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What's the Difference Between a Wheel and a Rim?

Posted by RC Components on

Here at RC Components, we get the question all the time, "What is the difference between a wheel and a rim?" There's no doubt that many people get them confused, which is understandable, as you'll see.

RC Components has been the leader in motorcycle wheels and rims since we began in 1989. We make innovative wheel designs using the highest-quality materials and superb craftsmanship in order to bring you superior wheels that will last longer, look better, and outperform the competition by the mile. Below, we'll take a brief look at the difference between a wheel and a rim. Contact our team to get started today!


Wheels are the round portions of your wheel tire assembly that allow your vehicle to move. They are also responsible for supporting the vehicle's weight and any load it is carrying, including passengers. Primitive wheels were solid and made out of wood. Needless to say, wheels have come a long way since then, especially since RC Components has innovated and pioneered the first billet aluminum wheel, matching pulleys, and rotors that have revolutionized the motorcycle wheel world. Typically, wheels are manufactured from steel or aluminum alloy, and they come in a variety of finishes to suit your tastes.


The rim is also referred to as the barrel in the motor world. It is simply the outer edge of the wheel that the tire attaches to. The rim ensures that the tire stays put, which is why it has a thin edge and doesn't fly off when you're driving down the road.


A wheel has three main parts:

  1. Hub. The hub is the center part of the wheel.
  2. Spokes. The spokes are the pieces that extend to the outer part. Also called the face of the wheel.
  3. Rim. The rim of the wheel is the outer section of the wheel where the tire is attached.

A tire is separate from the wheel altogether and is the rubber or rubber composite portion that goes on the outside of the rim. A wheel tire package or assembly is having both the tire and the wheel together.


Most people intuitively know that a rim is the outside portion of something. However, they still refer to the wheel as the rims. A lot of this has to do with where you grew up. Different areas of the country refer to each in different ways so a lot of the confusion and terminology has been ingrained since childhood.

For the most part, terminology does not matter; everyone knows what you are talking about. However, when it comes to interacting with those in the motorcycle, car, or bike world, it's important to know the difference, especially if you are purchasing one or the other.


You truly can't go wrong with RC custom motorcycle wheels. You have many options to customize your ride, including the wheel size, the hub color, the finish, the spoke design, and so much more. We offer motorcycle wheels for every major motorcycle brand, including Honda, Harley Davidson, Indian, Victory, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Yamaha, and more.

We offer a wheel selector online that easily guides you through choosing the perfect wheels for your motorcycle. You filter by make and model and on through your choices until you decide which one you like the best. Plus, our customer service representatives will be more than happy to assist you if needed.

In addition, we offer our RCX exhaust headers, slip-on mufflers, and bolt-on custom accessories. Our mission is to give your functional tires that will look cool, show off your motorcycle, and that will last. Contact our team to get started today!