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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 wheels

Map straight-pull hubs with 2 cross lacing

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 wheelset built with 6-bolt straight-pull hubs and Sapim D-Light spokes

Map wheelset – aluminium rims with Centre-Lock straight-pull 24 hole hubs, CX-Ray spokes and aluminium nipples  1447g / £460

All the lightest options in our Map wheel build as above with the lowest weight of 1447g. If you want to change the build spec. you can, the links at the bottom take you to pre-configured wheels. The Map rims are used throughout these builds and weigh 440-450g each. They are stiff and tough in all hole counts, and suitable for all-round use.

Going for J-Bend hubs & spokes instead of straight-pull would add 43g with the centre-lock hubs. We’ve weighed these with 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 £70 per wheelset.

link to Map wheels with D-Light spokes at £390 (this includes orange stickers, black nipples and our choice of 15mm/142mm axles so please change these.)

link to Map wheels with CX-Ray spokes at £459.60 (this includes orange stickers, black nipples and our choice of 15mm/142mm axles so please change these.)

Map SL alu wheelset 1360g – £390

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 £390

Traildog XC alu wheelset 1427g

Similar to the Map wheelset above but using our Traildog alu XC25 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.

Gecko carbon – from 1267g in 700c

The Gecko carbon wheelset uses our 360g, 21mm wide rims to make it one of our lightest wheelsets in any category at just 1267g for the straight-pull, centerlock version which is our most popular. These wheels are designed as a gravel wheelset but are equally at home on the road with 25mm or larger tyres. The only thing to bear in mind is the maximum tyre pressure of 80psi for this wheelset due to the hookless bead design of the rim.

£850 / 1247g