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In developing the Aero Wide 38 wheels, Scribe has shown that while the disc brake continues to grow in popularity there is still plenty to be done for those of us who prefer rim brakes to stop our bikes. Weighing just 1,401g without sacrificing stiffness, these wheels are fast, hugely versatile and they come in at an impressive price.
Back in the summer I tested the Scribe Aero Wide 50-D wheelset. Those were slightly deeper and designed for disc brakes compared to what we have here, but the same ethos applies: quality components that build a stiff, durable wheelset without costing a fortune.
Taking them out of the box, the first thing you notice is the weight – or lack of it – which can often give a little bit of trepidation before fitting them to the bike.
I'm not your typical whippet-thin racer and I can put out a lot of power in quick bursts for short, sharp hills or sprinting for lights, that kind of thing, and if a wheel designer has focused on weight rather than lateral stiffness, I'm going to notice it.
When riding the Aera AR55 wheels I could get them touching the brake pads even when they were backed off by millimetres, but thankfully hitting the same climbs on the Scribes hasn't seen a single issue even with pads sitting a millimetre away from the rim.
Acceleration is epic, and when you are riding in unfamiliar places and don't know what is around the corner, finding yourself at the foot of a hill isn't an issue as just a quick dig on the pedals or climb out of the saddle will see the wheels maintain pace much easier than a heavier set.
What also helps forward motion is the hub design which is exclusive to Scribe.
Rather than using a freehub with pawls to lock in the drive, Scribe uses a 54-tooth engagement ring which locates to an opposing 54-tooth plate in the hub shell. You can find full details and photos on our First Look piece.
The distance between each tooth of engagement is just 6.6 degrees, which is basically instantaneous in the real world, plus all 54 teeth are engaged, spreading the load. With very few moving parts it's simple to service too.
However, if you like to sit on someone else's wheel without them knowing, you won't be able to stop pedalling as the freehub makes a bit of noise when not engaged. Thankfully it isn't as buzzy as that found on the 150-point pawl engagement of the RSP Calavera Carbon CC35 wheels which I described as sounding like a bluebottle trapped in a jam jar!
While we're on the freehub, it's worth noting that its anodised finish looks great and it's a shame to have to hide it, but it is also strong too. After plenty of hard rides there is little in the way of scoring from the cassette biting in.
It is available in Shimano/SRAM as standard, but Campagnolo and XDR options are also available.
The hubs are CNC'd aluminium with the rear drive side getting an increased diameter flange for strength. As for spoke count, we are looking at 20 for the front and 24 for the rear.
When it comes to bearings you can have a choice for no additional charge. The Wide Aero 38s come as standard with the Endurance TPI stainless steel bearings in sealed cartridge bearings. I've ridden these loads in variable weather conditions, and although the test period is relatively short compared to real life ownership, there have been no issues.
For an upgrade you can go for the Race option which uses Japanese EZO stainless steel bearings in a sealed cartridge with non-contact seals; it increases their rolling speed but the trade-off is that they are less resistant to water ingress, so a good choice if you only use your best bike on dry days.
Attaching hub to rim are Sapim CX-Ray aero spokes, a setup we see a lot here on high-performance lightweight wheels. These are fitted to alloy Sapim double square head nipples.
Straight out of the box the spoke tension was spot on and didn't need the slightest of fettles throughout testing.
The rims themselves are created from a mix of Toray T700 and T800 uni-directional carbon fibre for strength, and with a 26mm external width (19mm internal) they work nicely with 25mm and 28mm tyres, creating a well-rounded tyre profile. With most dual pivot callipers you are going to be limited to 28mm max anyway, unless you are running a cyclo-cross bike with cantilevers.
The rims are tubeless compatible and come with tubeless tape fitted, plus you also get some valves in the box. They have a ramped rim bed for easy tyre fitment, which works, and a ridge that sits below the bead called Bead Lock design which holds the tyre in place even at low pressures.
Braking is often the Achilles heel of carbon rims, but the Scribes are great in the dry and good enough in the wet. The Glass Transition resin used on the braking track is said to resist heat under heavy braking and I certainly found them easy to modulate and not grabby like some when the heat builds up.
The great thing about not owning the test wheels is that you can treat them with a little less consideration than if you had laid out your own cash. I didn't actually seek out potholes to smash them through but I gave them a hard life on the local back roads, taking the rough sections flat out, and I had no issues with durability whatsoever. They are still as true as the day they came out of their box.
It's not unusual to see a 100kg weight limit on a set of wheels like these, and that includes bike and rider, so it may be restrictive to some riders.
Value-wise, you can't knock the fact that they are just £870 when you look at what you are getting. There is plenty of competition out there, most notably from the likes of Hunt, which can deliver something like its the Aero Wide Carbon in 36mm depth for £849.
Those RSPs I mentioned earlier are a bit heavier and only cost £809, but I had issues with their durability and setup straight out of the box.
Overall, I think Scribe has delivered an excellent package. It hasn't focused on one specific trait like lightness or stiffness, but has sensibly managed to design a solid package that all works together thanks to quality components.
Durable, light and stiff – these wheels deliver all three without breaking the bank
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Scribe Aero Wide 38 wheels
Size tested: 700 x 38
Tell us what the wheel 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?
Scribe says, "The Scribe Aero 38s were designed to be the ultimate fast accelerating/ super-lightweight option for those chasing aero benefits on the flats, and a fast responding wheel set on the hills. With 38mm hoops on either end, these wheels are an excellent all-rounder."
A fast set of wheels for racing or just riding.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the wheel?
Hitting the scales at only 1,375g, the Aero 38s are exceptionally lightweight and pound-for-pound, feature amongst the best deep section wheels out there. Partnered with lightning fast Scribe Five4 hubs (54-tooth / 6.6 degree engagement), these wheels respond FAST, offering unrivalled levels of performance.
The Wide 19mm internal profile gives you the option to fit wide tyres for increased stability when cornering, and increased speed due to improved rolling resistance - especially when ran as tubeless. By using a Super High TG Resin for the Aero 38s, you will be able to brake hard (especially on descents) as the braking track can withstand up to 240 degree Celsius! Partnered with our own braking compound, you'll be able to ride with confidence knowing you can scrub speed when needed.
Tech Spec (summary)
Depth 38mm Front / 38mm Rear
Material Full, Unidirectional Carbon
Clincher - Tubeless Ready
Rim Width (external) 26mm
Rim Width (internal) 19mm
Spoke Pattern / Hole Count Front (radial) 20H, Rear (2:1) 24H
High filament (12K/18K) Japanese Toray T700 / T800 carbon fibre. Unidirectional for strength with additional reinforcement at spoke holes. (spoke tested to 280 kgf [single spoke load])
Scribe Carbon T:Tech used to strengthen rim walls, and rim bed - offering incredible long-term strength, even under high pressure
High TG (Glass Transition) resin produces a lightweight, low void carbon which increases stiffness, and resistance to heat on braking track (great for hard braking on descents)
Wide 19mm internal profile produces a great tyre profile for improved grip and stability
26mm outer rim width provides ample clearance for brake manufacturers
4-D precision drilled spoke holes - directs spokes exactly to hub anchor point
Tubeless ready design will offer increased puncture resistance, faster-rolling wheels and improved weight (works with standard tube also)
Tubeless tape fitted
Ramped rim bed for easy tyre fitment
Bead lock design for secure tyre binding, even at lower pressure
Unique, high-speed Ratchet Drive system Exclusive to Scribe. Check out our latest hub blog
54-tooth engagement ring with super-fast drive rate (6.6 degree)
Heat treated stainless steel drive ring
Enlarged drive-side flange for increased torsional strength
Fully CNC'd rounded design with 4-D precision drilled spoke holes
Shimano/SRAM 8/9/10/11 speed freehub body fitted - Campagnolo and XDR also available
*Scribe Five4 hub: 54-tooth Ratchet drive hub Exclusive to Scribe. With 6.6 degree engagement, our hubs respond fast, and as there's only one moving part, the freehub system is incredibly durable and easily serviceable.
You choose! Bearings are an essential component of wheels and it's important your bearings perform as you want them to. All of our wheels come with a fast Endurance bearing as standard but we also offer a Race bearing for those racing, or riding in drier weather. If you would prefer Race bearings, please tell us in the notes section when purchasing and your wheels will arrive with this standard. *there is no additional charge for bearing swop
Endurance bearings: these bearings are fast, and designed to stand the test of time so you can ride as much as you want, with confidence your bearings will keep spinning smoothly
Race bearings: incredibly fast, sealed, non-contact bearings. Spin up effortlessly and allow you to glide at speed. *not recommended for long periods of wet riding
Spokes and Nipples
The Scribe Aero 38s use the Sapim CX-Ray as it's considered to be the most aerodynamic spoke on the market. At 4.25g each, and almost as light as Titanium, we can build you a super-lightweight wheel set that allows you to get up to speed faster
The unique drawing, and specifically pressed process produces fast, bladed Aero spoke (2.0mm - 0.9/2.2mm - 2.0mm)
By using fatigue-resistant 18/8 stainless steel, CX-Ray spokes have exceptionally high durability properties and will stand the test of time.
Straight-pull for increased torsional strength
21 hole front / 24 hole rear
Read more about Sapim spokes - Sapim.de
For nipples, we use Alloy Sapim double square head
Quick Release (QR)
Super-light alloy QR
Alloy pivoted cam plate for smooth action, but with strong locking bind
Stainless steel springs for anti-rust (weather) protection
Additional items in the box
Scribe Brake pads x4
Spare spokes x4
Spare nipples x4
Weight limit: The upper combined weight limit (bike weight + rider weight + luggage) for these wheels is 100kgs. If a rider is in excess of 90kgs, we recommend regular wheel checks from an experienced bike mechanic. If you are pushing the boundaries of the weight limit, please contact to discuss options.
Excellent component choice and well put together.
No issues with lateral stiffness whatsoever.
For what you are getting the price is very impressive. There is some very good competition from the likes of Hunt and other small brands, but against some of the more established manufacturers out there they offer very good value for money.
Did the wheels stay true? Any issues with spoke tension?
Spoke tension was spot on out of the box and it remained that way.
How easy did you find it to fit tyres?
No issues with either 25mm or 28mm tyres.
How did the wheel extras (eg skewers and rim tape) perform?
The supplied tape, valves and quick releases all worked well and so did the Scribe pads although there are new prototype pads being tested at the moment which are even better; I know because I tested both.
Tell us how the wheel performed overall when used for its designed purpose
As a set of race wheels you really can't go wrong.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the wheel
Plenty of stiffness.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the wheel
Lack of weight.
Did you enjoy using the wheel? Yes
Would you consider buying the wheel? Yes
Would you recommend the wheel to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
A solid well-built, well-thought-out package that puts many other brands to shame when it comes to value.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!