Fans of carbon wheels have never had it so good. These days there’s plenty of choice out there at increasingly competitive prices, and if you’re lucky enough to have £1,000+ to spend on upgrades, then a decent set of carbon hoops would be where our money would go.
Hunt, Scope, Parcours and Scribe are just a few of the brands making waves in this space at the moment, but even the big players like Zipp are looking for a slice of the action at the more accessible end of the market. Their 303S wheelset, released earlier this year, has certainly shaken things up, not least because of the £985 price tag – a bargain price by Zipp’s standards.
Another name you’ll want to add to that list is Halo. Historically more mountain bike-focused but well known for outstanding componentry across disciplines, the British brand’s latest offering to the road market is their flagship Carbaura carbon wheels. Available in both 35mm and 50mm depths, and with rim and disc options, Halo sent us the 50mm deep rim option for review: the Carbaura RC 50mms at £1,050.
Halo builds all of its wheels by hand in the UK, a noteworthy point of difference against much of the competition, and out of the box first impressions are good. The wheels arrive in a high quality padded travel bag and the deep red freehub body and spoke nipples look great against the matt grey of the Torayca T700 rims. The Carbauras come tubeless-ready, have an on-trend 19mm internal/25mm external rim width ideally suited to wider tyres, and tip the scales at a very respectable 1,500 grams for the set. We paired ours with a set of 25mm Continental GP5000 clinchers.
On the road, the Carbauras roll superbly well, noticeably holding their speed as the pace hots up and feeling light and stiff when you put the power down. Halo opted for a U-shaped rim profile for this latest iteration of the Carbaura which they say gives an aerodynamic advantage over more traditional V-shaped profiles in crosswinds. The experts call this ‘yaw angle’ and we can confirm the Carbauras perform brilliantly in these conditions.
We put nearly 1,000 kms on this set, including an especially blustery 25-mile out and back TT with 50km/h gusts lashing us from the sides. No complaints – the Carbauras were more than up for the job, meaning we definitely can’t blame the wheels for our test rider’s somewhat lacklustre result on the day (sorry Ollie!).
Stopping is equally impressive – no mean feat when it comes to rim brake carbon wheels. Halo have finished the braking surface on the Carbauras in a 1.5k weave to better dissipate heat through the carbon, and the wheels come supplied with a set of SwissStop Black Prince brake pads. Braking is powerful and predictable, among the best we’ve experienced with carbon rims.
A review of the Carbauras wouldn’t be complete without a mention of Halo’s proprietary hubs – again all made in-house. The rim brake version comes with Halo’s RS 6Drive hub which features six independently sprung pawls and 30 engagement points in the freehub. We certainly didn’t notice any lag at all when it came to putting down the power. And what about the all-important freewheel buzz? Neither obnoxiously loud nor shy and retiring, a reassuringly smooth and consistent purr that sounds great.
If you’re after a set of high performance entry level carbon rims around the £1,000 mark, we’re not sure you can do any better than the Carbauras. They are a little more expensive than the equivalent rims from the likes of Hunt, but we think the slight premium is easily justifiable when you consider the build quality and in-house hubs. A lot of care and attention has been put into these and it shows. They’re well made, high quality and fast – most noticeably in crosswinds. Recommended if you want a slick-looking set of carbon wheels you can ride all year round, at a price you won’t have to sell a kidney to pay for.
Want more shiny new carbon stuff? Check out our review of the all-new Canyon Aeroad.