5 of the Best Aftermarket Wheels You Can Buy for Your Car

Forged HRE wheels

Forged HRE wheels | Source: HRE

For certain drivers, aftermarket wheels aren’t just an option, they’re a freaking necessity. One of the first things they do after buying a car is go out and buy a set of fresh rollers to match their new purchase. It’s a grand notion, being able to drastically alter the way your car looks with little more than a new set of alloys and some high-grade rubber to wrap around them.

There are literally thousands of different wheel configurations to choose from in today’s market, so if you haven’t found the right rim yet, don’t sweat it; it will pop up soon enough. From period-correct 14-inch forged five-spokes for vintage Hondas and Datsuns, to hulking 32-inch chrome deep dishes, there’s something for everyone out there. Hell, the only thing that holds most people back is how much they’re willing to pay, leading some of them to purchase knock-offs, and the dangers contained therein.

Powder coated wheels

Powder coated wheels | Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

That last point is incredibly important, so before you buy the first set of alloys you find for under $400, be sure to research why knock-off wheels are so dangerous. Before buying wheels, you need to take into consideration things like proper width, offset, bolt patterns/pitch circle diameter (PCD), caliper clearances, and load tolerances in order to guarantee a proper fit. Remember, you almost always get what you pay for, and when it comes to something that could potentially save (or take) your life, you should always opt for something that’s as strong as it is sexy.

So before we go any further, let’s talk about the two most common ways wheels are made: by casting or forging. Casting is a technique where aluminum alloys are melted prior to being poured into a mold. This is the easiest and cheapest way to mass-produce wheels, and is how the majority of those knock-off and budget-oriented alloys are formed. Outside of being more prone to cracks and quality issues, the casting process makes significant weight reduction almost impossible, as the wheel’s metal layers can’t be formed as thin as their forged counterparts. While a few high quality cast wheel manufacturers do exist, they remain few and far between.

On the other end of the spectrum are forged wheels, which are typically made with one of two techniques. The first is “machine forging,” where a wheel shape is cut directly from a slab of forged aluminum, and requires high tech computers and multiple robotic arms. In contrast, “mold-form-forging” is when a lump of aluminum gets repeatedly sent through high-pressure pressing machines that stretches the alloy particles, thus making the product both lighter and stronger. Forging is an exceedingly time-consuming, dangerous, and expensive way to make a wheel, which explains why the finished product costs so much more than a cast version. With all that in mind, here are five of our favorite aftermarket wheels, arranged from least to most expensive.

1. Enkei: Tenjin

Enkei Tenjin

Enkei Tenjin | Source: Enkei

Long revered as the go-to OEM wheel supplier for Japanese cars, Enkei has provided millions of enthusiasts and soccer moms alike with reliable castings at an affordable price for over 65 years. If the stock alloys that come on your car aren’t to your liking, chances are they’ll have something you’ll like on their website, starting with one of our favorites: “The Tuning Series.” While rollers like the 9-spoke Tenjin pictured here are cast, they undergo a special finishing process that makes them far stronger than traditional castings. Available in a small, but stylish range of configurations, the Tuning Series is a fantastic entry-level line for anyone looking for a balance between price and performance.

  • Diameters: 18-20 inches
  • Widths: 8-9.5 inches
  • P.C.D.: 5×100, 112, 120, 114
  • Surprisingly strong cast wheel for commuter cars and sports machines
  • Black or Gunmetal Gray with Machined Lip
  • Formed via “Most Advanced Technology” (M.A.T) which takes a one-piece cast wheel and spins it to add additional strength
  • Uses a higher drop point in impact tests and 20% more cycles during bending and radial fatigue testing than what is required
  • Average price per wheel: $195-$250

2. Weds: Maverick 709M

WedsSport Maverick 709M

WedsSport Maverick 709M | Source: Weds Wheels

Up next comes a set of alloys that are both flashy and refined: One of Japanese company WedsSport Wheels’ more recent creations is the Maverick 709M. Utilizing a mesh design that splits off of a 9-spoke face, these 2-piece wheels have a classic look, and can be had in a variety of colors, offsets, and accents. Considerably pricier than Enkei’s line, these “quasi-forged” aluminum products are equal parts lightweight and rigid, and are easily available in the states.

  • Diameters: 18-20 inches
  • Widths: 7.5-10.5 inches
  • P.C.D.: 5×100, 112, 120, 114
  • Nine-spoke cross-mesh design
  • Two-piece construction for size flexibility and cost savings
  • Reinforced spokes for added rigidity
  • Designed for superior brake clearance when installed on many modern sports cars with larger brake calipers
  • Assembly bolts and rim barrels are available in custom finishes
  • 20-inch wheels are available with a step-rim lip
  • Average price per wheel: $531-$765

 3. Volk Racing: RE30

Volk Racing RE30

Volk Racing RE30 | Source: Rays Wheels

They may not be the newest wheels on the market, but dammit if they aren’t timeless. Rays has long been a powerhouse in the Japanese aftermarket scene, and after successfully infiltrating American tuner culture, its Volk line is still growing in popularity. The RE30 series is a simple, effective take on what a barrel-lipped wheel can become, and by utilizing the world’s largest spin-open die forging machine to apply up to 10,000 tons of force to each and every alloy, you can bet that this is one of the strongest rims on the planet.

  • Diameters: 18 inches
  • Widths: 7.5-10.5 inches
  • P.C.D.: 5×100 and 5×114
  • Forged monoblock single piece construction
  • Low-weight to high-strength ratio performance wheel
  • Made with a custom A6061-T6 aluminum blend for a 20% higher tensile strength
  • 500,000 rotation tests to guarantee structural rigidity
  • Wheel coatings exposed to ultraviolet radiation to ensure finishes will not easily peel, chip, or scratch
  • Average price per wheel: $847-$910

 4. Forgeline: GA3

Forgeline GA3

Forgeline GA3 | Source: Forgeline

Proudly made in Ohio and revered as one of the world’s premier forged alloy manufacturers, Forgeline brings an astounding level of craftsmanship, engineering, and style to its GA3 Series. Utilizing a lightweight three-piece forged approach, aerospace grade aluminum, and fasteners from ARP, this big-brake-friendly option is popular with both hardcore enthusiasts and track stars alike. With an array of sizes and widths, and the ability to custom machine any bolt pattern on the planet, it’s no surprise that Forgeline’s top-end wheels made the cut.

  • Diameters: 17-20 inches
  • Widths: 4.5-15 inches
  • P.C.D.: various
  • Three-piece forged 6061-T6 aluminum with heat-treated rim-shells
  • Stepped-lip design (also available with a reverse deep lip/flat lip in 18-inch and 19-inch diameters)
  • Stainless steel ARP assembly hardware (hidden for a minimalist look and quicker cleaning time)
  • “I-beamed” spoke technology reduces weight and applies additional strength and rigidity within the spokes of the wheel
  • Designed to accommodate plenty of room for caliper clearance and extreme brake fitments
  • Customizable fitment and finish options
  • Average price per wheel: $1,045-$1,505

5. HRE: S107

HRE S107

HRE S107 | Source: HRE

On the very top of the spectrum sits HRE, with its famous made-to-order, over-engineered forged wheels. One of its most popular offerings is the HRE S107 design, which starts at 19 inches, and goes all the way up to 22 inches, with any width under the sun available. Founded in 1978, this California-based manufacturer is the preferred alloy of sports stars, actors, and high-profile gearheads. Some buyers even compare its one-off, made-to-order buying experience to ordering a personalized Rolls-Royce or Lamborghini.

  • Diameters: 19-22 inches
  • Widths: any
  • P.C.D.: various
  • Modular forged three-piece 6061-T6 aluminum
  • CNC machined to custom specifications per order
  • Lifetime limited structural warranty and two year finish warranty
  • Engineered to minimize unsprung mass and rotational inertia for maximum performance and handling
  • Brembo brake compatible
  • Average price per wheel: special order only

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