Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Upgrading my gravel wheels

Posted by Matt | November 30, 2022 | Leave a comment

Hunt 4 Season Gravel X-Wide rim
Unlike many of us Moles I’ve been deep in the burrow this past month. Let’s hope that will soon change.

Gordon kicked off November with his own take on the REDIN festival, and what a good idea that was. Many of our fellow Moles have been diligently riding each day in November but I am not one of them.

Why was that? Good question.

Basically, I have not felt like riding. I don’t think you should force these things but I have ‘reasons’, so I haven’t turned the wheels a great deal. For the first time in three or four years there have even been a couple of weeks of no cycling at all.

I’ve walked the dog. A lot! So that’s something I guess. But scattered around my garage has been the fallout of my incident in Wales at the start of September.

A broken crash helmet; shredded grips; a bike still covered in the red dust of Bike Park Wales; a new, grippier tyre to swap for the summer-spec Ardent that let go so spectacularly on the rear of the Bird. In short a few jobs to get the bike up and running.

Elsewhere, a Pace RC627 in need of a clean and a first-500-miles review. And a gravel bike that in need of winterising…

First things first. A new crash helmet, which I’ll post about separately (its a Sweet Protection Trailblazer since you ask). Next up, winterising the gravel bike which involves the rather depressing effort of re-fitting full length mudguards after a summer of utterly perfect riding.

At this point, along came a Black Friday deal I couldn’t resist.

When I say Black Friday, things kicked off early when Hunt Bike Wheels started offering discounts on some of their more popular wheelsets. One of those was the Hunt 4 Season Gravel X-Wide Wheelset which I managed to pick up for £280 versus an rrp of £349. I mean, crazy not to buy at that price, right?

It cost me a little more than that headline figure, but not much.

Centerlock Disc adaptors for a start, plus a £5 charge for delivery. But along with the wheelset came a Hunt cycle cap, a water bottle, some Schwalbe sealant and some tyre worms. All in all quite a bargain. If anyone is interested, there are still deals available, including Hunt Trail Wide 29er wheels for £296…

Hunt 4 Season Gravel X-Wide hub

Of course, all I managed to do – apart from grab a great deal – was add to my list of jobs.

Specifically, I wanted to re-use the Specialized Pathfinder 38c tyres I have been running for the past 5,300 miles. After splashing out on wheels I needed to economise somewhere and those Pathfinders are still going strong. Eventually fatter tyres will replace them but for now they are good for many more miles.

This meant that in addition to swapping the discs over to the new wheels I also needed to clean up the bead of the Pathfinders to ensure a good clean seal. This, it turns out, is a challenge only slightly more difficult than learning Mandarin Chinese.

It’s a sign of the times that before embarking on this lengthy challenge – armed only with an artfully wielded thumbnail – I didn’t think to Google my options or even to invoke the wisdom of Moles. Had I done so, alternative approaches would have become clear.

Be that as it may, the tyres eventually cleaned up perfectly. Slotting them onto the new rims by hand was easy and both tyres snapped reassuringly into place first try with the aid of my Beto Booster.

I now find myself with a new gravel wheelset which is all set many miles into the future. With a 25mm internal width they are wider than early tubeless MTB rims, yet they are light – at a listed 1698g the shave 491g off the FSA/WTB i23 wheelset they replace. So I have high hopes for an improvement in both ride quality and steering accuracy.

We shall see. I think the ultimate benefits won’t be realised until I get some fatter rubber on the rims, but for now it will make an interesting direct comparison with what went before.

As for riding… the Bird is sorted and now has a Maxxis DHR2 rear tyre. The Pace is clean and ready for the winter and the gravel bike just needs me to ride it. What’s holding me back is remaining sore hands and elbow from the BPW crash in September. I shall build the mileage carefully from here.

Filed under Mutterings in November 2022


About the author

Matt is one of the founding Molefathers of the Muddymoles, and is the designer and main administrator of the website.

Having ridden a 2007 Orange Five for many years then a 2016 YT Industries Jeffsy 29er, he now rocks a Bird Aether 9 and a Pace RC-627.

An early On-One Inbred still lurks in the back of the stable as a reminder of how things have moved on. You can even find him on road bikes - currently a 2019 Cannondale Topstone 105 SE, a much-used 2011 Specialized Secteur and very niche belt drive Trek District 1.

If you've ever wondered how we got into mountain biking and how the MuddyMoles started, well wonder no more.

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