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The Scribe Race-D wheelset proves that aluminium still has a place in cycling components; weighing in at just 1479g, it could easily be mistaken for a much more expensive wheelset. The wheels feature a 'modern' 19mm internal width and are tubeless-ready out the box, which happens to include tubeless valves, spare spokes and all the adaptors you could ever need. Overall, it's a very impressive package from Scribe and a great set of wheels for upgrading heavy stock wheels or for year-round training.
The Race-D wheelset features a 26mm-deep aluminium rim but takes aim at more expensive carbon hoops. The initial unboxing is a positive experience – in the box you'll find not only the wheels but also: tubeless tape (already installed), tubeless valves, spare spokes, spare nipples, six-bolt adapter (converts Centerlock to six-bolt), a lockring for 15mm axles, slim-fit lockring for tight clearing forks and a 10-speed spacer. This is all worth bearing in mind, as many alternative wheels won't include such luxuries and can mean large hidden costs to what initially appeared a simple wheel upgrade.
Having a nosey around the wheels and the green freehub body immediately grabs your attention. Sadly, this can't be seen when a cassette is fitted but the freehub body has substance as well as style, with an integrated steel bite guard. Making a freehub body out of aluminium rather than steel is an easy way for wheel manufacturers to shed some weight off their products, but aluminium is a relatively soft metal and can get 'chewed up' by a cassette, as could be seen when we tested the older Scribe 365 wheelset. The addition of this bite guard means that weight can be kept down while preventing the cassette from digging into the soft metal. After 1,500km I'm happy to report that it's doing its job nicely.
Up front you'll find 21 spokes and 24 on the rear. These are straight-pull Sapim CX-Rays, a very common choice for wheelbuilders and for good reason: they're lightweight, offer some minor aerodynamic benefits and, in my experience, are very durable. The nipples are alloy Sapim double square head; I'd have loved it if brass nipples had been used but that's a bit of a rabbit hole, and nonetheless, alloy ones should last a good few years and also help to reduce rotational weight.
I decided I'd take advantage of the wheels being tubeless-ready, and set about fitting various width tyres. I realise that all tyre/wheel combos will varying degrees of difficulty in fitting, but I was amazed at how easily all the tyres I tried went on and seated. Not once did I have to reach for a lever to fit a tyre, and the 28mm tubeless Hutchinsons that I've been using the majority of the time literally fell on to the rims and yet could be inflated with just a standard track pump.
With a 19mm internal width and 24mm external width, the rims suited 28mm tyres well, fitting nicely without ballooning like they do on narrower rims.
Out on the road the Scribes feel stiff and spin up nicely, and after accidentally finding myself plummeting into several caverns – sorry, potholes – it's nice to see them still spinning true, and that stiffness or durability hasn't been sacrificed in the name of weight saving.
The Race-D wheelset takes advantage of Scribe's patented ratchet drive hub which looks pretty similar to the new (and significantly more expensive) DT Swiss ratchet EXP design. Both systems aim to minimise the number of moving parts to improve durability. The ratchet ring has 36t engagement which, if you do the maths, is every 10 degrees – in other words, instantaneous. During sprinting I can't say that this was actually noticeable as by this point the wheel is usually spinning so fast already that the difference between 10 degrees or a typical 20 degrees is negligible. Where it is noticeable is when riding at slow speeds – for example, around town where accelerating from stationary or slow speed is more common. This really helps to make the Scribes feel even faster at accelerating..
It is worth noting that this freehub has quite a distinctive noise, and although not as loud as a Chris King freehub, for example, it certainly isn't quiet. You won't be sneaking up on anyone, put it that way. Personally, this isn't something that concerns me, but I know that others feel very strongly about the noises their wheels make!
Scribe offers to fit either the standard 'endurance' bearings – as I've got on test here – or swap them out for 'race' bearings, which it claims to be faster but not recommended for long periods of wet weather. In all honesty, I was perfectly happy with the endurance bearings that seemed perfectly fast and have coped well in some mixed weather conditions; unless you're going to use the wheels purely for racing then I'd say the endurance bearings are fine.
Having ridden around on the wheels for over a month now, I've been asked multiple times if the wheels are carbon and it's an easy mistake to make especially if you pick up the bike they're on. Their 1,479g claimed weight (1,546g on our scales, with tape) is really competitive at this price point, and the lack of braking surfaces makes them look deeper than they actually are.
Let's be honest, there are a lot of aluminium disc brake wheels out there that perform well, and the Scribe race-Ds are certainly among them; what really sets these apart is how good value they are. For example, Stu recently tested the Halo Devaura Disc RD2 wheelset, which is by no means a bad set of hoops – they scored 8/10, after all! – but despite costing nearly £200 more than the Scribes, they weigh in at 1,733g; that's 254g difference, which is noticeable when riding. Finding a lighter set of aluminium wheels with a 105kg rider limit and bite guard and that I'd actually trust, without getting a set custom built, seems very difficult at this price point.
I feel like this wouldn't be a proper aluminium wheelset review without mentioning Hunt, and so... The Mason X Hunt 4 Seasons are a little cheaper at £329, and the rim width is the same as the Scribes, but they come in slightly heavier at 1,593g.
If these are a little out of your price range then the Prime Baroudeur wheelset (£250) is only a little heavier at 1,586g.
Scribe has managed to create a seriously competitive package that provides all the durability, robustness, lightness and speed that most riders could ever wish for. This shouldn't be too surprising – the 365 Disc wheelset I mentioned earlier that we tested back in January also impressed, and now with an improved ratchet rear hub and bite guard in a slightly lighter guise, the Race-D wheelset is even better!
Light, stiff and excellent value aluminium disc wheelset that can be used for a lot more than just racing
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Scribe Race-D wheelset
Size tested: 700C, 26mm deep, 12mm Centerlock
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 Race wheels were design to be just that: Race-ready! Our lightweight design places them amongst carbon alternatives and by using hardened alloys, these hoops are robust. The Race's are an excellent, performance alloy wheel set for those chasing a lightweight edge. An excellent upgrade for those not interested in carbon.
'At only 1,479g in weight, the Race wheels are exceptionally lightweight and pound-for-pound, feature amongst the best performance alloy wheels out there. Partnered with lightning fast Ratchet Drive hubs, 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. With Centre lock disc as standard, you can ride with confidence knowing the stopping power is there when it's needed.'
I agree that they're an excellent upgrade; in my experience they're also fast and robust, and the scales and price tag don't lie!
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the wheel?
Material Hardened, Super-Lightweight Alloy
Clincher Tubeless Ready
Rim Width (external) 24mm
Rim Width (internal) 19mm
Spoke Pattern / Hole Count Front (2:1) 21H, Rear (2:1) 24H
Available in all major standards - Front: QR, Bolt thru (12mm and 15mm); Rear: QR, Bolt thru (142x12)
Additional items in the box
Tubeless tape: pre-installed
6-bolt adapter (converts centrelock to 6-bolt)
Lockring for 15mm axles
Slim-fit lockring for tight clearing forks
Weight limit: 105kg
True out the box and after hitting some potholes; high quality materials used throughout.
They feel really stiff and they roll well too. These had the endurance bearings in which didn't seem to hinder speed. Side to side movement is negligible unlike on some cheap wheelsets, although I am quite a light rider. The 19mm internal width means wider tyres (28mm) fit nicely.
Sapim spokes and nipples are excellent, and would offer perfect durability if brass nipples had been used. A bite guard has been added to the freehub body so that shouldn't get chewed up, and the freehub itself now has fewer moving parts so should also be more durable.
They weighed in at 1,546g with rim tape – 1,479g is the claimed weight without; it's very competitive in this price range, and stiffness or durability hasn't been compromised to achieve this.
Excellent value! Wheels can make a bike feel completely different and would be the first upgrade I'd make to a "cheaper" bike with OEM wheels. These are light, robust and good all-rounders despite their Race name. It's hard to find wheels this light for anywhere near this price.
Did the wheels stay true? Any issues with spoke tension?
Yes, they stayed true despite hitting potholes pretty hard. I am a lighter rider – Scribe recommends checking the wheels more regularly if you're over 95kg.
How easy did you find it to fit tyres?
Really easily. I got three different sets of tyres on without levers and they all seated easily as well. The tubeless tyres even inflated with just a track pump.
How did the wheel extras (eg skewers and rim tape) perform?
Nice to have tubeless tape fitted as standard, and the wheels are holding pressure well. Tubeless valves included are also of high quality. I've also used the brake disc adaptors which work well. Lots included in the box!
Tell us how the wheel performed overall when used for its designed purpose
As a "race" wheelset they're quick, light and stiff, so they tick those boxes. Obviously a 60mm carbon super wheelset is going to be quicker but it could also cost four times the price and not be as robust. I have no qualms about doing my daily training on these wheels, especially with the Endurance bearings fitted. I'm in the fortunate position of using a spendy carbon wheelset for racing, but I would happily use these – and unfortunately I couldn't use it as an excuse for being much slower!
Tell us what you particularly liked about the wheel
Light and stiff.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the wheel
Nothing; some might not like the freehub noise.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Really well. As I mention in the review, wheelsets of a similar price (the Mason X Hunts, for example) are heavier, and to get down to Scribe's weight you're looking at spending quite a bit more or sacrificing durability.
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
I've been really impressed with the performance of the Race-D wheelset regardless of price, and the fact they're such reasonable value is just a massive bonus. Scribe has taken on board criticisms of its previous wheelsets and improved areas such as large engagement angles and soft freehub bodies whilst retaining all the brilliant bits. They're light, stiff and robust, and you get loads of accessories – there's a lot to like!
About the tester
I usually ride: Specialized venge pro 2019 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 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, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,