The idea of a universally fitting wheel isn’t as unusual as it sounds, as many aftermarket wheels are just not made with enough offsets and bolt patterns to fit every vehicle in existence. That’s why hub adapters are such popular parts for enthusiasts to grab along with a set of their favorite BBS or other aftermarket wheels. While it should help give some peace of mind, as it will be a BBS-certified package, we can’t help but wonder if there is a need to package a wheel and hub adapter like this when there are already options in the market. Let’s take a look at what BBS is offering and what the aftermarket already provides.
Disclosure: the author of this story worked for Mackin Industries, importer of Kyo-Ei wheel parts, in the past.
The Base Bolt Pattern
Again, it’s not a bad idea that BBS is coming up with. They are taking their popular CI-R flow-formed wheel and packaging it with a set of hub adapters and centering rings for both the wheel and the vehicle hub. This not only allows cars that fit within the bolt patterns BBS will use, but also allows the wheel to be centered properly on both the hub and by its offset (or backspacing, if you’re more into the Hot Rod way of measuring wheels).
The wheel comes with a 5×117.5 bolt pattern machined into them, which BBS claims is a common and adaptable bolt pattern. This appears to be true, as far as the difference between this pattern versus what you’ll typically find on most cars. Looking over the five lug patterns of the most popular cars that would probably use these wheels, BBS’ statement that a 5×117.5 pattern would fit nearly any car in the world is true, especially for the more common fitments of 5×114.3 and 5×120. Even the 5×130 used by Porsche would work, as the difference between the overall bolt circle isn’t very large at just 12.5 mm or 0.49 inch. That sounds like a lot, but the bolts would only move half that measurement, or 6.25 mm (about 0.25 inch). That would mean that the overall adapter diameter would only need to be around 5.3-5.5 inches to make a safe hub adapter. That is something that’s well within the ability of a high-end, forged hub adapter. How do we know? Well, these adapters already exist.
The Aftermarket Already Provides
One such example we’re already aware of is made by Kyo-Ei—a high-end wheel part marker in Japan—under the brand name, Project Kics. Specifically, they make hub adapters that go through the same rigorous impact and durability testing standards as the high-end Japanese wheels many clamor for. They offer a wide range of fitments and widths, down to as narrow as 11mm (0.43 inch), where the BBS adapter will only be offered to as narrow as 14mm (0.55 inch).
Both Project Kics and BBS will come with lug nuts or lug studs that fit flush with the adapter. In the same fashion, they also offer centering rings that center the hub adapter to the vehicle hub and to the center hole of the wheel. These rings make sure the wheels and adapters are mounted center to the vehicle hub to ensure there isn’t a wobble from a mis-mounted wheel. While that centering ring is packaged into the BBS Unlimited kit, these are optional for the Project Kics hub adapters.
The Aftermarket Just Doesn’t Provide The Wheels With The Adapters
The main advantage to what BBS is offering, even from what we just pointed out, is that you’ll be able to get everything at once. On top of that, BBS will also offer many different color options for the wheels, center caps, valve caps, and rim protector. The wheel bolts or lug nuts that fit the BBS CI-R wheel will either be steel or titanium and feature a collar that prevents damage to the wheel while still allowing proper torque. That’s similar to the collars on Project Kics R-series lug nuts and Kyo-Ei’s Leggdura lug bolts, but those are separate from their hub adapters. You’re also going to get a set of BBS wheels in the kit, whereas you’re piecing everything together using Kyo-Ei parts and still need to find the wheels you want to use.
Aren’t Hub Adapters Dangerous?
For many years, people have perpetuated that hub adapters are dangerous and cause extra damage to your wheel bearings. This is both true and false. If you don’t take the extra care and work to properly size and torque the wheels and adapters, they will be dangerous and could cause damage. Keep in mind, you can get away with spacing a set of wheels by 5 to 10mm (0.20 to 0.40 inch) over your OE wheel offset and most likely won’t cause any additional wear on your hub bearing. You could potentially do 15 mm (0.59 inch), but you might want to talk to other owners who are running bigger offsets before committing to that. In fact, talking to other owners who have modified their cars is just good advice in general.
As far as an adapter coming off while driving, you need to treat it like you would your wheels and custom, multi-piece wheels. Add a bit of liquid threadlocker to the threads and then tighten (without an impact gun) and torque to the recommendation by your wheel or vehicle manufacturer—usually around 85-90 lb-ft, but again, consult the manufacturer—then drive it for about 15-20 miles at a moderate speed and using the brakes normally. Then re-torque the fasteners that hold the hub adapter on. That’s usually enough to ensure that your hub adapters are properly torqued. Then you’ll do the same for your wheels. Is it a long, pain in the rear procedure? Yes, it is. Should you do it? Absolutely because you don’t want an adapter coming loose or even a wheel flying off while you’re driving.
A Convenient Package for Those Who Want It
While some will like the idea of finding every single perfect part, there are many more who would rather everything come together in a single package. For those that want that convenience, this BBS Unlimited setup is perfect for them. Everything will be in the box, there won’t be any extra costs, nor will there be any surprises, provided they sized everything correctly when talking with BBS or their local wheel shop. Having all of that is a hard thing to argue against. The wheels will come in 19-21 inch diameters in 8-12 inches in width (including half widths up to 11.5 inches). The adapters will come in 14-50mm (0.55-1.97 inches) widths for a variety of vehicle hub bolt patterns, but none were listed at the time of writing. BBS says their Unlimited wheels are set to launch in July of 2022.
Images provided by BBS and Mackin Industries
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