HALO FIX-G TRACK HUB

337g £70.00 (32 hole fixed/HG as tested) 

The Halo Fix-G Track Hub is a decade old. However, it remains very relevant, arguably ideal for mid-range, road biased fixed gear/winter trainers. For starters, the cassette type system offers adjustable chainline between 41 and 52mm. This counteracts chainline woes associated with running JIS (Japanese Industrial Standard) Cranks on an ISO bottom bracket (and vice versa). It may also avoid the need for bevelled sprockets (especially on road bike conversions).

There’s no need for huge, unwieldly chain-whips, either, when swapping sprockets. Level hubs have also addressed this latter hassle, using a “bolt-on” system (think chain rings). Their design has been around since 2003. Both systems use dedicated sprockets, which some will cite as a disadvantage.

However, the Halo is more affordable and offers adjustable chainline. It is also well catered for, on the sprocket front. These range from 12-20 teeth, in one tooth increments. Tall enough for track, low enough for trail, if that’s your bag.

Pros: Sturdy, well-sealed, refined hub, easily adjustable chainline, no need for big heavy tools. 

Cons:  Design specific sprockets may be a turn off, for some.

Materials/Specification

The hub shell is made from forged, CNC machined aluminium alloy and available in three colours; black, white and silver. There are also three versions. 32,36 and 48 drillings. Caters for everything from TTs to track tandems. Ison Distribution tell us the 48 hole was initially conceived, to cater for the freestyle fixed movement.

Ours, is the 32-hole threaded. One side standard track sprocket and lock-ring, the other is a HG style caseate body. A double HG cassette, and a fixed/HG freewheel, are the other options.

Yes, the cassette side WILL accept common or garden HG sprockets, but these won’t sit completely flush, eventually gnawing away the cassette splines. Enter the dedicated Fat foot sprockets, which are made from CNC machined Cro-moly

 

They’re drilled, primarily for aesthetics, but also saves a few grams. The high lustre electroplated finish looks very crisp and thus far, shows no sign of tainting, despite being regularly exposed to wet, early season roads. Then again; stocky wet chain lubes certainly help. Gusset double six, are also suitable. Swapped to the old school treaded side? Slip a Halo Fix-T Track Cover on the threaded side, for clean aesthetic, while protecting against contaminant.

A hollow 120mm M10 Cro-moly axle turns on two 6000 series Japanese sealed bearings, the same as those employed in their TK hubs. There is also a 130mm axle option, theoretically meaning the wheels will slot straight into a road triangle, without any frame realignment.

Brilliant for older road bikes, serving as low maintenance winter/workhorses.  Staying with frames a moment, large (22mm) cone faces are designed to prevent any damage.

 

The Build/Test Rig

John Moss  kindly built ours into a Mavic Open Pro rim, laced two-cross, using Halo double butted black spokes. I’ve opted for the 15 tooth Flat foot sprocket, giving me a 78.3 inch gear , on the upper end of road moderate.

Low enough not to bust knees, without spinning myself into orbit on long descents. Getting the chainline spot on was very easy, given my cyclo cross biased fixed gear winter trainer has track spacing and horizontal ends. Though in hard service, the bike is regularly stripped, serviced and consumables pensioned off, before they present problems. 

A few seconds spent jiggling the supplied spacers (using my long serving Halo Aerorage wheel as a reference point) and chainline was absolutely bang on. Wheel instated, track nuts snugged down, the bike’s transmission was serenely quiet and bearing quality immediately apparent. I was itching for a ride. 

Performance

From the outset, I’ve been mightily impressed by the concept and how quiet and seemingly efficient the transmission was. Even compared with the Halo Track hub, which has been in continuous service, for a few years now.

Despite hard service, it has been stripped and inspected, paired only with high quality, straight cut sprockets. While hardly agricultural, the cheap but very cheerful Passport Elements single speed chain was silent. Factors, including lube choice, does help. 

Nonetheless, even under load, say when powering up a climb, or away from the lights, my full weight channelled through the pedals, every ounce of effort driving me forward. Bringing a more willing, spirited edge to the bike’s seasonally sensible 40cm wheelbase and ‘cross geometry. 

Six weeks and 600 miles in, the hubs have remained buttery smooth and glitch free, despite regular exposure to waterlogged winter backroads. Nothing out of the ordinary frankly but bodes well for long term service. Bearings and axles are readily available and relatively cheap too. 

Though the bike's fitted with a Spyre cable operated disc, I typically regulate speed, by holding off against the cranks. The cassette lock-ring system has coped better with these forces than traditional screw-on systems. 

I’ve not needed to snug the lock-ring down, to date. Should it suddenly come loose, there’s no need for a big cassette tool. Just a 15mm wrench to loosen the track nuts and tiny, wedge pack friendly “Hyper cracker” type (that uses the frame as a giant lever).

Value

Sealed and serviceable fixed hubs, worth the cost of building into a wheel (rather than the sort found on bargain basement wheels). can be had for around £35. At face value, these represent better choices, for a winter trainer, town hack, or budget track build. Indeed, for the most part, the cheaper (£54.99) Halo TK rear hub (which the Fixed G is based upon) has met most of my needs.

However, £70 isn’t particularly hefty either. Converting a road frame to fixed incurs other costs/hassles. £15, or so for a frame builder or skilled shop mechanic, to tweak the rear triangle, £50 labour for the wheel build, spacers and potentially, a longer axle.

 

Even then, bevelled sprockets are likely to achieve a suitable, rather than precise chainline. In these contexts, if you are paying for a wheel builder’s time, the Fixed-G adds value and seems a better investment.

Conclusion

I’m totally smitten with the concept, and its execution. Direct comparisons with other fixed hubs are a little tricky, since the Halo Fixed G is a unique design. A bit “bling” for a town hack, it’s the sort for track/fixed enthusiasts, who want a low maintenance, high performing hub, with greater adjustability.

Verdict: 4/5 Unique, well-engineered fixed hub for winter/road service.  

 

Michael Stenning

www.ison-distribution.com

PUBLISHED MARCH 2019

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