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GEAR GURU – WHEELS ON THE BUS

These days, the majority of modern four-wheel drives roll off the factory floor already fitted with fancy new alloy wheels. And while this is a great thing in terms of aesthetics and reduced unsprung weight when compared to traditional steel wheels, factory wheels can have their limitations.

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Firstly, factory wheels are stupidly expensive to replace if damaged. So much so, that one factory Toyota LandCruiser alloy rim for example would cost almost as much as a full set of many aftermarket alloys. Secondly, who doesn’t want to stand out from the crowd? A new set of wheels is one of the easiest and most cost effective ways to change the appearance of your vehicle.

It doesn’t matter if you are chasing a wild look, or just want a simple and strong steel wheel for maintenance free off-road duties. These are some of the coolest four-wheel drive wheels that could be yours!

ALLIED PHANTOM

Take a close look at this wheel and you will notice it’s not just made up from some fancy and obscure pattern. No sir… its design is made up of a bunch of skulls, which is no doubt why this wheel is aptly named the Phantom. One thing is for sure though, these wheels will get plenty of attention from jealous onlookers. The other thing you will notice is people staring at your four-wheel drive like a rolling seeing-eye puzzle, squinting and eventually exclaiming with joy, “Oh, I get it now… skulls in the wheel”. Either way, they look great, are built tough and would be just the thing to set off a bad-arse truck.

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ALLIED SAVANNA

An alloy rim with the option of an off-road only beadlock, a street friendly imitation beadlock or a smooth factory styled machined silver wheel? Sign us up! The Allied Savvana is available in three options, so no matter what you want from a wheel there is an option in the Savanna range. The beadlock is for off-road use only as mentioned, however the imitation beadlock is roadworthy and offers additional protection from rocks and deep ruts. If you want to retain a more factory look then the machined silver option works well. But you have to admit, the dressed up version with the imitation beadlock looks pretty sweet!

AMERICAN RACING RIBELLE

Just the ticket if you are looking for maximum bling on your rig. The American Racing Ribelle is one of those wheels that looks kind of basic in the flesh, but once mounted to a tyre and fitted to a vehicle becomes simply beautiful. This is due to the bold lines and sharp contrasting angles, but what I love about this wheel is the different finish options available. Either a PVD Chrome (Physical Vapour Deposition) finish that is non-porous, more environmentally friendly than conventional chrome techniques and will never pit or peel. It also looks great! For those who aren’t keen on having a wheel so bright you can see your reflection in it, a machined matte black option is there, too.

ATX SLOT

A personal favourite, the ATX Slot is also proving to be very popular, especially with Toyota owners that have a 5-stud rim (5×150 PCD). Instead of forking out $1000 per wheel from Toyota, you can bolt on these modern yet stylish wheels for a quarter of the price. The design is traditional, yet incorporates a smooth silver band around the rim, which almost looks like a beadlock without affecting on-road driving performance or legalities. This will be a wheel we will start seeing a lot more of, and would really set off an otherwise boring Toyota Troop Carrier or Cab Chassis. Yes they are available to suit many other makes and models too. Oh, it must be said the ATX Slot comes in any colour you like… as long as it’s satin black.

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ATX TEXAN

Much like the Allied Phantom, the ATX Texan has a bit of a hidden design feature. Take a look at the small cut-out on each spoke, and if you look hard enough it might make you thirsty. Looks like a beer bottle to me! And if you’re not a drinker it could quite easily be a cricket bat. But don’t for a moment think the ATX Texan is a novelty; it incorporates many robust features to ensure it goes the distance. Firstly, the open design allows for easy cleaning which extends the life of the wheel dramatically. You have the choice of a PVD Chrome finish (like the ATX Slot) or a machined finish with satin black windows. The centre cap is also supplied at no extra cost.

DICK CEPEK GUNMETAL 7

Wheels are a personal preference, but it’s hard to deny how special these Gunmetal 7s look. Looks aside, the Gunmetal 7 range incorporates some distinctly unique features that are quite ground breaking for a four-wheel drive wheel. The trend with modern vehicle manufacturers is to run rims with extreme positive offset, however if you fit these to your older four-wheel drive you will find it scrubbing on steering components and so on. This is why Dick Cepek offers the Gunmetal 7 in a wide selection of offsets from +38 all the way to -13. The classy looks can be attributed to the seven-spoke design and the gunmetal grey metallic finish combined with machined aluminium.

MICKEY THOMPSON CLASSIC III

You have to love and admire the traditional styling of the Mickey Thompson Classic range. And while the latest Classic III might look similar to the original wheel, it has benefited from plenty of subtle design changes and additional features to better suit modern vehicles. Firstly, internal brake caliper clearance has been increased to make room for the bigger braking systems found on modern vehicles. A screw on centre cap replaces the old style push-through cap, which is even embossed with a cool MT logo. Looks aside, the Classic III has an increased load rating over previous models, so you know this wheel has been built for work and play.

MICKEY THOMPSON SIDEBITER

Wheels designed to match the appearance of an aggressive tyre sidewall? Now I’ve seen everything! The Mickey Thompson Sidebiter has been designed to emulate the sidewall tread of Mickey Thompson’s own race tyres (he was a pioneer of sidewall-tread after all). With a tough satin back finish the Sidebiter is easy to keep clean. It’s also tough, so tough a lifetime limited guarantee is offered against structural defects. A huge array of sizes are available too, from 15 inch all the way up to 20 inch, as well as offset and rim width choices, too. If you are already running Mickey Thompson tyres, it makes plenty of sense to check out the Sidebiter range too.

ROH TRAK 2

For some people, functionality is more important than looks (gasp… shock… horror). This is why many four-wheel drivers retain simple steel wheels on their off-road machine. Steel wheels have the benefit of being able to be bashed into shape if they bend or are damaged, and they avoid rock rash better than alloys (at the expense of weight). Steel wheels aren’t all created the same though, with some brands of steel wheels even being banned from use in heavy-duty applications such as mining. This is why we like the ROH TRAK 2, as it is actually a preferred choice for mines in Australia. This means they are proven to tolerate the harshest conditions found anywhere. Basically, if you bend them you are probably doing something wrong.

WALKER EVANS 501 LEGEND

If you have been involved or have any interest in the racing world you would have no doubt come across Walker Evans wheels. Well, now you can own a street legal version known as the 501 Legend. The aggressive look is courtesy of the imitation beadlock on the outer surface, that provides some protection for the alloy lip. Race bred construction technologies means these street legal wheels are built to last. You even get the choice of a satin black finish with a satin clear coat, or satin black with diamond cut face and satin clear coat. Be the envy of your motorsport loving mates with a set of 501 Legend wheels from Walker Evans.

CSA JAKAL

Those of you looking for something a little funky, the Jackal from CSA definitely deserves a look. It’s an aggressive looking wheel thanks to the two-tone, black-on-machined alloy finish, but once you get past that, it’s actually rather traditional too. Either way, we like it! And a lot of other people do to, as the wheel is available to fit plenty of popular older and modern off-roaders on the market with 5- or 6-stud patterns. There is a choice of 16, 17, 18 and 20 inch wheels in the CSA Jackal range, so it doesn’t matter if you want a tough alloy wheel for exploring, or something more high profile for being seen around town.

DYNAMIC D STEEL WHEEL

Hey, if you still want to rock steel wheels, then more power to you. But why stick with the traditional, dime-a-dozen steel wheel design when you could have the coolest steel wheels on the market. Dynamic have long been players in the four-wheel drive game, and while the Dynamic D isn’t a new wheel, it still looks as current as the day it was first unboxed. The even cooler thing is that the uniquely designed steel wheel will fit plenty of vehicles, from Jeep to Land Rover, Toyota to Nissan, Ford and even Suzuki. If you want a solid and sharp looking steel wheel in a 15, 16 or 17 inch size, this could be the one for you.

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