We Solved the Rep Vs Real Wheel Problem

If there’s one thing we know more than anything else, it’s wheels, tires, suspension, and car mods. We’ve dedicated our careers to helping car enthusiasts make informed choices about their next mod. There’s nothing worse than the heated debates over aftermarket wheels, with terms like “real,” & “rep,” getting thrown around without clarity. At MartiniWorks, we’ve made it our mission to set the record straight.

The Evolution of MartiniWorks

Over the past seven years, you’ve probably seen us talking about wheels, often facing criticism for discussing certain models. Why? Because some wheels have sparked controversy in the community, and we felt restricted in addressing these issues openly. But now, we can talk freely about anything.

work t7r martiniworks

Unprecedented Transparency
The concept of a replica (rep) wheel is often misunderstood. In my opinion, the term is overused and misapplied. Many people label wheels as reps without understanding what they’re supposedly replicating. Instead of ignoring this confusion, MartiniWorks aims to be the first brand to clarify the matter.

On our website, you’ll be able to see if a wheel design is a replica, inspired by an existing design, or an original creation. This new feature, paired with a “Construction” filter, provides transparency about the wheels you’re considering.

No one else offers this level of detail. On our site, you’ll know exactly what you’re buying: the origins of the design, how it’s made, and the lowest prices on the internet for brands like Konig and Work Wheels.

Defining our filter took six months of collaboration with experts from Japan to Europe, involving drivers, engineers, designers, and enthusiasts. We believe we’ve developed the best criteria, and the community will be able to weigh in directly on our product pages.

What Our Filter Is Not

Our filter is not an exclusive determination of wheel quality. Any wheel can get damaged. New models or brands aren’t automatically reps. We’re not here to shame anyone for their choices but to educate everyone.

What is a Rep Wheel?

A replica design is one that shares more than 80% of its key features with an existing design used in motorsport or with a global heritage. Key features include:

  • Face of Spoke
  • Hub Center
  • Lip Design
  • Design Elements (emboss/deboss)
  • Sizing & Bolt Pattern Similarities

For example, common designs like the Volk TE37 and Avid AV6, or the BBS LM and Aodhan AH02, fall into this category. Even established brands can produce designs that are essentially reps, such as the Enkei PF01, which is a rep of the Work Kiwami.

work and enkei wheels martiniworks

Why It Matters

A design being a rep doesn’t make it a bad wheel. It might be bad taste. However, many sellers avoid disclosing this information to maximize profits. For instance, a BBS wheel might bring us an 18% margin, while a cheaper Aodhan AFF7 could yield more profit due to its lower price point. 

What is an Inspired Wheel?

This category includes designs that share 40% to 80% of their features with an existing design used in motorsport or that is over 10 years old and no longer in production. Criteria include:

  • Original Wheel Production Design is not still active
  • Wheel in question is present in active motorsport (Drifting & 1 other motorsport)
  • Wheel in question hosts manufacturing qualities necessary for global sales including VIA that original design may not. (strongly recommended for TUV certification)
  • Wheel in question features sizing not available from original wheel production.

What is an Original Wheel?

An original design features less than 40% similarity to any existing design used in motorsport and isn’t produced by any preceding manufacturer. Key elements include:

    • Wheel is commonly accepted as the first of its kind in the marketplace.
    • Wheel in question must meet safety requirements of motorsport use including physical VIA testing & TUV strongly recommended. 
    • Design must be available in multi-mold configurations.
  • Multi-piece wheels will be heavily criticized due to lack of mass production requirements. 

Calling a 1 of 1 multi piece wheel original when it has no safety certification or testing we think is silly. Original surpasses just the design itself, and enters into the legacy of the wheel itself. BBS LM, Volk TE37, Advan Super GT’s, and all the wheels that are way too expensive likely sit in this bracket. Not only that’ they’re still supported. The Enkei RPF1 has been made for over 20 years and is still supported. It deserves the title it has. 

Enkei RPF1 martiniworks

Wheel Construction Explained

  • Gravity Cast: Cheapest, weakest method, seldom used now.
  • Low Pressure Cast: Common, stronger than gravity cast.
  • Rotary Forged: Lighter, stronger, and more cost-effective.
  • Forged: Strongest method, but limited in design options.
  • Multi-Piece: Originally for race cars, now popular for aesthetic flexibility.

Gravity cast is the worst of all manufacturing types, but its the cheapest. Why? Because they pour the metal into the mold and then that’s how the wheel takes shape. Very little pressure, or new technology is used to make these but it’s fairly uncommon to have wheels made this way anymore. 

Then we have low pressure cast, this is what most brands use now which is like gravity cast, but the wheel mold is pressurized from the back to give the metal additional pressure and form to make it a bit stronger. Still heavy, but lighter and less wasteful than gravity cast.

Rotary forged is where most wheels SHOULD sit nowadays and that’s where you’ll start to find wheels lighter, stronger, and carry a little higher cost with them because it takes more time in the factory to make. Rotary forging is when they make the wheel face with a low pressure cast machine, but leave a chunk of that metal on the back barrel; kinda looks like a bicycle wheel. From there, they take these rollers and a shit ton of heat to roll out the metal to match the width needed for the wheel. It maximizes strength but minimizes barrel width so you get a forged like wheel; without the cost. Between that and milling the backpad, you get a super wide range of wheels you can offer without making too many molds.

And then finally, a forged wheel. A big ol’ chunk of aluminum is cut, pulled, rolled and built into the shape we want. These wheels are typically going to be some of the strongest wheels you can find out there; but they do have their limitations in offset, lip size, etc. and design. 

Volk TE37 Supra martiniworks

Which is why multi piece wheels exist. Previously it was for race cars that needed to adjust offsets for various race cars while keeping things affordable and flexible for changing race regulations but nowadays they are used for widebody kits, weird fitment on cars, and to just generally look killer. 

Forged wheels typically don’t have lips and multi piece wheels can do that for you; which is a design thing versus a functional thing but it looks dope. 

The goal here is to tell you guys the truth; the real truth so that you know that when you’re buying car parts, you can get them from people who aren’t trying to “pull a fast one on you” We also don’t want you to see the labels as a bad thing, they’re just a thing. They are what you want them to be and our goal is that when you are picking up aftermarket wheels, you can get them from us with confidence that you’re buying exactly what you think you are. 

We’re excited about this new direction and welcome any questions you have. We’re here to help you navigate the world of aftermarket wheels with transparency and honesty. See you next time!

Dakota Stone

I like to slappa da wheel. Also, I drive a 2020 Toyota Supra. No, its not manual. The engine is from BMW.