Your vehicle's wheels have a tough task, and getting off the road is making it even tougher. That's why off-road wheels must be strong enough to withstand severe driving conditions without cracking and braking, lightweight enough to not decrease vehicle's drivetrain durability, braking performance or acceleration. Not properly chosen off-road wheels may completely spoil your 4WD experience. If you're planning an exciting off-road adventure, it's a high time that you have the best off-road wheels possible. But what wheels are the best for off-roading? Let's take a look.
What Are the Best Off-Road Wheels
The firs think to consider when choosing a set of off-road wheels is the material they are made from and manufacturing techniques used. There are the major types of off-road wheels: steel, alloy cast and alloy forged wheels.
Steel off-road wheels are fairly cheap, strong and easy to repair. The main disadvantage of these wheels is their weigh. Being quite heavy, steel off-road wheels may decrease acceleration and MPG. In certain climates they may easily corrode.
Cast alloy wheels are made from aluminum alloy by casting it in special molds. They are the most common type of off-road wheels thank to their low weight, strength and resistance to corrosion. Though, cast aluminum alloy wheels are more difficult to repair and require polishing, which may be time-consuming.
Forged alloy off-road wheels have the best mechanical properties. They are made from raw block of metal and therefore are very light and 300 times stronger than cast wheels. Forging is a multi-step expensive process, so forged off-road wheels are the most expensive ones on the market.
You might also consider a bead-lock wheel if you're going to air down your tires a significant amount. To understand why, it helps to understand how wheels and tires work together. On a normal wheel, air pressure pushes against your tire's bead, a ring of steel wire shaped to wrap around the rim of the wheel. As pressure increases on the bead, it presses against the lips of the wheel, keeping the tire firmly attached. As pressure decreases, so does the grip of the bead. Air down too much, and your tires can spin on the wheel or, worse, peel completely off.
That's where external bead-lock systems come in. External bead locks feature a ring that clamps the outer bead of the tire to the wheel with a series of bolts. Some bead-locks use eight bolts, while others use 32, 36, even 40 bolts. The number is significant because you need to check bead-lock wheels regularly to make sure the bolts are tight. If you have a 32-bolt system and five tires (including the spare), you'll be checking 160 bolts!
But choosing wheels is not everything. Properly-chosen off-road tires can make the difference. And we're not talking just about size. The type of off-road tires you should choose depends on the topography and driving style. For example, there are all-terrain tires, as well as muddy terrain tires and super swamper tires for the most rugged terrains.
Want to learn more about types of off-road tires? We highly recommend you to read this Off Road Jeep Tires article. Despite its name, the article covers is useful for all offroaders, regardless of their vehicle, because it covers all off-road tires types.