posted on January 14, 2014 14:01
Project Gen 3 STi - Wheels, Bars, and Bits
It's single digit temperatures outside and the car is under the knife for a HUGE round of modifications! It doesn't run, we have gotten 14" of snow in the last 48 hours and what are we doing? Why using our daily driver to tow it out of the garage to shoot pictures of our new goodies from Weds Wheels, Progress Suspension, Go Fast Bits, and Kartboy. We risk frost bite to bring you this latest installment of Project Gen3 STi, luckily for you the internet is warm.
Despite the record cold here in Wisconsin, that does not slow us down on our projects! It may alter our tire selection for a car that gets driven year around, but we will not compromise on our component selection and we begin this installment with some automotive erotica from our friends at WedsSport. For our car we knew that the OEM BBS wheels were light, however more than one of our wheels showed "out of round" characteristics and the 8.5" width was a limiting factor for our future tire choices; we employed the Weds SA15R. Weds is known for producing very high quality wheels that are subjected to extensive strength testing to exceed very strict JWL and VIA safety standards. They also designed the SA15 to be affordable and to have a very distinctive appearance in comparison to other wheel offerings. Yes you read that right, Weds wants function AND form. There are plenty of nice looking wheels on the market however Weds desires to stand out and in order to do that they specifically use the Advanced Metal Forming process; let's delve in to exactly how that works.
The AMF process starts by designing a specific wheel face and creating a casting. This allows for more intricate designs than forging permits and is how Weds is able to achieve their distinct styling. They do not simply cast a wheel though, the shape of the casting is designed with the second step in mind as the casting is very narrow with a lot of material placed in specific areas for the second step. The casting is supported by a rim mold and then it is heated and spun while a roller stretches the material over the mold to achieve the desired rim width. The grain pattern of the aluminum is more dense when roll forming versus a simple gravity cast wheel. This allows for greater strength and a thinner profile resulting in a wheel that is lighter and stronger. Depending on the wheel design Weds performs any post mold machining as the final step in the production process. What you wind up with is a wheel that is strong, light weight, looks killer, and is cheaper to manufacture than forged wheels. We are in no way saying this is superior to a fully forged wheel, but for Weds to achieve their company goal it is the ideal process and one that we will take to the track without hesitation. Weds wheels are widely used in motorsport competition in Japan including the Super GT series.
As you can see in the above diagram the initial casting is VERY specific to the Roll Forming process. It begins as a very narrow and thick piece that is supported by a mold and roll formed over it.
With the tech out of the way we chose the SA15R in the 18 x 9.5 +38 5 x 114.3 variety. These wheels weighed in on our scale at 19.6 lbs which is a very respectable weight for a wheel that looks this good, is this strong, and costs less than $395. The color we chose is the GBC offering which stands for Gunmetallic Bronze Clear and the color is hard to describe as it changes based on lighting; aside from GBC, Weds also offers a Blue Light Chrome finish as a more expensive option. Included with the wheels are alloy valve stems as well as center caps.
The GBC color looks very different depending on the lighting. It has a deep bronze hue in sunlight while taking on a gunmetal base tone in the shade, it is a really slick finish that attracts a lot of attentoin without being blaze yellow!
Weds includes center caps as well as black alloy valve stems with their wheels. You can also see some of the intricate rib designs that are part of the casting. These serve to add strength to the spoke design as well as to set their overall appearance apart from other rim designs.