So, most people come to realise soon after joining the karting fraternity that magnesium wheels are almost a necessity to compete at the top level in many classes... especially when it's hot. But there are so many choices, it's hard for the newcomer to know what to invest in. We thought it was time to describe the pro's and con's of each wheel type to help you make the right choice for your kart.
So, starting from the cheapest and working our way up (and they end up pretty bloody pricey!), let's take a look at each of them. Maybe grab yourself a coffee and a snack, it's a fairly long read!
Oryx have two sets of wheels available, the bolt-on front wheel sets being the most popular, and the 17mm bearing mount front wheel sets being a good selection for particular classes. They're a copy of the Douglas Low Volume wheel design, which is somewhat ironic as that particular wheel is no longer available having been superseded by the SE wheel. Oryx rims exhibit a fair bit of grip, and dissipate heat better than standard alloys. That said, they don't seem to have the speed in them that some of the more expensive wheels have, though of course it depends on driver, track, conditions, and setup. Some of our customers absolutely swear by them in Clubman and National classes, and we've got plenty of satisfied customers in TAG classes around the country.
Clearly, these wheels are built to a budget, but they offer a great upgrade over a set of alloys, and importantly, you can still buy them with 17mm front wheel mounts (and are now one of the few wheels available for 17mm stub karts without using bolt-on hubs).
Edwards are an Australian company who are famous for their incredible range of alloy wheels. Their alloy range is popular world-wide for their quality and consistency. There's not a better alloy out there (and we don't sell anything else, really). Their Low-Volume Magnesium Wheels are the company's first foray into magnesium wheels, and despite them having been on the market for a few years now, they've never been a particularly popular choice. Why that is, I'm not sure. Probably the marketing might of the Douglas distributor, DPE, is my guess. The Edwards are a beautifully constructed wheel, they just haven't had the exposure at the top level as the other brands. That might mean you'll find a setup that works well - which others can't copy... or you might end up with a set of wheels you're not that keen on.
Douglas Wheel Technologies are an American company, though I'm pretty sure their wheels come from China these days (that's not a promise, but it's what I'm lead to believe). That said, DPE has always been good about quality control and at one point they rejected a shipment of wheels from Douglas as not being up to the standard required of their customers. That's a great thing, in my opinion. Unfortunately it means their 17mm front wheels aren't available any more!
Douglas have solid, vented, and SE wheels. The solid magnesiums tend to offer a bit more grip than the vented, while the vented magnesiums disperse heat better and maintain kart speed for longer races. These two wheel types have been the mainstay of Australian racing for the last four or five years. The vented wheels in particular are popular with everyone racing anything from Clubman to CIK.
Their SE magnesium wheels are a copy of the OTK MXC wheels which caused such a stir when they first became available (because they started winning everything). Are the SE's the same? In my opinion, no. You can make something as similar as possible, but even the subtlest differences can have big effects on the kart track. Still, they're a quality wheel that performs well with sticky tyres, and they cost nothing like what a set of MXC's does!
We don't hear much from Tecno any more, though their wheels and axles used to be legendary. The Tecno Magnesium Wheels are again available, and they're one of very few options for guys running 17mm front stubs that want a hubless front wheel. They've won plenty of Clubman championships before, with a reputation for excellent corner exit speed when the setup is right.
Everyone calls these wheels "KG", but they're not actually produced by KG. It's just that plenty of people have mistaken the CIK homologation stamp for a KG logo. I've given up trying to correct everyone I talk to about them, so I just call them "KG mags" too, because at least then we're all on the same page! I honestly don't know who even makes them, but I do know the KG Magnesium Wheels are the wheels to have for National class racing. They offer much more grip for slippery tyres than most mags do, and as a result, they've won everything there is to win.
Tony Kart produce two sets of magnesium wheels, the cheaper option which is delivered standard with their karts is the OTK MXP range. These are a quality wheel with a powdercoat finish (they're an odd, diarrhoea-brown colour for some reason unbeknownst to me!), and have been used successfully by many. Lots of people, however, choose to upgrade to the OTK MXC range of wheels because they are, frankly, the best. They have the most grip, with the best exit speeds, of any wheel on sticky tyres. They just plain rule.... I assume Tony Kart know this, and that's why they make them so damned expensive!
So there you have it. Hopefully that gives you some insight as to the lay of the land of magnesium wheels at the moment, and goes some way to helping you choose the right set for your kart.