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Best Dirt Bike Wheels and Rims 2020

Best Premium Dirt Bike Rims

D.I.D Rims Dor Dirt Bikes 2020
D.I.D. Dirt Star ST-X 2020

Best Dirt Bike Wheel Set

Talon Ultralight Dirt Bike PowerWheels 2020
Talon Ultralight 2020

Best Value Dirt Bike Rims

Excel Best Dirt Bike Rims 2020
Excel Racing Signature 2020

Dirt bike parts and accessories become a very significant part of the ongoing upgrade path for any committed rider. Your dirt bike wheels and rims, plus their associated parts, are vital components. This article will explain some of the fundamental considerations that each component requires. We will also look at the role each of these parts undertakes while keeping you moving forward. It is our aim to help you make an informed choice when replacing your wheels or rims.

 

The components that we will consider in this article are:

  1. Dirt bike rims
  2. Dirt bike wheels

 

Finally, we will answer some of the most frequently asked questions riders ask when searching for dirt bike wheels and rims. We will deal with the most important of those questions right upfront

 

Why do my dirt bike wheels make a difference?

There are two main areas to consider when replacing the rims, or wheels on your motorcycle. These factors are weight and strength. 

Dirt bike riders need to keep their bike as manoeuvrable as possible. When you are negotiating obstacles out on the trails or looking for a competitive edge on a circuit, the weight of your dirt bike comes into play. Landing jumps, accelerating hard and hitting objects at speed all place significant stress on the various components of your wheels. 

Let’s look at the key areas in more detail.

 

Weight reduction on your dirt bike

You can shave off grammes here and there with lightweight components; however, there is no higher weight saving to be had on a motorcycle than with its wheels. The reason for this is simple physics. Your wheels rotate. That is their job. When an object turns, we experience a phenomenon called rotational, (also called centrifugal) force. Have you ever swung a bucket full of water, or an object on the end of a piece of string? 

The energy that keeps the water in the bucket, or that keeps the object on the line pulling away from your hand, is centrifugal force. You see a similar thing happen when you spin-dry your dirt bike gear in the washing machine. That outward force is measurable. The heavier the object, the higher that rotational force is. When your dirt bike wheels are spinning, they create the same effect.

What’s more, there are two of them. The heavier the rim or wheel components, the more that force affects the handling of your bike. If you need further convincing, look at this video.

If you have been on a roller-coaster, then you know just how much that force will affect you. What does this mean for you and your bike? Put simply; the effects created by two spinning wheels are working against you when you want to stop, accelerate, or turn your bike quickly. When you are moving slowly over obstacles, rotational force is negligible. At low speeds gravity takes over. Whether you are moving fast or slow, you need lighter wheels. In fact, any spinning component needs to be as light as possible.

Let’s move on…

 

Strength, and your dirt bike rims

This is where things get interesting. The need for lightweight rims and associated components has to be traded off against the strength required to stop a wheel buckling when you land a jump, hit a tree trunk, or bounce over that rutted ground. Logically then, the most lightweight and durable combinations of materials are best. Too weak and your rims will crack or buckle. Too heavy and your effective stopping distance and cornering are affected.

Before we get into the function of individual components, here are our recommendations for the top five products in each of the three main categories; Dirt bike rims, Dirt bike wheels and Dirt bike wheel sets.

 

TOP 5 Best Dirt Bike Rims

Your dirt bike rims are one of two main components in the structure of the wheels. The rims hold the dirt bike tire and tubes, (if you use them). They also deal with the main job of driving you and your dirt bike forward. Rims are connected to your bike by spokes which are laced into the wheel hubs. When choosing rims, you need to consider the following:

Rim Diameter:

Front rims come in a range of sizes from 17 inches (junior) to 21 inches (full size). Larger rims work well over obstacles and bumpy terrain. Your dirt bike manufacturer, body size, and the style of your riding will dictate which you should pick.

Rear rims are offered between 14 inches (junior) and 19 inches (full size) variants. Rear rims deal with delivering power to the ground. To aid traction, and increase accelerating capacity rear rims hold wider tyres than the front wheel, and smaller diameters. You will need to use the manufacturer’s guide, style of riding and your own body size to find the right wheel for you.

All manufacturers offer advice on which rim sizes are appropriate for your bike.

 

1. Moose Racing Dirt Bike Rims

Moose Raching Dirt Bike Rims 2020Moose Racing was formed in the mid-eighties to meet the ever-developing needs of a group of hardcore off-road riders. As they hit the trails in and around the Rocky Mountains, they put ever-increasing demands on their dirt bikes. Moose Racing became synonymous with robust, reliable parts. The reputation has grown over the last thirty-plus years. From wet woodlands to dusty deserts, and out on the competitive circuits of the world, Moose has an excellent reputation for affordable, robust products.

Front Wheels available:

21 inch and one width

Rears Available:

18 inch and 19-inch diameter with up to three widths (Colour/manufacturer Dependant)

Colours: Black, Silver, Orange, Blue

Material: High-grade aluminium

 

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2. Best Dirt Bike Rims: Excel Racing Signature

Excel Best Dirt Bike Rims 2020Excel is a Japanese company, born out of the incredibly high demands of aircraft engineering. Founded in the 1930s, Excel has a superb reputation. 20 years of working with top grade aircraft materials stood Excel in good stead when it started manufacturing motorcycle wheels in the 1950s. Since that time, we have seen many world-class riders bringing their machines home to win on these exceptional rims. Relocation from Japan to Malaysia, via Thailand, happened in the nineties.

Expect to see these rims on some of the top factory team machines.

Fronts available:

10 inch to 21-inch diameter, and two widths (Colour/manufacturer Dependant)

Rears Available:

12 inch and 19-inch diameter with up to three widths (Colour/manufacturer Dependant)

Colours: Black, Silver, Yellow, Blue. Gold

Material: High-grade aluminium

 

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3. D.I.D. Dirt Star ST-X – Best Rims for Dirt Bikes

D.I.D Rims Dor Dirt Bikes 2020D.I.D is another high quality Japanese manufacturer of chains and wheel components for dirt bikes, road bikes and bicycles. Formed in the 1930s, D.I.D. has become the leading manufacturer in the world. All of the major motorcycle brands, for road and off-road, use their products. Although chains are their most prominent market, D.I.D. rims are superb products. With three grades of the retrofit rim, the ST-X represents the top of the tree if you are after strength and performance for the harshest conditions.

If you are looking to trim the budget down, or require a more extensive range of finish, then the Dirt Star and standard D.I.D. rim are worth a look. We chose the ST-X as it is the most robust, high-performance rim we could find. These rims brought home the world championship super-cross, motocross and straight rhythm titles in 2019, and the 2020 Dakar Rally with Honda; 2020. World-class is not an exaggeration.

Fronts available:

21-inch diameter, and two widths (manufacturer Dependant)

Rears Available:

18 inch and 19-inch diameter with up to two widths (manufacturer Dependant)

Colour: Black

Material: High-grade aluminium alloy

 

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4. S.M. Pro Motocross Rims

S.M. PRO Dirt Bike WheelsThe S.M. Pro rims are a fierce competitor for our other “top dirt bike rims”. SM are a relative newcomer to the art of making competitive rims having come to the market just over ten years ago. Based in Birmingham UK, S.M. is one of the few British manufacturers in existence. The engineering expertise is there with the Platinum product range. What S.M. Pro lack in years, they more than makeup for in product range. The Platinum rim is the lightest, most robust rim on the market, which is why many wheel builders offer the brand as a part of their portfolio of products.

The Platinum rim comes in a vast array of colours too. With sizes for every class of dirt bike, it is easy to see how S.M. Pro has made a mark for itself in this hugely competitive market.

Fronts available:

Junior: 12 inches to 19-inch diameter, and up to two widths (Manufacturer Dependant)

Senior: 18 inches to 21-inch diameter, and three widths (manufacturer Dependant)

Rears Available:

Junior: 10 inches to 16-inch diameter with up to three widths (manufacturer dependant)

senior: 18 inches and 19-inch diameter with up to two widths (manufacturer dependant)

Colours:

Gloss: Black, silver, gold, red, blue, green, orange. Yellow, purple, pink

Matte: Silver, black, gold

Material: High-grade T6 aluminium

 

5. Pro Wheels

Pro Wheels Dirt Bike RimsFor our final dirt bike rim, we go back state-side. Granite State, Washington is home, and Pro-Wheels has been producing competitive products for a little under twenty years. There is a wide range of manufacturer options, quality components, and many race teams have adopted them for competitive riding.

Dirt Bike rims are Pro-Wheel’s core product, and the current 2020 range represents 4th generation design. With this continual honing and development, the Pro-Wheel product deserves a place in our top five.

Fronts available:

Junior: 14 inches to 19-inch diameter, and up to two widths (Manufacturer Dependant)

Senior: 21-inch diameter, and one width (manufacturer Dependant)

Rears Available:

Junior: 10 inches to 16-inch diameter with up to three widths (manufacturer dependant)

senior: 18 inches and 19-inch diameter with up to two widths (manufacturer dependant)

PRO Wheels also offer pee-wee size wheels.

Colours: Black, silver, gold, red, blue

Material: High-grade aluminium

 

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TOP three Best Dirt Bike Wheels

Dirt bike wheels usually refer to a complete assembly of the rim, spokes and hub. As a rider, you can then choose your own disc brake components, dirt bike tires, rim locks and tube. The main advantage of buying a dirt bike wheel combination is that the wheel assembly and initial set up of spokes are done for you.

We have looked at the best wheel combinations on the market. When choosing our suggested products, we have considered performance, durability, reputation and value for money. We have found cheap dirt bike wheels on the market, but many have poor reviews, with riders citing spoke failure, rim failure and unreliable construction. High-quality wheels may fail if not looked after correctly, or if you are involved in a substantial impact of some kind. No wheel is indestructible. Our suggestions are based on consistently high feedback and personal experience with the products.

 

1. Best Dirt Bike Wheels: SM Pro Platinum

S.M. PRO Platinum Dirt Bike Wheels 2020The SM. Pro wheel is based on the outstanding performance of the SM Platinum Rim from our top five rims. An SM Pro, the Platinum wheel is made from the following component set, fitted to the Platinum rim:

  • SM. Pro hub
  • SM. Bulldog Spoke
  • SM. Anodised Nipple
  • SM. Pro Hub features:

SM. Pro Hub’s have a 36 hole combination, and are made from high-grade billet aluminium. With high-performance bearings already fitted, you can add your tires, and brake components and fit these competition wheels directly to your bike with minimal setup. The hubs are lightweight and run efficiently for all types of riding.

 

SM Bulldog Spoke features:

Bulldog spokes are constructed from high-grade stainless steel. They combine tensile strength with durability, to ensure the best performance and longevity.

 

SM Anodised Nipple features:

Lightweight aluminium nipples which will keep your wheel tight and accurate, while maintaining that all-important rotational force to a minimum.

Colours: A wide range of anodised colours and combinations are available. You will need to specify the make, model and year of your bike when ordering.

 

2. Talon Ultralight – Best Wheels for Dirt Bikes

Talon Ultralight Dirt Bike PowerWheels 2020The Talon Ultralite is aimed at the rider who wants impressive weight saving, combined with maximum performance. With a set of Ultralite wheels, you will instantly feel the benefit over stock budget wheels. Your bike will turn quicker, and brake/accelerate faster.

This wheel is designed with racing in mind.

The Ultralite wheel Is available with a choice of the following rims:

Talon ACR./Excel Signature/Excel A60

 

The components that make up the wheel are, the Talon Ultralite hub, carbon composite spokes and nickel-plated nipples. This combination of high tech, lightweight materials makes for a very high-performance product. Bearings are high-performance competition standard.

Hub Colours: (manufacturer specific)

Gold, Titan, Red, Black, Mag, Silver, Orange, Green, Blue Rim: Black, Blue, Red, Gold, Silver

 

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3. Best Dirt Bike Wheels: Warp 9

Warp 9 Dirt Bike Wheel Sets 2020Warp 9 is based in Utah. The Warp 9 racing wheel is delivered built and trued. Of course, you should always check how true a wheel is running after delivery, as things can get upset in transit. The Warp 9 fits standard manufacturer sprockets and rotors; however, it does come with a sprocket and rotor included. You can remove these to use your stock products, or retrofit products if required.

Including a sprocket and rotor is a bold move. While it gives a unique selling point over some other wheels, it could be extra hardware that is simply not required. We would love to see a version without the sprocket and rotor, more in line with other wheels, and perhaps at a slightly lower price point.

The Warp 9 wheel consists of;

  • Warp 9 Branded High-grade aluminium rim
  • Warp 9 branded Lightweight aluminium billet hub
  • Stainless steel spokes and nipples
  • Pre-greased competition bearings
  • Stainless steel sprocket and rotor

Colours: Range of finishes according to manufacturer

 

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Frequently asked questions About Dirt Bike Wheels and Rims:

Is it easy to build my own dirt bike wheels?

It may come as no surprise that very few riders like to build their own wheels. There are several skills required to lace a rim to a hub, tune the spokes and get the wheel running true. Once this first stage is done, you will then need to add all of the extra components for a fully functional wheel. While wheel building is not an impossible job, for many, it is a step too far. Most of us would prefer to check the tire pressures, spoke tension, tread depth, rim condition, and be done with it. That said, it is always handy to be able to replace a broken spoke, get a wheel running right after a buckle, and even service an entire wheel set up at home.

Very often a rim will have to connect to a specific hub to work with your dirt bike brand. This adds another potential for error. Ordering individual parts can be a tricky task. The complexity of wheel building is why we see such a choice of fully built wheels and complete wheel sets. We will look at these skills in another article, along with bearing kits, spokes and hubs. You can no doubt appreciate why complete wheels from rim manufacturers, and entire wheels sets, from independent wheel builders, are so popular!

 

How do I know if my wheel bearings are shot?

As with all mechanical parts, regular inspection is critical. You will get to know the sound and feel of your dirt bike over time. If you start to hear new noises, or you feel the behaving differently under acceleration or braking, then this may be a sign of a worn component.

If you want to catch bearings before they wear too far and cause unnecessary damage, then make a routine of checking wheel bearings post-ride. Checking wheel bearings after every ride is probably overkill, but once a month is a good idea. Water, mud and sand are destructive elements. To check for wheel bearing issues, put your dirt bike up on a stand. Slowly rotate each wheel back and forth until you have completed a full revolution. Try to feel for notchiness where the bearing seizes up, and listen out for knocking. These are signs of a damaged or worn bearing. 

Lateral movement is the real indicator. Take one hand and hold the bike steady. Place your remaining hand on top of a wheel and pull/push side to side. If there is any play in the wheel at all, then check the axle bolts are correctly torqued. If they are, and there is still lateral movement, it is time for new bearings. Do not be tempted to leave a worn bearing in place. If a bearing explodes while you are riding, it could damage the wheel hub, and cost you a lot more in parts, time or labour. It is always a good idea to have spare wheel bearing kits on hand in case you need to replace them in a hurry.

 

How do you know if your spokes are loose?

You may have heard of the phrase wheel tuning? Quite literally, spokes should all make the same pitch noise. When a wheel is fully balanced, with all spokes correctly adjusted, you will be able to rotate the wheel and pluck/strike the spokes as you would the strings on a harp or piano. If the wheel is true, every spoke will sound more or less the same. Any spokes that seem lower (deeper) in key will be loose. The tighter the spoke, the higher the pitch of the spoke.

Check spokes after every ride when you have cleaned and lubricated your dirt bike. Any loose spokes can be tightened with a spoke key quite easily. Aim to get loose spokes sounding similar to the correctly adjusted spokes, and you won’t go far wrong.

 

Can you overtighten spokes?

The simple answer is yes, you can. Overtightening a spoke will cause the rim to buckle, and make the wheel run out of true. Use the musical pitch of the spokes to get them close, but always check by rotating the wheel fully, all the while looking for new kinks or wobbles. A handy tip is to mark the rim of the wheel by the spoke you have adjusted. If a kink appears at that point, you have overtightened. As long as you have not overtightened too far, you can rectify the issue by loosening the spoke. Practice makes perfect, and regular checks will help you get the hang of this process. Never adjust any spoke more than a quarter turn at a time. This stops you from damaging the wheel.

 

Do dirt bike rims need maintenance?

Dirt bike rims benefit from regular inspection. Make sure that the lip of the rim is not chewed, chipped or marked. Any sharp protrusions could potentially puncture, or damage the wall of a tire if it is pinched between the rim and a rock for example.

Light marks and gouges can be dressed out with an engineers abrasive stone, or emery paper. Substantial damage may require more professional help as the wheel rim may have to be dressed out by an experienced engineer.

Severely bent, or cracked rims should be replaced at once. A collapsing wheel is not ideal under any circumstances.

We have given you a lot of information to deal with here. If you are upgrading from O.E.M. (factory fitted) wheels or replacing old stock rims, then you should have a clearer idea about which brands and combinations to consider. Choice of wheel is a personal decision and may take a few years of riding to perfect.

If you wish to try building your own wheels, look out for another article where we will look at the individual components in more detail. If you want a whole wheel, with tyres, and all then we will look at entire wheel sets. Wheel sets are ideal for the weekend rider who just wants to fit and go.

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Have fun out there!

Martin

Excel Racing Signature 2020

$$
9.7

Material

9.3/10

Colour Choice

9.7/10

Wide range of sizes

9.9/10

Brand Reputation

10.0/10

Value for money

9.8/10

Pros

  • High-grade aluminium
  • Strong brand
  • Lot of colour choices
  • Wide range of sizes available
  • Good value for money

Cons

  • There are even better materials
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