Best Guide to Choosing The Right Ford Bronco Wheels

Welcome to your ultimate guide on Ford Bronco wheels, updated with a special focus on the first-generation Broncos produced between 1966 and 1977.

Whether you’re an off-roader or simply love the classic Bronco look, choosing the right wheels is essential. This guide will help you learn more and navigate the many considerations involved in making the right choice for you.

What type of wheels are best for the early Bronco?

Before we go into the specifics of what makes a good wheel for your Bronco, let’s discuss the different types of wheels. 

Your choice is typically between steel and aluminum.  Steel wheels have been around since the 1940s and are known for their simple and rugged construction from Steel plate.

To prevent rust, steel wheels must be finished in a coating that won’t rust, such as Chrome, powder coat, or paint.  Chrome is the most rugged of these options, as it is made of chromium, which is an extremely hard metal. 

Choosing Ford Bronco Wheels - Method Wheels For Early Bronco

Aluminum has become the performance wheel of choice in the modern era. There are different ways of manufacturing aluminum wheels, like Forging or Casting, which allow wheel manufacturers to design them for specific applications.  

Generally, they are lighter and do well offroad, but many cannot take the abuse a steel wheel can. 

For a classic Bronco, the best type of wheel will depend on how you’re going to use your Bronco the most or finding the right balance between what will work both on and offroad.

Original Equipment

Traditionally, early Broncos came equipped with 15-inch steel wheels, renowned for their durability in rugged terrains.  In the Bronco world, these are often called “Steelies”.

Modern Alternatives

Aluminum alloy wheels are popular among Bronco owners for their combination of strength and reduced weight.  There are robust aluminum wheels designed for offroad use like these wheels from Method Race Wheels, or light aluminum wheels designed to optimize race track performance.

What is wheel offset?

When choosing a wheel for your Bronco, you’ll want to consider the wheel offset. Wheel offset is how far the center line of the wheel is from the mounting surface. 

The offset is measured in millimeters, and it can have an impact on tire fitment and steering feel. For the early Bronco, a wheel offset of -6mm to 0mm is recommended.

Wheel Offset Definition by Method Wheels

What is backspacing?

Backspacing is another important factor to consider when selecting wheels for your Bronco. Backspacing refers to the distance between the mounting surface of the wheel and the rear face of the wheel. 

In general, a lower backspace will have the tire sticking out further and will give your Bronco a more aggressive look.

Backspacing and wheel offset are directly correlated, but both terms are common in the industry.

How to choose the right wheels?

Choosing the perfect wheel for your Bronco will depend on a balance of several factors, including your desired look, driving style, and budget.  First and foremost, you need to make sure your wheels are going to fit.  

In the early Bronco world, the terms “Cut” or “Uncut” are thrown around.  This refers to the cutting of the rear fender to allow for more tire clearance.  If you have an uncut Bronco and want a more aggressive tire, much thought and calculation must be put into the offset, diameter, and width.

Cut Bronco Fenders by Gateway Bronco

Photo Credit Gateway Bronco

Uncut Early Bronco by Vintage Broncos

Photo Credit Vintage Broncos

When considering a new set of wheels, you’ll want to take into account your preferred wheel diameter, wheel width, and wheel style. Ultimately, you’ll want to find a set of wheels that complement your Bronco’s overall look and feel and match your driving needs.

  • Measure your current setup: Knowing the specifications of your current wheels can guide you.
  • Consider your driving habits: Off-road adventures require different specifications than primarily on-road driving.
  • Consult experts and forums: Fellow Bronco owners can offer invaluable real-world advice.

Cast vs. Flow Formed vs. Beadlock wheels:

When choosing a wheel, there are various options available.

Cast wheels are the most affordable and are made from an aluminum alloy poured into a mold.

Flow-formed wheels are lighter and stronger, as the wheel is stretched and formed under intense pressure.

Beadlock wheels are similar to cast wheels, but they have a metal band that reinforces the bead of the tire. They are designed for off-road use, as they allow you to run the tire at a lower pressure for better traction.  

Beadlocks are called this because they lock the sealing surface of the tire (bead) to the wheel, so even at very low tire pressures, the wheel will not separate from the rim.

We love the Hutchison Rock Monsters! Though they typically make components for customers in the defense, security, and commercial industries the Rock Monster internal double beadlock wheels are military grade adapted for civilian use.  Street Legal – DOT Approved, which is hard to find in a beadlock.

Once Rock Monster wheels are installed, switching from on-road to off-road use and back again, in just a few minutes, is as easy as decreasing or increasing tire air pressure through your standard air valve stem or an available central tire inflation system.

Classic Ford Bronco with Hutchison Rock Monster Wheels

FAQs

What are the best wheels for off-roading?

If you plan to take your Bronco offroad, you’ll want to invest in a set of beadlock, steel, or flow-formed wheels. 

Beadlock wheels are the most popular choice for offroad enthusiasts, as they allow you to air down your tires without the risk of the tire coming off the rim. 

Flow-formed wheels offer the same strength and durability but at a lighter weight.

What are the best wheels for street driving?

For street driving, you can typically get away with traditional cast or flow-formed wheels. If your priority is style, you might want to go for an aggressive look. 

If your priority is comfort, you’ll want to look for a wheel with a higher offset, which will reduce vibrations and improve driving on the street. 

Additionally, you’ll want to choose a wheel that provides good handling and braking performance.  If your Bronco suspension is stock, a stock-dimensioned wheel will allow the Bronco to perform as it was intended.

Does wheel size make a difference?

Yes, wheel size does matter when selecting wheels for your Bronco. Smaller wheels with taller sidewalls can improve off-road performance, as they allow for more tire deflection. 

Bigger wheels with lower-profile tires can be used for street or show driving to give your Bronco a more aggressive look.

Does it make a difference in what type of tire I have?

Yes, it’s essential to match the right tire size and type with your wheel choice. A taller sidewall tire can help protect the wheel from damage during off-road driving, while a low-profile street tire can give your Bronco more cornering performance.

Does suspension matter?

Yes, the suspension on your Bronco will play a role in determining what wheels will fit. The height and width of the tire will be especially important in relation to the suspension.  An uncut Bronco will be more challenging to fit larger wheels on, as well.

If you have a leveling kit or lift kit, this will also affect your wheel and tire choices. Make sure it fits!

What about a leveling kit or lift kit?

If you have a leveling kit or lift kit on your early Bronco, you’ll need to take that into account when selecting wheels. 

A leveling kit will typically require a lower offset wheel to ensure proper tire fitment. A lift kit may allow you to use a wheel with a higher offset, giving you more room for larger tires.

Does Wheel Choice Affect Braking?

Yes, the choice of wheels can have an impact on braking performance. Here’s how:

Material:

Different wheel materials have varying thermal conductivity levels, affecting heat dissipation during braking. For example, alloy wheels usually offer better heat dissipation than steel wheels, potentially improving braking performance.

Wheel Size:

Larger wheels can sometimes accommodate larger brake calipers and rotors, which can improve braking performance. However, they also generally mean more rotational mass, which might require more braking force to stop the vehicle effectively.

Weight:

Heavier wheels add to the unsprung weight of the vehicle, potentially reducing the effectiveness of the braking system. Lighter wheels can improve the responsiveness of your brakes.

Spoke Design:

The design of the wheel spokes can affect airflow around the brakes. Some designs may allow better cooling of the brakes, which is beneficial during heavy braking or downhills.

Compatibility:

Always ensure that the wheels you choose to purchase are compatible with your vehicle’s braking system. Clearance issues between the wheel and brake components can be a serious safety concern.

What is the average price of wheels?

The price of wheels can vary widely depending on the type of wheel, brand, and size. On average, the price of a set of aftermarket wheels can range from $500 to $5,000 or more. 

Be sure to budget accordingly and shop around to find the best deals.

What is the Ford Bronco Wheels bolt pattern for Vintage Broncos?

The bolt pattern for first-generation Broncos is 5×5.5″. This means that any wheel with a matching bolt pattern with 5 lugs, a 5.5″ bolt circle, and an appropriate offset and backspace can be used on your Bronco.

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