Alloy vs. Spoked Wheels for Your Motorcycle
Alloy wheels and spoked wire wheels are really the only 2 kinds of wheels you’ll see rolling around beneath the typical newer motorcycle. Spoke wire wheels ruled the road from the very first commercialized bikes in the early 1900s until about the late 1960s. The use of single-piece cast magnesium and aluminium alloy wheels soared in the 1970s.
Why are makers still utilizing wire-spoked wheels if single-piece alloy wheels were always the latest and finest and are still the norm for road bikes nowadays? The answer isn’t as simple as it appears. Both wheel options have benefits and drawbacks. Which is preferable relies on as to what you’re riding and where you’re going.
Spoked wheels are nearly universal on off-road bikes, including scramblers, enduros, dirt bikes, and ADVs, for one sole reason: wire-spoked wheels are more robust than single-piece cast wheels. On the street, while enjoying your street bike, you (ideally) don’t come across enormous boulders or deep ruts — maybe the rare pothole, but nothing as punishing as a backcountry single-track. Spoked wheels may flex and bend to an extent, allowing you to traverse more difficult terrain.
Since alloy wheels are more robust, they can manage greater speed and more torque and horsepower with relative ease. The single-piece wheels’ strong, rigid character makes them more dependable in bends, especially at greater cornering speeds where consistency and stability are critical.
Maintenance and Cost
When it comes to the cost and maintenance of motorcycle wheels, there’s a clear inverse relationship between the two types of wheels and the manufacturer and the consumer. Spoked wheels, due to their complicated architecture, still require human hands to connect the spokes from the rim to the centre hub. It’s quite obvious to see why that can be pricier than an automatic machine that smoothly churns out thousands of cast alloy wheels a day. Alloy wheels are much low-priced and easier to manufacture on a large scale.
However, if you push your wired wheels too aggressively up a trail, damage a rim on a rock, or twist a spoke in the woods, changing the component parts is straightforward and affordable. The mass of wired wheels needs inner tubes to patch a puncture, making trail repairs – replacing tubes — a little more time-intensive.
If you smash into a sidewalk or your alloy wheel is sucked by a pothole on the road and suffers a crack or dent, you’ll need to replace the whole wheel. When it relates to flats, though, alloys are tubeless, which means that most flats can be readily filled and you’ll be back on your bike in minutes.
So, if you’re undecided about which wheel to put on your bike, consider how and where you’ll be going to ride. Of course, you could choose wire wheels solely for their iconic aesthetic; just be aware that this style over-function decision can have consequences. Similarly, you could go off-roading with cast alloys on your dirt bike or enduro, but you’re asking for trouble.