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Industry Insider:  A Look at the Technology Behind RAYS Wheels

By Mike Kojima

It's no secret that the staff of MotoIQ is really into Rays Volk brand of wheels. You will find Volks on nearly all of our racing projects and most of our personal street cars. No, it's not because we get an endless supply of sponsored Volks, we pay for our own. It's not because we are fans of the styling either, although we do like it. It's not because we are fashion snobs that want the latest high status wheels on our cars either. In typical MotoIQ fashion, we really value function over form. We like Volks due to their performance.

Rays headquarters

An outside view of Rays Japanese manufacturing plant, source of some of the highest tech wheels made in the world.

ALMS Volk

The Rahal Letterman ALMS BMW.

We feel that Volk provides a level of quality and engineering that is unmatched in the world of aftermarket wheels. Volk wheels are a brand of Rays, their parent company. Rays is a Japanese manufacturer that specializes in wheel production. Rays, unlike most aftermarket wheel companies, produces wheels that can easily meet the stringent standards of OEM and performance based customers in the most elite forms of Motorsports such as Formula 1, Super GT, ALMS, BTCC, WTCC, SCCA World Challenge, Grand Am and Pro Drifting.  Rays has been chosen to manufacture for high end OEM vehicles like the Nissan GTR and 370Z, as well as the OEM's performance divisions like NISMO, Mugen, TRD, Ralliart and STi.  It's no coincidence that you will find so many cars, features and project cars on Rays wheels here on MotoIQ.

dai yoshihara volk

Dai Yoshihara

Coming from a Motorsports and OEM engineering background and having worked with Rays directly on many OEM projects, I have had a direct insider's technical view of their engineering and quality prowess. OEM engineering standards are very high, everything is considered from a wheel's weight to its very long term durability both for mechanical strength and weatherabilty.

dai yoshihara

An example of this is Rays' ISO 9000 certification. ISO 9000 is an international standard of quality that looks at everything in a parts manufacturing process, from design to how warranty data is used as feedback to improve the parts produced. Becoming an ISO 9000 certified company is difficult, a culture of continuous improvement and commitment to quality must be ingrained in top management's decision making process and conformance to the standards are verified by an independent outside source. Perhaps this internal culture of quality and excellence is what gives Rays the extra edge.

 Rays F1 wheelALMS Volk

Some of Rays F1 wheels and the forged Magnesium centerlock wheels from the Rahal Letterman ALMS BMW.

 

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Comments
538
538link
Wednesday, June 23, 2010 12:46 AM
Awesome article! What do you think of the strength of Enkei RPF1 wheels? Would you recommend them for track use and are they comparable in strength to Volks?
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Wednesday, June 23, 2010 12:51 AM
They are decently strong and a good wheel, perhaps the best of the cast wheels, they are not a good as the Volks of course but they are cheaper. Personally I only use Volks but if I was on a tighter budget I would not have a problem with them at all.
Jim
Jimlink
Wednesday, June 23, 2010 3:49 AM
Wow. That CNC machine is dimensionally accurate to within one thousandths of a mm. That is impressive. I wonder how they achieve such a tolerance.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Wednesday, June 23, 2010 9:03 AM
It's normal for a top line CNC machine nowdays.
8695Beaters
8695Beaterslink
Wednesday, June 23, 2010 9:31 AM
A lot of people say that when you buy a name brand part you're just paying for the name. In another forum I mentioned that all big names come from somewhere and if their products were not top-notch, they would never have made it to the top to begin with. This is proof positive why Volks are at the top. Our SAE team was considering a set of Volks for our car 2 years ago. We went with Kaiser instead. They have been good, but they have bent. The Volks obviously wouldn't have and perhaps next year we will finally get the budget to upgrade.
BenFenner
BenFennerlink
Wednesday, June 23, 2010 1:10 PM
Buying fake Volks makes absolutely no sense to me. You get 95-100% of the shitty looks and 0% of the excellent manufacturing process and superior engineering. It's a lose-lose situation! =D
M-P
M-Plink
Wednesday, June 23, 2010 2:28 PM
Great article...I loved my old TE37's. I am trying my hardest to not go the cheaper route with RPF1's on my FD track car...I would love a set of CE28N's.

BenFenner, since when do Volks look shitty?
bigdave
bigdavelink
Wednesday, June 23, 2010 2:32 PM
This article is awesome. I drive a lot of 4x4 stuff, so its a lot easier to understand why driving a large tire and heavy wheel on the streets is tiresome.
until240
until240link
Wednesday, June 23, 2010 5:18 PM
Aren't you worried about getting your $3000-4000 wheels stolen?

After price, this is the next thing I worry about.
Jim
Jimlink
Thursday, June 24, 2010 1:59 PM
Great article Mike. Never knew how much work went into them. Now I know why they cost that much. I was just curious. Roughly how much is a top line CNC machine?

# until240

I took the Volk & Rays stickers off my TE37s because I thought they looked better without them and I also didn't want to attract that kind of attention. I worry too sometimes. Without the stickers, I hope people think I'm rolling RAVS VORKS. Isn't that the exact opposite of a girl buying a fake LV purse. Ha ha ha.
bigdave
bigdavelink
Thursday, June 24, 2010 3:33 PM
Just buy 4 sets of wheel locks, 4 locks for each wheel :P
Rush
Rushlink
Thursday, June 24, 2010 7:15 PM
Perfect article!! I want more of this kind of tech
Eric Hsu
Eric Hsulink
Thursday, June 24, 2010 10:26 PM
Want more of this kind of tech? Make sure you spread the link to this story to your friends via email, facebook, and forums you frequent. The only way Mike and staff are going to be able to continue writing cool shit like this is if there are visitors and of course, advertisers.
speedball3
speedball3link
Thursday, June 24, 2010 11:38 PM
Jim, maybe you could go onto Ebay and buy some sick RAV VORKS stickers to throw off some potential thieves and for that *bling* look... =P

Crazy the amount of work that goes into forging a wheel. It's amazing that they can nearly complete a wheel by hitting it a couple times. =)

Oh and maybe it's just me, but I'm not used to reading about RPF1's being cheap. Then again, I haven't really shopped for non-OEM wheels, so what do I know? Though there was the guy on craigslist who was selling steelies w/wheel covers for $600.....
until240
until240link
Friday, June 25, 2010 9:53 AM
#Jim

That's actually a good idea. And I suppose that's what insurance is for.

#speedball3

Cheap is relative. Volks are about $600+ per wheel, RPF1's are about $350 a wheel, Rotas are about $250 per wheel. This is assuming 18" wheels.

Jim
Jimlink
Friday, June 25, 2010 10:19 AM
# speedball3# & until240, I agree and like both your comments. I should just paint some red Chinese dragons over them and get it over with. Ha ha ha! = )
Jim
Jimlink
Friday, June 25, 2010 10:47 AM
Eric, going off your idea, shouldn't Motoiq set up a facebook page for people to "Like," or set up accounts on other community sites too. A lot of stars do it. It's not something you really have to keep up with but just a sign post to direct friends of friends of friends to check out your site. Sometimes I check out my friends "Likes" on facebook just for curiosity sake. Might help to get the word out.
Just_Wanna_Drive
Just_Wanna_Drivelink
Friday, June 25, 2010 5:33 PM
Excellent article [as always]! Very informative, I even linked to this article from our local forums [like w/ all my favorites].

I'm pretty sure that's supposed to be .001" [inch]. MM's are broken down to tenths when dealing w/ machining process and tools.

l--------------l ~1"
l-l ~2mm

Our HAAS CNC machines at work are pretty new and CAN get to within .0005 on a very slow run.
ProTree
ProTreelink
Friday, June 25, 2010 10:11 PM
Mike, can you explain Enkei's MAT process and SSR's semi solid forge process also. thanks!!
Eric Hsu
Eric Hsulink
Saturday, June 26, 2010 12:20 AM
Jimbo: good call on the "like" action. I think there's a giant list of stuff that the site guys have on their to do list, but a great idea. Mike, Frank, Jeff what do you guys think?

ProTree: Enkei MAT = fancy way to describe pressure casting. I mean c'mon, MAT stands for Most Advanced Technology. I'm sorry, but that is lame sounding. While it is probably an advanced casting procedure, it is still cast.

You can read about SSR's SSF process here, but keep in mind that its a virtual sales brochure: Tire Rack. I like Volks, but I've always liked SSRs too.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Saturday, June 26, 2010 4:09 AM
We do have a Facebook page, its our top referral.

http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/MotoIQcom/90592438730?ref=ts

MAT is a cast wheel with a roll formed rim section. It's much better than a conventional cast wheel but not as good as forged, especially not like the Rays 3D forging method.

SSF is also called squeeze casting, the wheel is cast and when it is still mushy, not fully solidified, the mold squeezes the wheel into its final shape. This is way better than casting but not close to the Rays forging method.

Top CNC machines can get to within 0.0001 nowdays, what used to be grinding tolerance.
Jim
Jimlink
Saturday, June 26, 2010 10:34 AM
My bad. I guess I was searching under friends in Facebook, and the right column gets cut off even when I fully expand the page on my laptop so I never noticed the Facebook icon.
Just_Wanna_Drive
Just_Wanna_Drivelink
Sunday, June 27, 2010 6:31 AM
I stand corrected.. That is very impressive that they build a wheel to that close of a spec. Helps explain the $600+ per wheel price tag as well.
BenFenner
BenFennerlink
Monday, June 28, 2010 12:49 PM
M-P, we could get into an in-depth artistic discussion about why Volks look bad but I'm sure I wouldn't change your opinion on the matter, so I'll spare everyone the diatribe.

Obviously that is my opinion, and looks are always subjective. I just have a very solid opinion of what makes a good looking wheel, and what doesn't. Almost all Rays wheels look bad to me for very specific reasons. I'm sure almost everyone else disagrees. No big deal. =)
Random Thoughts Racing
Random Thoughts Racinglink
Tuesday, June 29, 2010 8:53 PM
Thanks for the story Mike, its always interesting to study those companies who work their craft rather than just manufacture parts.
Eric L
Eric Llink
Wednesday, June 30, 2010 11:05 PM
How do you guys feel about Yokohama Advan wheels?
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Wednesday, June 30, 2010 11:12 PM
RAYS makes Advan wheels.
Eric L
Eric Llink
Saturday, July 03, 2010 1:53 PM
really? i didn't know rays made cast wheels.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Saturday, July 03, 2010 2:31 PM
Some of Rays non Volk wheels like some Gram Lites and some Avan are cast.
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