The days when the sportbikes were scarcely seen on our roads and all of them were being imported and hence were only limited to the certain class of society. It was but natural that we the masses were used to attracted towards those bikes which were mainly boasted with alloy wheels. Now when the time has changed and the entire World is looking towards us specially for the automobile sector, we have almost all the major players of the Globe with their World class offerings including both spoke and alloy wheeled motorcycles.
Even our own Indian manufacturers have put the product lineup equipped with both kinds of wheels on option. Now the question which comes to our mind quite often is, whether the alloy wheels are just for looks or they have any special property? There must be something fundamentally different as you must have never seen any dirt bike (off-road) with alloy wheels and never ever seen any super sportbike with spoke wheel. Lets check it out why this happens?Alloy Wheels:
The alloy wheels are made up of light weight metal alloys mainly aluminum or magnesium, the process involved in making the alloy wheels is majorly casting, where the extremely hot molten alloy is poured into ready-made cast of the wheel and after cooling down the raw wheel is extracted from the casting mold and then after finishing it is ready for use.
For strength and durability there is another method used for making the alloy wheels and it is "Forging" which is used for making more durable alloy wheels for race spec super sportbikes. The process starts with a solid metal piece which is pressed by a hydraulic pressing machine at very high temperature to make a compressed round piece of that metal, which is further sent to the CNC machine to cut the extra metal from that circular piece of metal and finally there comes a forged alloy wheel which is several times stronger than the cast alloy wheel used in our commuter motorcycles. Why Alloy Wheels?
Alloy wheels are made up of light weight metal therefore the final product is lighter than the spoke wheel which is made up of steel rim. The reduction of weight caused by the alloy wheels make significant difference in cut throat competition in racing bikes and they add into the fuel efficiency of the commuter bikes as well.
At high to very high speeds the solid alloy wheels provide great stability as compare to the spoke wheels which are not that stable at high speeds due to its flexible nature, which comes from the spokes of the wheel. Spoke Wheels:
The spoke wheels are consisted of a steel rim and spokes that are made up of both steel and other metals. The spokes are attached to the hub where the brake drum or the disc brake situates, the other extreme end of the spoke is screwed with nipples on the circular steel rim. The whole structure makes a sturdy yet flexible wheel base for the rubber tyre. Why Spoke Wheels?
On a motorcycle the tyre is a first contact point with the tarmac, hence if we start sequencing the parts come into play while absorbing the shocks, it is the tyres that comes first, whose rubber absorbs the shock first then it is the wheel. And in case of spoke wheels the flexible property of it plays important role in absorbing shocks next to the rubber of the tyres. It is then the actual shock absorber takes the charge and effectively absorbs the shocks. Now, you understand why the off- roading motorcycles or the Motocross machines are equipped with spoke wheels rather than the alloy wheels, because they are more interested in the flexibility of the wheel and the additional shock absorbing property of the spoke wheels. Whereas the super sportbikes have more concerns about the speed and the high speed stability that alloy wheels provide with their strong and more rigid characteristic.
To get a proof of the same, take instance of the wheel craking or beaking of alloy wheels complaints coming from the KTM Duke owners. There could be two possible reasons for that to be happened, the fragile & light weight alloy wheels are not flexible enough to take on the big pot holes on our roads and the other is the possible abuse from the respective owners of the bike, as doing stunts on the bike equipped with cast alloy wheels always have a chance of wheel misalignment and in extreme cases wheel breaking.
Hope now you all got the difference of both kinds of wheels on motorcycle and their respective pros and cons. Please drop your comments on the same in our comment section below.
By: Farhan Kashif