In 1970, partners Heinrich Baumgartner and Klaus Brand founded a small plant in Schiltach, Germany to manufacture plastic chassis parts. The name BBS comes from Baumgartner-Brand-Schiltach. By 1972 the company had developed a breakthrough type of 3-piece racing wheel that soon swept the world of motorsport.
In 1983, BBS introduced their 3-piece technology to street performance with their iconic RS wheels. For the next 20 years BBS would proceed to dominate the world of high-performance motorsport wheels on both the racing and retail sides. BBS has rolled underneath multiple world championship teams in F1, IndyCar and many others. In fact, Michael Schumacher won all 7 of his titles on BBS wheels.
In addition to their focus on racing and other high-performance applications, BBS also makes OEM wheels for a staggering range of automakers, including but not limited to; BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Ferrari, Maserati, Mitsubishi, Rolls Royce, Jaguar, Infiniti, Lexus Renault, Saab, Subaru, Volkswagen, Toyota, and Volvo. They are known for a number of advances in “Just-In-Time” manufacturing techniques.
BBS is also one of the few remaining wheel makers that will replace the outer rings on their 2 and 3-piece wheels, something most wheel makers have given up on, if they ever practiced it to begin with.
BBS' reputation for technology leadership goes all the way back to the very first years of the company, and they have maintained that reputation with the times. BBS remains at the forefront of technology such as:
3d Computer Modeling and Simulation:
Every BBS wheel is modeled and tested by computer before a single billet is formed.
A technique in which molten metal is forced into a mold via air pressure. This creates a denser and stronger casting than gravity-forced casting.
Flow-forming involves taking a heated billet of cast aluminum and spinning it at high speed between rollers, which stretch and form the aluminum into the shape of a wheel. This creates a thin but dense and high-strength alloy.
BBS pioneered many forging techniques, and it's name is still partly synonymous with forged wheels. Forging involves shaping a solid billet of aluminum under tremendous heat and pressure, literally crushing it into the shape of a wheel. BBS says of its forging process:
“The heated centre of the rim or the entire rim well is compressed during several stages in a forging press under 5,000 to 8,000 tons of pressure to densify the material into its special form. Between the individual stages, the rim is repeatedly heated up to around 400 degrees Celsius. The result is a much stronger and lighter wheel that is able to handle very high levels of mechanical strain on the road. “
Like TSW, BBS has invested in a machining process that cuts the face of the wheel with a diamond stylus on a very high speed lathe. This creates a mirror-smooth finish that does not show the concentric lines typical of traditional machine polishing.
BBS performs their CNC machining with a special process that uses only air and oil as a coolant. This reduces the disposal problems inherent in the use of oil/water coolants.
BBS designs several of their wheels with hollow cast areas inside the centers and spokes, reducing unsprung and rotational weight while not compromising strength. This innovation earned BBS the Automechanika Innovation Award for 2006 in the tuning segment.
BBS began their history as a leader in the field of multi-piece wheels, and jealously guards that leadership. Among other innovations, all BBS multi-piece wheels are currently built with titanium rivets for strength, beauty and corrosion resistance.
BBS says of their testing procedures:
“Using a computer simulation, it is possible to reduce the number of solution options for new challenges before the wheel goes into serial production. However, the ultimate conclusions are generated during the test procedure. The test criteria checked by BBS simulate the toughest road conditions to comprehensively cover both standard and specialist tests. Yet these test criteria are still not enough for us, and some of our own standards outstrip the legal requirements in terms of long-term usage and rigidity tenfold.”
BBS subjects their wheels to a number of tests, with names like “Cyclic Bend Check” and “Two-Axial Wheel Test”, but my favorite is undoubtedly the “Impact Test.” According to BBS, the Impact Test involves “a falling weight... dropped several times onto the outer rim shoulder of a tyre-covered wheel. It is important that there is no sudden loss of air from the tyre.“
It's pretty hard to argue with that kind of brilliant logic.
BBS keeps a mix of the Old School and the New School in their lineup.
- Classics like the Super RS hail back to the very first BBS street wheels. Like the original, they come in both Silver/Machined and Gold/Machined.
- Another classic is given a slight stylistic update in the CH-R. Keeping most of the iconic look of the CH, the R version is given a slightly less curved center and and a bit more definition to the “Motorsport” engraving. The lettering is picked out in white on the Black/Polished version, left alone in the Silver/Polished version and does not appear on the brand-new Titanium/Polished version.
- Representing the New School is the asymmetric look of the CX-R which looks equally evil in Anthracite/Machined or in Black/Machined.
- The AIR 2 CK is part of the Air Inside lineup. Hollow chambers in the center and spokes reduce rotational weight while keeping strength. AIR 2 CK comes in Bright Silver with Polished Stainless Lip or for eye-hurting brightness, try the Polished with Polished Stainless Lip.