Great value, EWS-worthy hoops
The new Halo Vortex wheelset are designed as ‘enduro capable’. With a 33mm internal width they are intended for modern 2.35 to 2.6in large volume tyres.
Indeed, top racer James Shirley was on a set for his Enduro World Series campaign last year. He had no apparent issues and claims a single pair saw him through the whole season.
The 33mm internal width is designed for Wide Trail-style tyres around the 2.35 to 2.5in mark, but can take up to 2.6in tyres. I’ve been using a mix of 2.3-2.4in tyres in both WT versions and standard versions and they’ve all behaved just fine.
Both 27.5 or 29in wheel sizes are available. The front hub can be configured in QR, 15mm bolt-thru or 20mm bolt-thru and is offered in either Boost or non-Boost options. The rear hub can be QR or 12mm bolt-thru and will come in either Boost or non-Boost (the latter can be adapted to fit in Boost frames) versions. I was testing the 29er pre-Boost versions with 100mm front and 142mm rear axle types and a Shimano splined freehub.
The heat-treated alloy rims are asymmetrical, featuring off-centre spoke holes. This means the raised upside-down V-shape profile of the rim is also off-centre. Better still, the longer side uses a thinner wall than the shorter side, which balances the weight distribution. Nice.
The main goal of the whole off-centre design is to match the tension in the spokes, with the end result being wheels that don’t drift out of true over time, as non-offset designs can do over time. Speaking of spokes, they’re just normal J-bend spokes. No straight pull spokes or bespoke designs here. Just tried and true J-benders that you’ll find in any good bike shop.
The spokes and the rims are attached to Halo’s front MT and rear MT Supadrive hubs. The rear hub has a three-pawl engagements offering 120 points of engagement (AKA 3°). And produces one of the most pleasing freewheeling noises I’ve experienced. Loud enough for other trail users to hear you coming, but not obnoxiously booming or whiney high-pitched. The wheels come re-installed with pre-installed with rim tape and tubeless valves.
What do I want from a wheelset? Mainly I want them to stay true, deal with frequent tyre changes without being a pain, hold air, not dent easily and not get rumbly bearings too soon. These Vortex have done that. And while I would't say that they are light, they aren't heavy either. One thing that's hard to quantify is that the hubs definitely seem to have very little seal drag. There just seems to be a couple more bike lengths you can freewheel before you feel the need to turn the cranks over. At four hundred quid they are also a total bargain.