If it’s true that the secret behind any successful company is the people involved, then it’s quite obvious why Scribe Cycling is rapidly becoming one of the first-choice options for cyclists looking to upgrade their wheels. Scribe’s team of seven staff has more than 100 years’ worth of experience in the bike industry, ranging from managing and running bike shops, to research and development, to e-commerce and media.
Company boss and Scribe founder Alan Graham has spent more than a decade working for some of Northern Ireland’s biggest bike businesses, and it was in the course of his previous jobs that the idea for beginning Scribe came about.
“I was working as a product manager, which meant flying out to Taiwan multiple times every year, and it was actually a conversation with one of the factories out there that inspired me to start Scribe. I’d never intended to start my own brand, but when Taiwanese companies see the potential in you as a person to build the next exciting wheel brand, I thought this could be something I regret if I didn’t have a go at it. From that two-minute conversation, and a few weeks of thinking about it, Scribe was born,” Alan says.
“I got a blank page and I started to write down, if it was my own range of bike wheels, what would I do and what would I change. I think whenever you work for big companies, it’s very hard to get exactly what you want for the ranges you are managing. You might have 20 things you’d like to see, but you only end up with perhaps 55% of what you think would be really good for the market.
“But I am a cyclist and all of our team are riders, so when you feel close to what you think people want and what products they’ll pay for, and when a conversation comes up where somebody says they’ll completely support you and give you a shot at this, it’s hard to say no.”
Scribe launched in 2019. From the outset, the brand was determined to design most of its products in-house, which, Alan believes, puts it on a par with some of the bigger brands. “We use a single disc ratchet drive system – that is patented technology exclusive to us," Alan says.
“We have our own resin type, because we want the rim brakes to have much better biting power without the rim deteriorating through wear over time. It’s the same with our disc wheels as well.
"All of our wheels are super lightweight. From the very start, we put a lot of time into working with a chemical engineer to look at resin types. We still use the same resin types today – it means our carbon-fibre is seriously strong but incredibly lightweight.
“There is a whole load of small elements that add together to get a great good product. We have all our products manufactured in Taiwan, but the parts come from all over the world. The carbon-fibre comes from Japan, the grease comes from Germany, the bearings come from Japan, the hub comes from Taiwan.
"We have a very specific, unique supply chain and then everything is assembled in Taiwan. We look for the best materials for our products, negotiate the best prices for those individual parts, send everything to Taiwan to be assembled, and then we ship everything to our headquarters in Belfast, Northern Ireland before delivering them to customers globally.”
Despite the obvious quality of Scribe’s wheels, to establish a foothold in the market, Alan realised that the brand would have to offer something more, namely: incredible value for money.
“We know that our technology competes with market leaders, but as a new entry to the market, you can’t compete with big brands all of a sudden. So we priced our products to be incredibly strong for the money – focusing on the £1,000 mark – and we set ourselves the goal of becoming the best pound-for-pound bike wheel brand in the global market,” Alan says.
That approach worked a treat. In Scribe’s first year, all its products were presold before they even arrived in stock. Then, in year two, it was the same. “I would say, at least once a week we have emails from American customers asking if the price is for just one wheel, when actually it is for a wheelset,” Alan says.
But Scribe’s value for money doesn’t just lie in the pure technological performance of its products – long-term customer satisfaction is equally important.
“We do things that lots of other brands don’t do. If anybody ever has a problem all they need to do is email us or get on our chat service and we’ll sort whatever the problem is right away. That’s because we know exactly what it’s like when you phone as a customer with what you think is a warranty but the brand is not interested. We will never be that brand,” Alan says.
Key to this customer-focused approach are three important measures that come with every set of Scribe carbon wheels:
“Our lifetime like-for-like replacement means, if you crash, you’ll only have to pay 50% of the product you’re replacing. Essentially all we do is cover our costs,” Alan says.
“With our three-year warranty, if something fails, you get a replacement product straightaway and we cover the rebuild cost or we send you a completely new wheelset,” Alan says.
“We also offer free bearings each year throughout that three-year warranty period. All customers need to do is contact us at yearly intervals and we’ll send them free bearings. That’s all built into the price. In the UK, we ride in terrible weather a lot of the time and your bearings will suffer,” Alan says.
Between the experience of the team behind them and the benefits that have been put in place to make wheel purchasing and ownership easy, there are some good reasons to choose Scribe wheels. But which ones should you buy? Let’s look at the range in detail.
Scribe’s road bike carbon wheel range is based around a simple three-tier system.
“I would say that our range is medium sized but comprehensive. We try to cover a lot of potential performance that will suit most riders, whether you commute to work, or you’re a weekend racer on a budget, or you want a top-end high-performance wheelset. We also do really good gravel wheels as well,” Alan says.
“When it comes to what wheels you should buy, we always say the same thing: it doesn’t matter what the price range is, or what is in stock, always buy the right wheels for the intended purpose. Are you racing? Do you want to sprint more? Is this for more hilly riding? Ask yourself some fundamental questions and you will very quicky narrow the options down.”
So what are Scribe’s options?
Inception is Scribe’s upgrade carbon wheelset. “This is the perfect wheel for anybody who hasn’t experienced carbon wheels before. It’s price sensitive and aimed at riders who don’t want to spend a huge amount of money. In our minds, it’s ideal for people who have been into road cycling for two or three years and now want a bit more performance. This will give them a wheelset that is lighter, more responsive and more efficient aerodynamically than the wheels they probably already have,” Alan says.
Core is Scribe’s performance carbon wheelset. “The Core is the next step up from the Inception and offers an even more responsive ride and is super-lightweight. It uses a different type of resin and the overall specification is better than the Inception – it’s all been designed to strip away as much weight as possible without compromising on strength but keeping everything super-aerodynamic,” Alan says.
The is Scribe’s highest-performance carbon wheelset. “The Elan is a carbon-spoke wheel, so it is incredibly lightweight. Because carbon-fibre spokes are much stiffer than steel spokes, they are really, really responsive but still very, very aero. Essentially, we think you can’t get any better than the Elan wheels and it is suitable for riders who really demand the very best performance from their carbon wheels,” Alan says.
And finally we have Scribe’s carbon gravel wheels. “These are fantastic. What you want for a gravel wheel is very high volume in your tyre, and the reason you want that is to lower your tyre pressure to get more grip. A wider tyre also has a better rolling resistance, it’s more comfortable and it offers better traction when cornering. So our gravel wheel features a very wide profile – 25mm internal – to accommodate wider tyres. We’ve also made the carbon rim sidewalls much thicker so that you can take bigger hits on them: bumping along fire roads or bridleways won’t affect the rim,” Alan says.
For more information, visit: scribecycling.com