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What Is Wheel Offset and Why Should You Care?

Jul 1st 2020

In many cases, that alien string of letters and numbers printed on the side of whatever you’re buying is for the manufacturers use only, so a lot of folks tend to ignore this “fine print.” When you’re in the market for a new set of Polaris RZR wheels, however, these numbers -- which detail the specifications of the wheels -- couldn’t be more relevant to your proper use of the product. 

The wheel offset on Polaris RZR wheels is, in particular, an often misunderstood dimension, so there’s no shame in asking for a little clarification if you don’t know what exactly wheel offset is, means or does. The same goes for bolt patterns and backspacing, which all come together to comprise the Polaris RZR wheel specs.

Typically, when researching wheel sizing, you will see a string of numbers and symbols similar to the following:

14x7 4/156 – (4+3)

This above example is the exact sizing information for our Polaris RZR HD6 14” Wheels, which come with STI Roctane tires as well. In this concatenation of numbers, you can find the size, offset, and bolt pattern of any Polaris RZR rim. And this guide is here to break down each of the three data points so you can make an informed purchasing decision about the size, bolt pattern, and offset to ensure proper Polaris RZR wheel specs.

Easiest First: Size

The “14 x 7” in the sample metric used above is the simplest to understand, so we’ll start there. This figure describes the overall dimensions of the wheel. The first number relates to diameter, and the second describes width, so these Polaris RZR wheels are fourteen inches around and seven inches wide — piece of cake. 

Wheel Offset

The (4+3) factor in our example is referencing the Polaris RZR wheel’s offset level. Offset in this case is a measure of how much the wheel sticks out horizontally, either widening your stance or keeping it narrow. Specifically, offset is expressed as the distance between the hub mounting location and the center line of the wheel. If the hub is mounted 4 inches away from the inner side and 3 inches away from the street side of the wheel, then you have a (4+3) offset, which will result in the wheel being slightly tucked in because the majority of the wheel’s width is on the inner side of the center line. 

This may sound like it shouldn't make much of a difference, but it bears great importance on the overall ride quality and appearance of your Polaris RZR, RZR 900, or RZR XP Turbo. It’s also important to note that your Polaris RZR wheel offset figures will always equal the total width of your wheel, and that when the numbers are equal -- which is to say that the hub is perfectly central -- then there is no offset. 

So, you might be wondering, how exactly does this influence performance of my machine? Well, consider the following:

  • In the case of a (4+3) offset -- and especially in more dramatically tucked in offsets like a (5+3) or a (6+3) -- you gain the advantage of improved clearance around the perimeter of your vehicle. This can not only help you squeak your UTV through tighter trails, but it can also help to create more fender clearance.
  • In the opposite case, where the first number is smaller than the second one in the sequence, you will sacrifice improved clearance for improved stability, thanks to the wider stance of your vehicle. With a wider stance, comes a lower center of gravity. Although you can use Polaris RZR tire and wheel accessories like wheel spacers to achieve a wider stance, these can sometime exacerbate wear in the wheel bearings if not used properly.
  • If you transition from your Polaris RZR factory wheels, which are usually offset, to a non-offset wheel setup, you will notice a difference in ride quality and clearance. Many assume that factory wheels aren't offset, but this is not the case with the factory Polaris RZR wheel offset.

Some brands like to measure the offset of their wheels using just a single metric that describes exactly how far out or in the tire is set. This is usually expressed in millimeters, and will use negative numbers for when the first number is smaller (so the wheel hub sticks out compared to the centerline of the wheel), and positive numbers in the opposite case. So, our example above is a positive offset of a certain amount of millimeters – it would then be expressed as “+10mm”, “+15mm,” etc., meaning that’s how far beyond the center line that the tire is tucked in. Of course, no offset would simply be expressed as zero.  

Whether you’re springing for a new set of pre-mounted tires and wheels, or buying a new Polaris RZR altogether, it’s always helpful to know what kind of offset and size you’re running. You can determine what these dimensions are from your dealer, owner’s manual, or online. And in many cases, they're written, etched, or embellished on the rims themselves. While backspacing and offset are important, they are just one factor of aftermarket and OEM Polaris RZR wheel specs.

Wheel / Rim Bolt Patterns

That final figure, the 4/156 number, describes the bolt pattern of your Polaris RZR wheels. The first number simply describes how many bolts there are, and the second number describes the distance between a pre-set measurement in millimeters. In our case, then, we’re looking at a 4-lug setup where the distance between the two holes located diagonally from each other is 156mm. 

Bringing It All Together

To sum up, the Polaris RZR wheel spec function 14x7 4/156 – (4+3) is a standardized way of expressing wheel size (diameter x width), the wheel bolt pattern (number of lugs/space between pre-determined points) and the wheel offset (hub distance from inner wheel surface + hub distance from the street side of the rim). Understanding these numbers and the significance behind your Polaris RZR wheel specs will help you to ensure proper fitment, accommodate larger tires, improve clearance, help you service your tires with less hassle, and make more precise upgrade decisions in the future!