If you talk to any car enthusiast about ESR wheels, you’ll get one of two responses. Either you’ll get an enthusiastic endorsement and praise for their affordable yet stylish wheels, or you’ll hear an hour-long lecture on how replica wheels are supremely inferior to the real deal.
The latter is likely correct. But if you’re on a budget and looking for fantastic-looking wheels, I believe ESR wheels are the real deal. Read more, and you’ll see why this brand has so many tearing their keyboards apart in avid defense or blame.
ESR was founded recently in April 2014. Since then, the company has exploded into a relatively well-known and respected wheel brand. Despite this, there have been a few controversies in the car community surrounding the quality of its wheels compared to the models they attempt to replicate. Still, some sing its praises despite the apparent lack of quality.
While this might pry too hard into the brand’s insides, the parent company of ESR is Wheelimage Corp., a company that has been producing forged wheels for over 70 years now. So despite only being 8 years old, the parent company has a whole range of expertise and experience that carries down to ESR’s wheel quality.
All wheels produced by ESR are designed, engineered, and crafted in the United States; specifically in their Southern California Facility.
ESR wheels, while they try to imitate top-of-the-line wheel manufacturers, are just that: an imitation. If you’re looking for wheels that are cost-effective and look fantastic but skimp on quality, weight, and originality; ESR wheels are a strong contender in this aspect. Just remember: you get what you pay for, and this is especially true regarding wheels.
Whether these wheels are good or bad for you might simply depend on what you plan to use them for. Most customers who buy ESR wheels to show off at car shows or just to have some spiffy-looking wheels usually leave positive reviews, but those who buy them expecting top-quality performance are often sadly mistaken.
What sets ESR wheels apart from other similar affordable wheel brands is the customer service. They provide a lifetime structural warranty along with a one-year paint warranty, so if you’re concerned about the quality, know that they will replace your wheel when and if it breaks.
ESR makes its wheels from a few types of aluminum, depending on the wheel type. They construct cast wheels using cast aluminum alloy, while their forged line of wheels uses T6 Aero Space Forged Aluminum for maximum durability and minimum weight.
ESR Wheels also manufactures multi-piece wheels, which have cast aluminum alloy in the wheel’s centerpiece, but forged aluminum in the hoop.
ESR is a company that attempts to make replicas of incredibly high-end wheels, and as far as I’m aware, no companies are trying to make knockoffs of ESR wheels. If you’re unsure if it’s the real deal, look at their main website. The prices are very similar compared to third-party vendors and the customization options are limitless, so you’re better off there, anyway.
Compared to high-end forged wheels, ESR wheels are typically much heavier. Still, there are several things ESR wheels do to stand out from the competition regarding weight.
First, they use a manufacturing technique known as lathe turning, which is a process that removes over 70% of the original material resulting in a much lighter wheel. They also use Through-Hub Pockets in between the lug holes, which can help improve heat dissipation and reduce un-sprung weight on the wheel hub.
Probably the biggest aspect that sets ESR apart from the competitors is their usage of multi-piece wheels. In this process, they cast the centerpiece of the wheel, but the hoop comprises forged aluminum. This results in a much more lightweight and durable wheel than a traditional cast-only wheel.
ESR manufactures cast, forged, and multi-piece wheels. Fully forged wheels are typically three to four times as expensive as cast or multi-piece wheels, as they make these intending to compete with top-of-the-line wheel manufacturers.
Depending on what you intend to use it for, you may see no difference between the cast, multi-piece, or forged wheels. If you’re looking for the best performance, and perhaps you’re a motorsports enthusiast, definitely look into ESR’s line of forged wheels. If you’re just searching for some good-looking wheels that make your car look top-of-the-line, I’d highly recommend going for the less expensive options.
The cost of ESR wheels, depending on the production method, can range from a couple of hundred dollars to several thousands of dollars. All of their cast and multi-piece wheels run from around $295 to $350, but it’s when you shop around for the forged wheels that it becomes increasingly costly.
Rotary forged wheels will net you around $1,075 to $1500 a piece, and this is because of their superior design and construction compared to cast and multi-piece wheels.
You can purchase ESR Wheels from a few suppliers, but in this case, I would highly recommend checking out their website. They offer virtually limitless customization options, and you can create a unique wheel that fits your car perfectly. Note that if you choose to customize it, they must manufacture the wheel based on those specifications, so once purchased, it’s yours and virtually non-refundable.