What are Three Piece Wheels and Why are People Crazy About Them

Lamborghini Aventador SVJ with HRE S200 in Satin Black & Custom Color (3-Piece Wheels)
You’ve seen them. You’ve probably drooled over them. They are those amazing rims, usually mounted on equally amazing rides, that have crazy awesome designs and custom finishes. What you probably didn’t know unless you are really into rims, “they” are three-piece wheels, a wheel design that until relatively recently, was only used only as one offs for exotics and racing teams.
MAR 17, 2021

A three-piece wheel consists of three distinct parts, a forged center, spun aluminum inner barrel and a spun aluminum outer barrel (lip).  These three components are sealed together creating the final product. So, what’s so special about that? This manufacturing process allows for an almost infinite selection of fitment configurations. Because these wheels are almost always custom orders, they can be designed to accommodate any modification to suspension, brake size, bolt pattern etc. to ensure the wheel is a perfect fit for a specific vehicle. That’s an important consideration for any vehicle but critical for high-performance rides.

For us, fitment is everything. It doesn’t matter how slick a wheel looks if it doesn’t fit right. However, for many owners of six figure rides, correct fitment is assumed and what really counts is enhancing the appearance of their vehicle with some awesome rims. Because they are custom made and multiple part, three-piece wheels are ideally suited for unique designs and finishes. Each piece can receive a design element and that means each piece can bring a unique contribution to the total design. Outer rims (the lip) can have stepped lips or double stepped lips. Inner rims and cores can support any kind of spoke and cap design from traditional five spoke, to blades, to floating spokes and more. Even the style and placement of bolts can be customized. And colors…the rainbow is your guide. Because each piece can be finished before assembly, multiple finishes are routine.

Rolls Royce Ghost on Lexani 3-Piece Forged LX-771 (3-Piece Wheels)

Mercedes Benz AMG GT63 on Lexani 3-Piece Forged LX-772 (3-Piece Wheels)

Three Piece Performance

The strongest, lightest, stiffest, most durable three-piece wheels with low rotational inertia are forged models. Most three-piece wheels are manufactured using the time consuming and expensive forging process although there are a few reputable brands that use a hybrid casting process. Forged wheels start out as a block of aluminum alloy that is heated and placed under tremendous pressure to create the desired shape. The extreme pressure (think a blacksmith heating and pounding metal) actually changes the molecular structure of the aluminum making it much stronger. A stronger metal means less is needed to create a wheel which in turn means a lighter wheel with a lower rotational mass.

Cast wheels also start out as a block of aluminum alloy. The aluminum is heated until it melts and is then poured into a mold to get the desired shape. The metal is allowed to cool and that’s when air pockets can form actually weakening the aluminum. Because they are weaker than forged wheels, they require thicker components making them slower off the line and taking longer to brake. The advantage of a cast wheel is its price. Cast wheels are less expensive to manufacture but the old adage you get what you pay for applies.
In an effort to make quality three-piece wheels more affordable, some brands have modified the casting process. The cast component is placed on a mandrel and spun while extreme pressure is applied compressing the metal and forcing air pockets to collapse creating a stronger, stiffer and potentially lighter wheel than the original design. This hybrid technique is less expensive than forging but more expensive than straight casting.

To sum it up, if you are in the market for custom rims you can’t do much better than three-piece wheels. When you want fit, performance and awesome design, the three-piece rim is absolutely your best bet.

AUDI R8 on Vossen EVO-5R (3-Piece Wheel)

Who Makes The Best Three-Piece Wheels?

Three-piece wheels definitely fall into the upscale rim class, so it is not surprising that top luxury wheel brands lead the way in three-piece sales. That said, there are a ton of knockoffs that are not only subpar but can be downright dangerous. Do your due diligence. Some of our favorites include:

Lamborghini Aventador SVJ with HRE S111SC in Frozen Polished Clear
(HRE Wheels)

HRE Wheels

The master of over-engineered forged rims that grace exotics, high-performance, luxury, upscale SUVs and off-road rides has an extensive offering of three-piece wheels. Available in sizes ranging 17” to 24” in combinations of 72 custom finishes, expect to pay top dollar and wait two weeks for your order to arrive. HRE does have a hybrid called Flow Form that is a viable alternative and make the three-piece more accessible price point wise.

Porsche 911 on Vossen S21-01 3-Piece Wheels (Vossen Wheels by Extreme Toys)

Vossen Wheels

The grandfather of wheel makers, Vossen brings a classic line of forged three-piece wheels to meet today’s functionality. Suited for hyper exotics or off-road applications, Vossen’s EVO line offers a dazzling collection of designs and finishes. Like HRE, Vossen has developed a hybrid process called Hybrid+Forged to the party to widen the market for its three-piece wheels.

Ferrari 488 on Lexani 3-Piece Forged LZ-787 (3-Piece Wheels)

Lexani Wheels

This California based wheel studio recognized internationally for its designs offers a line of forged and Flow Form three-piece wheels that have to be seen to be appreciated. What else would you expect from a wheel maker who holds its own annual car show to feature its rims.

So there you have it. There are plenty more brands to choose from and we have a great collection of the best available three-piece wheels on If you have questions or need assistance, give us a call.