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Hunt introduces recycled carbon fibre to its wheel range: would you pay just a little more to help the planet?

UK brand aims to reduce the environmental impact of its three-wheel Sustain Phase One range through spec choices and the use of recycled carbon and aluminium

Hunt Wheels has announced a new range of Sustain Phase One wheels intended to reduce the company’s environmental impact without taking a hit on performance. Hunt says it has taken three of its existing wheels and improved their sustainability through altered spec choices and the use of recycled carbon and aluminium. It says that, as far as it is aware, it is the only manufacturer in the world currently creating rims with recycled carbon fibre, albeit a relatively small proportion of total content.  

2024 Hunt Sustain Phase 1 - 42 Carbon Disc Ti wheel - 2

“[The] new wheels [have been] developed leveraging recycled materials, less resource-intensive manufacturing processes, sustainability-focused specification choices, and shorter transportation distances to reduce the environmental impact of the wheelsets while offering high specification components and performance,” says Hunt. 

> Cycling and sustainability: What the bike industry is doing, and what you can do to further reduce your carbon footprint as a cyclist 

All three new wheelsets – one with carbon rims, the other two with aluminium rims – use recycled material and uncoated spokes and spoke nipples, and they’re hand-built in Europe.

2024 Hunt Sustain Phase 1 – 42 Carbon Disc Ti on bike - 1

Hunt says it has been researching ways to measure and reduce environmental impacts across its business for several years. It now has a carbon emissions measurement and reduction plan, using a framework from Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi)

SBTi is designed to help companies measure emissions and set greenhouse gas emission reduction targets in line with climate sciences and Paris Agreement goals. Canyon, for example, recently announced emissions reduction targets verified by SBTi.

> How green is your carbon bike? And why your next one could be made from recycled carbon fibre 

Hunt insists that the environmental credentials of its Sustain Phase One wheels don’t adversely affect performance.

2024 Hunt Sustain Phase 1 - manufacture - 1

“The wheelsets are hand-built with high-spec spokes for reduced weight and improved ride feel, and fast engaging, reliable hub systems for quick power transfer and durability,” says Hunt. 

“Long service life and reliability have been top priorities for us since the start. Each of the three Sustain Phase One wheels, along with every Hunt wheel design, has undergone extensive testing and validation by our in-house engineering and development team, including a comprehensive impact test, burst pressure testing to 150% of max PSI, real-world rider testing using our network of test athletes, and a rigorous cobbled-rolling road test.”

2024 Hunt Sustain Phase 1 – 42 Carbon Disc Ti manufacture - 1

First up, there’s the Sustain Phase One 42 Carbon Disc Ti (£1,1449) which is designed to be an all-round, mid-depth road wheel that can tackle all-road, mixed-surface terrain, if that’s your thing. The rim profile is 22mm internally, designed for tyres from 25mm to 35mm. 

2024 Hunt Sustain Phase 1 - 42 Carbon Disc Ti wheel - 3

This is the one with the rim that uses recycled carbon fibre – although the recycled content is currently a relatively small percentage of the total.

“The rim is constructed using 10% recycled carbon fibre, sourced from specialist European recycled composites suppliers which recycle larger aerospace and automotive components, as well as offcuts from carbon fibre rim production,” says Hunt.

“The recycled carbon fibre is processed into a dense fleece material that reinforces the outer rim and rim hook structure during the moulding process, improving impact resistance due to its multi-directional structure. 

2024 Hunt Sustain Phase 1 - 42 Carbon Disc Ti wheel - 7

“The rims are moulded with a wax core mandrel, using a unique resin transfer moulding method rather than traditional resin-infused carbon fibre pre-preg, so the carbon offcuts can be easily recycled and do not require refrigerated storage, further reducing energy use. 

2024 Hunt Sustain Phase 1 - 42 Carbon Disc Ti wheel - 6

“The wax core material can be melted and re-used in this process more than 20 times, offering significant reduction in waste compared to production methods using single-use silicone or EPS [expanded polystyrene] mandrels.”

> What is the carbon footprint of your bike? 

2024 Hunt Sustain Phase 1 - 42 Carbon Disc Ti wheel - 8

The Sustain Phase One 42 Carbon Disc Ti uses Hunt’s new Europa H_Ratchet Ti hub (CNC machined in Belgium) with a 36-tooth stainless steel ratchet ring to give you a 10° engagement angle when you switch from coasting to pedalling. The one-piece freehub is grade 5 (6Al-4V) titanium, while the spokes are Sapim CX-Ray triple butted.

2024 Hunt Sustain Phase 1 – 4 Season All Road - 1

The aluminium-rimmed wheelsets are the Hunt Sustain Phase One – 4 Season All-Road Disc (£449, above) and the Hunt Sustain Phase One – Trail Wide 29 (£489). 

2024 Hunt Sustain Phase 1 - 4 Season All Road wheel - 3

“Both [are] constructed using 75% recycled aluminium alloy, 30% of which is sourced from recycled post-consumer alloy such as drink cans, while the other 45% comprises recycled content from the industrial sector, such as off-cuts and shavings from CNC processing,” says Hunt.

2024 Hunt Sustain Phase 1 - 4 Season All Road wheel - 4

“Hand-built with a Hunt Europa 4 Season hubset, CNC-machined and assembled in France, and laced with Zero Coat Sapim D-Light double butted spokes, the 4 Season All-Road Disc is built for all weather, year-round performance, whether on the road, gravel, or broken roads in between,” says Hunt.

The Hunt Sustain Phase One – Trail Wide 29 has a 30mm internal rim width and is “optimised for 2.2in-2.6in trail tyres”.

> Head over to off.road.cc: Hunt makes a move towards sustainability with Sustain Phase One range

As mentioned, all three wheelsets use uncoated spokes and nipples.

“While anodising alloy rims and hubs is necessary to protect the surface from wear and improve the longevity of the component, the electrical chemical coating process used to colour-coat black spokes and brass spoke nipples offers no practical or performance benefit beyond aesthetics,” says Hunt. 

2024 Hunt Sustain Phase 1 – spokes - 1

“[Our] development team has opted to save the energy and chemical usage required in the spoke and spoke nipple colour coating process for these wheelsets. Each of the three wheelsets has also been hand-built with raw silver J-bend spokes for greater durability and easy replacement. The two alloy offerings feature durable, naturally corrosion-resistant brass spoke nipples with self-lubricating properties.”

> How environmentally sustainable is your cycle clothing? 

Hunt says that it will begin to disclose company-wide emissions and track progress annually starting at the end of this year. 

“[We have] committed to reducing Scope 1 (direct emissions from sources that the company owns or controls, such as our buildings, vehicles, and equipment) and Scope 2 (indirect emissions from the generation of electricity, heat, or steam purchased and used in operations) emissions by at least 50% by 2030,” says Hunt. 

2024 Hunt Sustain Phase 1 - 4 Season All Road wheel - 1

“[We are also] working with suppliers, manufacturers, and supply chain partners to measure and reduce Scope 3 (all other indirect emissions that occur in the value chain, upstream and downstream, such as raw materials, transportation, waste disposal, and product use) with a goal of achieving net zero CO2 emissions by 2050, in-line with the 2015 UN Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

“Serviceability, spare component availability, and compatibility (future-proofing for new standards) have long been key considerations when designing wheel systems. The team equips wheelsets with high-specification bearings and interchangeable spokes and maintains stock levels of spare parts for all Hunt wheelsets dating back to 2015, so that riders are able, and encouraged, to repair rather than replace their wheels for longer service life and reduced consumption.”

For the past couple of years, Hunt has also offered a Re:New scheme that allows riders to buy lightly used wheels.

“The process also allows us to reuse materials and components, helping reduce the company’s carbon footprint while offering an option for riders seeking more sustainable post-consumer products with lower environmental impact,” says Hunt.

The Sustain Phase One wheels are available to pre-order now at huntbikewheels.com, with wheels arriving with riders in August.  

Here are the wheel specs, courtesy of Hunt:

Hunt Sustain Phase One – 42 Carbon Disc Ti
Weight: 1,497g per pair  
Rim material: Carbon Fibre, using 10% recycled carbon fleece in outer rim surface to increase impact resistance 
Internal rim width: 22mm  
External rim width: 29mm 
Spokes: Sapim CX-Ray triple butted aero blade with Zero Coat stainless steel finish  
Spoke count: 24 front / 24 rear  
Hubs: Hunt Europa H_Ratchet Ti, 10° engagement with one-piece, machined grade 5 titanium freehub body. Hubset CNC machined and assembled in Belgium
Bearings: Sealed precision cartridge  
Price: £1,149 
 
Hunt Sustain Phase One - 4 Season All-Road Disc  
Weight:
1,718g per pair 
Rim material: Lightweight 6000 series heat-treated alloy, made with 75% recycled alloy content 
Internal rim width: 23mm  
External rim width: 27mm 
Spokes: Sapim D-Light double butted with Zero Coat stainless steel finish 
Spoke count: 24 front / 28 rear 
Hubs: Hunt Europa 4 Season Hub set, 7.5° engagement, CNCed 6000 series heat-treated aluminium alloy body with 7075-T6 alloy axle and freehub. Hubset CNC machined and assembled in France
Bearings: Sealed precision cartridge  
Price: £449
 
Hunt Sustain Phase One – Trail Wide 29
Weight:
1,878g per pair 
Rim material: Lightweight 6000 series heat-treated alloy, made with 75% recycled alloy content 
Internal rim width: 30mm 
External rim width: 34mm 
Spokes: Sapim D-Light double butted with Zero Coat stainless steel finish 
Spoke count: 28 rront / 32 rear 
Hubs: Hunt Europa Boost 48T hub set, 7.5° engagement, CNCed 6000 series heat-treated aluminium alloy body with 7075-T6 alloy axle and freehub. Hubset CNC machined and assembled in France
Bearings: Sealed precision cartridge  
Price: £489

“There’s a slight extra cost for the Sustain wheelsets, but we don’t feel we should make them a premium price,” says Hunt co-founder Tom Marchment. “Actually, we probably subsidise them a bit in terms of the margin comparison because we’re not producing them in the same volumes as other wheels.”

www.huntbikewheels.com

Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.

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11 comments

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PeterF01 | 2 weeks ago
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You've gotta appreciate the talent of the marketing team that puts this utter crap from Stunt together. The only reason for this latest nonsense is that the brand is rapidly losing market share to even cheaper Chinese rubbish, now being imported consumer direct. "Try to make us appear greener" was clearly the brief. BTW - Did anyone else notice the massive amount of structural filler seen in that cut rim section!

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Paul J replied to PeterF01 | 2 weeks ago
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Isn't the filler in the cut rim the wax mandrel the article talks about, which they can melt, drain from the baked rim, and then re-use again for another batch of rims - thus being more environmentally friendly? Like... it's there in the article.

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KDee | 2 weeks ago
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Rim depth? I assume the carbon rim is 42mm deep, but it's not stated anywhere in the article. Not even in the specs. Same for the aluminium rims. 

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amazon22 replied to KDee | 2 weeks ago
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Web site lists All Season at 22mm deep, but I'm puzzled as to why this wheelset is 101g heavier than the same non-eco wheelset. Is european alloy heavier than fear eastern? I'd be interested to know how loud the new ratchet ring system they are now using is - the old pawl system was offensively loud (and stopped me buying). If they want to help the planet, turn the noise down!

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OnYerBike replied to KDee | 2 weeks ago
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I'll admit it's a bit odd the depth isn't mentioned here, but it's not that hard to click through to Hunt's own website where the depths are clearly stated (yes, 42mm for the carbon rim).

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Simon E | 2 weeks ago
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I'm impressed that they are using 75% recycled material for the alloy rims.

OTOH I don't think 10% recycled carbon is a particularly impressive figure but perhaps it's early days on that front. The use of a wax core mandrel sounds like it is also a step in the right direction.

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thrawed replied to Simon E | 2 weeks ago
1 like

Ehhh, for aluminium? It's more expensive for them to get aluminium that isn't recycled. There's a reason it's the most recycled thing on the planet, getting more aluminium out of bauxite is incredibly more energy intensive than just remelting what we already have.

The reason 10% recycled carbon might be impressive is because you want long carbon strands for strength, but the ones that are recycled are just chopped up really short strands and you can't just make them longer. It's why you commonly see recycled carbon fibre being used for different purposes that don't neccessarily need strength like a tube sealant.

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Simon E replied to thrawed | 2 weeks ago
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thrawed wrote:

Ehhh, for aluminium? It's more expensive for them to get aluminium that isn't recycled. There's a reason it's the most recycled thing on the planet, getting more aluminium out of bauxite is incredibly more energy intensive than just remelting what we already have.

What's your point? They are using recycled aluminium, which is surely a positive move and doesn't appear to be common practice.

Trek have said that they can't use recycled alu for bike frames because it isn't good enough quality so I wouldn't assume that melting a pile of Red Bull cans instead of mining fresh ore is suitable for everything.

10% recycled carbon might sound impressive but it means that 90% is not recycled. And most people don't need to buy rims made of carbon fibre.

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lesterama replied to Simon E | 2 weeks ago
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I guess it's all about the alloying. I've read that recycled 7075 can be produced from 7075 components, but I imagine there's very little of that around.

If we took greater care to keep higher-grade aluminium waste separate, we could produce plenty of high-grade secondary aluminium. Shame that doesn't happen, as primary aluminium is disastrously energy intensive.

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OnYerBike replied to lesterama | 2 weeks ago
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Looking at Trek's sustainability "report" (more a glossy PR brochure if you ask me) that appears to be the problem they identified too: https://view.publitas.com/trek-bicycle/2023-sustainability_reportedition...

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festina | 2 weeks ago
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TBH the environment side of carbon (it's a black thermoset plastic) is why I've mostly ditched it on my recent bike build. Still, the mostly aluminium build (apart from fork and saddle) comes in less than 6.8kg and cost around £1.5k so don't think I'm missing out.
It's a shame that everything is made out of carbon these days and when it's out of fashion or standards change a lot of it just ends up in landfill.

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