Words & Photos by Mike Wirth/GooseWorks Mobile Bike Tuning
Hunt is a UK company founded by a pair of riders who wanted wheels that offered the highest technology without the high price tags. They quickly found that such a thing did not exist yet, so they built their own. The new company started to produce hand-built wheels made with all the practical technologies available from other leading wheel brands, and made them available direct to the rider at HuntBikeWheels.com. Their products claim to provide excellent specs, low weight, and long-term durability. You can add a lifetime crash replacement policy and direct access to a real person on their customer service line to handle any issues you might have.
Hunt above all wants to create wheels and provide service you can depend on. When the H_Impact wheels landed on our desk, we quietly thought there would be no way a bargain set of carbon wheels could make us pine for an upgrade over our stocker hoops. We bolted a pair of these to hunt for a reason why they should deserve a place on our long-term test steeds.
THE LAB The H_Impact Carbon 29er wheels use a 28-spoke count front wheel with a lighter and more compliant carbon layup, and a 32-spoke rear rim with greater impact strength and stiffness in the rear. Both wheels use triple butted Pillar steel spokes laced to sealed cartridge bearing hubs with a super-fast 3º engagement thanks to the six-pawl free hub that’s compatible with any Shimano or SRAM drivetrain you can throw at them. The H_Impact sports a 28mm internal rim width that is designed for tires in the 2.3-2.5-inch wide range and come set up with tubeless tape and valves installed. Our set of Boost compatible wheels tipped the scales at 899 (f) and 1031 (r) grams, for a total weight of 1930 grams, or 4.25 pounds. They retail for $781 and can be ordered directly from huntbikewheels.cc.
THE DIRT Out of the box, the H_Impact wheels show Hunt’s attention to detail. The wheels are taped perfectly and make setting up tubeless tires a breeze. Our Maxxis Minion tires had several hundred miles on them already but seated and snapped into place using only our floor pump. You can feel that the care and precision of the wheel builder’s hand as soon as your weight hits the spokes, as they accelerate smoothly without any of the pinging and popping you hear with any machine-built wheels. They hubs are snappy and have a recognizably sharp buzz as the 6 pawls engage 120 times per wheel revolution. These hubs provide quick and reliable engagement that eliminates nearly all the “dead spot” that lesser wheels have when ratcheting the pedals back for a quick burst of power.
On the trail, the H-Impact wheels feel lightweight and fast. They are stiffer and more robust feeling than a dedicated cross-country race wheel, yet softer than some carbon enduro wheels we’ve tried. While flex in a wheelset may seem like a negative, the Hunt wheels deliver a tuned feel that is stiff enough to transfer power effectively, but not so harsh they transmit unwanted vibrations. Some aggressive riders will prefer something with more lateral stiffness. Hunt makes their burlier Enduro Wide rim that is tailored for their needs. The H_Impact keeps things lighter, and more suited for the all-around trail rider’s needs. That said though, we put these wheels through the wringer on some of our most aggressive trails. After several hundred miles of tough terrain, we are happy to report the spokes are still evenly tensioned, the rims are still true, and the hookless rim beads kept our tires seated without any sealant burps or other issues.
The Wolf’s Last Word
Hunt delivers an impressive package with the H-Impact Carbon wheels, one that has nearly half the price we’d expect them to be if we were only looking at the spec sheet. They are lightweight and butter smooth. While there are lighter, stiffer, and more race-ready options out there, you’d be hard pressed to find another option that can hang with Hunt when it comes to features for your buck.
• Lightweight construction with nice balance of stiffness • Hand-built quality and attention to detail • Butter-smooth on the trail feel • Sharp and snappy 3º hub engagement • Tubeless ready right out of the box • Affordable technology without compromise in quality
• Not as stiff as other carbon trail wheels
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