Northern Irish wheel creator, Scribe, is fresh on the scene but tit's already built up an impressive arsenal of wheels with some very competitive pricing, too. We have previously tested and been thoroughly impressed with its road-going options on our sister site Cyclingnews. Most recently we have been giving the brand's best gravel bike wheels a real run for their money. While they’re aimed at the gravel market the new Wide++ wheels are light and tight enough to work great with fatter tires in ‘all road’ applications, too.
Scribe sell direct to minimize compounding costs of extra shop and delivery layers and the Gravel Wide ++ made an immediate impression out of the box. At under 1,300g before you add the supplied tubeless valves they’re seriously light for a 25mm internal width rimmed wheel with 28 spokes on either end. Part of that comes from the shallow 23.5mm hookless rim depth but the spokes are the ubiquitously excellent and lightweight Sapim CX Ray blades threaded into alloy nipples at the ‘4D’ drilled rim. Being awkward, cynical sods we asked Scribe what the 4th dimension is and it’s the specific rim to flange angling to make construction easier, so basically time. Having said that the ‘J-bend’ spokes hook into conventional flanged hubs with built-in rotational flexibility rather than using a straight pull set up like most ultralight wheels. That makes sourcing replacements in remote places easier too.
If you’re a fiber sniffer Scribe’s rims use a T700/800 Toray carbon weave, with ‘TG’ glass transition resin and a special Carbon T-Tech reinforcement (extra UD plies) for the hot-pressed hookless sidewalls and ramped spoke bed. The rims come in 700c or 650b sizing and there are three rim decal color options, too.
The hubs are Centerlock format but you get six-bolt adaptors and low-profile lock rings as well as spokes, nipples and an 8/9/10-speed freehub spacer supplied with the wheels. TPI stainless bearings hide behind quality seals and haven’t given us any cause for concern so far but Scribe offers buyers a set of bearings a year for the three years of the warranty if you need them. The wheels can be configured with 15mm,12mm and QR front axle adaptors and 12mm or QR rear adaptors when you order and Scribe currently offer SRAM and (steel reinforced) Shimano freehub configurations with Campagnolo Ekar on the way. They engage with a stripped-down, single spring 36 ramped tooth ‘Ratchet Drive’ system that’s very similar to the new EXT design of DT-Swiss. This saves a lot of weight and complexity as there’s only one moving part but makes for a gappy 10-degree pick-up and a lot of noise when freewheeling.
The freewheeling noise and pick-up are impossible to ignore too so we need to cover that off first in terms of ride quality. Basically, you’ll either find the noise addictive, like our Tech Ed Aaron, or it’ll be a no-go tranquility killer if you like your journey through the countryside to be as low impact as possible. The same not really bothered/deal-breaker might apply to the occasionally big gaps and subsequent clangs caused by the relatively slow freehub engagement, too.
Beyond those potential sticking points, the Gravel Wide++ wheels are extremely impressive though. Their low weight means they dance up to speed very easily whether you’re grunting out of a filthy bog off-road or putting down the pain out of a rising corner on the road. The tight-laced Sapim spokes produce an equally tight and direct drive feel that emphasizes their pop under power even further. The low rim height means no danger of crosswind catch or tram lining on high-speed descents either so they always give clean, precise and easily targeted placement on the road and rapid traction catch or between rock slotting accuracy off-road. When we’ve not managed to dodge impacts (or just been belligerent in the name of testing) we’ve rimmed them out a good few times without any signs or sounds of damage and they hold pressure well even at cyclocross psi. That’s useful as they’re not particularly forgiving in terms of ride quality but they’re not overly punishing either so you can alter trail feel to most tastes just by altering tire pressures or size.
We’d suggest that Scribe’s 25mm upwards tire compatibility needs nudging upsize as rubber that width feels splayed and wooden as their sidewalls are pulled out further than intended and even narrower 28mm tires don’t always feel great. Fat 28mm or 30mm plus tires feel fine though as long as you remember to keep pressures a lot lower than you would on a narrower rim with a narrower tire.
If you can’t be bothered fighting with sealing and sealants yourself Scribe also offer pre-fitted deals on Schwalbe, Hutchinson, Conti or Panaracer tire options. As well as a three-year warranty they offer a crash replacement scheme where they’ll either rebuild your wheels in-house in Ireland if you pay postage or supply fresh gear and cover reasonable costs of your local wheel builder. They even offer a ‘Re-Gen’ scheme offering up to 40 per cent off your next wheels if you return your existing set for refurbishment with a view to building up stock for a ‘reconditioned’ wheel shop so you can get limited warranty Scribes even cheaper in the future.
Scribe’s Gravel Wide++ wheels are light and tight enough to make a real difference to the ride of your bike. While we’ve only been on them two months as the stock has been selling out super quick they’ve proven plenty tough even when pushed to the MTB side of the gravel line. Scribe is also offering supplied spares, bearing and warranty back up well beyond the call of duty considering the low cost. That leaves the slow and noisy freehub as the only potentially off-putting aspect of the Scribes but for the money, there’s certainly a lot to love for all-road/gravel use.
Tech Specs: Scribe Gravel Wide++ wheelset
- Price: $N/A / £870 / €1,000
- Weight: 1290g (without valves or disc adaptors)
- Internal width: 25mm
- Sizes: 650b and 700c
- Colors: Raw carbon with White, Vader Black or Matte gold decals