Wheels can make or break any project in the looks department. However, an appropriate set of wheels to suit the style of your street machine could be difficult to find, especially if you have a limited budget.
Some folks may take the easier route and consider a set of wheels that may look like the real thing. Replica wheels have been flooding the market ever-increasingly (unfortunately) in recent years, and even though they may seem to perform like the real things, it may be better off to steer well clear of them.
There are certainly a few reasons to shy away from replica wheels, besides the obvious design ripoffs from some of your favourite brands. Some wheels from brands you've never heard of could potentially be made with inferior or questionable materials at best.
Besides materials, the process of manufacturing could be vastly inferior as well. You could spot this as an issue in more intricate designs that may require forging to increase strength instead of a low-pressure casting process. Companies such as Rays Engineering, Work Wheels, Speed Star Racing, and many others in the industry use different production techniques such as high-pressure casting, semi-solid forging, or machining from billet blanks to reduce weight and increase strength.
The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism (MLIT) in Japan has imposed a series of standards for alloy wheels produced for cars and trucks. The "JWL" or "JWL-T" (Japan Light alloy Wheel) mark denotes the wheel as conforming to set standards for load-carrying capacity and installation specifications.
Furthermore, wheels that meet these requirements and have been independently tested by the "VIA" (Vehicle Inspection Association) for verification also receive that mark. Both symbols are mandated to be marked on the outside face of the wheel to be easily visible for verification purposes. Though these standards originated in Japan, they are used worldwide to ensure genuine alloy wheels are safe for use on public roads and motorsports.
Friends don't let friends ride on fake/replica wheels just because you may save a few dollars upfront; they aren't worth risking your life for. Besides, many of the cars that inspired us to become enthusiasts sport genuine wheels, and we can help keep these companies around to inspire other enthusiasts.