Navigating the jungle of synonyms

Even experts sometimes get mixed up – what was the difference between burnishing and front polish processing again? Does “wheel rim” only refer to wheels that are ECE-certified? And what is the difference between V spokes and double spokes? This RIAL Blog article aims to clear up questions like this and helps you navigate the jungle of synonyms.

Wheel and rim
Let’s begin by explaining a central pair of terms: wheel and rim. The rim is the outer ring of the wheel on which the tire sits, so it is actually not a correct designation for the entire wheel. Colloquially, though, people still often refer to alloy wheels as aluminum rims – and this terminology is used by dealers as well.

Front polished and diamond cut
And now an even bigger case of linguistic overlap: “front polished” and “diamond cut” form a synonym, with two terms describing the same technology. Front polishing begins with a painted wheel. A diamond tool removes paint from the front of the wheel in certain areas, allowing the aluminum to shine through. The specialist term “diamond cut” comes from the diamond tool used in the burnishing process.

Paint and coating
Every paint is a coating, but these two terms are still no synonyms – otherwise every coating would be a kind of paint, which is of course not true. There are two general categories when it comes to paint: water-based and solvent-based color paint. This is necessary since it is not technically possible to produce all imaginable colors in both systems. Alloy wheels typically receive a powder coating during manufacturing in addition to liquid paint. A powder is electrostatically sprayed on the wheel and then fired.

V spokes and double spokes
The difference between V spokes and double spokes is a similarly pedantic matter as with the painting methods – every V spoke is a double spoke in a way, but not every double spoke is a V spoke. This is obvious when you look at the respective wheel designs. While normal double spokes are arranged more or less parallel to each other, pairs of V spokes get wider from the middle of the hub to the rim in the shape of a “V”.

The ECE and ABE are often mentioned together, so it’s good to know the difference. In Germany, the ABE (general operating permit) authorizes a serially produced vehicle for use on the road. The papers list all approved wheel and tire sizes. Alloy wheels are usually not listed in the vehicle’s ABE. This is where the ECE (Economic Commission of Europe) comes in: the use of an ECE-certified wheel requires no entry in the vehicle documents. The alternative is a vehicle component ABE, which allows the use of aluminum wheel rims without additional review by testing services as long as the specific wheel-tire combination is approved without conditions.