There is a lack of good, honest and impartial product reviews in BMX right now. Parts aren’t cheap, and in an already heavily saturated market, a few nice words about the paint finish in a magazine doesn’t really cut it when you’re about to part with your hard earned cash and need some insight into how good a product really is.
You guys asked us to step up to the plate and that we have. Here is the first of many reviews we have got going for this year and forward into 2014. We want to be the most helpful BMX product site out there, so we decided to take a selection of parts and give them to a real, everyday riders to see how they fair up to just about everything you guys are going to put them through.
Halo Wheels got in touch and sent us a pair of their new Matt Priest Signature Wheels to test out and see what we made of them. We fired them over to our resident wheel destroyer and grind enthusiast Mark Sutton to see how they held up to the dirtiest peg chinks, hang ups and cases known to man.
Click through to see how they held up…
“They’re a mountain bike company, bet they’re no good for BMX.”
I knew it was coming, but I’d expected the badly thought out comment sooner or later. In taking on the task of reviewing Halo’s Priest Wheelset I knew I wasn’t dealing with a brand that’s had a wealth of experience to draw on in the BMX market. Halo has, however, been making some of the most popular mountain bike wheelsets on the market for well over a decade now, so they know a thing or two about hubs, rim shapes and how to blend the two.
The MXR Supa Drive hubs
One thing that couldn’t be escaped, wherever I went with these wheels, was the “that sounds like a Profile, what is it?” comment. BMXers love Profile hubs, but with typically limited budgets, not every rider can afford them, so its hardly surprising the volume of interest in Halo’s creation.
The reason for the Profile comparison is down to the noise and speed generated by the Halo MXR Supa Drive hubs, which offer a 120-point, triple wedge pawl system. And this is where the majority of the praise for this wheelset will centre. These hubs made me, a four-peg ledge warrior, want to carve bowls and leave the ground a hell of a lot more. With the extra speed straight off the mark, everything somehow becomes easier. Having the extra clicks of engagement made the bike feel supremely responsive and I have to credit the wheels for having since become a lot more consistent, particularly on half cab tricks where being able to spring off the back wheel in an instant is important.
There was a concern in the back of my mind that landing into fakie could result in being flipped off the back thanks to the responsive engagement and yet it wasn’t a problem at all, in fact you become settled in the fakie faster than if you were allowed a millisecond’s worth of slack.
Though I cannot say this is the best complete wheelset I have ridden to date, I can without hesitation say these are the best BMX hubs I’ve ridden in the past ten years. There is one small, almost irrelevant catch, however. This is a wheelset, that going by the rider’s signature, is designed for trails and park use. The peg users among us perhaps won’t enjoy the wheelset quite as much, largely because of the lack of hub guard options available. Having failed to fit a fairly universal Federal guard, I had to settle for a G-sport gland to add a little bash resistance against the spokes. As I said though, if you’re a trails or pegless park rider, that won’t concern you.
Having spoken to Ison (Halo’s designer and distributor),
there don’t seem to be plans for a hub guard to fit either hubs as yet, which is slightly disappointing, there are hub guards in the works which will be available early 2014. It is worth considering however, that this wheelset is also available with Halo’s Switch 9t Cassette Hub. This bring’s down the price slightly (£180 for the rear rather than £210) as the hub dosn’t feature the 120 point engagement system that the MXR has, but does use the widely adopted SDS (Switch Drive System) meaning that it is RHD/LHD switchable. Something worth looking at if you grind on the right, as the MXR is RHD only for the time being.
The Priest Rim
The first impressions for the Priest rim are good. It boasts slightly thinner 32mm wall-to-wall rim width, which I’m perfectly okay with given that most of the tyres on the market now don’t need to be allowed to get much wider.
Ison, told me that Matt had asked for subtle graphics on signature rim, and those are stylishly delivered in matte etched on font. It’s barely visible and once placed on the bike, even less noticeable. For those who like a clean, uncluttered bike with not even a hint of a Monster Energy sticker, aesthetically, these look mint.
Like you’ll find on the brand’s mountain bike rims, there’s holes drilled out where appropriate to shave weight and the rolling resistance seemingly shaves further thanks to a curved rim profile that glides extremely well in the air. The wheels only come in 36h (sorry Sean Burns), and the rims are also available if you fancy lacing them up to your own choice of hub.
Going by Ison’s web page for these wheels, the front weighs 850 grams, a rear male axle version weighs in at 1000 grams, while a female will come in at just under 900. Personally I prefer a meatier axle at the back, but the choice is yours and both versions are at the very least capable of peg-free trails and park riding.
I’ve been riding the pair since late August now, which in reality isn’t a huge amount of time given that I manage to ride BMX typically 2 days per week. It has been long enough, however, to reach a few conclusions.
As mentioned before, the hub is a treat. Having come from a trails background I can appreciate it all the more. It’s confidence inspiring in its engagement and though I’ve not ever owned a Profile hub, it seems to carry much the same speed as you’ll see riders with top-end hubs carrying.
My only major concern with the Priest wheelset came after just a handful of Sunday street sessions where the spoke tension had dropped off a cliff. Of course this happens to wheels after numerous rides and is easily fixed with a spoke key and some knowledge on how to keep a wheel true. This isn’t always something BMX riders possess, so it would be good to see a little more care placed into the wheelbuild itself at the factory to ensure that spokes are evenly tensionsed and will remain tight and true for a little longer.
I’ll be honest with you. Pricing up not exactly cheap at £114.99 for the front and £179.99-£209.99 (depending on the hub choice) for the rear this is definitely a high end wheelset. However as we mentioned before, for that price you are getting a fully aftermarket set of Rims and Hubs. Worth noting that these are still cheaper than Odyssey, Primo, Cult a few other big brand wheelsets. And if you were to price these up against say a pair of Profile Hubs laced up to some similar quality rims, you are adding at least another £150+ to achieve when we think is not necessarily a huge jump up in performance. The Wheels are available in Black, Red, Blue and Polished Silver, with the rim, hub and spokes all matching which is a nice touch. Both the Hubs and Rims are also available separately.
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