When it comes to alloy wheels, the advances that have evolved in design software, manufacturing techniques and the materials are keeping manufacturers in alloy wheels in the game. Many of the major car makers are great at styling alloy wheels for the big brand names that count. There are always those who want to stand out from the crowd in the pool of aftermarket wheel makers, but trying to figure out which alloy wheels are the best is not always easy!
Car makers know all about the financial potential of offering a choice of alloys that come in a variety of sizes, and the alloy aftermarket isn’t the only place to look for alloy wheels. What people want from the alloy wheel aftermarket and what the aftermarket delivers are larger wheel sizes in both diameter or width. It’s normal for companies to now produce 23in wheels and 24in wheels, as this is the new ambition of the alloy wheel market. Large wheels grab the headlines and attract attention, and the aftermarket is still developing new products around lighter, faster and stronger wheels. There are CAD programmes out there that are identifying areas of the wheel where it will be possible to remove metal to save the weight without changing the structure.
The industry has continued hunting for lighter and tougher alloys with new finishes such as ceramic coatings and two-tone colours, which can further improve the quality of the wheel. Flow-forming wheels are being created and they are cast in the normal fashion, but the do this with a thicker but narrower rim. The wheel is hot, places on a spinner and rotated at a high speed while a shaping device employing high-pressure rollers is brought to ber. This starts from beneath the wheel’s outer face and moves downward, stretching the wheel metal as it goes. Doing this increases the width of the wheel and uses less aluminium and this then weighs up to 25% less than a normal alloy wheel.
In the past few years, Dymag has been an exciting development and is far from an everyman product. The wheels made by the company use a carbon-composite barrel and rim, which an aluminium centrepiece is forged onto with titanium bolts. The hand-built wheels are 25% lighter than the OEM equivalent, and there’s a 30-40% lower moment of inertia. This affects the acceleration and deceleration of the wheel.
A car with a stylish design can only be complemented when excellent car wheels are fitted and currently the best out there is the OZ Racing Ultraleggera. It’s an ultra light weight wheel that has been developed specifically for racing. The wheels are aluminium cast and can offer accuracy and best performance along with a lighter weight. The concave wheels come in different sizes and apart from the sturdiness of their look, they’re preferred as a racing wheel due to their high strength.