- Steel is real
- Custom options
- Very well made
- Something a little different
Hallett Handbuilt Cycles are custom steel frames made in Britain by Richard Hallett, who began framebuilding in order to “put into practice some of the ideas and experience gained over more than two years decades spent testing bikes and writing about cycling technology for the UK’s leading cycling magazines.” (Including this one!)
You will be familiar with the n+1 concept, pertaining to the number of bikes one owns. Many of us dream of owning a custom steel frame – the ‘+1’ in the formula – and if you don’t, you should! For all their lightness and stiffness-to-weight ratio, it’s an unfortunate reality that not many carbon bikes live to see their fifth birthday. PressFit bottom brackets wear out and carbon can crack. Steel bikes, on the other hand, are in it for the long run and that is one of their most attractive attributes. As they say, steel is real.
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There are lots of custom steel options out there with the Hallet Fast Road. It is beautifully constructed from Columbus tubing using a variety of traditional techniques including brazing, fillet-brazing and silver-soldering.Parked up at the cafe stop, the Fast Road draws approving nods from those in the know and it’s not surprising – the quality of work is superb. There are lots of very neat design features. Our model has beautiful part-polished stainless steel stays and rear triangle as an optional extra costing £300 on top of the £950 for the basic frame. The bi-laminate bottom bracket shell adds a further £150 and the bi-laminate main triangle another £150, bringing the total price of our test frameset to £1,550. I am a huge fan of this aesthetic – it looks superb.
Our test bike came fitted with Shimano Ultegra 6700, Pro finishing kit and Ultegra wheels. The components complement the frame well, although it is important to remember that as a custom frame and build, you can choose whichever wheels or components you desire. Consequently, I have focused more on the ‘Riding’ and ‘Frame’ sections of this review. It is worth pointing out Hallett also offers a carbon fork option.
There’s something very appealing about riding the Hallett Fast Road. The fork features a rake associated with more traditional road bike design. A look at modern carbon machines such as the Cannondale SuperSix Evo and you will see a trend for very straight fork with very little rake.
The result of a longer rake is a bike that feels much more stable. Most of us don’t need the agility of a fleeing hare to hop and weave through a chaotic peloton à la Peter Sagan. Instead, the stability of the Hallett’s geometry allows you to execute long, sweeping descents with a far greater majesty.
Comfort is everything you would expect from steel and Columbus tubing. There is very little vibration or buzz, without the bike feeling like a noodle. The steel fork also aids in this regard.
Yes, it’s steel, meaning that yes, it is slightly heavier than a carbon alternative but this is not a bike designed to decimate cols and win the Tour de France. I love a good car analogy: in car terms you don’t buy a Morgan to win the British Grand Prix.That said, despite the added weight of steel, the Hallett feels perfectly adept on climbs, with commendable levels of stiffness when out of the saddle.
The Hallett Fast Road will set you back £950 for the basic frame, with the part-polished stainless steel fork blades, rear stays and dropouts costing an additional £300. Considering the quality, attention to detail and custom nature of the product, the Hallett is very competitively priced. Factor in that you can expect it last years if not decades and the value becomes apparent.
Hallett can also tailor and tweak the geometry to the rider. Considering the customisation, quality of construction and craftsmanship, the value offered is strong.
A high-quality, very well made classy machine. If you don't want to worry about the lifespan of carbon and the perennial creak of a PressFit bottom bracket then you should consider steel, with the Hallett Fast Road representing a great option. I could argue that there is appeal in being the only person on your club run with a Hallett, however owing to the quality, value and customisation, there's a good chance one of your friends will copy you once they see it.
Weight: 9kg exactly in the build shown