Tag Archives: magnesium

Braid Competition Wheels – When Good Enough isn’t Good Enough

4 Jan

For 2012 we are now offering the full range of Braid Competition wheels. Many of you familiar with the rally scene have probably heard of Braid. For those that haven’t, here is a brief introduction.

Braid was formed in Spain in 1978, with the sole purpose of making competition level wheels primarily for rally use. Their wheels have been used by amateurs and professionals alike. Because all the design, R&D and production is done in house, they have an amazing level of customization available. Wheels can be produced in a very wide range of offsets, bolt patterns, and colors, something you are hard pressed to find almost at any price point. Because they are designed primarily for competition use, this is a firm that embraces the ‘small stuff’, such as 15 and 16 inch sizes. Sure, they offer larger wheels, for touring car, etc. but the roots are in rally racing, and that remains their bread and butter. Since it’s original introduction, the factory has expanded numerous times and today produces wheels ranging from gravel and tarmac spec cast wheels, to mulipiece, even forged and magnesium wheels.

To reiterate, these are not some fly-by-night knock off brand churning wheels out of some random factory in the middle of the pacific rim. These are legit motorsport level wheels. The same wheels the various teams through Europe use on their car, are the exact same wheels you can purchase for your car. These aren’t wheels that will fall apart in a few years, or lose a tremendous amount of value, or fall ‘out of style’. Good stuff never does!

Now, onto the good stuff! While we have access to the full range, and custom orders are easily accomplished, the following represents wheels that are available straight away

Click the picture of each for additional information and specs

Winrace T Acropolis: This is a heavy duty, pure strength oriented gravel spec wheel. Offered in 15×6.5, +45 (21.2 lbs), hubcentric, dual drilled so it fits both 5-100 and 5-114 cars, and finished in your choice of white or gold. Also available in 15×7 (22.2lbs) in gold. Both clear Subaru 4 pots

15×6.5 – $980 shipped in the 48 states per set
15×7 – $1020 shipped in the 48 states per set

Winrace TA: This is a lighter weight version of the Acropolis, making it suitable for tarmac or gravel use.

Currently in stock in 15×6.5 (18 lbs), white, +45 offset, dual drilled 5-114 and 5-100, clears factory 4 pot calipers. Priced at $960 shipped for the set in the 48 states

Winrace A: One of the most popular choices, this wheel can often be found on tarmac stages throughout Europe.

Currently in stock:

17×8 +45 (20.7 lbs) in white, dual drilled for 5-100 and 5-114 cars (clears Brembo and 4 pots). $1280 shipped in the 48 states

18×8 +49 (21.6 lbs) in gold in your choice of 5-100 or 5-114.3. Clears Brembo and 4 pots. $1376 shipped for the set in the 48 states.

Also have a limited 17×7, 5-100 +45 Winrace A in Black on special as well. Contact us for details

We will be adding the full range to our site in the coming days, so check z1auto.com often. Any specific questions you have, just ask.

Remember, while the above represents wheels that are good to go now, if you can dream it, it probably can be built! If you’ve got an event coming up that you NEED a set of wheels for, and waiting isn’t an option, we can generally have a custom set, made just for you, on your doorstep in just a few weeks time. If your car has specific needs, such as unique suspension or brake requirements, or even just a custom color, we’ll work with you to develop the right size, so it fits correctly, the first time

Thanks and Happy 2012!

What’s in a Wheel?

28 Jun

We get this question all the time, and figured this would be a good opportunity to shed some light on what goes into making an aftermarket wheel. Most tend to think a wheel falls into 2 categories – forged and cast. While this is generally true, there are variations that make a very big impact in the finished product.

At the bottom of the pyramid you have Gravity Cast wheels. This is a fairly simple production technique whereby molten aluminum is literally poured into a mold. Because of the simple process, the mold can be quite complex and intricate. This affords the manufacturer a wider range of styles to play with, and offers the greatest flexibility of design. The downside of course is the technique itself. Since you’re relying on plain old gravity to fill the mold, it’s not perfect. The net result is a wheel that has more empty space between the molecules vs. more involved manufacturing processes. They also tend to be on the heavier side of things, as the goal is style in design vs all out strength. The upside is the price for these wheels can be downright cheap. But so can the quality. Often times, the wheels are made in plants of dubious quality, and attention to detail is sometimes shoddy. You can tell the el cheapo stuff by casting flash on the backside of the spokes and hub.

Next up you’ve got Pressure Cast Wheels. As the name implies, this technique relies on external pressure to fill the mold. As you can probably guess, the result is a wheel where there is far less empty space between the molecules. This method is a bit more limiting in overall style, but the strength to weight ratio is much higher compared to plain gravity cast wheels. This is the most common method used by the larger OEM manufacturers, because it affords them a good compromise between design and strength. Within the Pressure Cast family you have both higher pressure and low pressure. Differences are as stated – the amount of pressure exerted on the aluminun in the mold.

The next technique is relatively new compared to the above, and is employed by several manufacturers such as SSR, Enkei, etc. It’s called Flow Forming, or Spun Form, Hybrid Forged, etc. This process employs a pressure cast technique at first, to achieve a general shape. Rollers are then used to literally pull, or press, the material to shape the final design. Many high end OEM manufacturers use this technique on their wheels. While it’s still technically a casting technique, the process allows a wheel to be incredibly strong (since the molecules are very densely packed), and light weight at the same time. While the production costs are the highest among the cast methods, it still allows the wheel to be about 50% less costly than a forged variant. SSR Type F, Type C RS, several designs from Weds and BBS and several in Enkei’s Racing series employ this technique. Enkei has licensed the process to several other traditional cast manufacturers such as Konig and AME over the years as well.

The pinnacle of the wheel production pyramid is of course forging. In this process, a single, billet hunk of aluminum is literally stamped into a design using very high pressure applied to a die. Because of the costs involved from the raw materials, to the production equipment, these are far and away the most expensive types of wheels. However, they also tend to have the best weight to strength ratio. The designs are often quite limited because of the cost to produces the dies. These tend to be simpler overall designs (aka Volk TE37, BBS LM and LMR, etc.).

From there you get into a variety of materials. Aluminum and Magnesium are the most often used metals. In recent years, we’ve also seen hybrids employing both carbon and aluminum bonded together. The cost of these more exotic materials is high, but it’s done in the pursuit of the lightest weight, and highest level of strength.

When you begin to examine the above in greater detail, you also begin to see that the process is only part of the equation. There are bad quality cast wheels and good quality cast wheels. There are wheels who’s designs are based on a forging model, that are replicated in cast models. There are wheels who’s design is based upon a low or high pressure, or spun technique, and some company turns around and does a low pressure cast version. From the outside, it all looks the same. The price is certainly more attractive. Sometimes it works well, sometimes it doesn’t. This is why the better cast manufacturers don’t replicate every wheel under the sun – because they know it’s an accident waiting to happen. Another important consideration is who is making the wheel in the first place. Some firms own their own factories, some simply come up with a design and broker manufacturing out to the lowest bidder. The problem is the consumer never sees this side of the market, they only see the finished product. When it arrives to you new in the box, it can look all shiny and pretty. Turn the wheel over and examine the spokes, and you can begin to see the origins, and the quality of the wheel. The better quality wheels tend to be finished in very great detail even on the backside, and no casting flaws can be seen, and no extra flashing. The cheap stuff looks…well, cheap.

Hopefully that helps shed some light on what some differences are between the various wheel manufacturing techniques.