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Scribe Elan Wide+ 32-D Carbon Spoke wheelset review

Scribe's lightweight all-carbon wheelset delivers on all fronts but does it have what it takes to compete against the established marques?

Scribe Elan Wide+ 32-D Carbon Spoke wheelset
(Image: © Aaron Borrill)

Our Verdict

The Scribe Elans represent everything you want from a climbing wheel - they're light, stiff and affordable

For

  • Affordable
  • Incredibly light
  • All-carbon construction (hoops and spokes)
  • Loud, fast engaging ratchet hub
  • Tubeless-ready

Against

  • Lacks brand cachet
  • Aesthetics could be bolder

We've tested a couple of wheelsets from Scribe over the years at Cyclingnews and have always come away impressed by the quality and value for money they offer. From high-profile aero wheels to rim-brake race hoops, the Northern Ireland-based wheelbuilder has options for all types of rider, including those who enjoy taking gravity head-on. 

That's where Scribe's latest offering comes in - the Elan Wide+ 32-D Carbon Spoke wheels. With an all-carbon construction, the focus is as much about all-out performance as it is weight reduction. The result is Scribe's answer to the best lightweight wheels segment, and the Elans have all the markings of a winner. We tested them on our usual route taking into account attributes such as aerodynamics, cross-winds and climbing efficiency. Read on for our final verdict. 

Design and aesthetics

In terms of the design, the rim profiling is toroidal in shape, which is proven to aid in aerodynamics by recapturing airflow and resisting cross-wind buffeting. There's nothing fancy going on here but the wheels follow the traditional black-on-black design philosophy, eschewing the modern gloss-varnish coating we're seen on some of the new segment offerings. 

That said, it's a tidy package - if a little stealthy featuring a proven recipe which works and complements most bike colour schemes. The Scribe wordmark logo and Elan moniker are prominently positioned on the rim architecture: two Scribe logos are placed at each end and Elan name and logo follow a similar approach. Naturally, carbon fibre is a big theme here and the unidirectional 32mm hoops also incorporate 45 individual aero-optimised spokes constructed from carbon, too . 

Specifications and build

The wheels are constructed from ultra-high-filament, unidirectional Japanese Toray T700 / T800 carbon fibre, and laced together using carbon-fibre spokes. Each spoke weighs just 2.6g, which has allowed Scribe's engineers to create an appreciably light and stiff wheelset. The spoke blueprint is unique in that it has a much higher strength-to-weight ratio than regular stainless steel spokes. Looking at the data, steel spokes have a kgf break rate of 350kgf, whereas the carbon spokes have a break rate of 450kgf. This has allowed for more tension to be dialled into the complete system to bolster performance but also nullify road buzz and improve overall wheel compliance, too. 

The overall result is a total system weight of just 1,312g for the set, which puts it in line with the segment's best. Each wheel also benefits from the company's trademark CNC-machined hubs. The rear hub in particular is the same unit we tested on the Scribe Aero Wide+ 60D wheels - a single-disc ratchet drive system. Not only does it bind immediately making for super-fast engagement and response, it's loud and rather obnoxious when freewheeling, stepping up a couple of notches in pitch when you back pedal. It's a very addictive and entertaining cacophony.

Like some of the more premium options in Scribe's portfolio, the Elans can accommodate tyre widths ranging from 25- to 50mm, this comes down to the 21mm internal (30mm external) rim widths but I'll cover this in detail a little later. The setup is compatible with both Shimano 11/12-speed and SRAM systems (Campagnolo and XDR also available) and complies with all major axle standards - front: QR, thru-axle (12mm and 15mm); rear: QR, thru-axle (142x12). 

Performance and handling

While Scribe recommends 25mm tyres for the best all-round experience, I fitted them with Hutchinson Fusion 5 28C rubber. This tyre arrangement - while slightly heavier than others - has proved ideal in all situations supplying a good combination of protection, rolling efficiency and compliance. Owing to the 21mm internal rim width, all tyres will look a lot wider than what is shown on the sidewall but the upshot is a greater contact patch and better handling performance. The bulbous tyre shape also adds an extra layer of protection for the rim itself.

As far as tubeless compatibility goes, the Scribe Elans come pre-installed with tubeless rim tape, and valves are included in the packaging. Tyre setup is a painless exercise and the hooked rim profile adds some assurance to the equation. While this gives you the option of running both inner-tube-type and tubeless tyres, I always recommended going for the latter as a means of unlocking the true potential of the wheelset. As a result, I fitted the Elans with my go-to tyre of choice - 28mm Hutchinson Fusion 5 Performance.

While heavier than most tyres, the hefty Hutchinsons were offset by the low 1,314g weight of the wheelsystem. Having tested the Elans on a number of different terrain types - ranging from fast and flat rides to lumpier courses in and around the Surrey Hills region - speed and response kept playing out as the recurring theme. The wheels are incredibly stiff but not bone-jarringly so. The carbon-fibre spoke configuration - laced in a 2:1 front (21H) and rear (24H) pattern - really helps in this regard, adding some suppleness over more corrugated road surfaces.

Having tested the wheels on both the Cannondale Supersix Evo Disc and Bianchi Specialissima, the wheels played nicely with the climbing characteristics of each bike. From the instant response of the Five4 ratchet hub to the feel transferred from the all-carbon construction, the Scribe Elan Wide+ 32-D Carbon Spoke wheels make no bones about what they're designed for - speed, but more importantly, overcoming gravity.

Verdict

At £1,190 / $1,600 / €1,400, it's hard to ignore the value of the Scribe Elan Wide+ 32-D Carbon Spoke wheels. Looking at its rivals - options such as the recently launched Fulcrum Speed 25, Roval Alpinist and Deda Elementi RS4DB - the Scribes are right up there in terms of weight and outright performance. 

But like I've mentioned before in my other Scribe wheel reviews, its success hinges more around brand perceptions and trust more than anything else. And while they do lack the brand cachet of its more established rivals - for now - you can't go wrong by choosing these wheels or any other options from the Scribe range for that matter. 

They're resilient, light, fast and flashy, and come with a tasty lifetime crash replacement and three-year 'new year, new bearings' warranty. The Scribe Elans are ideal for anyone looking at unlocking some extra nippiness and response from their ride. 

View the Elan Wide+ 32-D wheels at Scribe (opens in new tab)

Testing scorecard and notes
AttributesNotesRating
Ride QualitySmooth, responsive and full of feel. The carbon construction together with matching carbon spokes have created a feedback-rich ride quality that is difficult to trump9/10
StiffnessThe 32mm rim depth and spoke tension (break rate of 450kgf) is class-leading. At the same time, the carbon spokes have also added some pliancy to the wheelsystem10/10
AestheticsIn terms of the new glossy-varnish trend, the Elans are not too flashy and, while this will appeal to some, the introduction of some colour would do wonders for the visual package7/10
Tubeless CompatibilityThe wheels come pre-taped with valves and don't take long to set up10/10
HubsPower transfer is instant thanks to Scribe's Five4 rear hub design. They're incredibly loud but that's become a trademark feature of Scribe10/10
Value for moneyAt £1,190 / $1,600 / €1,400, you'll be hard-pressed to find something else as appealing for the money. The only blocker in terms of success at the moment is garnering new customers which will do wonders to increase the brand awareness9/10
Overall rating91%

Test Conditions

  • Temperature: 12 to 24-degrees Celsius
  • Terrain: A- and B-roads
  • Mileage: 325km

Tech Specs: Scribe Elan Wide+ 32-D wheels

  • RRP: £1,190 / $1,600 / €1,400
  • Weight: 1,312g
  • Depth: 32mm
  • Internal width: 21mm
  • External width: 30mm
  • Spoke count: 21/24 front/rear, carbon
  • Tyre format: Clincher, tubeless
  • Brake: Disc

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Aaron is Cyclingnews' tech editor. Born and raised in South Africa he completed his BA honours at the University of Cape Town before embarking on a career in journalism. As the former gear and digital editor of Bicycling magazine and associate editor of TopCar, he's been writing about bikes and anything with wheels for the past 16 years. A competitive racer and Stravaholic, he’s twice ridden the Cape Epic and completed the Haute Route Alps. When not riding, racing or testing bicycles in and around the UK's Surrey Hills where he now lives, he's writing about them for Cyclingnews and Bike Perfect


Height: 175cm

Weight: 61.5kg

Rides: Cannondale SuperSlice Disc Di2 TT, Cannondale Supersix Evo Dura-Ace Rim, Cannondale Supersix Evo Ultegra Di2 Disc, Trek Procaliber 9.9 MTB 

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