Classified x Hunt 40 Carbon Gravel Race Wheelset review

How does the Classified equation change now that Hunt is in the game?

Classified x Hunt 40 Carbon Gravel Race Wheelset
(Image: © Josh Ross)

Cyclingnews Verdict

The Classified Powershift system is a radical upgrade for 2x gearing but it previously lacked a capable wheelset to match. With the introduction of the partnership with Hunt, that all changes. The price and features of the Classified x Hunt 40 Carbon Gravel Race Wheelset put an entire Classified system on par with just a set of premium wheels from a variety of manufacturers. If you thought a Classified system was out of reach for your gravel race bike, now you can have all the advantages without a weight or price penalty.

Pros

  • +

    Price

  • +

    Lightweight

  • +

    Classified hub ready

  • +

    25mm internal width

  • +

    Hookless bead

Cons

  • -

    Lacks the Limitless aero technology

  • -

    Purchase of the Classified system is separate

  • -

    Silent freehub

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In most situations when you think about upgrading the wheelset on your gravel bike, you don't consider your gearing. All you have to do is look at our list of the best gravel wheelsets and balance considerations like weight vs aero as well as budget. You might consider getting aero on your gravel bike with a set of Hunt Limitless 42 wheels or you might prefer to go for an ultralight Cadex AR 35 disc wheels. Either way though, the wheels are essentially self-contained.  

Tech Specs: Classified x Hunt 40 Carbon Gravel Race Wheelset

Price: $1,299 / £949 / €1,199

Rim Dimensions: 40mm deep, 25mm internal width, 30mm external width

Weight: 1270g claimed weight

Hubs: Hunt Sprint SL centre lock disc front hub and Classified hub shell rear

Spokes: 24 front and 24 rear straight pull aero butted Pillar spokes

More info: huntbikewheels.com

The Classified x Hunt 40 Carbon Gravel Race Wheelset is a completely different situation. Not only are you considering a set of race focused gravel wheels but on top of that you have to, or get to, consider your whole drivetrain. The Classified system is a radical reimagining of a traditional 2x drivetrain and the Hunt 40 CGR wheelset is a new piece of the puzzle. 

Although the Classified hub has been on the market for a while now, and has even seen use in the pro peloton, there's never been a great set of gravel wheels to pair it with, beyond custom wheel builds. As Classified continues to partner with brands, that is changing. In this case, the Hunt partnership adds a gravel race focused wheelset as an option. 

The Hunt 40 Carbon Gravel Race wheelset hit the market last year. While technically the Carbon Gravel Race wheelset is a step below the flagship Limitless 42, it's also newer than those wheels. That means Hunt was able to pull from what the brand learned during that development and apply it in a cost effective way. Now that there's a Classified version available you can consider your entire gravel drivetrain as part of a wheel purchase and I've put it to the test. If you are looking to go fast on a gravel bike keep reading to see if you should consider the Classified x Hunt 40 Carbon Gravel Race Wheelset. There's nothing else like it on the market, but is it right for you? 

Hunt logo on Hunt CGR wheels

The Hunt Limitless wheels pull the lines from the logo and apply them to the wheel but the CGR design is a bit less flashy (Image credit: Josh Ross)

Design and aesthetics

As you consider the Classified x Hunt 40 Carbon Gravel Race wheelset there's two parts to think about. One piece is the wheelset designed, tested, and sold by Hunt wheels. The other is the Classified Hub system that's designed and tested by Classified but sold via a network of dealers across the world. The two are intrinsically linked so I'll go into some detail about each but you can also buy one without the other. At the time of purchase from Hunt you aren't buying the Classified system, only a set of wheels that represent half of the system.

The Hunt wheels are also available with a traditional hub for use on whatever bike you think makes sense. In this case instead of a rear hub you'll only be getting a spot where the Classified hub sits. The rest of the construction, and the entire front wheel, will be the same between the two versions. There's also a lower profile version of the Hunt Carbon Gravel Race wheelset available with a traditional hub but only the 40mm depth has the Classified option.

That means, as mentioned, you'll be getting a carbon rim with a 40mm depth. The internal width is 25mm and uses a hookless bead profile compatible with 28-65mm wide tyres according to the ETRO standards. The rim itself is a claimed 395g both front and rear and it connects to the hub, or hub shell, using butted and bladed Pillar Spoke Re-enforcement PSR XTRA spokes. The front hub uses EZO sealed cartridge bearings while the rear is only a shell with space for a hub.

The combination of parts comes together for a claimed system weight of 1270 grams. Although that weight is rather incredible, it's worth noting that it does not include a rear hub. For comparison's sake, the same wheelset with the rear hub is 1383 grams.

Visually speaking, the Classified x Hunt 40 Carbon Gravel Race wheelset sports a very minimal look. While the Limitless Hunt wheels use a series of lines, the CGR wheels use only a simple black finish. The Hunt logo in white sits at one side of the wheels while there is a minimal sans serif "40CGR" logo below the valve hole. 

The Classified Hub and the setup process

As I already mentioned, if you were to order yourself a nice set of Classified x Hunt 40 Carbon Gravel Race wheels without anything else, you'd find yourself disappointed. You'll need to figure out a Classified dealer and put together the parts you need or you'll need to already own everything. This is an obvious hole in the setup. It should be simple to order everything you need and right now, it's not. Hopefully this info helps.

The pieces you'll need from Classified are the smart thru axle, handlebar unit, hub, and cassette. There are also a couple of small pieces such as the Classified torque arm and spacers but these aren't universal pieces so I won't dive too deep. Work with your dealer to get what you need and Classified has a list price of €1,299 for the full setup.

What's more important to understand from a high level is the concepts you are going to be thinking about. The Classified system is an alternative to a 2x system with a front derailleur, except the shifting all takes place in the rear hub through planetary gearing. You get a standard radio, and one that reduces the gearing by 30%. On top of that you can switch between them under full power or when you aren't pedalling and shifting is instant.

At the back of the bike you are going to swap your cassette for a piece from Classified. There are options for 11-speed or 12-speed but given I was pairing this system with a SRAM AXS groupset, I chose a 12-speed option. That opened up a choice of four gearing ranges from 11-28 up to 11-34 and I chose the 11-34.

I then paired that cassette with revised gearing at the front of the bike. This part was a decision that I agonised about and spent far too much time over complicating. Classified makes this easy with a chart but, again, think of this like a 2x system. Pick your big ring with an appropriate sized chainring then the rear hub will take care of the small ring. In my case I wanted to lose a bit of weight and add a bit of bling so I went with a 44 tooth chainring from Wolftooth (paired with some colour in the form of a front lockring). 

My choices mean I’ve got an effective 44/30 chainring and an 11-34 cassette. Or, said another way, I set myself up with very similar gearing as the SRAM Apex AXS Mullet drivetrain which I recently reviewed except I've got smaller jumps between gears. It’s worth noting that you could get close to this with options available in the latest Shimano GRX groupset but that would mean mechanical only and, as already noted, you’d have less usable gears because of cross chain considerations. If you are running 11sp GRX Di2 though, the shifters can be configured to shift the hub.

In terms of the installation, it's all very simple. Drop the hub into the hub shell in the Hunt wheels and tighten some lockrings to keep the hub in the shell and the cassette on the hub. There's a shifter button that you will need to manage to position on your handlebars and still do a decent bar tape wrapping job. There's also a special thru axle and you'll need to set it up, using spacers and adapters, so that the new thru axle has the same threads and measures the same overall length as your existing thru axle. 

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Groupset gear range comparison
Standard SRAM XPLR gearing440%
SRAM Mullet gearing with an HG cassette455%
Classified gearing (44T chainring and 11-34 cassette)455%
Shimano GRX 12-speed 2x (48/31 and 11-34)480%
SRAM Mullet gearing with an XDR cassette520%

Performance

Normally when I review wheels one of the pieces I'd look at are the hubs. I'd try to decide if I could feel any standout details in terms of engagement. When you jump on the power, does it respond fast or slow? I might talk about how the system holds up to weather and I might relay any details about working on the rear hub. In this case, the whole discussion is, in a way, irrelevant.

The Classified x Hunt 40 Carbon Gravel Race Wheelset has no rear hub. There's a front hub but the SPRINT SL straight-pull centre-lock front hub is, like other front hubs, incredibly simple. For whatever it's worth, Hunt uses EZO stainless steel bearings for the application but front hubs are simple enough that they rarely warrant discussion and the same is true in this instance.

The Classified rear hub is completely sealed making weather intrusion a non-issue and you'll never swap freehubs so that's also a non-issue. Inside the sealed hub is a planetary gear system that uses a 1:1 ratio for what you'd consider the big ring. Press the button you've installed on your bars (or you'll use the lever control if you connect it to a Shimano system) and you will engage a lower ratio that makes your gearing 32% easier. Although it feels a little like you are releasing a string under tension if you go from high to low, it's possible to shift under full load. It's also possible to shift while sitting still. The shifting is always fast and whatever gear you are in feels as responsive as any traditional hub I've ever been on.

The only details worth noting aren't related to performance but are instead quality of life oddities. Mainly, you can't look back and see what gear you are in. Instead you will rely on your bike computer. Except if you are also using a SRAM AXS system only Wahoo allows both the Classified and SRAM shifting to work together and show both front and rear gear at the same time. Anyone using Hammerhead or Garmin will have to try and remember what gear you are in.

Then there's the sound, or lack of it, while coasting. Surely many readers will love the addition of a silent freehub but the more I've ridden with it, the more I find it somewhat challenging. In the backcountry it's a joy. In the city, you better invest in a bell.

With the hub out of consideration another common way to evaluate a wheelset would be weight. The Classified x Hunt 40 Carbon Gravel Race Wheelset has a claimed weight of 1270 grams. That's exceptionally light until you realise that there's no hub in that weight. The Classified hub runs 475 grams vs 219 grams for a DT Swiss 240 centerlock rear hub (just an example) but that comparison doesn't take into account the full weight of a 2x system. What all that means is that you can't exactly compare the weight of these wheels.

If you want to get an idea of the weight, it's best to look at the non-classified version. A standard hub version of the Hunt 40 Carbon Gravel Race wheelset runs 1383 grams and, especially given the price, that's a light wheelset. What I can say about the weight is that I was able to drop 150 grams from the weight of my Salsa Warbird with a switch away from the previous SRAM Apex Mullet build with Hunt Limitless 42 gravel wheels. I can also say that with a 395 gram rim weight and a stiff build, these wheels feel like they climb well. Overall though, that's not the main experience of running them.

What I found myself pondering most often about these Hunt wheels is how it's possible they hold speed so well. The CGR design isn't on the cutting edge of aerodynamics the way the Hunt Limitless wheels are. With a 40mm depth these are more aerodynamic than a shallow wheel but aerodynamics aren't the story Hunt is trying to tell. Whatever the reason, I found myself noting over and over that these wheels felt smooth at speed. Even late in a ride, when I just wanted to get home, I was able to find a rhythm and cruise while feeling in perfect balance with the wheels. Some of that might have been the hub but some of it has to be the wheels. Either way, it's a beautiful thing and I can't wait to experience it again.

The other thing I found about the Classified x Hunt 40 Carbon Gravel Race Wheelset is that these wheels are responsive. Hunt has two versions of the CGR wheels and the shallower version, not available in a Classified ready build, is more forgiving over rough surfaces as well as slightly wider internally. The 40mm depth is the racier of the two but that suits me. I spend my time on a mix of paved roads and gravel roads and these are wheels that will jump when you jump. I would attribute some of that to the ability to be more precise with the layup in a hookless wheel, but I can't be completely sure of that. It could also be a product of the light weight rim or a product of the lacing. Assign it to whatever you want, responsiveness is a big part of the experience of riding these wheels. 

Verdict

I love the Classified system. This is now the second time I'm reviewing it and I like it more the longer I use it. Although I really wanted to over complicate it at first, it's a front derailleur. There are some advantages compared to a traditional front derailleur but it's enough to think of it as a 2x system. The only drawback I saw previously was a high price and mediocre wheels. The Classified x Hunt 40 Carbon Gravel Race Wheelset changes the whole equation. 

If you buy into Classified by taking advantage of the Hunt CGR wheels you take away the previous drawbacks. In terms of price, Hunt is pricing this wheelset aggressively enough that for the price of a set of Roval Terra CLX II wheels you get not only a set of wheels but also half of a 2x groupset. The only question that remains is how good are the Hunt wheels?

I haven't ridden my example, and our choice of best overall gravel wheels, the Roval Terra CLX II but I've ridden a variety of excellent wheels. I tend to choose the aero performance of the Hunt Limitless 42 gravel wheels so I'm already happy to put Hunt wheels against the best. That said, if I was to pick a complaint about those wheels it would be that they are a bit heavy and the hub isn't my favourite. The Classified x Hunt 40 Carbon Gravel Race Wheelset gets rid of the Hunt hub and drops the weight. I'd love to have my cake and eat it too, with both the aero performance of the Limitless design and low weight, but realistically I can't ask for more out of these wheels. Also, it's likely worth a watt or two to get a Classified system.

Salsa Warbird frame weight

Although it's difficult to directly compare the weight of these wheels, I was able to lose 150 grams compared to the previous setup (Image credit: Josh Ross)
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Weight comparison: SRAM Apex / Rival 2x groupset vs SRAM Apex with Classified
SRAM Rival Wide front Derailleur153gClassified Hub475g
SRAM Rival 43/30 crankset with powermeter and 175mm crank arms863gClassified cassette 12-speed 11-34230g
SRAM battery25gApex AXS crankset with powermeter, 44T wolftooth chainring and 172.5 crank arms738g
SRAM XG-1231 Rear Cassette426gHunt 40 CGR wheelset with Classified Hub shell1270g
Hunt 40 CGR wheelset with standard hub1383gClassified Thru-axle73g
Salsa thru-axle 41gClassified handlebar shifter 14g
Total for all unique parts2891gTotal for all unique parts2864g
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Testing scorecard and notes
Design and aestheticsI love the lines that Hunt uses on the Limitless wheels and aesthetically the CGR design isn’t as strong. Still, I’m happy to see a lightweight wheel that’s deep enough for aero performance and the use of a hookless design.9/10
Ride qualityI love the balance of responsiveness and ability to hold speed. I like the way these wheels feel under a bike.10/10
WeightAt 25mm wide internally there are no corners cut and these are light wheels. It’s a little hard to directly compare the Classified version but looking at the standard hub version gives a big clue.9/10
HubsHunt isn’t responsible for the hubs in these wheels but the Classified hub is as good as it gets. 10/10
ValueThe standard Hunt CGR wheel is already an excellent price. If you look at it as part of a complete Classified system, it only looks better. For the price of other premium wheels you get both wheels and a part of a groupset. 10/10
OverallRow 5 - Cell 1 96%

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