Nefarious Racing

What Are Rep Wheels? The Ultimate Guide to “Fake” Wheels

What Are Rep Wheels? Thumbnail

If you’ve been looking to buy new wheels for your car, you’ve no doubt come across the terms “rep”, “replica” or “fake”.

What does this mean? How can a wheel be fake?

In this guide, I’m going to explain exactly what replica or fake wheels are, how they are different from “real” wheels and why putting fake wheels on your car could kill you.

What Exactly Are Replica Wheels?

To kick this off let’s first establish what replica wheels actually are.

Basically, replica or fake are terms used to describe which are made by a lesser known wheel brand, usually an unknown brand from China, with an exact or very similar design to a popular wheel made by a well-known wheel brand.

The reason why these wheels exist is because the original wheel that was copied is usually quite expensive, and the replica wheel manufacturers try to capitalize on the popularity of the wheels by selling cheaper versions to people who can’t afford the real deal or don’t want to spend several thousand dollars on a set of wheels.

Classic Example: BBS RS Reps

A classic example of replica wheels are BBS RS reps. BBS RS wheels are extremely popular, having seen a surge of interest and a massive rise in price over the last 10 years or so.

BBS no longer produce the original RS wheels, and second hand sets are relatively rare now and often sell for several thousand dollars. This is out of reach for most car enthusiasts.

Because these wheels are extremely popular, almost every replica wheel manufacturer has produced a BBS RS rep, making them one of if not the most copied wheels on the planet.

Here is what an original BBS RS wheel looks like:

Real BBS RS Wheel

And here is an example of an RS rep wheel:

Fake BBS RS Wheel

Different Types of Replicas

Now, when it comes to replica wheels, it’s important to note that there are actually two different meanings to the word:

  1. True “replicas” which are literally an exact design copy of another wheel, like the BBS RS example above
  2. Lesser known wheel brands who make their own wheel designs but are just not as established as the well-known brands and tend to sell cheaper wheels

These two are actually quite different, and I will explain the difference a little but later on.

Replica Vs Real Wheels: What’s The Difference?

Yellow Audi with Roftform Wheels

You are probably wondering “what’s the difference?” They are both round, hold the tyre and look almost exactly the same.

Well, the truth is that there are substantial differences between real and replica wheels. Aside from the fact that they look the same, they differ in almost every other aspect. Let’s take a look at some of differencing factors in detail.


The first and most obvious one is the design of the wheels. Now, while the nature of replica wheels is to look the same, they are often very different in design.

Let’s take the BBS RS wheels mentioned earlier.

The original BBS RS wheel is actually a 3 piece wheel, where the lip, face and barrel actually separate and can be swapped out for different sizes.

These wheels were originally designed for motorsport and are lightweight, easy to repair and customizable due to the ability to swap out the lips and barrels. And that’s part of what makes them so popular.

The replica wheels, on the other hand, are almost always 1 piece, with no ability to split them and swap parts out. They are also substantially heavier due to their lack of proper design or engineering. They are simply a visual copy of the original wheel, designed to look the same and nothing more.


The best wheel brands put a lot of engineering behind each of their wheels, designing them to be as lightweight as possible while being as durable and rigid as possible to take the abuse of being used on the race track as well as street use.

You’ll find that most of the best wheel brands are being used in at least some form of motorsport, which allows them to test and get data on their designs in order to further improve them and make sure they are fit for use.

On the other hand, you will rarely see replica wheels at the track, and certainly not in any professional racing series.

This is simply because they are made to be cheap and are not designed to handle the stresses of intensive driving. The replica wheel brands simply don’t want to put the money into this, and if they did they would end up costing the same as the real deal anyway, so it would defeat the purpose.


The material used to make the wheel plays a major part in how light and strong it will be.

Poorer quality materials will result in a poorer quality product, and this can be a serious issue when it comes to wheels, which are literally the only thing holding your car off the ground and allowing you to control it.

The issue with replica wheels is that more often than not, you have no idea what materials they used for the wheels, and judging by the extremely low prices, odds are it’s not the best they can get.

This opens you up to the risk that the wheels are most likely made from low quality materials. At best this will mean heavier wheels and worse performance, and at worst it could mean weak wheels which break and cause an accident.

Picture courtesy of


The manufacturing process is another extremely important part the wheel making process and will dictate how strong the wheels will be, as well as ensure they are free from defects.

Unfortunately, due to cost saving, replica wheels are often made using corner cutting manufacturing processes, usually quick and cheap casting methods, which result in lower quality wheels which are more likely to have issues as well as weight more.

Even if they use good material, a poor manufacturing process will result in a low quality product which again, opens you up to the risk of the wheels breaking while you are driving the car.

Another issue you have is that most of these replica wheels are manufactured using casting, but the original wheel design they are copying is a forged wheel.

Using forging allows the wheel manufacture to make designs that are not possible to produce to a sufficient quality using casting, which means that by sheer design the replica wheels cannot be good quality because casting does not allow for that design to be properly made.

Safety Testing

Safety testing is a crucial step to ensure that all wheels produced are high quality and free from defects.

Practically all the top wheel brands put their wheels through extensive testing which often exceed the industry standards such as JWL and VIA to ensure they are making a premium product.

These tests often involve testing corning fatigue, radial load fatigue, degree direct impact tests and more to see how the wheel would withstand real world conditions.

Unfortunately, a large portion of replica wheels do not undergo any testing whatsoever, nor do they receive any safety certification. So you have no idea how strong (or should I say weak) they are.

There are so many examples of replica wheels being put under the same tests as wheels made by reputable brands and failing. Here is a good video by Weds, a well-known wheel brand, demonstrating this very point:

Street Cred

While this headline is kind of a joke, nobody respects replica wheels. While they can make your car look better than stock wheels, you will never get the same respect and admiration as you would with having a set of genuine wheels made by a reputable brand.

It’s often seen as “cheating” – instead of putting up the money for real wheels, you opted for a shortcut and hoped for the same outcome.

The Problem With Rep Wheels

White sports car with black wheels

So with all this being said, the problem with replica wheels is multi layered.

Firstly, people take issue with the fact that someone is blatantly ripping off someone else’s design and is trying to profit off it by selling low quality products for cheap.

Now, brands copy each other all the time, and even the top wheel brands often have very similar designs to one another. Heck, even BBS RS wheels are technically supposed to look like center lock wire wheels when they aren’t.

However, I think the reason people take particular offense to replica wheels is the fact that they blatantly copy the design, they don’t even try to make it their own, and then combine it with a low quality product which, in the case of 2 or 3 piece designs, is also trying to pass off as a multi-piece wheel when it isn’t.

All these things put together attract the distaste of car enthusiasts who seek quality products that perform well and are safe to use, and they also don’t like to see the people who put in the work to design the originals lose some of the market share to cheap knock offs.

Overall, I think the reason that reps are looked at so poorly is that they are worse in every way compared to the original product, except for the lower price.

Are All Rep Wheels Bad?

No, not all rep wheels are bad, at least in terms of quality.

While “reps” as a whole get a bad name, there are definitely better and worse ones out there.

Some companies that originally started out a rep wheel brand turned into a decent wheel brand over the years, and now people rip off their wheels. Rota is a classic example of this.

The problem with them it is that there can be no way to tell how good the quality of the wheel is, aside from seeing how many people have used them and how common issues are.

Then you have the cheap wheel brands which are not technically reps but get called that anyway.

Cheap Wheels That Are Not Technically Reps

There are a number of cheaper wheel brands out there that are called “reps” or confused with replica wheel brands because they are cheap, but they are technically not reps because they don’t replicate popular wheel designs. Instead, they release their own designs.

Now, most of these brands do also release some wheel models which are based off or are replicas of popular models, but it’s important to distinguish the difference between them.

For example, TSW and Konig are well established brands that have been around for decades and make their own wheels, but they can sometimes get lumped into the category of “reps” because they are on the cheaper end of the price range. Even Enkei sometimes gets confused for a rep brand.

Are Replica Wheels Safe?

This is where things get tricky.

It is impossible to say that all rep wheels are unsafe, simply because there are so many brands out there that fall under this category and some of them actually do a decent job in terms of making a quality product and getting it tested.

The best thing you can do to determine if reps are safe is to look for brands that are relatively popular and try to find which of them has had the least reports of issues.

Another thing you can look for is any safety certifications, such as JWL and VIA. However, be aware that many rep brands will just stamp these symbols onto the wheels without having actually passed the test. I mean, they are already ripping off the wheel design, why not rip those off too?

Overall, you are going to be playing roulette at least to some degree when buying reps, there’s really no way around it.

Are Replica Wheels Worth It?

That really depends on what your goals are for the car.

Many people who buy reps do not have the money to buy wheels that cost several thousand dollars and are not looking for high performance wheels, they just want to make their car look a bit cooler.

In cases like those, cheaper wheels can be a good choice. So I would recommend looking for brands that have a decent reputation so that you get at least a decent quality product.

If you are planning on using your car regularly on the track, then it would be wise to invest in wheels that have been designed to handle that stress and won’t break when you need them most.

There are many decent options out there that don’t cost a lot more than reps do. The Enkei RPF1s are a perfect example of this.

Do Replica Wheels Hold Their Value?

No. Replica wheels do not hold their value and often sell for significantly less second hand than they cost new.

If you are buying replica wheels, don’t expect to make your money back selling them later on.

This is unlike original wheels which tend to not only hold their value but actually go up in value over time. There are countless examples of this from the BBS RS to the Work wheels, SSRs and more, and is especially true with models that are not made any more, especially multi-piece models.

What About OEM or Factory Replica Wheels?

Closeup of a Mercedes wheel

Despite the fact that many people want to replace their factory wheels, there is growing demand for replacement OEM wheel which has resulted in a number of wheel producers who make wheels that look exactly like factory wheel options.

These are particularly useful in cases where the OEM wheels are no longer available new.

Like other replica wheels, the story is the same with these. Some brands are better than others, but odds are you are getting wheels which are inferior to the factory wheel and will be weaker, heavier or both.

Now, many people do run these wheels all the time and don’t have issues, so again it comes down to the brand and how good their quality is.

If you have no other option for OEM style wheels, then buying replicas can be a good option, just do your research on the brand you are looking at to see if you can find any reviews and try to get an idea of how good they are.

What Are Some Rep Wheel Brands?

It can be hard to make a definitive list on what exactly a rep wheel brand is and what isn’t. The reason why is that many brands started off as rep brands and then moved into producing higher quality wheels.

Another reason is that many rep brands also produce original designs, so they aren’t exclusively “replica” brands.

I think the defining factor for me on what could classify as a “rep” brand is if they make wheels that look like multi-piece wheels but they are actually monoblocks with fake bolts, also known as “fake splits”. I’ve never seem something like that from BBS, Enkei, Volk or Work, and I think most people would agree with me that that’s a pretty clear line to draw.

However, that doesn’t mean they are necessarily poor quality, it just means I would look at them as “reps”.

Some examples are:

  • 885 (blatant BBS knock offs)
  • BB5 (blatant BBS knock offs)
  • ESM
  • ESR
  • STR
  • Wolf
  • XXR

Again, not saying that all these are necessarily poor quality, I haven’t personally owned or had experience with any of them, but all of them do produce blatant BBS or other brand replicas.

What Wheel Brands Are Not Reps?

Making a list of genuine wheel brands is a little bit easier, as there are a good number of companies that have established a firm reputation as quality wheel producers. These include:

  • BBS
  • Enkei
  • OZ Racing
  • SSR
  • Work Wheels
  • Volk, and anything produced by Rays including Gram Lights etc
  • HRE
  • Rotifom
  • Advan
  • Apex
  • Momo
  • TSW
  • Weld
  • Cosmis

Some FAQ Regarding Rep Wheels

Are Kansei Wheels Reps?

No, Kansei wheels are not reps. Kansei is a relatively new wheel brand that make quality wheels at a fairly low price point. Kansei wheels are made using quality materials and manufacturing processes and are light and durable.

Are Konig Wheels Reps?

No, Konig wheels are not considered reps. While Konig does make some wheels that have similar designs to popular wheels, Konig has been around for a long time and make decent quality wheels at a fairly low price point, as well as many of their own unique designs.

Are Niche Wheels Reps?

No, Niche wheels are not reps. They make unique wheel designs and genuine multi-piece wheels that are decent quality for a relatively low price point.

Are Vors Wheels Reps?

Yes, Vors wheels are reps. They make a number of wheel designs which are clear replicas of wheels like BBS RS, BBS LM, Spoon wheels, Volks, Enkeis and more.

Are Aodhan Wheels Reps?

Yes, Aodhan wheels are reps. Many of their wheel designs are direct copies of other well-known wheels like BBS, HRE, Work and more.

Are ESR Wheels Reps?

Yes, a lot of ESR wheels are reps. While they do make many unique wheel designs and even genuine 2 and 3 piece wheels, they also make a number of knock offs and “fake split” designs.

Are Rotiform Wheels Reps?

No, Rotiform wheels are not reps. Rotiform make high quality wheels, but one of the things that make them interesting is that they make a number of designs that are based on popular OEM wheels but made in sizes and configurations (such as multi-piece) that those wheels were never available in. While you could consider this “replica”, it’s not exactly the same thing, and their wheels are all high quality products.

Are XXR Wheels Reps?

Yes, XXR wheels are reps. XXR make a number of wheels which are direct copies of other brands’ designs as well as “fake splits” – monoblock wheels made to look like multi-piece wheels.

Are Enkei Wheels Reps?

No, Enkei wheels are not reps. Enkei are one of the top wheel manufacturers on the planet who make a wide range of quality wheels, many of which are very well priced. Their RPF1s, in particular, are a very popular wheel that is high quality, lightweight and durable enough to use on the track.

Mateja Matic