Upgrade wheels are big business, but these days they’re far from a territory saved just for big businesses. There’s an abundance of emerging wheel brands out there prepared to sell consumers improved aerodynamics and a drop in weight – and Scribe is one such manufacturer.
In such a crowded market place, it can be hard to separate the wheat from the chaff. However, founded by Alan Graham – the former Wiggle product manager behind Prime bike wheels – it’s fair to place Scribe wheels on respected and well researched end of the sliding scale.
The Aero Wide 3850s are, as you’d expect, a middle ground set up with a 38mm front and 50mm rear – saving weight at the front whilst going deeper at the back. This has the added benefit of putting greater depth where the rider places more weight, which is a bonus for lighter cyclists who can find a dual 50mm set up hard to control in cross winds.
Scribe has constructed its rims from a unidirectional mix of T700/T800 carbon fibre, with its own additional tech used to strengthen the walls and rim bed. They measure in at 19mm internally and 26mm externally. A glass transition resin adds to longevity, and these rims can survive heat up to 240 degrees without damage – great news for those who can’t help but overbrake on long descents.
These wheels are, of course, tubeless ready and come with tubeless tape fitted as standard. The rims have a built in ‘bead lock design’ to ensure the tyres are seated well – particularly important in the case of tubeless set ups. However, the result was that fitting and removing clinchers was quiet a sweary job – though this may vary between tryes.
A set – with carbon rims and alloy spokes – comes in at a claimed weight of 1422g. They tipped the scales at 1451g for me. In the interest of absolute honesty, my current coronavirus home working set up does not include a set of impeccably reliable Park Tool scales as per the Cycling Weekly office – and the 13g discrepancy is minor. Regardless, the weight stacks up well against the competition. As a comparison, Hunt’s 3650 set weigh in at 1477g and cost £729.
An ethos of reliability and ease of replacement runs through to the CX-Ray spokes from industry leader Sapim – with 20 at the front and 24 at the rear, and each box comes with four spare spokes and nipples.
Scribe has gone big on hub tech too, with its own patented Ratchet Drive hub system. A single stainless steel drive ring reduces the moving parts to just one, which offers durability and speedy pick up.
One thing that really stands out about this brand is the attention to detail when it comes to customisation. Bearing choice is one example; with buyers able to select a ‘race’ bearing if they’re likely to stick to riding these hoops in dry weather, or keep with the ‘endurance’ option specced as standard, which won’t spin quite so fast but will be more suited to UK conditions.
To complete the package, Scribe’s own ‘Aero Super light’ alloy quick releases are another nod to quality, with a slim profile and very little protruding edge.
Like many wheel brands, Scribe ships its wheels with its own brake pads boasting a dedicated compound. I tried these wheels with SwissStop yellow carbon pads, as well as Scribe’s version. Both were effective, though the matching pads seemed to bite with a little more efficiency. Replacement Scribe pads come in at £10 – so you’re not going to be cheated on price when it comes to consumables.
After many hours in the saddle aboard these hoops, I would suggest that this is a wheel set that favours stiffness and resilience over compliance.
I opted for my ‘go to’ and fitted a Continental GP 5000 clincher inflated at 70psi (I weigh 57kg). Once up to speed the wheels bombed along offering a heady mixture of efficiency and direct handling. However, on rutted surfaces the ride quality was a little jarring. Of course, these are race ready wheels, which perhaps makes their lack of comfort forgivable – unless you’ve only got the cash for one all-rounder, which will apply to a lot of people.
I only had one opportunity to put these hoops to the test in anger, with the coronavirus crisis putting pay to any more number pinning for the season. Handily for my testing, a greasy circuit and several fallen riders in my path left me with nowhere to go and an excellent opportunity to crash test the wheels. Whilst my elbow required several stitches, the rims were unaffected, which is always reassuring to know.
Quick reaction times from the hub proved to be no fairytale – the jump up to speed was very much appreciated, particularly when powering out of the saddle on faster and more technical test loops. However this ratchet system is particularly noisy when freewheeling. I like the tick of an upgrade hub, but I’d actually rather dial this one down and it did get on my nerves.
Scribe has put a lot of thought into creating a wheel set that promises longevity and durability, with plenty of nods to consumer satisfaction – such as customisable bearing options and extra spokes and nipples supplied as standard. The rims themselves proved to be durable – though their bombproof quality comes at the loss of some compliance. You won’t find any flex here, though, so if stiff is on your shopping list then these value for money hoops could be the perfect upgrade for you.
This content was originally published here.
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