Scribe's Gravel Wide++ wheels combine an impressively light weight with a robust construction that's proved resilient to rock strikes. That'd be great just on its own, but Scribe has gone on to peg them at a relatively low price and offers a full lifetime crash replacement service. With the rigours and abuse gravel riding can subject a set of wheels to, it can be hard to justify getting a set of carbon hoops, but the Gravel Wide++ flip that equation entirely on its head.
Crash replacement service
Scribe is a Belfast-based direct-sales outfit, part of that new breed of wheel brands – including the likes of Parcours and Hunt – that are significantly undercutting those more established manufacturer on price, whilst still promising top performance
The Scribe Gravel Wide++ sit firmly within that category of top-tier gravel wheels (opens in new tab), with the focus being on keeping the weight low. At 1,306g for this set, they’d count as impressively light for even just use on the road – but built for the rigours of gravel, they’re really quite head turning
Coming with a three year warranty against material and workmanship defects – as well as a generous Lifetime Crash Replacement service – Scribe certainly has a lot of confidence in the durability of these hoops.
The construction: Scribe Gravel Wide++
Let’s start at the hubs and work our way out. In terms of compatibility, these rate quite well. With different end caps they can be set up for quick release, 12mm thru axles and there’s also the option for a 15mm thru axle on the front – if you’re running a particularly burly fork. The hubs are centre lock, but the wheels come shipped with 6-bolt discs adaptors.
The freehub uses a ratchet system that’s exclusive to Scribe, employing a single ratchet disc and leaf spring to reduce the moving parts to just the one. The angle of engagement is 10 degrees, which typically works well for gravel bikes and their larger-than-MTB gearing. That said, there are plans to release a 54t ratchet later in the year that will bring this down to a snappy 6.7 degrees.
The spokes on this wheelset are J-bend, rather than straight-pull, making replacements cheap and easy to come by. With that said, the ones that come specced on the wheels – Sapim’s CX-Rays – are very top quality, with a great reputation across the industry.
As bladed spokes, they’re used in some wheelsets to increase the aerodynamic efficiency. But that extra machining to make them flat has the additional benefit of increasing their strength relative to their weight.
Coming now to the rims, these use Japanese Toray T700/T800 carbon fibre and combine this with what Scribe calls an ‘Optimised TG resin’, which is used to produce a low-void carbon construction that has a better strength to weight ratio and likewise helping the feathery qualities of this wheelset.
Their depth is 23.5mm and the external rim width is 30mm – although these measurements are perhaps of lesser significance, as this wheelset isn’t claiming to be optimised for aerodynamics. Most relevant is the internal width measurement, which stands at a generous 25mm and Scribe rates as recommended for tyres up to 52mm and down to 25mm.
Setting up the wheels, they’ve proved a good match with both a set of Schwalbe G-One Bites (opens in new tab) and a pair of American Classic’s (opens in new tab) new Krumbein tyres. I did use tyre levers to mount the G-One Bites, but that was more out of laziness rather than any particular need. There might be some tyre combinations that don’t play well but those Schwalbes tend to work well on most rims, so that is a good sign.
The bike I swapped these wheels into was previously running a set of alloy DT Swiss gravel wheels (opens in new tab). I’d be finding these perfectly fine: durable and robust, I had no qualms or reservations about ploughing them through the winter. Although naturally not particularly light, they didn’t deaden the ride or ever feel like a drag.
Even so, it was like night and day coming to the Scribe Gravel Wide++ wheels. Immediately from the first pedal stroke, the acceleration was instantaneous. The sensation of setting off was like being in a significantly lower gear, needing that much less torque at the cranks to get the wheels spinning. Of course, the difference being that I was travelling further and faster per pedal stroke with the Gravel Wide++ wheels.
Against a set of Miche Carbo Graff gravel wheels – which sit about as far over a grand as the Gravel Wide++ sit under – the difference was still very marked. Even with a set of much wider tyres, the total system weight of the Scribes was still lighter – making the bike quicker to accelerate and easier to handle – while also providing the benefits of increased comfort and grip.
The hills of South Wales have been a pretty brutal testing ground, with the terrain being quite loose and rocky in sections. Whilst I haven’t bottomed out the tyres on any square-edged hits, I have been hearing the hollow 'thunk' of rocks bouncing up and smacking against the profile of the rims as they ping out from under my tyres. But they’ve stood up well, with the only evidence being tiny, superficial marks to the finish.
Going back up the hills, selecting steeper climbs ticks off the elevation more quickly, but does mean the challenge can be as much technical as physical. Balancing the rear wheel grip and sudden changes of line means sometimes coming to an almost complete stop and then accelerating up the sketchy bit.
Here the low weight is naturally a great help, but it’s also a test for the freehub engagement too. At 10 degrees, it’s not super fast and wouldn’t be sufficient on a mountain bike, but it’s not caused me any problems or prevented me from cleaning a climb on my gravel bike.
That difference is caused by the gearing: in a large gear the cranks barely have to move before the freehub engages, whereas in a small gear there’s much more movement at the cranks. With a 38t chainring and a 42t largest sprocket, my smallest gear is a little easier than most stock gravel bikes, but it’s still not close to as low as you get on a mountain bike.
But with that said, Scribe is planning on releasing an upgrade kit taking the number of teeth in the ratchet from 36 to 54, taking the engagement to 6.7 degrees, which will work better with even smaller gears.
The freehub noise isn’t one of the loudest by any means, but it is still one you’d notice. It’s difficult to describe the noise it makes, it’s quite distinctive. It’s not a bright, resonant click, it’s more a deeper, slightly muted, buzz. I’m not a fan of obnoxiously loud freehubs and I got on fine with this.
At £870 / $1,000.00 and weighing a measured 1,306g, Scribe’s Gravel Wide++ come at a pretty reasonable price – being cheaper than all of the competition in US dollars.
In the UK, Parcours’ Alta gravel wheels (opens in new tab) are a little cheaper at £849 ($1,149), but then they weigh a claimed 1,460g in the 700c version. Hunt undercuts most significantly on price with the Carbon Gravel X-Wide Hookless wheels at £779 ($1,079.00), but with a claimed weight of 1,465g, they are quite significantly heavier again.
DT Swiss’ GRC 1400 Spline carbon gravel wheels start at £1,634.92 / $2655 and weigh 1,611g. They are 42mm deep and do claim some aero gains, compared to 23.5mm deep for the Gravel Wide++, but just in terms of price and weight – arguably the two most important factors for gravel wheels, considering the much lower speeds than road – Scribe’s offering comes out top.
The Scribe Gravel Wide++ wheels are lightweight, resilient to rock strikes and are reasonably priced. You even have the satisfying mechanics of a simplified ratchet mechanism inside the freehub.
With the rigours and abuse gravel riding can subject wheels to, I would generally be a little sceptical of splashing out on a carbon set. But with Scribe’s crash replacement service and reasonable initial price, there are answers to those reservations – and they are just so fun to ride.
- Weight: 1,306g (measured)
- Internal rim width: 25mm
- Rim depth: 23.5mm
- Spoke count: 28 F+R
- Profile: Hookless
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Starting off riding mountain bikes on the South Downs way, he soon made the switch the road cycling. Now, he’s come full circle and is back out on the trails, although the flat bars have been swapped for the curly ones of a gravel bike.
Always looking for the next challenge, he’s Everested in under 12 hours (opens in new tab) and ridden the South Downs Double in sub 20 (opens in new tab). Although dabbling in racing off-road, on-road and virtually (opens in new tab), to date his only significant achievement has been winning the National Single-Speed Cross-Country Mountain Bike Championships in 2019.
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