Carbon-hybrid wheels help BAC's quest for enlightenment

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BAC says its new wheels cut weight by 20 percent on each axle

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Ford has been working with Carbon Revolution to develop light, strong wheels for the GT and Shelby GT350R, but the Detroit giant isn't the only company trying to reinvent the wheel. Boutique British track-car company BAC has teamed up with Dymag to create carbon-hybrid wheels more than 20 percent lighter than the standard units.

They might look nice, but the real benefits of using carbon-hybrid wheels are rooted in performance. The wheel rim itself is made of carbon fiber, and has soft curved corners to make it stronger. Unlike the one-piece wheels being used on Ford's new sports (and super) cars, BAC's aren't entirely carbon. Instead, the spokes are hewn from a solid billet of aluminum. Interestingly, the team behind the wheels chose a 10-spoke design to more effectively share the load.

Even though they're not 100 percent carbon, the new 17-inch wheels are significantly lighter than the standard units. On the front axle, the 7.5 x 17-in wheels weigh just 5.7 kg (12.6 lb) each, a saving of 23 percent. That saving is replicated on the rear axle, where the 9 x 17-in wheels weigh just 6.0 kg (13.2 lb).

The wheels are secured with titanium bolts, each of which weighs just 30.2 g (1.07 oz). All up, the titanium bolts save 212.5 g (7.5 oz) on each wheel. That mightn't sound like much, but every little bit of unsprung weight you can cut from the car makes a big difference when it comes to ride and handling.

"This new hybrid wheel is a world first, and typifies the bold approach that BAC embraces, and shows how we are able to take a lead in developing and showcasing new technology," says BAC co-founder Neil Briggs. "These new wheels represent a genuine performance upgrade, further enhancing the car's ride and handling, in a tangible way."

You'll pay £9,950 (US$13,750) for the wheels if you're speccing them on a new car, while it will cost £12,500 ($18,500) to have them retrofitted on existing cars. The wheels make their debut at Goodwood, which kicks off on June 23.

Source: BAC

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