Deep-dish carbon wheels have been a staple of triathlon for decades. The sleek, aerodynamic look of 70-plus millimeter deep wheels is unparalleled on the race course. But, deep carbon rims have always come with two main issues: First, they’re usually extremely expensive; second, the larger the rim, the more squirrely a wheel has historically been in crosswinds.
Hunt, which was founded in 2015 and has offices in the U.S. and United Kingdom, took to the wind tunnel with their research and development team to address both of those barriers to entry when it comes to heartily-rimmed carbon wheels.
Hunt 7387 Aerodynamicist Specs:
Wheel Depth: 73mm (front) and 87mm (rear)
Inner Rim Width: 20mm
Outer Rim Width: 34mm (front) and 30mm (rear)
Optimized for: 25 and 28mm tubeless tires
Hunt 7387 Aerodynamicist: The Features
Rim Sizes: The 7387 wheelset is named for its two rim sizes: a 73mm rim in the front and an 87mm rim in the rear. In Hunt’s wind tunnel testing, they found that air flows differently over the front wheel than the back wheel—something that might not feel like new news to triathletes. Their research found that a 73mm front wheel was the shallowest depth that still offered the streamlined benefits of a deeper carbon rim while maintaining stability in crosswinds. The 87mm rear wheel provided the stability and aerodynamics triathletes have come to know and love in deeper carbon sections.
Notably, the 7387 front wheel boasts a huge outer rim size. The front wheel has an outer rim depth of 34mm, which is much larger (in road cycling terms) than other wheels in the 65-70mm range, which typically top out around 30mm. Hunt’s research and development found that a wider outer rim on the front allowed for improved stability in crosswinds without sacrificing any aerodynamic benefit.
Tubeless Ready: The 7387 come ready to have tubeless tires installed. Rim tape and valves are already installed on both wheels, and the wheelset is optimized for 25 or 28mm tires. But be warned—installing tubeless tires on deep dish carbon rims can quickly become a frustrating project. Have tire irons, a high-volume pump, a compressor, or CO2 at the ready, and sealant to finish off the tires. Or, if you have the time and resources, take the wheels to a mechanic—the turnaround time to get tubeless tires installed is usually a day or two and may save you hours of irritation. Bear in mind that tubeless ready doesn’t mean you can’t run tubes inside of tubeless tires if the thought of no tube makes you nervous on race day; same goes for emergency blowouts on the road, but don’t forget that a tubeless-plus-sealant setup will usually treat minor punctures.
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Disc-Brake Only: Rim brakes are quickly becoming a thing of the past, especially when it comes to newly-released wheelsets. The 7387 are only available in disc brake form and are built for center lock brakes, but a six-bolt adapter is available for purchase with the wheels. In many ways the super wide rims wouldn’t be possible with rim brakes, so their design depends upon discs.
Leaf and Pawl Hubs: While the cycling industry is moving increasingly towards using ratchet-system hubs, Hunt chose to use a leaf and pawl-based hub system for the 7387. For those not familiar: a pawl is a small curved lever. In leaf and pawl-based hubs, multiple pawls sit around the freehub. As you put force on the pedals, leaf springs push the pawls outward, forcing the hub to sync with the drive ring. This, in turn, pushes your wheels forward. While ratchet systems are a bit simpler, instead leveraging just two rings of mechanical teeth (to overly simplify here), leaf and pawl hubs allow wheel manufacturers to get extremely precise with the angles at which the freehub moves, improving the engagement between the freehub and drive ring. In essence, there’s an efficiency argument to be made for leaf and pawl hubs.
Bearings: Hunt works closely with Ceramic Speed, and you can opt to order your wheels with Ceramic Speed bearings built in for right at $2,000 (which is crazy). Alternatively, Hunt provides EZO bearings from Japan for a slightly lower price (the $1,469 price listed in this piece).
H-Care Crash Warranty: As part of a purchase of the 7387 wheelset, all riders are given free access to the “H-Care” warranty system under Hunt. If your wheels fail or you are in a crash and need the wheels replaced, Hunt will extend riders a 35% discount toward a new pair of wheels.
Hunt 7387 Aerodynamicist: What We Like
I’d be remiss not to say that the first thing I like is the price point. To purchase a high-quality, deep-dish carbon wheelset for under $2,000 is next-to-impossible these days. These wheels present an opportunity for budget-conscious triathletes to access the benefits of race wheels without totally trashing their cash flow.
It’s increasingly common for wheels to arrive in a tubeless ready state, meaning the rim tape has been laid and the valves are preinstalled. This makes it easy (in theory) to pop on tires, add some sealant (and rotors and a cassette) and be on your way. Although tubeless can be finicky with seating the bead and actually being ready to roll, eliminating the extra step of laying my own rim tape and installing my valves is appreciated.
The wider rim at the front did exactly what it’s supposed to do: offer more stability. Although the day I tested these wasn’t particularly windy, the wheelset did hold its line better than many 70-plus millimeter ones I’ve ridden before. In dynamic environments like Kona (which this wheel was literally built for, according to Hunt), having a bit of a wider wheel in the front could be the saving grace against relentless side winds hitting the deeper rim.
The spokes and hub on this wheelset are also snappy. Gone are the days of traditional spoke layout. The new age takes into account the “push/pull” that comes with putting torque on a wheel’s hub and optimizing for it. While these wheels’ spokes aren’t quite as novel as, say, Cadex’s integrated “aero spokes,” they maintain the elegance of hand-built wheels with a hex-shaped nipple to allow for precise tension adjustments, and the spokes themselves are light yet durable top-of-the-line stainless steel. With each pedal stroke, you can feel the power transfer into the hub without the typical wobbly-ness of previous deep dish models.
Hunt 7387 Aerodynamicist: What Could Be Better
It’s hard to argue with a well-tested, fairly-priced deep-rim carbon wheelset. In all honesty, there’s not a lot to dislike about these wheels.
In the past, personally, I preferred wheels with some flex to them. I wasn’t a particularly stable cyclist (a bit of a “weaver” some might have called me), and I appreciated the flex to help keep me in line when I applied high torque to my deeper carbon wheels.
Now, the trend is heading toward stiffer is better. It allows for premier power transfer and stability in varying conditions. The 7387 is starting to verge on just a bit too stiff for my liking, but this is largely subjective. You can feel as you hold the wheels and feel the rims that the wheel is indeed quite inflexible. While this may be ideal for the types of asymmetrical wind forces replicated in Hunt’s windtunnel, it makes it hard to use these wheels on super hilly courses where some flex is needed for climbing.
With a lower price point comes some sacrifices. For the 7387, it seems that the biggest sacrifice has been in total wheelset weight. The set checks in at 1776g, a full 245-ish grams (about half a pound) heavier than the newly-released Zipp 858 NSWs (though at over half the price).
If you’re not concerned with the minutiae that is wheelset weight, then these wheels are still an excellent choice. However, if you’re competing in the elite ranks of triathlon, a half pound can feel like a lot of extra weight to roll around with, especially in long course racing on hilly courses.
The Hunt 7387 is every financially frugal triathlete’s dream. It is a strong wheelset in terms of aerodynamic performance and costs less than $2,000. You’d be hard-pressed to find another set that offers such a high return for such low costs.
The wider front outer rim offsets some of the wobbles that are known to come standard with deep dish rims and is a creative solution to a longtime deep rim problem. Hunt has clearly put a lot of thought into making deep carbon rims sustainable in environments where they’ve previously shown to be unsafe, such as high-crosswind scenarios.
Plus, the tubeless-ready arrival of the wheels makes it relatively easy to get the wheels situated on your bike quickly. From arrival to first ride within an hour or so (if your bead seats easily).
On the flipside, these wheels are quite a bit heavier than the tried-and-true Zipp 858; the 7387 asks athletes to tote around nearly an extra half-pound of weight, which may be a deterrent to some, especially if a route contains significant climbing or rollers.
For those looking to snag an excellent wheelset at an affordable price, the 7387’s get my seal of approval.
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