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Hunt 54 UD Carbon Spoke Disc
$1,320; 1510g, disc brake only, tubeless compatible
54mm deep, 29mm external width, 20mm internal width
Not only are the Hunt 54s the only carbon-spoked wheels in our roundup, but they’re also surprisingly one of the least expensive by a pretty decent percentage. Despite their price tag, these wheels have some mid range features, like a low weight, relatively wide rim—externally and internally—and of course the big headline grabber: carbon spokes. Not only do the carbon spokes help shave weight, but they also help smooth out the road (more on that later), and maybe most importantly, they can be adjusted and replaced just like normal steel spokes. Of the few carbon-spoked wheels out there, none are this adjustable AND have a reasonable pricepoint. Of course there’s more to a wheel than just the spokes, and the freehub body ratchets are about as loud as they come (a good thing, generally), as the hubs are decent quality Japanese EZO bearings.
Of course, the real test is what happens when you get them on your bike. These were definitely the “softest” in terms of eating up road vibrations of any frequency—small or big bumps. In fact, the smoothness of these wheels make them a great fit for triathletes who need to hold a tough position for hours on end and still run well. The only slight downsides here are a slight delay in windup when really pushing down torque (though they almost “snap back” after the initial power is applied) and some odd oscillations when going at high speeds over mid-sized bumps. While the slight bobbing was nothing dangerous or even unsettling, it was definitely noticeable at first and seemed to fade as we adjusted and got used to the way they handle. Also, even though this is a 54mm wheel, when hit with crosswinds, they felt even deeper—more like a 65mm wheel—and required a little more muscle to keep straight. That said, these were some of the fastest we used on our decidedly unscientific rolldown test, so it’s possible the width and carbon spokes translate to a deeper “feeling” and frontal aero profile, which is a good thing. All in all, for this price and these features, almost every triathlete should be looking at buying a pair of these.