From Aesthetics to Performance: The Pros and Cons of Integral Carbon Wheels with Lavelle

We're excited to introduce you to the world of monocell wheels, yes those integral carbon wheels where rim and spokes are a single piece, where aesthetics meet performance. 

Lavelle Fireroad wheels

These wheels are not just about looking good (gorgeously cool)—they bring real advantages to the table, from speed to durability. However, many riders have their concerns, from cost to rigidity. We're here to demystify these high-tech wonders.

Let me introduce Pablo from Lavelle. He's not just any Industrial Engineer; since 2016, he’s been immersed in the world of composites. Pablo has been pivotal in enhancing Lavelle’s manufacturing processes, leading to groundbreaking presentations at global events like JEC Paris 2023. His passion and expertise have been key in delivering top-quality, cost-effective composite solutions.
From here, let’s read what Pablo has to say about those awesome looking wheels.

Introduction to Lavelle and Monocell Technology (aka one piece carbon wheels) 

Lavelle, an innovative engineering firm, has been at the forefront of developing groundbreaking concepts in the Ebike industry over the past few years. Leveraging this expertise, they've successfully transitioned their cutting-edge technology into the competitive racing market, exemplified by the remarkable Fireroad wheel

Lavelle testing wheels

The Fireroad wheel is a testament to Lavelle's ingenuity, incorporating advanced technologies derived from the intricate carbon construction of Ebike frames and the streamlined drivetrain of Ebike transmissions. Featuring a distinctive 5-spoke design with a wide rim bed and intermediate profile for enhanced aerodynamics, it represents a pioneering approach that was uncommon at its inception but is now gaining traction due to its exceptional performance.

While initially a boutique product due to its sophisticated development, there's a growing anticipation for the Fireroad to reach a wider audience in the coming years. Its fusion of advanced engineering and practical design addresses the demands of the gravel market, delivering unparalleled aerodynamic efficiency and riding characteristics.

Notably, Lavelle's commitment to local design, manufacturing, and distribution sets the Fireroad apart, ensuring meticulous attention to detail and a tailored experience for gravel enthusiasts. With its carbon monocell construction and bespoke hubset, the Fireroad stands as a trailblazing addition to the gravel cycling landscape, poised to redefine standards and captivate riders worldwide.

The Galician Connection

The roots of Lavelle's projects trace back to Galicia (Spain), where the company initially relied on local suppliers for subsea operations before venturing into the bike industry. Despite diversifying into new endeavors, Galicia remains a vital hub for sourcing quality components and skilled talent.

Carles’s note: At AMS we initiated a project dealing with carbon fiber production, that never reached the market, and we also did everything in Galicia where they have a tradition of composite expertise.

The monocell wheel presents its own set of challenges, requiring the manufacturing of 10 tubes in a single shot and meticulous joining of different plies. Lavelle achieves composite consolidation through heat and pressure, a process increasingly favored over Autoclave methods due to cost-effectiveness and enhanced flexibility.

Also the weather and forests make Galicia the perfect ground for extreme testing all year long.

Performance and Aesthetics. Or Aesthetics and Performance?. Both in fact

The Monocell design offers a robust structure where the rim and spokes seamlessly merge into one piece. This unified, stress-free construction provides superior damping (yes, superior damping) if the design and the manufacturing process is crafted with that in mind), a critical advantage for gravel riding. 

Additionally, the sealed rim negates the necessity for tape, simplifying tubeless setup with just the addition of a valve.

In terms of aerodynamics, the wheel's streamlined profile and ample space allow air to flow effortlessly, while its meticulously designed surfaces adhere to stability principles, reducing susceptibility to crosswinds. Also the carbon surface is totally smooth from the mold to help air flow and water slide on wet days.

Meeting the challenge of perfecting the external thread pattern is essential, aligning seamlessly with the structural demands of the wheels. Each wheel comprises 110 plies with diverse materials, fiber orientations, and resin distributions, showcasing Lavelle's commitment to precision engineering and advanced composite technology.

Concerns about integrated wheels

Lavelle has tackled the long-standing debate surrounding carbon spokes monocell wheels head-on, addressing the key concerns:

  1. durability
  2. rigidity
  3. cost

It's true that monocell wheels entail a higher cost due to their lower production rate and the complexity of their design and manufacturing processes compared to standard rims. 

The intricacies of fiber construction are paramount as they allow us to fine-tune wheel performance. For instance, lateral stiffness is achieved through spoke lamination rather than tension, resulting in a tensionless design that excels at absorbing vibrations

Carles's note: After several days of riding on standard Fireroad Lavelle wheels, which were not optimized for my weight and riding style, I experienced no increase in discomfort compared to traditional spoke wheels. In fact, the lateral flexibility may feel more docile than expected. Initially, I was concerned about the rigidity typically associated with this type of wheel, which often comes with a higher price tag. However, Lavelle has dispelled this concern. While integrated carbon wheels can be more rigid, this is not an issue with Lavelle’s well-designed wheels.

This approach eliminates stress points present in spoked rims where the nipple sits all the spoke load. The hub design presents one of our greatest challenges, as it must seamlessly integrate with the carbon monocell to transmit loads efficiently. We'll delve deeper into this topic in a forthcoming post, highlighting the advantages of our hub design, which features no moving parts for torque transmission and employs premium materials researched for marginal gains that contribute to a frictionless performance.

From an environmental standpoint, we prioritize sustainability by utilizing low-consumption machinery, efficient thermal molds, and incorporating recycled composites from industrial processes. This not only minimizes waste but also enhances the unique performance characteristics of our monocell rims.

In terms of carbon durability for off-road use, we strategically employ materials designed to withstand impacts in vulnerable areas. While damage can occur, we offer swift repair services for aesthetic or minor structural issues. In cases where repair isn't feasible, our high discount program ensures clients can swiftly replace damaged components at minimal cost, allowing them to continue enjoying their ride without interruption.

Let’s talk about the money: Pricing and Accessibility

The Lavelle Fireroad stands out as a truly unique product, offering a personalized experience tailored to each customer's specific needs. We take the time to understand our customers' demands, including their riding style, weight, and desired wheel performance, ensuring we provide the best product choice for them.

Priced at approximately 2980€ for a wheelset delivered to your European address, the Fireroad competes in the premium market segment. Despite this competitiveness, we offer a bespoke purchase experience and service, distinguishing ourselves from mass-market alternatives.

In addition to our customized approach, we include Galfer discs with the Fireroad to enhance brake performance. This partnership not only reinforces our commitment to providing top-notch products but also strengthens our collaborative efforts with Galfer.

With the Lavelle Fireroad, customers receive more than just a wheelset; they receive a tailored solution designed to elevate their riding experience.

Lavelle on Guava bikes

Looking Ahead - Future Developments

Lavelle has transitioned from research to product development, leveraging our accumulated knowledge and matured technology to cater to the diverse needs of the bike market. Our focus remains steadfast on environmental sustainability, prioritizing noise reduction, extended product lifetimes, and serviceability. By maintaining close relationships with subcontractors, we foster collaborative growth within our ecosystem.

Our products have already made their mark in top races across Europe, collaborating closely with leading riders and brands. Their invaluable feedback not only sparks new discussions but also fine-tunes our products to meet individual needs beyond market demands.

An exciting development is our collaboration with Classified, offering the only carbon composite wheels integrated with their internal gearbox, a partnership that has attracted riders like Tom Boonen - ex World Champ- to ride a Lavelle Fireroad Classified hub equipped.

Furthermore, we're on the brink of launching a non-monocell wheel system, poised to broaden our market appeal across all disciplines and enhance accessibility to the Lavelle ride experience.

As a testament to our commitment to European brands, we've spearheaded a collaborative Gravel project, named Eurel showcasing components exclusively sourced from European brands wherever feasible.

Our partnership with AMS for handlebar grips and protection layers underscores our dedication to providing unparalleled comfort and quality, solidifying their position as the market's premier choice.


Advantages Disadvantages
Enhanced Aerodynamics
The seamless design minimizes drag and optimizes airflow, improving speed and efficiency on the bike.
Higher Cost
The intricate manufacturing process and advanced materials increase the price compared to traditional wheels.
Superior Damping and Comfort
The unified structure absorbs vibrations better, providing a smoother ride on various terrains.
Complex Manufacturing Process
The production of monocell wheels requires sophisticated technology and skilled labor, limiting rapid scalability.
Durability and Low Maintenance
The absence of traditional spokes and nipples reduces mechanical stress points, enhancing durability.
Limited Customization Options
The integrated design restricts the ability to customize components like in the classic spoke and rim wheels.
Improved Rigidity
The monocell design offers greater lateral stiffness, which is crucial for maintaining stability during rides.
Repair Complexity
Repairs can be more challenging and expensive, as damage to any part may require more extensive work or complete replacement.
Streamlined Aesthetic Appeal
Monocell wheels provide a sleek, modern look that appeals to style-conscious riders.

Carles Carrera

Co-Founder, Product&Marketing

Carles' passion for Enduro MTB ignited the creation of AMS. Nowadays, you're more likely to find him speeding along scenic gravel paths, enjoying the thrill of his gravel bike.