When looking for a track oriented rim, there are three things that come into mind: price, durability and performance. There have been many innovations in forged wheel manufacturing and understanding what new technology exists for forged rims is crucial in deciding for your next track rim. If you have read our previous article: Ultimate BMW E46 M3 Wheels Guide 2018, then you may be familiar with the criteria, how Titan 7 ranks 1st among the Tier 1 wheels.
During my quest to find affordable track wheels that didn’t leave my bank account empty, I came across Titan 7. I first saw them when I was at the track and spoke with several owners to learn more about these wheels. I was extremely surprised to hear that these were fully forged wheels, at under $2,000 for a full set. Immediately, I did my research and discovered that the owners of Titan 7 were some familiar names who are heavily involved in supporting the Motorsport community, with over 40 combined years of experience in wheel manufacturing. They have worked with many of the famous OEM wheel manufacturers, and built up a plethora of wheel manufacturing knowledge from the many years in the industry.
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Before diving into my review of these wheels, I would like to point out a few key points and wheel attributes as a basis of my analysis.
As mentioned before, Titan 7 wheels are fully forged. A forged wheel is able to reduce weight and result in a stronger wheel through a variable called porosity. Porosity is the measure of empty space inside of a material. For example, a sponge would have high porosity as there are many holes in the material. This results in a very soft product and easy to bend. Compare that with a katana sword, which is hand forged with a hammer. The hammering or forging effect reduces the porosity by forcing the metal alloys together squeezing out the empty spaces and aligns the material in the same direction or grain. As a result, the sword is a very strong and used to cut through other objects with ease. A forged wheel process uses a 10,000 ton press to organize the material grain and as you can imagine, significantly reduces porosity.
If you can’t tell from our previous articles, I’m a pretty technical guy. I need more assurance than just marketing and branding material to convince me that this company can create strong wheels. No claim can be supported without scientific data. That said, I spent hours learning the foundation of wheel manufacturing and production standards, and how Titan 7 meets them.
In the aerospace and civil engineering industry, products are assessed by a system called a finite element analysis, or FEA analysis. The FEA analysis is used to simulate stresses and forces in a realistic computer model that predicts stress points and failures. This is critical in discovering how a product might react to heat, pressure, vibration, material expansion, and more. This failure analysis demonstrates if a product will break in a safe way that is accounted for by the engineer. With advancements with technology and increasing affordability of this technology to wheel designers, this technology should absolutely be standard for wheel engineering.
James, one of the co-owners of Titan 7 (also a fellow E46 M3 enthusiast) states that every single Titan 7 wheel produced undergoes a FEA analysis. Not only do their wheels need to look good, but they also need to be extremely strong and meet production quality standards. All their wheels have been tested to meet all DOT/SAT and JWL/VIA standards. Upon the FEA analysis, they also do an in-house physical impact test where the wheel goes through real life stress tests to ensure that their simulations and analysis were correct.
He also shared some images from the FEA analysis that they undergo for each wheel. In the below images, you can see that 90% of the wheel is the darkest blue, meaning the strongest. Some other FEA visualizations I’ve seen from other wheel manufacturers showed that aesthetics were prioritized over engineering, with the entire wheel being yellow/red or not structurally strong.
A good, strong wheel is supposed to bend upon severe impact, but still hold air despite deformation. A weaker wheel will simply crack, which is extremely dangerous during a track day as it can lead to a serious accident. Unfortunately, this is a very common issue with replica rims. A copied design does not mean it has the same structural integrity or manufacturing processes that define the strength of the wheel.
For obvious reasons, this is why forged wheels are preferred for the track. They achieve mission critical safety requirements where life is at stake, while still offering performance benefits from weight savings. Additionally, further weight savings can be achieved through numerous optimization cycles in which extra material which is not deemed to be structurally integral to the wheel can be shaved off or removed. This is verified after the FEA analysis to ensure that the shaved material does not affect the integrity of the wheel.
Titan 7 has also introduced several new wheel design features which are pretty innovative. Not only are they aesthetically pleasing, but these features are also fully functional.
Gear Cut Knurled Bead Seat
Improves the bind between tire and rim. This prevents slippage and improves traction during cornering.
Rigid Spoke Tracer
Improves stiffness and durability of the wheel while keeping weight down. Increasing the ability to withstand wheel deflection or deformation at high loads improves consistency and feedback.
Reinforced Inner Rim Flange
This is a technology passed down from research and development in rally racing. The forged inner mass in the inner rim improves the resistance to bending upon impact. This new technology was discovered by examining the correlation between the camber stiffness and how the wheel reacts. While this feature does add some weight, this inner mass adds incredible structural strength. We do note that some flow form and forged wheels will omit this feature in their quest for achieving a lighter wheel. However, omitting this technology feature will substantially increase the probability of bends or cracks at the inner barrel.
I have tested my set of 18×9.5 et 22 Titan 7 T-S5 on a set of 265/35/18 Hankook TD C30 and am happy to report the rims held up to the berms and dips (and my driving) of Buttonwillow and Streets of Willow. My biggest concern is always safety, this goes back to the wheel’s responsibility to bend instead of crack. While aesthetics is one of the first attributes that come to mind when looking at aftermarket wheels, many people often overlook the importance of a strong wheel. The difference between a strong versus weak wheel on the track is equivalent to going home with no physical injuries versus a totaled car with the risk of death. Can you imagine your wheel shattering on the track while going 100mph+ with zero control? Yeah, that’s a whole lot of no thanks. Do NOT ever cheap out on safety, it’s not worth it.
Now that we’ve taken safety into consideration, let’s go back to how freaking good these wheels look. The designs are beautifully functional perfectly embodying the mantra of form following function. Small distinctive features such as their logo machined into the rim itself and all aluminum valve stems finishes off the end finish look well. They also clear my Aston Martin DB9 BBK and Porsche 911 BBK with plenty of space to spare.
And do not forget about the price. Quality is important and all, but let’s be honest: we all know that price is an emotional determining factor when making a decision on wheels. As mentioned, Titan 7 wheels rank #1 in our wheel guide in the forged rim category for least expensive weight savings. Their pricing is about the same as a higher priced free flow formed wheel yet Titan 7 wheels are forged. There is little to no competition in this tier as there are not many forged wheel options even close to this price range. However, Titan 7 makes it possible to afford tier 1, lightweight but strong wheels. Otherwise, you will have wring your wallet out for some forged wheels from BBS, Volk, Advan, CCW, etc. Don’t be fooled by people who say “you get what you pay for” because you might just be missing out.
Physical product aside, I have also received incredibly transparent support from the team at Titan 7, who I have annoyed the hell out of with all these technical questions. In addition, they offer a limited lifetime warranty where they will work with you to identify any abnormal wheel issues should they arise, and get you taken care of. The fact that entire process from design, testing production is all done in house, Titan 7 is able to produce significant savings to the end user and results in quicker production times.
Needless to say, I was convinced by the knowledge and data Titan 7 offered and I do not regret my decision to make these my track wheels. Great design, great price. For me, this was the most logical decision I could make for a set of track wheels. A set where I will not shrivel and cry in a corner if or when I need to replace them. I can feel confident, and most importantly safe in the event something unexpected does happen on the track.
If you are in the market for a track wheel, or maybe just a good looking DD wheel and some occasional track days, definitely consider Titan 7s. Just my two cents on the company and product, but visit www.titan-7.com and reach out to them directly if you have any additional questions.
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