From the early 1900s to the late ’60s, motorcycles came with wire-spoked wheels and ruled the two-wheeler industry. Later in the 1970s, one-piece alloy wheels/mag-wheels came into the picture, and till this day, the majority of the bikes come with cast magnesium and aluminium alloy wheels. Alloy wheels are the most popular and latest technology in the market, and despite being today’s wheel standard, many well-renowned motorcycles manufacturers still use wire-spoked wheels. The reason for using this age-old technology to date employs some good reasons.
Well, which wheel best suits you depends on where and what you’re riding. Both alloy wheels and spoked wheels have advantages and disadvantages, and in this blog, we have explained the difference between them to help you decide which one is better for your motorcycle.
Alloy Wheels VS Spoke Wheels: Construction
Firstly, an alloy is a mixture of metals and some other elements, with more strength, ductility and softness. Alloy wheels are typically made of aluminium or magnesium metal alloy. Aluminium alloy wheels are relatively cheap while magnesium wheels are ultra-light wheels and cost a lot more than aluminium alloy wheels. As compared to magnesium wheels, aluminium wheels last longer and have more strength.
On the other hand, magnesium wheels are very light and offer better mileage compared to aluminium wheels. Also, they less overheat and prevent brakes overheating. They are less durable than aluminium wheels but give an appealing look. Some alloy wheels combine both aluminium and magnesium to give the best combination of both. Alloy wheels are lightweight and absorb stress from all directions when treading on a surface.
Alloy wheels are primarily of two types, one is a cast alloy wheel, and the other is a forged alloy wheel. Cast wheels use the technique of casting where molten aluminium is directly poured into a pre-fabricated mod and with the help of a vacuum, the shape is given. Once cooled, the wheel is ready for trimming, drilling and other modifications.
Forged wheels, on the other hand, are more expensive owing to the machines employed in the process and deliver higher strength as compared to casting. Forged alloy wheels are made from billet, a single piece of metal and undergo heating and intense pressure to change. Due to thermal cycle and extreme refinement, they have used in high-performance and racing bike.
Coming to wire-spoked wheels or simply spoke wheels, they are made of steel and are heavier. Spoke wheels are manufactured by connecting steel spokes with the outer rim of the wheel, made of steel or aluminium. Manufacturing spoke wheels require more of human labour. Despite alloy wheels being the most common wheels, spoke wheels have some added advantages and features that make them the best choice for some categories of motorbikes.
Alloy wheels have plenty of advantages. Firstly, alloy wheels are more rigid and sturdier as compared to spoke wheels and are more affordable to manufacture. As alloy wheels are more rigid, they can easily handle a high amount of horsepower and torque. These single-piece wheels have less flux which delivers more consistency and stability while cornering. On the other hand, spoke wheels are less stiff and more durable, making them best suited for off-road bikes, scrambler, dirt bikes and ADVs.
Motorcycles like Ducati Multistrada 1260 Enduro and Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC use tubeless spoke rim while conventional spoke rims are used in bikes like Royal Enfield Himalayan. Spoke wheels are ideally designed with more flexibility than alloy wheels to tackle a certain degree of impacts on rough terrains.
As the spoke wheels are flexible enough, sudden shock and intense pressure in case of hitting a bump do not crack or bend the spoke wheel. Alloy wheels are best suited for on-road street riding where the wheels don’t face any rough patch or large rocks.
Alloy wheels are not easily replaceable and once broken or bent, the wheel needs to be entirely replaced. While in the case of spoke wheels, it’s possible to repair the broken or dented rim. Out there in the wild, replacing inner tubes or individual parts is quite simple and inexpensive. So, the conclusion here is that if you are into off-roading riding, spoke wheels is the best choice due to their strength and flexibility to encounter rough terrains and is easy to repair. Alloy wheels are best suited for street bikers and offer excellent stability at higher speeds.