SCRIBE AERO WIDE+ 50-D: LOUD, AERO, AND UNEXPECTED
If you really don’t like the sound of a really loud freehub when coasting, the Scribe Aero Wide+ 50-D wheelset really isn’t for you.
I’m not talking about what you hear coming out of the latest generation DT Swiss 240 freehub or the louder yet distinctive chordal sound of a Chris King R45 freehub. No, the Scribe freehub is a far louder, lower pitch noise that almost sounds angry.
Other riders told me not to coast near them, based on their hand motions because I couldn’t hear them, at least until I started pedaling again. My fellow tester Miles heard the comments too from those in his group when free coasting on fast downhill sections.
And yes, I tried to quiet the hub using the grease and video instructions Scribe sent me for that purpose. I noticed little difference.
I go into this first and in some detail because it’s the most distinctive characteristic of this wheelset.
If none of that bothers you, or you prefer loud freehubs as I know some do, the Scribe Aero Wide+ 50-D is a great value-priced, carbon wheelset option for fast riding and racing on flat and modestly rolling terrain.
Related: You can compare my review of the Scribe Aero Wide+ 50-D with other value-carbon wheelsets in this review of The Best Value Carbon Wheelset.
Miles and I found these Scribe wheels hold their momentum well at speed on straight sections. They are also plenty stiff enough to give you the confidence to lean into a corner, ride through it, and power out at high speeds.
If you’ve got the watts of a racer like Miles, these Scribes are responsive and fast enough to cover most any accelerations. For me, more of a B group rider without the turbo boost power of a racer like Miles, their response felt more like a slower reacting, more typical aero wheelset.
When the road pitches up, both of us found the wheels struggled, as do many aero wheelsets. Rolling courses with long yet modest hills make you work hard on the Scribe Aero. Short kickers of 7-10% really slow you down.
For me, the aero wheelset analogy extends to my need to also lean these Scribes into steady sidewinds to stay on my line. When I got hit by gusts, I couldn’t hold it.
Miles had a better experience, finding the sidewinds didn’t affect him much, and performed better than others he’s tested. While we weigh more or less the same, the winds were highly variable during our spring testing perhaps leading to our different reactions.
With a good set of supple, tubeless tires inflated lower than you might normally set them, the Scribes can be quite a comfortable wheelset on good roads and bad. We tested them with both 28mm Schwalbe Pro One TLE and 28mm Continental Grand Prix 5000 S TR tires at pressures ranging from 55psi/3.8bar to 65psi/4.5bar for our 148lb/67kg to 155lb/70kg body weight.
The Contis at the lowest inflation pressure was the most comfortable combination.
I measure and weigh wheels when they first arrive, share none of that info with my fellow testers, and forget most of it myself with all the gear traffic coming through my door. That usually turns out for the best as not knowing the specs limits the performance bias we might bring into our test riding.
That certainly made sense for this wheelset. The specs and most of the “Aero Wide+ 50-D” name suggest very little about how we found that these wheels perform.
At 1529 grams measured with pre-installed tape but without the valves (vs. the claimed 1448 grams) and 50.5 mm depth, they spec out more like an all-around wheelset than an aero one.
Measuring 29.6mm externally near the tire edge of the rim, 30.2mm at their widest point, and 21.1mm internally, these wheels are wider than some but not nearly as wide as many that provide the kind of handling and comfort these Scribes can.
So the Wide+ and 50 in their name might suggest a different type of performer than what we found. If they drop those parts of the name and simply call it the Scribe Aero D, they’d have a name that better describes this wheelset’s performance. (This probably wouldn’t work with the rest of their product names, however, as all of their carbon disc brake wheels are called Aero Wide+ followed by the rim depth number ranging from 32mm to 80mm).
And despite all the attention the loud freehub with its glossy hub shell and white script Scribe logo calls to this wheelset, the matt grey finish on the rims we tested is quite a modest look. Miles calls them “boring.” They look ok to my style-blind eyes but certainly are at odds with the boisterous, flashy hubs.
While I’m really out of my depth trying to psychoanalyze a set of wheels, the unexpected nature of the Scribe’s performance compared to its specs and its aural and visual aesthetics seem to make it, behaviourally if not technically, an eccentric wheelset. The freehub almost calls out at you, saying “look at me.” When you do, the rim finish seems to respond with “there’s nothing to see here.”
Setting aside my psychobabble (or should I say cyclobabble?), this Scribe is another example of why I focus on performance and not specs in our reviews.
Scribe’s warranty policies are better than many that sell wheels at similar price points especially those sold direct by overseas manufacturers.
Specifically, they offer a 3-year warranty against material or workmanship defects and a 50% crash replacement discount for the life of the wheels. Should you need or want them, they will also send you a set of replacement bearings in years 2 and 3 of your warranty free of charge. All of these apply to the original owner.
Miles and I didn’t experience any quality issues during our several-month test period. I did open up the freehub to grease it and to my untrained eyes, it seemed to be well-built. Scribe includes valves and lockrings along with spare spokes, nipples, and other parts to adapt the wheels to older disc brake rotor technologies.
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Available direct from Scribe, the Aero Wide+ 50-D wheelset sells for US$1100, £870, €1100. While shipping is free, Scribe notes the price “may be subject to additional customs charges” and indeed mine were though Scribe told me that it doesn’t happen often.