When it comes to alloy wheel rim protection, the two primary choices for drivers to consider are the Rimblade style ‘2nd generation’ bond-on rim protectors, or the traditional tyre trap protectors such as Alloygators. Both are British brands and the most established wheel protectors on the market, with each being in existence for around 10 years. However, they are very different products and have their advantages and disadvantages. In this article, we take both head-to-head to help you weigh up the pro’s and con’s of each and hopefully make it easier for you to decide on your next choice of rim protection.
Ease of Fitting and Removal
Alloygators require workshop fitting usually at an approved fitting centre by a trained technician, whereas Rimblades have been developed for true DIY fitment - they can quickly and easily be installed at home on the driveway - with no special tools required.
Rimblades are equally easy to remove using a special chemical removal agent (available from the website). This effectively jellifies the bond, and the ‘Blade simply detaches, leaving a squeaky clean wheel finish - no scratches, no residue, no marks. This benefit is particularly important for those whose vehicle is on lease and must be returned to standard at the end of term, because any wheel damage will be penalised and charged for.
It should also be noted that in an emergency (for example a puncture or blow out), that some tyre shops will refuse to fit Alloygators back onto the wheel, meaning a further visit to a shop that will - plus the cost of refitting.
Risk of vehicle damage
There have been lots of reports about rim protectors doing damage to owners' vehicles. This broadly breaks down into the following key areas:
Alloygators require the use of a rubber mallet to knock them onto the rim. This can mark both the protector and the wheel - especially alloys with areas of corroded, bubbled or flaked surface finish. Rimblades use bond-on technology and are fitted by hand - no tools required.
During spirited drives, or at the track, tyres move around more against the wheel. This, coupled with the chance of blow-out deflation could cause a tyre trapped protector to suddenly detach and do serious damage to bodywork. Rimblades attach instead using viscous flow technology, achieving maximum bond at 72 hours. Cured bond strength is massive, whilst fully reversible by chemical reaction utilising Rimblades VHB removal agent.
With tyre trap technology, there is always the possibility of air escaping past the protector at the join if it is not a continuous preformed ring - which is undesirable from both a performance and safety perspective. With Rimblades this simply cannot happen as there is zero compromise of the tyre / wheel interface.
With Rimblades there is none of the damage associated with dirt and grit getting underneath the protector and effectively ‘sanding’ the wheel surface as the protector moves between tyre bead and rim. Instead, the bonding agent forms a barrier that actually protects the surface of the alloy wheel.
There’s not a great deal of difference between ‘Blades and Alloygators when it comes to aesthetics. Both allow you to personalise and transform the look of your vehicle. Alloygators do offer a few more colour options (14 vs Rimblade Ultra’s 10 options), however colour choice comes down to the look you are trying to achieve with your car and body colour. Rimblades do however tend to have a slightly lower profile than most of the tyre trap alternatives on the market, including Gators.
Heavy Impact Protection
We’ve all seen wheels which have been virtually destroyed from repeated heavy duty kerbing impacts, most often simply caused by poor driving. Protecting against this level of damage is not really possible with either type of wheel protector, since such heavy hits often compromise both wheel balance and alignment. Out of the two types however, Alloygators would probably stand a slightly better chance of surviving a big impact - but would look very chewed up and unsightly, and need changing afterwards.
*but would likely need replacing, and the vehicle checking on the ramps.
Medium Impact Protection
Rimblades actually produce 3 different grades of ‘Blade tuned to offer light, medium and heavy protection. Each is designed to absorb and deflect a range of impacts from flying stones and track debris, to brushes with roadside verges and even full-on kerbing. Since Rimblades are the only manufacturer offering a specific medium protection solution, there can only be one winner here.
The biggest threat to enthusiast drivers wheels - and by far the most common type of damage - is what’s called ‘kerb rash’. This is the usual lighter impact damage which often results from lower speed day to day parallel parking. Brushing a kerb in this way is unlikely to cause any associated alignment issues; but can actually do a shocking amount of damage to the wheel due to aluminum being a relatively soft material. Both types of wheel protectors do a great job of protecting against Kerb Rash.
In addition to preventing further damage and personalising and upgrading aesthetics, alloy wheel protectors are also great for covering existing damage. Both Rimblades and Alloygator can hide a multitude of sins, however bear in mind that Rimblades are not designed to bond onto very heavily damaged alloys as the technology relies on a relatively smooth flat surface to ensure maximum adhesion is achieved. Alloygator’s could in theory be fitted over rougher surfaces, however this would need to be assessed by a fitting technician.
Testing and Quality
Both Rimblades and Alloygator invest heavily in R&D and testing. Alloygator have opted to conduct its testing at the MIRA Centre, whilst Rimblades use Britain’s other major facility - the Millbrook Proving Ground.
When it comes to approvals, Alloygator is TUV-tested. TUV (Technischer Überwachungsverein) certification means a sample of the product has been tested for safety and found to meet the minimum requirements of the German Equipment and Product Safety Act. Rimblades on the other hand has a history working with the manufacturers, its products having passed stringent manufacturer OE testing including a 10,000 KM continual endurance test.
In terms of materials Alloygator is manufactured from ‘super-tough nylon’, whereas Rimblades utilise a premium material produced by Exxon Mobil called SantopreneTM TPV (Thermoplastic Vulcanizate) - a high performance thermoplastic elastomer (TPE). Rimblades bonding technology comes courtesy of chemicals technology giant 3M and is designed to withstand extreme heat, cold, vibration, moisture and UV light. As a 2nd generation protector, there’s no surprise that Rimblades are the outright winner in this area.
Discover more about the materials technology here: https://rimblades.com/blogs/news/the-technology-that-gives-rimblades-the-edge
Both Rimblades and Alloygator are typically favoured by different driver profiles, so the question of brand is purely down to the individual. Alloygator was one of the first to successfully create a mass market wheel protection system, and still to this day uses its traditional ‘tyre-trap’ approach, whereas Rimblades are known as a ‘second generation’ protector and the first to successfully market the flexible bond-on rim protector - quite a different product.
Rimblades are considered the enthusiast drivers choice, as it has gained almost a cult following amongst performance drivers, and is designed specifically for that market. Alloygator is probably the better choice for those lacking in driving confidence whose wheels are likely to take bigger hits as a consequence, and not be too worried about the protectors getting chewed up as a result.
Value for Money
Rimblades currently retail at around a quarter of the cost of Alloygators whilst utilising high tech materials costing up to three times more (based on the Ultra product which utilises Santoprene TPV rubber by Exxon Mobil). Due to this, ‘Blades deliver arguably the best value for money on the market - of any type of rim protector, and certainly better than Alloygator.
Because Rimblades are designed as a sacrificial upgrade, this means you could potentially swap out FOUR sets for roughly the same cost as a set of Alloygators - which due to the cost premium and hassle of fitting, are far less likely to be replaced after damage and soon start to look very tatty and chewed up.
Overall Winner: Rimblades
As we touched on at the beginning of this article, the two brands, products and technologies are completely different and in lots of ways incomparable.
Rimblades are designed for the enthusiast - for drivers who are looking for great wheel protection, but who also want to upgrade and personalise the look of their vehicle. At Rimblades, we understand that enthusiasts typically pride themselves on being good drivers (and parkers) who might only expect to periodically experience moderate hits/rubs to their wheels. For those enthusiasts who understand that a bonded solution provides ALL the impact performance needed, plus the flexibility to quickly and easily replace a damaged protector - and at a fraction of the cost; tyre trap rim protectors such as Alloygators quickly start to look like a very over-engineered and overpriced solution.