The Halo Gravitas MTC Downhill wheels are a tough set of gravity focussed wheels that, if you favour strength over light weight, are a solid choice. They are really well built with readily available spokes making them an excellent choice for hard riding, budget-conscious riders and they have remained true and dent-free throughout.
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Halo Gravitas 29 Wheels - Technical details
Although these wheels have a Downhill tag having been developed on the World Cup circuit, Halo was quick to point out that the wheels have a much wider appeal than just downhill racing. Their strength versus their comparatively light weight makes them ideal for enduro use or hard trail riding; which is why we are looking at them.
Using a smart all-black gloss finish throughout, the Halo Gravitas are a no-nonsense, purposeful looking set of wheels. They are built around Halo's own 32 hole MTC (Mountain Centrelock) hubs which feature sealed bearings, wide-spaced flanges, and Halo’s 120 point pick-up Supadrive Boost at the rear and Boost upfront. They’ve run very happily over the test period, and are easy to pull apart to replace bearings as needed.
Both hubs use a Cro-Mo steel axle which adds weight over an alloy one but has been reliable and rock solid. The freehub body is Cro-Mo steel meaning minimal ‘cassette bite’ and it also uses larger bearings - I had no issues with bite, and the larger bearings whilst not being noticed, won’t do any harm in longevity either.
Built using Halo’s own triple-butted spokes in a 2 cross pattern on the front and 3 cross on the back, the spokes remained straight and well tensioned during my testing but should you ever need a replacement all the spokes and brass nipples are easily sourced from most bike shops.
The Gravitas rims are made from a 6061 T-10 heat treated aluminium alloy, chosen by Halo’s research team with claims of offering high impact tolerance, relatively lower weight and, a more sustainable manufacturing process than carbon fibre. This is an interesting point, and one that is worthy of consideration if you’re heavy on your kit, regularly break wheels, and care about the environment.
Halo has used their own proprietary asymmetric rim which helps to keep spoke tension balanced and build a stronger wheel. The design adds strength where it is needed and uses less material where it isn’t to minimise weight. When riding I didn't notice anything different though.
The wheels are built with a 27.5mm internal width and an external width of 33mm and whilst that may sound narrow to some, they have been less inclined to side rock strikes. The Gravitas rims are nicely finished inside and out, with decent rim tape and valves.
Halo Gravitas 29 Wheels - how they ride
Out the box, the Gravitas wheels feel strong and tough - they are heavier than the Pacenti’s P130D wheels I’ve been riding recently at 2.2Kg but once on the bike they didn’t feel they were overly heavy.
What I did notice with the 27.5mm internal rim width was that it was harder to fit my tyres to these rims. I had to use a tyre lever, but once on, the bead lock was rock solid. I haven't burped these from cornering or sideways loads to any noticeable degree, and even one very hard strike on a square edge has left no dents, only a slight scratch. These are a tough set of wheels!
Whilst that narrower rim definitely reduces rock strikes, they are still wide enough for proper sidewall support and strength. The squarer rim shape seems to add strength for hits to square edges across the rim, as I haven’t managed to put any dings or flat spots into them as yet.
Overall the wheels have been super reliable, staying true with even spoke tension, and have spun smoothly on their bearings throughout testing. The quick freehub engagement provides a pretty much direct drive with almost no free crank movement before engagement, which is excellent for techy trials sections and stop start riding in the Lakes.
I like the feel of the wheels on really rough and rocky trails. They aren’t super stiff, the aluminium gives a little more than carbon and they’ve remained in good condition, through wet and dry riding. They’ve kept tyres seated well, and despite some very lazy line choices at times, have remained unscathed. I never felt they were sluggish or hard work riding uphill or on longer rides. Bearing in mind they have a downhill tag, they don’t feel especially heavy but certainly aren’t as fast to get up to speed as some lighter more general trail wheels.
Halo Gravitas 29 Wheels - summing up
The Gravitas are an excellent choice for any gravity focussed rider who is tough on wheels, a Privateer or you want some tough wheels for all purpose riding in rougher terrain, when reliability and strength are more of a priority than low weight.
Costing £500, they are strong, easily repaired, work reliably and effectively, they just weigh a bit much to be perfect coming in at 2.2Kg for the pair, but that weight isn’t especially hefty for what they can do.
They are £50 cheaper than the Pacenti PI30-END 29 Boost Wheelset I’ve been riding which aren’t as tough as the Gravitas, but are around 350g lighter with a 30mm internal rim width. I think the Halos would be a tougher option long term, but it really depends on what you want from your wheels. Stans Flow-EX3, is another World Cup inspired wheelset with a 29mm internal rim width and a similar weight at 2115g for £519 and certainly another option to look at. We’ll be asking for a test set soon to see how they stack up.
If you are after a decently priced, super tough, reliable set of gravity focussed wheels then the Gravitas are well worth a thought - the slightly narrower rim is a definite positive on rockier trails, and doesn’t compromise on tyre shape. There is no getting away from the extra weight - but that is due to the extra strength, and there has clearly been thought put into reducing weight whilst not compromising on their downhill focus. Despite the Downhill name tag they are a great bet if you’re heavy on wheels. They are certainly my choice of wheels for my Lakes riding, which is predominately rocky
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