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Scope Cycling's debut R5C carbon fibre clincher wheels provide a high level of performance, with good durability and very impressive braking performance, but they're heavier than their rivals at this fiercely contested price point.
Scope are a young Dutch brand specialising in wheels, with a range of three models at launch. The wheels are identically priced at £1,199 (€1398), leaving you the simple choice of a 30, 45 or 55mm rim depth. We picked up the latter to test, and have been putting them through their paces for the past few months, and they've come out shining.
The rims are constructed from unidirectional carbon fibre with 3K carbon used in key areas, such as the tyre bed and around the spoke nipples. The profile is an on-trend U-shape, made popular by the bigger names in the carbon wheel market in recent years as aerodynamic thinking has evolved. Their 55mm depth combines with a 24mm external and 16.4mm internal width.
Scope have also developed their own hubs, with sealed cartridge bearings and a reinforced 7075 aluminium freehub body to prevent the cassette biting into the slotted grooves. The wheelset is available in Shimano and Campagnolo versions.
The Sapim CX Ray spokes – 18 front, 21 rear – have a radial lacing pattern in the front wheel and a 2:1 rear lacing pattern, similar to a Campagnolo wheelset.
On the scales the wheels aren't quite as light as the 1,555g that Scope claim; this set came in at 1,704g (772g front, 932g rear). That makes them between 50 and 200g heavier than similarly priced carbon clincher wheels at this price.
I've been riding these wheels for the past few months, putting them through a thorough long-term test in a range of weather and riding conditions. Through it all, they've impressed. There is no getting away from that weight discrepancy, but the wheels haven't proved to be tardy in the way they accelerate from a range of speeds.
It's tricky testing aerodynamic products, but they felt noticeably faster than some regular box section clincher wheels, and compared with a Mavic CC40 wheelset, the Scopes were definitely the quicker wheel. The rims display very good stability in windy conditions, making them easy to live with through a wide range of weather conditions.
What makes them especially easy to live with as a daily wheelset is the superb braking performance. This is where carbon wheels usually fall down. Much progress has been made in recent years and the Scopes are among the best I've tested for the simple fact that the braking is consistent and predictable, and good in all weathers.
Scope developed their own brake blocks and they've gone with a soft compound. That sacrifices longevity (I've nearly worn down the blocks) but the upshot is fantastic lever feel and plenty of power. There's a hint of squealing when you really put some heat into them but they're mostly well-mannered and outperform many other carbon wheels.
It's a stiff wheelset, but not the stiffest I've tested. The wheels are comfortable over cracked roads and on long rides, making them ideal for tackling the sort of roads you might not want to take a super-stiff carbon wheelset down.
Another highlight of this long test has been their superb durability and reliability. I've been riding them as every-day wheels and I've hammered them, racing them regularly, using them in the local chain gang, and taking them along some of the most rotten roads I can find. They've survived the punishment. The spokes have remained well tensioned throughout the test, highlighting the excellent build quality.
Despite the higher than advertised weight, the braking and aerodynamic performance of Scope's debut wheels won me over. In a hotly contested market where people are buying on price, these are definitely worth a closer look. They don't have the brand recognition of some, but they look good and, importantly, have the performance to justify the price tag.
Solid durability and impressive performance, especially the braking, but let down by the weight
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Make and model: Scope R5c carbon fibre clincher wheels
Size tested: 50mm
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Scope say: "The main objective of the Scope R5c is to build up and maintain high speeds. The 24mm width and 55mm high rim provides excellent aerodynamics, saving a significant amount of watts. In addition the R5c is extremely stiff, making it ideal for sprints where the bike is pushed to the limit. Contrary to what one might think, the R5c can also be used in cross winds due to the wide U-shape of the rim. Above all the R5c just looks great and is a real eye-catcher."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The advanced full carbon clincher rims of the R5c are mainly build up from Unidirectional (UD) carbon providing stiffness and vibration damping. In addition, certain sections such as the nipple section and tire bed are made out of 3K-carbon making the rim robust.
The braking surface of the rim is build up out of special fibers and resin to enable extreme braking. The rims can handle an industry leading braking power of 1.300W without causing heat-related issues. In addition the special compound braking pads offer powerful and dosable braking.
The unique rim shape developed by Scope of 24 mm wide and 55 mm height provide outstanding aerodynamics. Besides, the wideness of the rim ensures low roll-resistance and comfort for the rider.
Build quality is excellent, the rims are strong and robust, and the spoke tension has been good throughout this extended test.
With so much choice in the carbon clincher market, making an informed choice is tricky. These score well on the important criteria that a carbon wheel should: build quality, aerodynamics and braking performance. They are significantly heavier than advertised, though, which will put off weight weenies.
Top marks for durability, really impressive.
Significantly heavier than the advertised weight, and heavier than the competition, but not excessively so.
Really impressive in this department.
It depends what you're looking for. If you want a wide rim, good aerodynamics and build quality, and very good braking performance, these are as good as the best carbon wheels at this price, and better than many more expensive wheels as well. If low weight is high on your agenda, look elsewhere.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tested over a long period the wheels have been solid and reliable.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Fantastic braking performance...
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
...at the cost of brake block longevity, but it's a small price to pay.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
If you can overlook the weight, then the performance – aero, braking, responsiveness – makes these really fast and easy wheels to live with. But it's not hard to find similarly priced and similarly performing wheels that are lighter.
Age: 31 Height: 180 Weight: 67
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking
David worked on the road.cc tech team from 2012-2020. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds, and you can now find him over on his own YouTube channel David Arthur - Just Ride Bikes.