BBS reinvented the wheel. At least that’s what the legendary and OEM-approved German manufacturer would like you to believe. First seen at Tuning World Bodensee in May this year, the wheel manufacturer-turned-from-the-brink-of-extinction and owned by chassis giant KW Automotive, showcased a revolutionary new technology that enables a universally fitting alloy wheel. Yes, a wheel that technically fits any car with any wheel nut pattern.
The technology will be marketed under a new line of BBS wheels called the BBS Unlimited. It is currently available in the five twin spoke BBS CI-R design, with more designs and finishes to be added soon. What the technology promises is that a customer can buy a wheelset, customize it for use on a specific car, and then use a different adapter plate to fit the wheels to a different vehicle when the car is sold. That’s good news. In theory.
We’re going to tell you why the new technology in the BBS Unlimited range of wheels might not be that revolutionary, but why it could still be a big deal.
How the BBS Unlimited Wheel Technology actually works
To break down the technology in the new BBS Unlimited line of wheels, think of it as a wheel that isn’t made for one specific car, but can be customized to fit almost any car.
What BBS has done is produce a high quality flow formed alloy wheel in its classic CI-R design with a 5×117.5 lug pattern and bolt circle. This wheel can then be fitted with the proprietary anodized aluminum wheel hub adapter and polyamide centering rings to ensure there is no vibration between mating surfaces. The wheel hub adapter can be ordered from BBS to match the wheel boss pattern of the vehicle it is being fitted to.
The only potential downside to this system is that the extra width of the adapter plate effectively neutralizes any misalignment of the wheel. This might make it a bit difficult to nail the fit to different cars as the wheel and tire package sticks out a bit from the car’s body line.
BBS seems to have thought of that too, because the wheel hub adapter plates are available in widths of 1.5 to 4.5 cm. If all of this sounds familiar to you, it’s because this technology has been around for years!
Are BBS Unlimited wheels different from wheel hub adapters?
Wheel hub adapters have been around since the late 1960s, initially to adapt truck wheels to different hubs. They achieve the same result by sitting between an existing wheel and the vehicle’s hub to which the wheel must be fitted. In most cases, these adapter plates are made of steel.
Wheel hub adapter plates have gotten a bit of a bad rap over the years. Because it’s a different part at the crucial point where the wheel connects to the car, where the maximum forces are generated, these adapter plates have been known to fail. Especially on bumpy roads or sudden impacts, e.g. B. hitting a pothole at high speed. Some users can use them for years with no problems, but just need to periodically check that the lug nuts are properly tightened.
Where BBS Unlimited technology seems to differ is that it adds a polyamide centering ring to negate tiny vibrations that could cause failure. BBS Unlimited bikes are also TÜV-certified, Germany’s notoriously strict technical inspection association. This would lead one to believe that it is far more secure than any standard wheel hub adapter plate assembly out there, especially considering BBS wheels have been OEM fitment in some of the finest cars in history.
Why BBS might actually change the game… but in the future
That’s important because new branded wheels, especially lightweight forged wheels like those from BBS, can be too expensive for the average enthusiast to buy new.
When buying wheels on the used market, your choice of a particular wheel lug pattern may be limited if your vehicle’s lug pattern is not common. With a BBS Unlimited wheel, the owner can adapt their wheels to any vehicle of their choice. Or if he wants to sell the set it will be easier to find a buyer as the wheel fits universally.
Where we would hesitate is in high-intensity applications such as motorsport, where the stresses the wheel mating surfaces are subjected to can be too extreme for even a system as sophisticated as the BBS Unlimited. But for the average enthusiast, BBS Unlimited wheels can be the ticket to always finding the right fit, with the assurance of quality. And that’s something you probably won’t see every day.