Aero gravel wheels are now totally a thing | Hunt launches Limitless 42 Gravel wheelset

Hunt's new 36mm-wide wheels claimed to be "fastest sub-50mm gravel wheelset on the market"

Hunt Limitless Gravel wheelset riding shot

The Hunt 42 Limitless Gravel Disc is a super chunky, 36mm wide (external) gravel-specific wheelset that is – according to the brand’s own testing – the “fastest sub-50mm gravel wheelset on the market”.

Advertisement

The new wheels are optimised for 38mm to 42mm wide tyres and use Hunt’s Limitless technology to maintain a super-wide profile without sacrificing on weight.

Available for £1,289, the 1,548g (claimed) wheelset is available to pre-order now for delivery in February 2021.

Aero and gravel… why?

Hunt 42 Limitless Gravel Disc wheels riding shot
The wheels are optimised for 38–42mm wide tyres.
Hunt

Gravel riding is, for many riders, characterised by a distinct lack of concern for all things performance. However, at the pointy end of the discipline, aero matters just as much as in any other form of racing.

We’ve seen cursory sniffs of aero-optimisation creeping into the world of gravel with the 3T Exploro and, more recently, the Ridley Kanzo, as well aero-focused do-it-all wheelsets such as the Zipp 303 S.

The new wheelset is based around a totally new rim profile with an “effective aerofoil shape” that is optimised to work best with 38mm to 42mm wide gravel tyres. The 42mm-deep wheels measure 36mm wide externally and have a 25mm internal width.

Hunt 42 Limitless Gravel Disc power graph
The wheels are claimed to be a (very) modest 0.05w faster than the Zipp 303 NSW.
Hunt

Compared to the Zipp 303 NSW, the wheels are claimed to save a modest 0.05w at 32km/h.

Over a 321km (~200 miles) course, this would equate to a 5.57s saving. These tests were carried out with a 38mm Schwalbe G-One tyre on a bike without a rider.

It’s worth noting that the disc version of the 303 NSW has been discontinued and Zipp would no doubt argue that its latest and wider 303 wheelsets would be a fairer comparison.

Hunt also acknowledges that the 3T Discus 45|40 – which is broadly similar in profile and intent to Hunt’s new wheels – was not included in the test because it “was not released to the public when testing occurred”.

To be as blunt as these wheel’s rim profile, 0.05 watts is… not a lot. Although Hunt’s transparency is admirable, it’s pretty much a wash when comparing these to the Zipp 303 NSW and ENVE 3.4 AR SES.

The results are, of course, more noteworthy when comparing these wheels to a standard non-aero alloy wheelset – compared to a Hunt 4 Season Gravel X-Wide wheelset at the same speed, you will save 9.03 watts, which would add up to a claimed 6 minutes over the course of a 200-mile event.

Notably, the rims are based on an ETRTO-compliant hooked profile. Many wheel manufacturers – particularly in the world of gravel – are moving to hookless designs, but compatibility and safety issues persist, especially when using regular clincher tyres.

Stable and speedy

Hunt 42 Limitless Gravel Disc stability chart
Hunt claims the Hunt 42 Limitless Gravel Disc wheelset is the most stable it has tested.
Hunt

Maintaining crosswind stability is also said to have been a key focus when designing the wheels.

According to Hunt, and other brands, riders will spend the majority (70 per cent) of their time at low yaw angles below 10 degrees.

Again, according to Hunt’s own testing, the 42 Limitless Gravel Disc has “the smoothest steering moment” (i.e. it’s the most stable) of any gravel wheelset it has tested.

Though Hunt does not quantify this with a catchy headline figure, the graph above illustrates how the wheels perform across various yaw angles (a flatter curve across the X-axis represents less impact on steering stability).

Limitless technology included

Hunt 42 Limitless Gravel Disc
The wheels are due to ship in February 2021.
Hunt

The wheels make use of Hunt’s patented Limitless technology, which was first seen on its 38 Limitless Aero road wheels.

This sees a scalloped void/groove that runs around the outside of the edge of the rim infilled with a lightweight low-density polymer that weighs 0.7g/cm3 (this compares to 1.6g/cm3 for carbon).

Filling in this void with polymer allows Hunt to maintain a competitively low weight without sacrificing on aero performance.

Ultra-endurance bearings for ultra-endurance racing

Hunt 42 Limitless Gravel Disc CeramicSpeed bearings
The wheels feature new bearings from CeramicSpeed.
Hunt

The wheels are built around new bearings from CeramicSpeed. These ceramic-coated bearings are said to have a lifespan seven and a half times longer than regular bearings while reducing drag by an unspecified amount.

The wheels cost £1,289 and are available for pre-order now, with delivery scheduled for February 2021.

Advertisement

Gravel for aero – do you care or does it go against everything you thought good about the discipline? Let us know in the comments.