There was, however, a big difference between those tires and the ones we used today. Made of white carbonless rubber, the tire had a life expectancy of around 2000 miles. A tire only lasted for around 30 or 40 miles before it needed repairs. Common problems included: the tire coming off the wheel, punctures and the tube being pinched.

Paradoxically, the next step in wheel evolution was the disc one, which bears more resemblance to the initial solid designs. As with many other things in our history, the change was prompted by lower costs as the steel disc wheels were cheaper to make. The rim could be rolled out of a straight strip of metal, and the disc itself could be stamped from sheet metal in one easy motion. The two components were welded or riveted together, and the resulting wheel was one that was relatively light, stiff, resistant to damage, easily produced in mass quantities, and most important, cheaply produced. 

Perhaps now would be a good time to talk about the difference between rims and wheels. Though most people refer nowadays to wheels, especially alloy ones as rims, the term actually means the outer portion of the wheel where the tire is mounted.

Coming back to our story, today there are basically two types of wheels for automotive use, steel and alloy, both of which have benefited from the technological advancements. As a result, the massive, heavy wheels of the early automobile days have become lightweight, strong spoked units. It’s worth noting that just as the first solid wheels turned to the spoked design in the relatively early stages of humanity, so did in the 20th century.