We review the latest SC 55 carbon clinchers from Vision Tech. At less than $1,100, they’re taking aggressive aim at the low-cost carbon clincher market, with multiple rim depths and both rim and disc brake options. Do they deliver? Let’s dive in to find out.
Vision Tech SC 55 carbon clincher road wheel review
Vision Tech is busy dropping prices for carbon clincher wheels with their new SC line – slated a level below their top-end Metron series. Our First Look article showed detailed images after un-boxing the new hoops, and this is our review after riding them around for a couple months. Note that Vision offers them in 40 and 55mm depths for both rim and disc brakes, and we are reviewing the 55mm rim brake version. All are said to be 100% hand-built using ABS self-locking spoke nipples.
Weight for the set came in at 1,550 grams, compared to a 1,510g advertised weight. Note that our weight includes the pre-installed tube-type rim tape, but does not include skewers.
Rim depth and internal width were close to the quoted figures at 55.2mm and 18.9mm, respectively (compared to 55mm and 19mm advertised). Note that they’re standard hooked clincher rims, with no restrictions on the tires that you use.
Rim width at the braking surface was quite a bit larger than the quoted 24mm figure, at 26.4mm actual measured width. This puts the new Vision SC wheels in the meat of average widths, with most road rims now using an internal width of 17 – 21mm, and external dimensions typically in the range of 23 – 28mm.
Vision also sent us their tubeless conversion kit ($75), which includes a roll of tubeless tape, two removable-core valves, and two small bottles of Stan’s sealant. This installed as-expected and without issue.
The first thing that jumped out about the wheels was the unique-looking braking surface. We inquired with Vision Tech representatives as to the purpose of this appearance – is it something structural or performance oriented? They responded:
“Regarding the checkboard pattern: it is a result of the carbon weave pattern and the manufacturing process, is not aimed for particular performance benefits, the target of the wheels is provide overall stable performance, good stiffness & competitive weight.”
Vision includes their own brake pads for the wheels, along with setup instructions. In short, you must be sure to move the pads down 3mm away from the rim edge. While the braking surface appears to be fairly wide, in practice you have to push the pads pretty far down in their adjustment range (putting them close to the bottom edge of the brake track). If your calipers are already maxed out in their range with aluminum rims, this means that the SC wheels may not work on your bike (because you don’t have any more adjustment range for the caliper arms to ‘give’). I set the pads up as-instructed, and toed them in using a credit card on the back end of each pad.
Out on the road, I found that the braking power was reasonable, but certainly not as strong as aluminum rims. The rear pads also had some vibration and noise under moderate braking (note that the outstanding Shimano BR-R650 brakes are typically silent with alloy rims). I kept the same brake pad position but switched out to some Kool Stop carbon pads, which resulted in a similar level of noise.
Vision Tech actually recommended that I reverse-toe the pads using a dime to set the angle. I swapped back to their pads and followed the instructions – which finally did kill the noise. I imagine that the noise might return as the pads wear and flatten out, and I still may try some other pads to see if I can increase the braking power for potential panic stops.
Out on the road, the SC 55 wheels performed smoothly when paired with a set of 28mm Schwalbe Pro One tires (inflating to 29mm at 75psi). I was somewhat concerned about wheel stiffness, since I weigh right at Vision’s recommended cutoff of 90kg. You can get away with up to 109kg, but Vision recommends checking the wheels more frequently than normal. Despite my weight, the wheels seemed plenty stiff, and they stayed straight and true.
While I didn’t get a chance to ride in any extreme wind conditions, overall stability and handling seemed to be quite good, with no drama or unexpected surprises.
Overall, the SC 55’s stand as a high-value carbon clincher with an impressive price point at $1,099. They do require some mechanical skill to set up the brakes to be noise-free, and I’d like to see some improved braking power (for those buying the rim brake version, though disc brakes aren’t necessarily a free lunch in terms of noise or setup ease either). If you’ve gotta have carbon and don’t have a huge budget, the SC 55 from Vision might just be for you.