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Before I begin, let me just say that it took me several days to come up with this 2,705-word article. But I’m pretty sure this is something that would “make a difference” to the automotive industry. So I’m pretty happy that it was worth my time. Here goes…
Yeah, I know. There are many wheel whores out there who can talk all day about anything and everything to do about wheels (a.k.a. rims, mags, or magwheels). When wheel whores start to talk in their language, you start hearing words like offset, diameter, PCD, and all that. As they start to get more involved in the conversation, it starts to drift into talks about engineering, design, weight, and even metallurgy. More often than not, the conversation eventually goes to Forged versus Cast wheels. Once the topic dwells on that, you can almost be 100% sure that they will start talking about the “Durability of ROTA Wheels”.
Why does the conversation lead specifically to talking about ROTA Wheels? Why not any other brand? Well, let’s just say that ROTA is to wheels as Manny Pacquiao is to boxing. They’re both made in the Philippines, famous worldwide, and known to perform in their respective fields. And along with being famous comes a huge fanbase, as well as the distinctive crowd of haters. So after posting this up, I’ll probably put my flame suit on because it’s a given that you ROTA haters out there will be flaming on me in full force.
What is it that these ROTA haters are so angry about? The argument in all of the many different forums are always the same – they question the durability of ROTA Wheels.
Let’s make a deal. Before you start digging up some random photos of broken wheels (which are more often than not the same photos posted over and over again), and using it as an “I told you so” argument to counter this post, please back it up with proper data, as well as history behind the broken wheel incident first. Otherwise, your argument is of no value. We good?
I, on the other hand, will be talking about facts. Here goes…
Fact 1: Yes, ROTA Wheels are Cast wheels and not Forged. But do not question durability of wheels based on Cast and Forged. There are standards that wheel manufacurers must adhere to in order to ensure safety on road conditions.
Have you ever asked yourself what wheels your brand new car came with? Or better yet, let me give you some examples of high-power vehicles, and see for yourself what type of wheels they came with:
Manufacturer / Wheel Type / Size / Weight
Audi TT Cast 17×7.5 29.0
BMW E36 M3 Cast 17×7.5 22.3
Chevrolet Corvette Z06 02 Cast/Spun 18×10.5 21.0
Dodge Viper – 01 Cast 18×13 32.3
Ford Mustang – Roush (made by Prime) Cast 17×8 26.5
Honda S2000 Cast 16×7.5 18.6
Mazda RX7 FD3S Cast 16×8 15.4
Nissan 240SX 95-98 LE and SE Cast 16×6.5 18.5
Porsche 944 Turbo/951 “Phone Dial” Cast 16×8 20.0
Porsche 968 Cast 17×9 23.0
Porsche 993 Cast 17×9 19.5
Porsche 996 Cast 18×10 23.4
Porsche Boxter Cast 17×8.5 22.7
Porsche Club Sports Cast 16×9 21.5
Porsche Cup Cast 18×10 29.3
Alright, so these cars come from the factory with cast wheels. So if these manufacturers found cast wheels to be good enough, then why did certain wheel manufacturers come out with forged wheels?
There are many sources for you to research on the difference between casting and forging. But the simple explanation is that forged wheels are for those who demand even higher performance levels than that of cast wheels. The technology of forging allows an engineer to create a wheel design that has a higher specific strength as well as higher toughness (engineering term for ability to absorb energy) than what it could have been if it were done via casting. Basically, the idea of forging is to bring down the weight of the wheel (i.e. using less material), while still keeping it relatively strong. Why is that important? Because the people who demand this level of performance take the following metrics into consideration: Moment of Inertia, and Unsprung Mass.
Of course, demanding for this level of performance comes with a premium, as forging is definitely more expensive than casting. So ask yourself first if you take into account these two metrics in your quest for better performance. If not, then aren’t you paying more for the luxury of having more expensive wheels, than for its practical benefits?
Fact 2: ROTA Wheels meet all JWL and VIA standards. Because they’re supposed to!
Would you be surprised if I told you that ROTA is probably the one who manufactured the OEM wheels for that car sitting in your garage? Yes, the ROTA plant is one of the biggest manufacturers of OEM wheels for various brands like Mitsubishi, Isuzu, Ford, Nissan, Toyota, and Mazda.
Who else is in this type of business, you might ask? Well, in terms of large-scale OEM wheel manufacturing, ROTA’s biggest competitor is Enkei.
So before we proceed any further, let’s define both JWL and VIA:
“JWL” (Japan Light Wheel Alloy) is a compilation of standards defined by the Japanese Government to ensure the vehicle’s safety for aluminum road wheels. Every wheel put to market must be tested to meet JWL standards before a wheel can be put out to market in Japan.
These standards are generally accepted worldwide as acceptable for most road conditions. That is why you will see these marks on European and other Asian country wheels.
“VIA” (Vehicle Inspection Association Registration System). VIA marking can only be engraved on the wheel if registered by Japan Light Alloy Automotive Wheel Testing Council after strict quality tests by the authorized testing facility on the adaptability of JWL or JWL-T (Japan Light Alloy Wheel Truck & Bus) technical standard.
While other brands advertise that they have their own “additional” test standards that they say are higher than that of JWL and VIA (e.g. JWL+R for Rays Engineering, Spec-E for Enkei), ROTA Wheels also does their own additional tests like Rays and Enkei, although they just don’t advertise it (maybe they should). Why do you think the OEMs trust ROTA to manufacture their OEM wheels? To stay competitive in the OEM Wheel Manufacturing business, they must show the OEMs that ROTA’s standards are better than others, and even better than what has been set by JWL and VIA.
To sum it all up, the JWL and VIA standards have been set and are accepted worldwide for aluminum road wheels for most road conditions. Putting these wheels, or any other wheels for that matter (meeting JWL and VIA standards), under anything outside of most road conditions, will test the limits of the wheels.
But hey, isn’t it the same with any other part of your car that you put to the test in rigorous motorsports conditions? Remember, a chain is no stronger than its weakest link. So I urge you to go and ask the motorsports teams who use ROTA wheels what is usually the first part of their cars that fail. With the big fat budgets of motorsports teams, would you think they would be using ROTA wheels if it were their weakest link?
Which leads me to my next fact…
Fact 3: ROTA is a trusted brand in various forms of motorsports, all over the globe.
In the world of Drifting, the Driftworks team is known to be probably the most successful drift team in Europe. Pictured above is their world-famous 720hp 2JZGTE-powered Driftworks Nissan S15 which runs on 18x12in Rota GTR-Ds.
Phil Morrison, owner of Driftworks, was asked by Speedhunters as to why he runs ROTA Wheels, even on his daily driver E46 BMW M3. Here’s what he had to say:
“Simple reason is because they are light, strong, and most importantly I didn’t have to go through a load of idiots telling me that I wouldn’t be able to, and shouldn’t fit 10’s all round.”
He goes on to say:
“Would I ever buy a set of TE37 even if Rota had never made these wheels? The answer is a simple no. They are massively overpriced for what they are, and the designs nearly 20 years old, so wah! Those who are mocking the fact I say they are strong need to do some research. We have used Rota wheels on our road cars, track cars and drift cars for 5 years. I’ve personally owned about 20 sets, and we have sold over 1000 wheels. We have never had nor heard of a failure that wasn’t due to a crash… I actually use this car for a lot more than daily driving. It’s my track car as well when I don’t want to drift the S15 I take this car to a local track or to the Nurburgring. It get’s some serious abuse, and deals with it all day long. I never thought I’d say it about a BMW, but I think it’s an awesome car, and will only let it go when a 997GT3RS makes it’s way into my life.”
Meanwhile, the 2011 British Drift Championship winner is another car running on ROTA Wheels – Matt Carter’s Falken S14.5, pictured on right. His teammate, Alan Green, pictured left, also runs on ROTAs.
In Racing, check out the 2009 Redline Time Attack Street National AWD Champions – Turn In Concepts, running 17×9 Rota DPT wheels.
Element Tuning Subaru STi on Rota DPT wheels reigning supreme on the 2011 US Time Trial Championships. The opponents? European muscle such as the V10 Lamborghini Gallardo Superlegerra and the Porsche 997 GT3, as well as American muscle in the form of race-tuned Dodge Vipers and Corvettes.
In the world of Drag Racing, the World’s Fastest Evolution VIII is the AMS Performance Drag EVO wearing ROTA Slipstream Wheels. 1,220 All-Wheel Horsepower, 671 ft/lbs of Torque, Best 1/4 Mile of 8.42 @ 171 mph, and a Standing Mph of 228 mph.
After reading this, are you still questioning how much horsepower ROTA Wheels can manage?
How about an Exotic Car wearing ROTA Wheels? Check out this TVR Sagaris rolling on Rota Boost wheels.
Want to see a reputable source showing cars all over the world running on ROTA Wheels? Check it out on Speedhunters.
Speaking of Motorsports, JWL and VIA Standards, and the fact that there’s no standard for “abuse”, there is one type of wheel labeling that I’m very curious about – “For Racing Purposes Only” or “Only For Competition Use” Wheels. While ROTA does not come out with wheels labeled as such, some other brands do.
Why are people so reluctant to use them on the street? Does it mean it’s weaker? Moreover, don’t you wonder what standard was used for these “competition wheels”, if there is actually no standard for testing anything outside “most road conditions”?
What determines what is for competition and what is not? Read through those links and you’ll start to see arguments about differences between racetracks being generally smooth tarmac, and streets filled with potholes, where you expect to “install and forget” the wheels, and counter-arguments saying there’s more abuse during racing than on regular street use. Does it make you wonder which wheels are stronger? Is it those that meet JWL and VIA standards, or those that are labeled “For Competition Use Only”? If you think it’s the “For Competition Use Only” wheels, as you get to abuse it in motorsports events, then why is there apprehension to use it on the street?
ROTA makes no such “For Competition Use Only” wheels. Whatever wheels you see being used by race teams during motorsports events are the very same wheels you can get from ROTA for use on your street car.
And lastly, please don’t get me started on the “who copied who” argument. The fact that you’re so good at finding out what a ROTA is from something that is not, means you can tell the difference. Same as how you can tell the difference between the wheels below.
People say that ROTA Wheels are “Replica Wheels”. I beg to disagree. Check any dictionary and you’ll see that “Replica” is defined as an exact or accurate reproduction of an object. Like replicas of Louis Vuitton bags and other fashion items. People who buy these items most likely want to pose as owners of the originals. But like I said, ROTA Wheels are not replica wheels. Their products do not say “Volk Racing” or anything like that. They are built as ROTA Wheels, and are sold as ROTA Wheels. If people put stickers of other brands on it, it is beyond the control of the factory. But since they are not replicas, this is the reason why a lot of people can actually tell the difference.
There are only so many ways by which you can come up with spoked designs, and make it work. If one manufacturer takes inspiration from a design made by another, and creates their own rendition of it, is it still a replica?
Though I will not agree that ROTA Wheels are replicas, what I will agree to are that ROTA Wheels have been “inspired” by other designs. Just as the wheels I’ve shown you on the photos above have been inspired by those done by others. Though they were inspired by other brands, ROTA Wheels have their own angles, as well as their own fitment, which is why people can tell them apart from the designs they were inspired from. Now does that still make it a replica? Or is it now an original?
Anyway, that’s not the whole point of this article. The point I would like to put across is that people buy things for a purpose. You can’t buy a cast wheel and expect it to perform like a forged wheel. Then complain about cast wheels not being “up to par” with the abuse you put it through. Remember, JWL and VIA standards are set for MOST ROAD CONDITIONS. Not for abuse. There is no test standard for abuse.
On the flipside, those who do buy cast wheels actually purchase them because you can’t expect a forged wheel to cost like a cast wheel. Fine, you can get them for a lower cost in the used market. But do they come readily available in your preferred specifications? And how can you tell if they have been put through a life of abuse or have been damaged before they come into your hands?
I know you can have numerous rebuttals at me and can throw various types of arguments at me for posting this. There will be no end to this argument and I can easily say I just picked up a rock to bang on my head for no reason than to get flamed. But this is Custom Pinoy Rides – one of the best car blogs in this side of the world. And because of that, I have a social responsibility to speak up and make myself heard. I’m not trying to destroy anyone or any other brand, and I’m not trying to flame you if you don’t agree with what I am saying. I’m just stating facts. So if you’re thinking of flaming me with your nonsense which you can’t back up with facts, think twice or you might just make yourself look bad. Ayt?
Otherwise, if you agree with me, then do share this article to those whom we can probably shed some light to. Because as Mike Garrett of Speedhunters says:
“[Wheels] are probably the most important component in how a car looks, right? Some people say that wheels to a car are like shoes to a person, but in my opinion the importance of having decent wheels on a car is more important than the shoes someone is wearing…”
Nuff said! I gotta go get some shut-eye. Let’s talk more later. If you have something better to say, then put it on the comments. Cheers!
Other Interesting Stuff:
– What the JDM LEAF SIGN a.k.a. “Wakaba” Really Means
– The PROPER use of the JDM Tilting Plate Holder