review

Mason X Hunt 4 Season Disc Wheelset

9
£329.00

VERDICT:

9
10
An excellent choice to upgrade OEM wheels, or to swap between bikes with different axle/drivetrain setups now or in future
Weight: 
1,593g

Back in 2015 Stu rated the Mason Resolution featuring the first 17mm-internal-width incarnation of the collaboratively designed Mason x Hunt 4 Season Disc wheelset. He found that 'stiffness is high, you can really notice that when sprinting or climbing out of the saddle yet they don't feel harsh in any conditions'. The second incarnation is also a cracking buy.

  • Pros: Future-proof axle system, rim width, rotor adapters included, parts availability, subtle branding
  • Cons: None I can think of

At launch in 2015, the Mason X Hunt 4 Season wheels were £349. The 2019 update brings the width out to 19mm, allowing wider tyres and the multiple benefits thereof, for a price of £329. That's about a £55 reduction allowing for 2015-2019 inflation – not bad for a product that's only improved technically.

> Buy these online here

I was reviewing the Hunt 35 Carbon Gravel Disc X-Wides at the same time as these 4 Seasons, and many of the details are the same, so apologies for some repetition...

Like the X-Wides, out of the box the 4 Seasons look the business – jet black with subtle white branding, and a near-invisible square of Hunt's 'Night safe reflective' that really shows up in car lights when rotating at night.

Hunt Mason X Hunt4 Season Disc Wheelset - rim.jpg

Being a 'tubeless-first' wheelset, the setup was child's play: pop in supplied valve, no taping needed as it's already done, add tyres, inflate using air tank. Fitting my go-to supple rubber – Rene Herse Bon Jon Pass 35mm Extralights – needed fingers only, but when inflated there was a decently loud snap as the tyre bead popped over the rim's internal 'H Lock' shoulder and into place. First time up, no faff, stayed sealed – the way tubeless should be. They measured up at 36.4mm, so do pay attention to tyre choice if you're close to your clearance limit.

Hunt Mason X Hunt4 Season Disc Wheelset - rim bed.jpg

In the box you get a bag of bits including the tubeless valves, three spare spokes/spoke tool if you need to replace or tension them (I didn't), 8-9-10-speed freehub adapter spacers, and the axle endcap adapters. As with the X-Wides, these really are the 4 Seasons' party trick, and the main reason to seriously consider them as your next set of hoops.

The beauty of the Hunt system – and a major reason for investing in its wheels, as I see it – is the plethora of axle setups open to you, now and in future.

According to Hunt, the system will: 'Fit all current axle sizes and are easy to change; Front - QR, Bolt thru 12/15/9mm, Rear - QR, Bolt thru 12x142, 12x135, 10x135.'

Hunt Mason X Hunt4 Season Disc Wheelset - rim detail.jpg

So that's pretty much every possible option on the market today, and for the foreseeable future. And no doubt should a new 'standard' arise, Hunt will make adapters to fit. The adapters are available from Hunt for a tenner, should you need more for different bikes or to lend to a friend.

Setting up

The bikes I used for the review were a mix of QR and 15mm thru-axles. As I said, I was also reviewing the rather excellent Hunt 35 Carbon Gravel Disc X-Wide wheelset at the same time, and swapped tyres between them and the 4 Seasons to test out their on and off-road ability. As the more-gravelly bike uses SRAM Rival 1x11 with the XD driver hub body, I was swapping not only axles and endcaps, but the entire cassette/freehub body too. As I said in that previous review, this was a perfect opportunity to live the life of a customer with multiple wheelsets, possibly multiple bikes, and who liked to mix and match wheels, tyres and drivetrains depending on the riding to hand. As Hunt's hub specifications have evolved over the years, if you are considering running an ecosystem of wheels it would be best to check with Hunt for compatibility between wheelsets.

> Buyer's Guide: 18 of the best gravel and adventure tyres

I would bang on the thinner-tyred, lighter 4 Seasons set for longer tarmac rides up the glens, then swap over to the hugely strong, X-Wides shod with the still-awesome Rene Herse Steilacooms for oodles of chunky, rough drop-bar biking about the Perthshire hilltops. See the review on the X-Wides for more there. This said, the 4 Seasons were perfectly at home on loose gravel, in mud and over rocks.

Swapping out the axle endcaps from the other wheelset took a few seconds. You do need to remove the disc rotors to access the QR and 15mm axle endcaps, but as they are Centerlock rotor holders this is an easy, quick operation – just have a standard Shimano 16-notch bottom bracket tool and 40Nm torque wrench to hand.

Hunt Mason X Hunt4 Season Disc Wheelset - front hub.jpg

As my bikes used different brake pads, I had to swap rotors as well – no major issue as removing the QR and 15mm endcaps requires removing the rotor lockring anyway. My original wheelsets were standard 6-bolt rotor hubs, not one-piece Centerlock rotors, so I had to use the provided 6-bolt adapters to hold the rotors in place. These went together easily, and held the rotors securely. If you want to make swaps really fast and faff-free, the one-piece Shimano Icetech rotor is an option that Hunt has 'extensively tested', although if you're running 15mm front thru-axles, clearance for the tool might be an issue requiring axle removal first. Hunt's UK-based helpline is very good at clarifying exactly what you need.

One issue with swapping hubs and rotors between bikes is the opportunity for miniscule variations in engineering tolerance in the hub, rotor, dropout or calliper to lead to a slight amount of rotor-pad rub, especially if you have a calliper with a minimal amount of pad travel between open and closed. Thus when swapping the wheels onto one bike (SRAM Rival) I had to perform a bit of calliper shenanigans to prevent rotor rub. Not a full re-alignment per se, but as the pads were partly worn the setup needed just a light bit of 'encouragement' with a pad spreader lever for one piston to be a bit more retracted than the other, so as to balance out the centre point they would bite onto.

Literally, remove wheel, press the pad you know is going to rub a bit inwards, squeeze the brake to get the other piston pushed out a bit further (fooling it into thinking the pad had worn more that side) and job done. Of course, you may be running callipers that have enough pad retraction so as not to rub when swapping wheelsets.

Swapping over the freehub body/cassette was similarly easy – pop on some gloves and pull lightly outwards on the cassette – the whole thing coming off the axle without recourse to the locknut. The only thing you need to watch out for is a small red spacer shim that goes between the freehub inner bearing and hub bearing – I'm guessing that's why Hunt made it in red, so it was obvious when missing.

Hunt Mason X Hunt4 Season Disc Wheelset - rear hub.jpg

A benefit not immediately obvious here is that if you break a rear driveside spoke in the middle of nowhere, say on a bikebacking tour, replacement is dead easy – no need for a cassette tool, chain whip and spanner to get the cassette off to thread a new spoke on.

Hunt specifies high-quality Japanese EZO bearings, and supplies replacement sets at £12 per hub. As the axles aren't 'shouldered' so can be removed in seconds, bearing replacement is easy with a basic bearing puller kit – just be aware that Hunt inserts an alloy tube between the bearings, so it will need to be a proper 'lip-free' blind bearing puller.

Performance

On the road over three months – be it gravelly, rocky or tarmac – the Mason X Hunt 4 Season Discs didn't disappoint. They felt solid, with no discernible flex likely to create tyre rub if you're pushing the limits of your frame clearance. Talk of 'stiffness' or 'comfort' is pretty much moot with large, soft tyres – so let's just say that the 4 Seasons felt great, steering was sharp under cornering/braking, and the 4-pawl 10-degree engagement freehub felt snappy when accelerating hard. The ratchets are on the loud side, so if you're after stealth maybe look elsewhere. The freehub body is coated with a special treatment that Hunt says provides 'excellent durability against cassette sprocket damage'. Removing my cassette after a fair bit of riding, I couldn't see any sign of wear at all – so it's obviously working.

The rim's profile is asymmetric to equally distribute the spoke tension load, and the 24mm depth didn't catch the wind – not that they're 'aero' mind, you'd not be buying a wheelset like the 4 Seasons to knock a few seconds off your 10-mile TT. The wheels stayed perfectly true despite a fair bit of off-road bashing, the black finish keeping its good looks with no scratches visible from mud/branches, and only one mark got through to the alloy underneath where it collected a hefty wayward stone.

Hunt Mason X Hunt4 Season Disc Wheelset - rim detail 2.jpg

In terms of value, £300-£350 is a price range with a lot of competition for decent OEM-upgrade wheelsets. If you've spent a grand or so (Cycle-To-Work-scheme-friendly) on a Shimano 105-equipped bike then around £300-ish to get better wheels would be a very common upgrade. So how do the 4 Seasons Discs stack up? You can spend less – like the now £239.99 Miches that Stu gave 3.5 stars – but they're half a kilo heavier and don't take QRs. Or spend £6 more for the slightly heavier Fulcrum Racing 5s (now £334.99) – but there are question marks over tubeless compatibility, and you don't get disc rotor adapters or tubeless valves included.

Probably one of the closest comparisons would be with the AlexRims CDX4 set that Dave gave 4.5 stars to – now £339.99, a very similar weight, and also doing the QR-12-15mm axle shuffle. But AlexRims doesn't include the QR skewers, tubeless rim tape or valves in the package, nor do you get Centerlock rotor converters, 10x135 isn't an option, and there's no cassette bite guard on the freehub either.

> 238 tubeless wheelsets from £114 to £2,400

All in all, for £329, I just can't fault version two of the 4 Season Discs – on price, weight, setup, performance, axle compatibility or included accessories. Hunt has evolved what was already a highly regarded budget-friendly upgrade wheelset into a product that, for the weight and price, is seriously competitive – then when you factor in the future-proof hub system, they stand alone for life-long value. Assuming no mishaps, and with all parts readily available, these will be the last wheels you'll need to buy for general road and gravel/byway riding for quite some time.

Verdict

An excellent choice to upgrade OEM wheels, or to swap between bikes with different axle/drivetrain setups now or in future

If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website

road.cc test report

Make and model: Mason X Hunt 4 Season Disc Wheelset

Size tested: 27mm deep, 24mm wide

Tell us what the wheel is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

Hunt says: "Whilst working with Dom Mason to spec his Mason Cycles, we realised that the specification and weights of the few available 700c road/CX disc wheels were not ideal for a performance bike that would be used in all weather conditions.

"We knew we could use our links with suppliers to HUNT for improvements in every detail. We enlisted our love for performance bike parts, applied our industry experience and set about creating Hunt Bike Wheels. A lightweight, durable year-round disc wheelset was one of our first projects, the outcome was the award-winning MASON x HUNT 4 Season Disc wheelset."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the wheel?

From Hunt:

THE FAST YEAR-ROUND ALLOY DISC WHEELSET

Tyres | Wide 19mm rim bed creates a wide tyre profile. Great with 23 tyres, ideal for 25, 28 and cross tyres up to 45c. Also work excellently with clincher tyres and tubes.

Hubs | HUNT 4 Season Disc J-bend spoke hubs with extra bearing shielding. 10° RapidEngage 4-pawl freehub, with H_CERAMIK coating for enhanced durability. SRAM XDR Driver available. Centre-lock disc mount, 6-bolt disc adaptors included.

Axles | Easily adaptable & we fit them for you. Fit all current axle sizes and are easy to change; Front - QR, Bolt thru 12/15/9mm, Rear - QR, Bolt thru 12x142, 12x135, 10x135.

Included | Tubeless tape & valves, spare spokes, spoke key, axle adapters (please fill in the simple form after checkout to select your required size), pair of 6bolt disc adapters.

Rate the wheel for quality of construction:
 
10/10

Everything is tight, smooth and high quality.

Rate the wheel for performance:
 
10/10

Flawless – faultless hub action, dead smooth bearings.

Rate the wheel for durability:
 
9/10

Still looking fabulous and dead straight after three months' use – early days perhaps, but signs are very good.

Rate the wheel for weight
 
8/10

Could you get much below the stated 1,588g without compromising the adaptability and longevity of the wheelset? Highly commendable, I'd say.

Rate the wheel for value:
 
9/10

An rrp of £329 for a 1,500-1,600g alloy wheelset is middle of the road, but adding in the adaptability and ease of swapping/maintenance makes the value better.

Considering the future-proofness, the value is outstanding.

Did the wheels stay true? Any issues with spoke tension?

Straight as a die.

How easy did you find it to fit tyres?

Fingers-only. Couldn't be easier.

How did the wheel extras (eg skewers and rim tape) perform?

Tubeless tape worked perfectly, as did the other hardware.

Tell us how the wheel performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Can't fault them – a classic just got classic-ier.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the wheel

The modularity of the hubs and the tight tolerances.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the wheel

Nothing.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

You can spend £90 less for a much heavier, less adaptable set like the Miche Race AXY DX WP Disc wheelset, or about the same for Shimano's AX31 set with, again, less adaptability and a narrower rim bed.

Did you enjoy using the wheel? Yes

Would you consider buying the wheel? Yes

Would you recommend the wheel to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your overall score

The overall experience using them on different bikes over three months has been flawless, I really can't fault them. And the price is sharp for the spec. Maybe, just maybe, they could be a little lighter... then they'd be a 10.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 46  Height: 183cm  Weight: 72kg

I usually ride: Merida Ride 5000 Disc  My best bike is: Velocite Selene

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: A few times a week  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, club rides, general fitness riding, mountain biking, Dutch bike pootling.

Latest Comments