but definitely felt those holes with how stiff these are - even when running slightly lower pressure than usual in a tubeless setup.
After around 1500km of riding with the Hunts my bike started to make an inconsistent click/creak sound. After spending some significant time trying to identify the culprit it eventually became clear it was the rear wheel. The noise was emanating from where the carbon spokes cross over, with some of them rubbing when under load. This didn't seem to affect the performance of the wheels or spoke tension (but of course the noise was very irritating).
After contacting Hunt I was able to solve this issue by making the unexpected step of applying some TF2 Cycle Oil to where the spokes meet and the wheels have been running as they were initially ever since.
Hunt added that since producing this original sample set that I've been using the the spoke drilling angle was changed on both the disc brake and rim brake versions of the wheels, following internal testing, meaning the spokes should no longer touch and the noise shouldn't be an issue for customers who have purchased the wheels. Stiffness testing was also conducted on the updated wheels and it returned the same results (opens in new tab), says Hunt.
The Hunt 36 UD wheels retail at £1379, so sitting in the mid-range pricing for carbon racing wheels. Based on the performance and weight of these wheels I think you're getting good value in the current wheel market.
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Follow on Twitter: @richwindy
Richard is digital editor of Cycling Weekly. Joining the team in 2013, Richard became editor of the website in 2014 and coordinates site content and strategy, leading the news team in coverage of the world's biggest races and working with the tech editor to deliver comprehensive buying guides, reviews, and the latest product news.
An occasional racer, Richard spends most of his time preparing for long-distance touring rides these days, or getting out to the Surrey Hills on the weekend on his Specialized Tarmac SL6 (with an obligatory pub stop of course).
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