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Halo Vortex MTC Enduro wheelset review

Burly alloy wheelset targeted at the EWS

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0
GBP £500.00 RRP
Halo Vortex MTC Enduro mountain bike wheelset

Our review

A stout pair of hoops that suit those looking for a direct-feeling wheelset
Pros: Quick pickup hub; strong, dependable build; loads of tyre volume
Cons: Pretty weighty; lighter riders might find them a bit too stiff
Skip to view product specifications

Halo’s Vortex MTC Enduro wheels are a burly option, with a high overall weight, but matched with properly wide rims front and rear.

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Halo also makes slightly lighter, yet still enduro-rated, wheels.

The MTCs are hand-built and have a fast pickup hub at the back, which helps with snappiness. They also have the option to add coloured decals.

Halo Vortex MTC Enduro specifications and details

The alloy rim has a true 33mm internal width, making these the widest pair of wheels I had on test. This should mean plenty of volume for your wide enduro-focused tyres, adding grip, stability and puncture protection front and rear.

Halo says they’re good for up to 2.8in rubber.

Halo Vortex MTC Enduro mountain bike wheelset
Super-broad, so mounting tyres posed no problems.
Tom Marvin / Immediate Media

The internal architecture of the rim bed differs from all the other wheels in my test. Instead of a central well, roughly 10 to 12mm wide, and broad rim shoulders, the central well is squared off and spreads across nearly the full breadth of the rim.

Though the outer diameter of the wheels is one of the shallowest, so is this central well, and as such I did find it tricky to fit tighter tyres, especially without tyre levers. Fortunately, the shallow rim wall makes getting levers over the wall easy.

The rim comes with tape installed and it was airtight from the off.

Halo Vortex MTC Enduro mountain bike wheelset
The rim tape was pre-applied and, while it lifted at the edges, it proved reliable.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media

Valves are included, but you’ll be poking them through the rim tape yourself – they’re nicely made anodised items that look good, if that matters to you.

Each wheel has 32 double-butted spokes and the spoke nipples are mounted asymmetrically in the rim, to help get the spoke angles as equal as possible around the hub. They’re laced up in a two-cross pattern at the front and a slightly stiffer three-cross at the rear.

The hubs have a good wide diameter flange that’s milled to save a bit of weight.

My wheels came with Center Lock hubs, though I also had a pair of neat Halo six-bolt adaptors, which worked well with the wheels.

Halo Vortex MTC Enduro mountain bike wheelset
Popping the freehub on and off is nice and easy.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media

The freehub has 120 points of engagement, giving a small 3-degree engagement angle. Getting to the rear bearings requires cone spanners, and I wasn’t able to easily pop the front axle caps off with just a simple tug.

Halo Vortex MTC Enduro performance

Though you may well have a couple of kilos of tyre hanging off your rim, the added weight of these hoops over the lightest on test is subtly noticeable when you’re really wanting to get the power down and speed up.

However, outside of back-to-back testing, it’s the speed at which the rear hub engages that’ll actually influence how the wheels feel when turning the pedals. And, with that short 3-degree engagement angle, it’s a very positive feel.

Halo Vortex MTC Enduro mountain bike wheelset
Halo produces an adaptor to convert from Center Lock to six-bolt rotor attachment.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media

The buzz is fairly loud, if that’s your thing, so you won’t be stealthily approaching people if you like to ride incognito.

What was noticeable in testing was that the Halos have one of the firmest rides in the test. Harsh would be an unfair description, but if you want a soft, subtle feel as you rally over rocks and roots, you’ll want to look elsewhere.

They don’t crash over obstacles, as such, but they do have a very direct, stiff character. This feels good when pushing hard through corners, because there’s little flex, but they won’t mask a fork that’s in need of a service, nor be all that forgiving on a hardtail.

Halo Vortex MTC Enduro mountain bike wheelset
The alloy rim proved strong in testing.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media

Hard-chargers and heavier riders may well appreciate their stout nature because they feel far less likely to bend and buckle under higher loads, giving plenty of confidence when pummelling through rocks. I’d also wager that they’d feel good on an ebike too.

Halo Vortex MTC Enduro bottom line

The Vortex MTC Enduro wheels are burly and brash, with a quality build and a ride feel that’ll give you acres of confidence when it comes to giving them a thrashing.

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Their broad rims give good volume and support to tyres, but this all comes at the cost of a few grams.

How we tested

Wheels are a pretty pricey upgrade, so we put 12 trail/enduro sets to the test to find out if there’s an inherent benefit to pricey carbon fibre hoops or is alloy better for hard-hitting rims?

The wheelsets were taken on back-to-back runs down selected tracks in the Welsh woods and at BikePark Wales. They were pummelled over and into rocks and drops, turns and berms, and off-camber roots.

To keep things fair, all our testing was done on the same bikes, both hardtail and full-sus, with the same tyres (thanks Specialized!) at the same pressures.

We tested 29in wheels, but most are offered in 650b versions too. While we predominantly ran 2.6in rubber, we also slung some 2.3in tyres on, and we varied the pressures between test sessions to see what difference we could feel.

Bikes shouldn’t be a pain to live with, so we took into account the ease with which tyres could be fitted and inflated. Likewise, we considered how easy it was to access bearings and swap freehubs, too.

Also on test

Product Specifications

Product

Price GBP £500.00
Weight 2,218g (29") – as tested for set
Brand Halo

Features

Features Weight (f): 1,017g
Weight (r): 1,201g
External rim width: 38mm
Engagement angle: 3 degrees
Brake type Disc
Freehub Micro Spline
Hubs Halo MTC
Rim depth 20.75mm
Rim internal width 33mm
Rim material Aluminium
Spoke count 32 front, 32 rear
Spokes Halo Black Double Butted
Tubeless compatibility Tubeless ready
Wheel size 29in/700c