Why are aluminum wheels standard on motorcycle trailers?
You may be aware that all our trailers are equipped with aluminum wheels, but you may not know why. The truth is: there isn’t one good reason. There are, in fact, a lot of very good reasons and that’s why, unlike some of our competitors’ wheels, aluminum wheels are not a costly option. Here are some of the reasons we chose to make aluminum wheels our only choice:
They're better looking
It’s true. Aluminum wheels look a whole lot better than steel. Now, if that were the ONLY reason to go with aluminum, we might have had second thoughts, or offered them as an option. But that is far from the case. We think looks are important, which is obvious by how great our trailers look. It becomes even more obvious if you’ve had your trailer for a few years. Aluminum wheels not only look better when you get them, they continue to look good as time goes by. With just a bit of care, they can look brand new for years and years to come.
But, there are so many other things to consider beyond looks, and you can be sure we’ve considered them all. So… for now, let’s all just agree they look great and move on.
Here’s something you might not know. Wheels are considered “unsprung” weight. That means they are not supported by whatever suspension system a vehicle has in place. The reason this is important is that reducing unsprung weight can significantly improve vehicle dynamics and reduce inertia. In the case of a trailer, if you can reduce weight without reducing strength (see below), you can carry more stuff. And carrying stuff is pretty much what trailers are all about. The reduced weight also improves fuel economy, which becomes more and more important as time goes by. Oh, and a lighter load is easier on the tires, which can also save money.
In addition to weighing less, aluminum is much stronger than steel. Now, we checked this fact on a couple of sources, and it turns out that a forged aluminum wheel is five times stronger than a steel wheel in crush tests. Stronger means longer lasting. It also means that, with aluminum, you get the benefits of lighter weight plus added strength. The best of both worlds. But, in this case, there are even more worlds to get the best of…so to speak.
That doesn’t mean they don’t lie or they won’t cheat on you with some other rider. It means they typically are more perfectly round to begin with and tend to stay that way over time. This adds up to a smoother ride and less rolling resistance. Being truer in shape also means they will last longer and may provide some reduction in tire wear.
Steel wheels are, well, steel. And, they’re welded together. Both steel and welding materials are inferior to aluminum when it comes to getting rid of excess heat. Running cooler means running more safely and, because heat reduces strength, aluminum wheels are often rated for higher loads than comparable steel wheels. So, aluminum wheels don’t only look cooler, they actually ARE cooler. Pretty cool, eh?
You probably know that steel can rust and aluminum cannot. To be fair to our steel-wheeled friends, you can treat or “galvanize” steel wheels to make them more resistant to rust, but they can indeed still rust. This becomes obvious when you examine the area around the lug nuts on a steel wheel. This is often where rust starts and once it starts, it can move on from there. So, while not a deal killer on its own, the rust factor just adds one more negative to the list.
Overall, we think aluminum wheels are well worth the extra cost, particularly when – as in our case – there is no extra cost. They are lighter, stronger and truer. They also don’t rust. They disperse heat more easily. Those are all attributes that serve you well when you are towing. Especially when you’re towing with a motorcycle. And that’s where we come back to looks. Motorcycle trailers have to look good because motorcycles look good. And motorcycle people care about looks. So, in this case it all works out. Good looks and great features go together to make it obvious why we’ve chosen to include aluminum wheels.
A few words about radial tires
Another rolling item you’ll pay more for from our competition is radial tires. We offer them as standard equipment on our Trinity and Alpha trailers. The reason is that radials, although more costly, are better when your trailer has to carry those heavier loads. This is due to the way they are constructed and the materials used.
- Bias-ply tires transmit flexing in the sidewalls to the tread, which can result in a narrower footprint and distortion of the portion of the tread that is in contact with the road.
- Radials provide a flatter and wider area of contact which improves traction.
- Radial tires also provide improved heat dissipation, which, among other things, means they will last longer.
- Their reduced friction results in better fuel economy and the fact that they use steel belts offers greater resistance to road hazards.
As with aluminum wheels, radial tires are simply a better choice for trailers that are designed for carrying loads greater than 1,000 lbs. And that is what we are all about.