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Custom Motorcycle Wheels for Cheap!
By Robert Bane
Looking for a cheap set of Mag motorcycle wheels for you bike? Don't want to pay $500-$2000 to get them? Here's a couple of ideas to think about.
Six years ago I bought a set of used Sturgis mag wheels from a swap meet for $75. They were barely used, I liked the design, but they were for a bike I didn't own (they were set up for an FXR if I remember correctly). So in other words, they were completely worthless to me. I just bought them to resell because they were so cheap.
So they sat in the shop, sitting there all shiny and pretty, taunting me because I couldn't put them on a bike I was building to sell. I began to look at them closely, and realized the hubs were bolted on. Now I know a thing or two about manufacturing, and soon realized that all the manufacturer was doing was using the same wheels for every bike, but just bolting on different hubs for different applications.
So I called the manufacturer, and guess what, I was absolutely correct. So for around $100, I could get two sets of hubs that would fit a softail. I bolted on the new hubs, and threw them on the bike; they fit perfectly. So instead of spending $850 for wheels, I spent around $170. Granted, prices have gone up since then, but you can still get a great deal by doing this. Particularly scour Ebay, Craigslist, and retailer closeouts for unpopular fitments; they often go very cheap.
You can do this with almost any brand of wheels. I know from experience the following brands offer hub packages you can swap out: Ultima, Revtech, Xtreme Machine, RC Components, Sturgis, and Stampede. Current prices vary widely, ranging from under a $100 to over $350 for a pair of hubs. This may work with wheels for metric bikes too; I've only tried it on Harley's and customs.
There is another trick that you should consider too. The major differences between 2000 and up, and 1999 and older Harley wheels is the bearings used and the brake rotor size. On 2000-up models, Harley went to a sealed bearing. On some models, they also jumped from a 3/4" axle to 1" axle on some models. The other difference is the size of the inner mounting hole on the brake rotor. It is slightly bigger on 2000-up models.
If you pick up a set of pre-2000 wheels you want to put on your late model bike, the solution is easy. Swap out the bearing with the late-model style, and run pre-2000 rotors. I've used this trick many times for customers when the wheels they wanted were out of stock with the manufacturer.
One final word - check with the manufacturer before you do any of this. Just because they offered hubs and bearings in the past, doesn't mean they do currently.
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