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Karve vs Monitor cross-country wheels

Our Monitor and Karve wheels are our lightest cross-country wheelsets and we often get asked how to choose between them. Both are around the same weight, with different compromises on strength and width. These are the two options:
Of the two, the Monitor is the strongest but narrower at 25mm internal width compared to the Karve at 30mm. The Karve despite being wider is actually a little lighter because it has a lighter carbon layup and also doesn’t have the asymmetric design of the Monitor; rim weights for 29er versions are typically 353g for the Karve, and 365g for the Monitor.
Wheelset weights on Boost width straight-pull hubs are 1391g for the Monitor, or around 1367g for the Karve.
The asymmetric spoke drilling means the Monitor builds into a stiffer wheel, but during testing the Karve has shown no issues with flex or wheel strength.
In our experience the Monitor is extremely strong, with many riders using their wheels on mid-travel trail bikes in mountainous areas and no failures to date. The Karve is a newer addition to the range so we have less feedback, but it is expected to be more susceptible to damage from large rock impacts – where the rim completely bottoms out through the tyre. In testing the Karve wheelset has been ridden on bikes with up to 150mm travel with no issues but in this case it’s important to use tyre pressures high enough to prevent rocks directly impacting the rim.
These wheelests are availble built onto almost all our range of hubs. The Karve is currently only available in 29er size with 24 spoke holes, while the Monitor is available in 24 or 28-spoke options, with 29er (700c) or 27.5″ (650b) sizes available. Either of these wheelsets can be built onto Boost or non-boost hubs, centerlock or 6-bolt disk mount, all the usual options!
We recommend most of our 24-spoke wheelsets up to about 85kg rider weight, with 28 spokes per wheel recommended over that.
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Lark wheelsets – Light or Strong?

The Lark series are our high performance aluminium rim-brake road wheels which come in two versions – Lark Light and Lark Strong, and we are often asked how to choose between the two options. The Light are as the name suggests aimed at being the fastest possible while the Strong are built to maximise durability and strength, but there is a lot of cross-over between the two so let’s have a look at them in more detail. Either wheelset can also be used off-road on cyclocross or gravel bikes.

All Lark wheelsets use the same rim which we call the Lark20. This is a very strong aluminium rim with a 20mm internal width and a wide, smooth machined braking surface. The stiffness of the rim means it stays perfectly straight even at high spoke tension and low spoke count, and it’s strong enough for heavy riders.

We build the standard and light wheelsets with different hubs. The Strong hubs have larger bearings which improves durability, especially for wheels used regularly in harsh wintry conditions but are heavier at 301g/pair compared to 258g/pair for the Light hubs. There is also a version of the Lark Light which uses straight-pull hubs (designed to use spokes without a bend at the head), which are between the Light and Strong hubs in weight.

The Light wheels use less spokes to save weight – 20 in the front wheel and 24 in the rear,  while the Strong wheelsets use between 24 and 32 spokes to maximise strength. The Light wheels use a 2:1 spoke lacing pattern on the rear wheel which gives the 24-spoke wheel similar strength and stiffness to a 28 or 32 spoke wheel. All Lark wheelsets are available with an optional upgrade to CX-Ray bladed spokes which save a little weight and a slightly more aerodynamic but don’t make any difference to the wheel strength.

So, armed with that information, how to choose?

Wheel weight – are you looking for the lightest possible wheels? If so then of course you should be looking at the Lark Lights.

Rider weight – we have a rough maximum recommended rider weight of 100kg for the Lark Light wheels. Riders around the 100kg mark should consider the straight-pull version with its slightly larger bearings and marginally higher wheel stiffness from the straight-pull spokes. Much over 100kg we recommend the Lark strong wheelset.

Bearing durability – are these being used for commuting or for heavy training miles through bad weather? If so then the larger bearings of the Strong wheelset will be a good option. For most normal riding, the Light wheelsets are plenty durable enough.

Aesthetics – the straight-pull Lark wheelset is a popular choice due to the sleek looks of the hubs, even though it’s not the lightest option.

If you still can’t decide…. get in touch with any questions through our contact form or add a comment below, and we’ll help you decide.

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Our lightest road-disk alu wheels

Map centre-lock straight-pull rear wheels with matt blue hub and etched graphics

One question we are frequently asked on email is what is your lightest road-disk wheelset. It may be hard to pick them out from our wheels as we offer so many options but they are there if you know what to look for.

Map centre-lock straight-pull wheel in orange
Map centre-lock straight-pull wheel in orange

Map wheelset – Centre-Lock straight-pull 24 hole hubs, Sapim D-light spokes and aluminium nipples  1489g / £424

We picked almost* the lightest components we offer in our Map ready built wheelset as picked above and they weigh 1487g for a pair of wheels. The Map rims are used throughout these builds are 19mm internal width and weigh 440-450g each. They are stiff and tough in all hole counts, and suitable for all-round use from road riding, commuting and gravel. It has a hooked bead for using high-pressure tubeless tyres.

The links under this section take you to our Map wheels, you can configure your own Map wheels or buy our ready built Map wheel sets.

Choosing a J-Bend hubs & spokes instead of straight-pull would add 43g with the centre-lock hubs. We’ve weighed these with 12×142 thru axles and a Shimano freehub. Quick release axles and end-caps weigh more but XD freehubs will reduce the weight by 15g. Brass spoke nipples add 31g over aluminium nipples for a build with a total of 48 spokes. We use quality Sapim aluminum nipples and don’t have any problems with them seizing, certainly no more than for brass spoke nipples. *Upgrading to Sapim CX-Ray bladed spokes from the already strong and light Sapim D-Light are the greatest cost for the least weight gain at 25g per wheelset offer an aero look and small aero advantage. Cost is an extra £48 per wheelset and this option is available on the Map wheelset page.

link to ready built Map wheels with centre-lock straight pull hubs and D-Light spokes at £424 in various colours.

link to ready built Map wheels with centre-lock J-bend hubs and D-Light spokes at £390 in 24,28 and 32 hole counts.

link to our customisable Map wheels where you can specify any other compatible hub or hole count.

Map SL wheelset 1370g – £424

Similar to the Map wheelset above but using our Map SL rims with 21mm internal width. These are our lightest aluminium rims at 395g but they come with a recommended weight limit of 85kg but you can use this for cross-country or road / gravel bike in 650b or 700c.

Buy them here in straight-pull centerlock version for £424


Monitor alu 6-bolt boost orange hub and nipples
Monitor alu 6-bolt boost orange hub and nipples

Monitor alu wheelset 1427g

Similar to the Map wheelset above but using our Monitor alu rims with 25mm internal width so you can use this for cross-country or road / gravel bike in 650b or 700c. All parts, including the rims are the same weight as the Map wheelset in 700c/29er while the 650b rim comes in at 410g so saves 60g per wheelset making it a good option for running wide (especially 38mm or larger) tyres on.

Monitor alu wheelsets – configure your own from £390

Monitor alu wheelset boost J-bend hubs £390 – ready built