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Old 09-17-2010, 08:46 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Why do most wheels have 5 spokes?

I was the first one in to work yesterday and had to wait for someone with a key to show up. I noticed that 5 out of 6 vehicles had 5 spoke wheels and one car had 7. Since then I have noticed that most cars have 5 spokes, or as my wife's Expedition, 5 sets of two spokes. Most of the ones with more spokes were the sportier models. So is it just a styling thing? You would think that there would be the same number of spokes as lugs, but not necessarily.

So, other than the obvious "To keep the rim away from the hub!", does anyone have any idea as to why? Something to do with vibrations and harmonics would be my first guess.

Why do I even ponder such things anyway?

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Old 09-17-2010, 09:35 PM   #2 (permalink)
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rbrowning i think this is a purely styling thing. 5 spokes looks better than 6 i guess.

The wheels will be balanced mechanically with either 5 or 6 or any number for that matter. So no issue with vibration or harmonics. A lower number of spokes say for an extreme example of 2 spokes would put significant stress on the spokes but from 4 or more spokes its not even a consideration.

Well worth pondering these sort of things its best way to find out something new
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Old 09-17-2010, 11:56 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Perhaps styling enters in, but in earlier days an odd number of lug nuts seemed to have less effect or wheel warping and the associated vibrations. Still today odd number of attach points are often used where balance is critical. When it comes to heavy vehicles you may have notice six, eight, teh or more lugs. So as the number of attach points increases in number the load distribution is more evenly distributed and less critical. Today however it does seem that it has more to do with style as the previous poster mentioned.
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Old 09-18-2010, 12:30 AM   #4 (permalink)
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If odd= better balance then the heavies would have 7, 9, etc. instead of 6, 8, etc., right?
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Old 09-18-2010, 06:44 AM   #5 (permalink)
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First, there are probably 100 answers to this question and while some of them have a grain of truth to them, I'll bet that true answer is that there is no real reason.

- But -

Most vehicles have 5 lugs, so I supposed symmetry plays a role.

I've heard that using prime numbers has the effect of isolating vibrations. So 5, 7, or 9 are common used when the number of "X" is chosen.
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Old 09-18-2010, 09:03 AM   #6 (permalink)
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^^ What he said about vibration plays a big role. I suppose it's also true that the engineering advantage of 5 spoke over 6 spoke is minuscule.

I looked around at wheels a few years back, and noticed a fair number of American cars with even numbers of spokes, but not nearly as many imports like that.
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Old 09-18-2010, 03:13 PM   #7 (permalink)
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...anybody remember the THREE-spoke wheels from back in the mid-1970's?

...and SAAB used a 3-spoke rim as OEM for awhile on one model.

Last edited by Old Tele man; 09-18-2010 at 03:20 PM..
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Old 09-18-2010, 03:20 PM   #8 (permalink)
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...anybody remember the THREE-spoke wheels from back in the mid-1970's?
They're back, on Smarts !
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Old 09-18-2010, 03:20 PM   #9 (permalink)
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How about the 3-lug Le Car?
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Old 09-18-2010, 03:25 PM   #10 (permalink)
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So is it just a styling thing?
It's just a styling thing.
The number of spokes has nothing to do with the number of bolts, though 5 spokes and 5 bolts create some symmetry.

BTW: I'm known for my profound dislike of 5-spoke rims

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