The SSR wheels were originally founded by a company called Speedstar back in 1971. Their very first wheel is nevertheless the infamous 3-piece wheel – MK1. After the founding, they had a good run for years, such as winning the winning 1st place at Formula Nippon in 1976, expanding to Los Angeles in 1985, and opening a new factory at Nara Japan in 1993. However, despite these seemingly good run, Speedstar had to declare bankruptcy in 2005.
This is when Tanabe Co., Ltd swoop in and bought Speedstar out. Ever since, Tanabe Co has been the mastermind behind the scene of all SSR wheels. Never heard of Tanabe Co? No worries, we got that covered!
Tanabe Co., Ltd
Tanabe Co., Ltd, was founded back in 1982 in Osaka, Japan, they started out as a company that focuses on clutches and suspension. Over the years, they launched several products lines, some which are no longer in production. Below is a simple timeline of the product launches by Tanabe Co. Ltd.
- 1982 – Started selling Caliper, Clutch dish & oil cooler
- 1988 – Strut tower bar
- 1989 – Sport Muffler
- 1990 – Shock Absorber for European
- 1992 – Stabilizer
- 1993 – Stainless Steel Manifolds
- 2005 – Bought Speedstar and started making more wheels!
The SSR Wheels are born from the race track, made for the racetrack. As mentioned, their very first wheel was the legendary MK-I back in 1970. What makes SSR Wheels stand out from other wheels manufacturer is their emphasis on going above and beyond the required quality control. Each and every SSR wheel not only pass the required JWL standard which is required by law in Japan but they also pass a third party VIA standard. To kick things up another notch, they also have their very own in-house quality standard which is another level above the JWL and VIA standard.
JWL stands for Japan Light Alloy Wheel Standard. JWL is a requirement for all wheels manufacturer in Japan set by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism to ensure quality and safety in wheels on the road. The JWL standard test is performed in-house and verified by the manufacturer themselves. There is also a variation of the mark, which is the JWL-T mark used for trucks’ wheels. The test for JWL & JWL-T is said slightly different.
Vehicle Inspection of Japan (VIA)
VIA, or Vehicle Inspection of Japan, is council formed by three organizations – “Japan Aluminium Association (JAA)”, “Nippon Auto Parts Aftermarket Committee (NAPAC)” and “Japan Inspection Association”. The VIA standard is a standard used to verify the quality and safety of aftermarket wheels.
Based on the information on their website, VIA and JWL seem to share the same testing method, however, unlike JWL, the test is conducted by a third party. In other words, if a wheel is VIA certified, it is technically JWL certified as well (since they run the same test).
The JWL & VIA Test
（Image from chuoseiki.co.jp)
So what tests are required to be tested before getting JWL and VIA certified? Well, here’s the bad news – I do not know fully but I have a gist of it. The reason is that I can’t get my hands on the testing manual without paying 2,000 Yen (around 18 USD) to the council. And to make thing worse, English Manual is priced at 4,000 Yen.
Since I am such a cheapskate, you guys have to bear with all the information I can get crawling through their Japanese website. And I am sure if I request the money from my boss, the conversion will go down like this:
Me: Hey boss, I need 4,000 YEN
Boss: What for?
Me: Ehhh… I need to write an article about JWL & VIA testing standard and since they don’t disclose their to the public, I need to get the book.
Boss: What’s the possible ROI if we spend on this book
Me: I have no idea…. 0 maybe?
Boss: Then, No.
Ya, life as an online marketer is hard…
Okay, let’s get back to JWL and VIA testing standard shall we. First, it seems like there are several requirements to be met: (please take note that the testing standard changes every year)
- Impact Test
- Dynamic Radial Fatigue Test
- Dynamic Cornering Fatigue Test
（Image from chuoseiki.co.jp)
At the impact test, the wheel has to withstand several impact test as shown on the photo above. There are two types of impact test.
One of the tests requires the object of impact being at 13 degrees. The second test requires the impact point to be halfway along the wheel for 100,000 times. The weight of the impact differs based on the size of the wheels. For example, for an 18-inch wheel, the impact force will be at 594 kg.
After the test, any sign of crack, big or small will be disqualified immediately. However, if the wheel bends, it is still considered as pass as long air does not leak out from the tires. However, in the case of JWL-T standard, any visible bend will be disqualified immediately.
Dynamic Radial Fatigue Test
（Image from chuoseiki.co.jp)
The Dynamic Radial Fatigue Test, as its name suggests, is a test for checking the durability of the wheel. The wheel is spun at more than 100 r.p.m (revolution per minute) for 500,000 times. After spinning, the wheel is checked for if there is any sign of deformation or loose lugs.
Dynamic Cornering Fatigue Test
The Dynamic Cornering Fatigue test is used to examine the fatigue of while cornering. A special machine is used to stimulate cornering on the wheel and it is required for more than 100,000 times based on JWL standard. At the end of this test, the wheel is checked for if there is any sign of deformation or loose lugs.
The SSR Wheels Test
Unfortunately, they do not disclose the safety test go through at their website, we can only assume SSR test their wheels using far stricter standard required by JWL & VIA. The reason? This what they heavily promoted in at their website.
Where & How are SSR Wheels made in?
Based on their official website, they currently only seem to manufacture their wheels in Osaka & Nara, Japan. So how are their wheels manufactured? Well, I think it will be easier to show you a video about it than describing in words don’t you think?Two-piece manufacturing process
Video Title: Manufacturing method of 2-piece wheel. Everything can be seen
Three-piece manufacturing process
Video Title: Manufacturing method of 3-piece wheel. Everything can be seen
That’s all for today, so what do you think of SSR? Do let us know at the comment below!