Halo had almost achieved cult status in the UK, being one of the original brands to get into the dirt jump scene along with Identity, another brand under the Ison Distribution umbrella in the UK that is also having a resurgence after a number of quiet years.
The Vortex marks a new direction for Halo, who have traditionally been focused on dirt, downhill and BMX components. The Vortex wheelset uses their own asymmetric alloy rims mated to sealed bearing hubs and their 120-point pick up Supadrive freehub system. The wheels are available in 27.5" and 29" diameters with a range of nearly all hub widths, drivers, and decals for £410 GBP (approx. $555 USD).
Construction and Installation Halo Vortex Details:
• 27.5” or 29” (29" tested)
• Boost or traditional spacing
• XD and HG drivers
• Asymmetric rim design
• 33mm inner width, 38mm outer width
• Tubeless ready- tape fitted
• 120 point engagement (3 Degree)
• Wheelset weight: 2243g (29” actual
• Price: £410.00 GBP (approx. $555 USD
The 6061 T-10 heat treated aluminum Vortex rims are designed asymmetrically to equalize spoke tension, and the rim walls have different thicknesses so the longer side has a thinner wall for an even balance. The rims have an internal width of 33mm and an external width of 38mm. Halo also bulked up the rim bead to be able to take an impact and continue to be rideable. The spokes are double butted with a standard J-bend and an ED black anodized coating.
The hubs are fairly simple, using sealed bearings and push in adaptors for the front hub and a screw in rear axle which also retains the freehub body. The freehub system is more interesting, though, using the latest iteration of Halo's Supadrive system; Halo say they have increased stiffness and reduced flex
by using a heat treated, hollow Cro-Mo steel axle to handle maximum power. The 120-point pick up uses a wedge pawl mechanism with 13 'micro-teeth' per pawl. There are six pawls in total, that work together in pairs and give 3º of pickup.
The SupaDrive freehub system uses three pairs of spring-loaded pawls each with 13 'micro teeth' and 120 points of engagement in the hub shell.
Installation was easy as the wheels came built with rim tape and tubeless valves installed. The rims easily accepted Maxxis Minion DHF tires in DH casing, Bontrager SE5 tires and then a CushCore/Schwalbe setup, all inflated using a booster track pump.
My wheelset weighed in slightly under Halo's website number, at 2243g for the pair of 29" including rim tape.
The Vortex wheelset took plenty of abuse during the Ligurian winter on normal mountain bikes and under the added weight and torque of an eMTB. The rear wheel received a number of dings, but no cracks and nothing big enough to lose any pressure, on trails that have caused numerous wheels to meet an untimely demise over the last two years. I also didn't get any pinch punctures to the tire sidewalls during testing.
The wheels stayed true, and spoke tensions stayed put; even with all that rocky abuse I never had to take a spoke key to them.
After opening the hubs, there was still a layer of clean, factory-installed grease around the freehub, proving that sealing was keeping water and dirt at bay. The rear wheel bearings are starting to rumble very slightly, but spin freely and easily have a few hundred more kilometers in them.
The alloy freehub body had a hard time under the added load of the eMTB, and is scarred by the cassette biting into the allow splines. This is not an eMTB wheelset, but I believe the SupaDrive system would take the power without issue if there were steel inserts added to the freehub body.
The Vortex wheelset took a beating through the Ligurian winter, the rims received a number of dings, but none that managed to fold or crack the rim bead leading to air-loss.