The Vision SC 40 wheelset is for those who want carbon primacy without the gigantic price tag. They meet this goal comprehensively, with only a few compromises to help them meet a sub-£1,000 price. They're stiff, stable and – in this rim-brake form – offer reliable, if unspectacular, braking in the rain.
With bike brands and wheelset manufacturers seemingly all trying to build things that do everything – climb, cut wind, evade wind, handle power, produce a smooth ride – it was only a matter of time before such products became available at more affordable prices.
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I'm not suggesting £970 is 'cheap' in a world of excellent alloy wheels, but certainly it's a stark improvement on five or six years ago when carbon specs like this cost upwards of £1,500. If you want a full carbon rim and a renowned name to go with it, it's about as good as it gets right now.
The SC 40s I tested are the rim brake type, but they come in disc versions too, or with 55mm depth for a more aero focus if that's your thing. But 40mm is a great option for a combination of aero and climbing performance.
They're up to date with a 19mm internal rim width – 25mm outer – allowing 25mm tyres to expand to maximum width, and 28mm tyres to fit smoothly too. They come tubeless-ready with tape fitted, though ours didn't line up properly with the valve holes, which made squeezing vales through awkward.
That aside, installation is simple enough, as the rim hook's shaped in such a way that tyres seat easily.
The rims have a stiff full carbon layup, with a laminated brake track. They're laced to hubs spinning on sealed cartridge bearings by direct-pull aero spokes – 16 laced radially at the front, and 21 in a radial/2x pattern at the rear.
The SC 40s are great all-round performers for the price. The 40mm rim produces good wind-cheating ability, while the rounded edge profile makes them admirably stable in crosswinds too. It's an easy-handling wheelset to get into carbon with, and one of the most stable I've come across.
They accelerate rapidly and easily hold a good tempo, and seem to help make shorter work of steady headwinds too.
The hubs, without being spectacularly smooth or fast, still have a premium feel. Freewheeling sees little speed regression, and they give a deep, satisfying thrum without announcing to the world that you're riding some showy wheels.
Under power, the SC 40s are responsive without ever feeling knife edge. You can get lighter, faster-feeling wheelsets – for more money – but these are very easy to handle.
> Buyer’s Guide: 44 of the best road bike wheelsets
Stability is the name of the game, and that really becomes clear going downhill. They feel super-solid, and the brake track delivers very impressive, fade-free performance with the supplied pads – they don't even squeal when the heat builds up. They're less good in the rain – the smooth, textureless track may not help here – but never to the point that you feel unsafe. Deceleration is predictable and consistent.
The 1,410g total weight (including rim tape) makes them a pleasure to climb on, although they're not the ultimate in fleet footedness. If you're a weight weenie looking at steep hill climbs, you might be happy to spend more for a lighter set, but for anyone else the performance balance is great.
As an introduction to carbon, the Vision SC 40s are hard to beat. Mavic's Cosmic Pro Carbon UST wheels, a more cost-effective version of the Pro Carbon SL UST wheels we tested a couple of years ago, come with tubeless tyres included, but weigh a touch more and cost around £200 extra.
In the sub-£1,000 bracket, the £999.99 Parcours Strade or £985 Zipp 303S wheelsets might look like good options, but they're disc brake only.
Stu liked Edco's SIX-4s, which are available in rim or disc brake versions; they're slightly heavier (the 48mm-deep FOUR-8s are a claimed 1,580g) and slightly more expensive at £989.99.
> Should you buy carbon fibre wheels?
The Vision SC 40 wheelset is a great entry point to the world of carbon, delivering good all-round levels of classic carbon rim performance. In a world that's arguably turning away from developing equivalent wheels for disc and rim brakes, I'm glad to see Vision still producing high quality wheels for both parties.
Strong, full carbon wheelset that performs in almost all conditions – for a great price
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Make and model: Vision SC 40 Wheelset
Size tested: 700C, 40mm deep
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?
Vision says: "Vision SC is the newest range of light and versatile carbon racing wheels, available with a 40mm or 55mm rim depth, and in rim and disc brake formats. They have been developed using extensive wind tunnel testing and on the road with professional cyclists of our sponsored teams, offering a great balance of performance and light weight at a competitive price."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the wheel?
Vision lists these features:
- Full Carbon 40mm depth rim
- Clincher rim
- 6 sealed cartridge bearings (2F + 4R)
- DP Spokes - 21F / 24R
- 2:1 aero bladed spokes
- Artisan built, entirely by hand
- Includes QR-25, brake pads and spoke protector
- Alloy Shimano 10-11sp / SRAM XDR freehub
- Campagnolo 10-11sp freehub available separately
Rate the wheel for quality of construction:
Aside from the slightly askew rim tape in both wheels, excellent.
Rate the wheel for performance:
At under a grand, it doesn't get much better.
Rate the wheel for durability:
No problems so far, although autumnal conditions will reveal more – I'll adjust this score if necessary.
Rate the wheel for weight
At this price, 1,410g is light indeed. There are lighter ones out there, but for a 40mm rim it's impressive.
Rate the wheel for value:
Mavic's Cosmic Carbons are nearly £200 more. For the performance, the price is very good.
Did the wheels stay true? Any issues with spoke tension?
None at all.
How easy did you find it to fit tyres?
28mm tyres a slightly tight fit, but I'd expect that.
How did the wheel extras (eg skewers and rim tape) perform?
Skewers are absolutely fine, but the rim tape wasn't properly aligned with the valve hole.
Tell us how the wheel performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very good in all conditions, with no real weaknesses.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the wheel
Value, stiffness, performance, and the hub sounds cool...
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the wheel
Not the most rapid climbers ever.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's not easy to find wheelsets like this these days – not rim brake ones anyway. Mavic's Cosmic Carbon wheelset is nearly £200 more, and for not that much extra as far as I can see.
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
The Vision SC 40s are remarkably good all-rounders full stop, and that's before you get to the price. If you're sticking with rim brakes for a while, these hoops are excellent options in a shrinking field. They're fantastic and a nine.
Age: 30 Height: 188cm Weight: 80kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: I ride: I would class myself as:
I regularly do the following types of riding:
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