View Full Version : How To Select A Steering Quick Release & How The Works Bell Rapfix II is made
02-07-08, 04:33 PM
Copies, counterfeits and knockoffs of patented products originally designed and engineered by Japanese manufacturers are a growing problem in the Australian market, so I thought that rather than simply saying "The real deal is better", that everyone might be interested in some info about WHY genuine products are always a better option than buying a knock off, counterfeit or copy.
This post will read like an article, and I hope that it is useful to the forum members.
So let's start off by exposing some untruths ...
UNTRUTH #1: "NO ONE OWNS THE PATENT ON QUICK RELEASES SO ANYONE CAN COPY THEM"
It is not widely known, but Works Bell actually invented the Ball Lock Quick Release Locking System as seen in the Works Bell Rapfix II (and unfortunately also seen in numerous copies).
Works Bell also holds the patent on this system.
If you go to the press release on our website you will see comments from the CEO of Works Bell, Mr. Masato Miyashita on this point.
http://www.tunersgroup.com/Press/The_Tuners_Group_Appointed_As_Exclusive_Australian _Distributor_%26_Online_Retailer_For_Works_Bell.ht ml
"CEO of Works Bell, Mr. Masato Miyashita said of the new business relationship with The Tuners Group ...
"Works Bell has been manufacturing and selling steering hubs since 1971 and we have provided the steering hubs for a lot of Japanese manufacturers and companies.
We developed the 12 Hole PCD steering hub which can be used both for Momo steering wheels and Nardi steering wheels in 1977. Furthermore, we also took the patent for this product.
From then on, we have never failed in technology, quality and durability of our products.
We are the number one manufacturer in Japan today.
We have also received some patents for our other products and we research, develop and innovate on new products every day.
We developed and received the patent on the Quick Release (Rapfix Ball Lock System) in 2001.
We have produced and sold 30,000 Quick Release Rapfix systems to date."
UNTRUTH #2: "SOME OF THE COPIES ARE AUTHORISED BY WORKS BELL AND ARE PRODUCED UNDER LICENSE"
Again, this is entirely untrue.
When we were first looking for a brand of quick releases to sell in Australia, we spent many weeks researching all the quick releases on the market.
We spoke to a number of companies all over the world, including a company who produce almost all the quick releases for Formula One teams.
We were looking for a quick release that not only was made with true world class manufacturing standards, materials quality and very tight tolerances, but also a quick release that was well proven in racing, and particularly that was a bolt on product with no welding required.
We came across a large number of companies manufacturing quick releases that looked like the Works Bell Rapfix II, and because we saw so many companies selling quick releases of that design, we assumed that the design had been officially licensed to these companies.
So when we spoke to Works Bell, we straight out asked them how many companies they had licensed the design of the Rapfix II to, for them to be produced with these other companies logos on them.
Works Bells reply ?
Quite simply, when you're the best in the world, unfortunately some companies copy and counterfeit your products.
There are a number of companies worldwide manufacturing fake, counterfeit and knock off products that are blatant copies of Works Bell's patented products, particularly Works Bell's patented and original Rapfix II Steering Wheel Quick Release.
Works Bell has NOT licensed it's patented product designs to any companies anywhere in the world.
If you buy at retail or wholesale from any company who tells you otherwise, they're flat out lying to you.
There is simply no substitute for the genuine, real deal Works Bell quick release and genuine Japanese made Works Bell products ... and there never will be.
(this post continues below)
02-07-08, 04:36 PM
UNTRUTH #3 "BUYING A GENUINE WORKS BELL QUICK RELEASE IS EXPENSIVE"
Again, this is incorrect.
As detailed at
Pricewise we will be selling all Works Bell's products in Australia at retail prices that are equivalent to the price of Works Bell's products in Japan, so at last Australian customers can purchase Works Bell products at Japanese market prices, without the cost of a return air fare to Narita
In addition, a number of the copies and counterfeits cost pretty close to the same price as our pricing on the genuine Works Bell ones, so I can't see any point in spending your hard earned money on a copy or counterfeit product.
And quite simply, if you buy a fake or counterfeit or knock off quick release, since every one I have ever seen in person does not have the same durability as the genuine Works Bell quick releases, the cost of replacing a worn out copy can add up and you could end up having paid more for replacing worn out or broken copies than it would have cost you to buy a genuine Works Bell Quick Release in the first place.
To give you an idea of pricing on the genuine Works Bell Rapfix II, the retail price in Australia under our exclusive authorised Works Bell distribution channel will be roughly AU$290 + GST.
We're also giving away a Works Bell Rapfix II Quick Release and Works Bell Original Steering to celebrate our appointment as Works Bell's official exclusive Australian distributor and retailer.
This is what we are giving away ...
See this page for details about the giveaway and to enter online ...
UNTRUTH #4: "THE COPIES LOOK LIKE THE ORIGINAL SO THEY ARE AS GOOD AS OR COMPARABLE TO THE ORIGINAL"
Again, this is entirely wrong.
But that is exactly what many companies (particularly in Taiwan and China) who are manufacturing knock offs and copies want you to think !
When you look at many of the knock offs and copies, they are often intentionally manufactured with as much "bling" as possible. Some have genuine or fake carbon fibre on them, many are polished to a mirror finish, some have shiny chromed allen head fasteners and so on.
Why ? Very simply, because "bling" sells !
Many retail customers do not know anything about the different qualities and grades of alloys, don't know anything about what grades of alloys should be used for different applications, and many retail customers do not know what the difference is between casting and forging.
Many retail customers simply judge a product by how it looks.
There's an old joke about a fake blonde, a 747 and a black box which springs to mind here :)
But the key point in both the fake blonde joke and in the case of shiny blinged up knock off and copy quick releases is the same, and it's the golden rule to remember when you're selecting products for your car (or for your retail business if you sell automotive products) ...
Just because a product LOOKS like the real thing, it doesn't mean the quality, strength and metallurgy is the same as the real thing.
You need to look beyond the surface bling ...
If you haven't read it yet, stop reading at this point and have a quick read of our "Casting Vs Forging Vs Machining" tech article at
then return to this article.
The fact is that when products are designed and engineered, the drawing and design of the product is intricately linked with the grades of materials used to make the part.
You simply can't take a drawing or design of a part that was designed to be made in a particular grade of material, and replace that material with some other grade.
The same thing applies to heat treating - lower standards of heat treating cannot be substituted for the heat treating standard specified by the designer or engineer of the parts.
If the engineer designing a part is told that the part is going to be made in lower grades of metals, or with lower standards of heat treating, then the design of the part MUST be changed to have the required strength. The materials specification and the design are two sides of the same coin - they go together to form the whole.
Quite simply, any parts design is designed specifically with a link to particular grades of metals, and to particular grades or heat treating, and that link should NEVER be broken.
And right there lies one of the huge fundamental problems with fakes, copies and knock offs - using the wrong grades of metals, the wrong standards of heat treating (if the fake, copy or knockoff is heat treated at all), and the wrong manufacturing techniques simply results in a part that is NOT within the manufacturing and safety standards that the original designer or engineer designed the part for.
WHAT CAN GO WRONG WITH KNOCKOFFS, FAKES, COPIES AND COUNTERFEITS ?
I was at Eastern Creek last weekend for the Drift Australia round, and a number of the teams out there have had big problems with copy and counterfeit quick releases.
I saw two cars with copies on them which the detents that the balls lock into had elongated and worn on, which then puts play into the steering and is a huge safety problem.
Here is a photo I took on Sunday at the Drift Australia event at Eastern Creek of a copy / counterfeit quick release which the detents that the balls lock onto had worn and elongated on. When the detents on the copies and counterfeits elongate and wear, the quick release no longer locks properly onto the steering column with the correct tolerances, the tolerances are then all wrong, and you end up with play in the steering ...
This happens because a number of the companies making copies (particularly in Taiwan and China) either:
(a) don't understand the metallurgy required to make quick releases with proper durability and materials, and the required heat treating, or
(b) because they choose lower grades of materials than what the genuine Works Bell ones use,
either because of ignorance or to make the copies more cheaply to make more profit on them.
One of the drift teams at Eastern Creek told me on Saturday that the copy they bought does not automatically lock onto the steering column like it should, so they need to manually lock the locking collar into place. That introduces human error into the equation - forget to manually lock a copy and there's a massively increased chance of an accident.
Additionally one of the drift teams at Eastern Creek told me on Saturday that they were using a copy quick release, and at Oran Park the copy broke, and the wheel came off in the drivers hands at full speed, mid-corner !
(this post continued below)
02-07-08, 04:38 PM
HOW THE GENUINE WORKS BELL RAPFIX II IS MANUFACTURED
So lets take a look at what goes into making a genuine Works Bell Rapfix II Quick Release and why the original will always be better in every way than the copies, counterfeits, fakes and knock-offs ...
This information has kindly been provided by Works Bell Co Ltd in Japan.
The Works Bell Rapfix II Plug and Socket start out as billets of high strength A5056 alloy.
This high strength A5056 Alloy is then heat treated to H34 standard which increases the yield strength of the metal by 60%, to approach that of Duralumin, widely known as a super strong material.
Works Bell don't stop there though ...
This high strength and heat treated A5056 Alloy is then cold die forged.
Die forging is the same process used in the manufacturer of ultra high grade alloy wheels and is mentioned in our tech article about forging vs casting vs machining.
Here are some diagrams of a metal part (shown in red) being made using open die forging ...
This die forging process process produces a forged blank that is close to the final shape of the Rapfix II. The die forging makes the metal ever more dense, and aligns the grain structure matrix with the forging flow lines.
Here is a diagram of that process ...
Forging aligns the grains of the metal like this ...
Here's a close up photo of the grain structure of a Rapfix after forging. The red lines show the flow of the grain structure after forging.
Here is a photo of the two main parts of a Rapfix II after forging and before machining ...
Next is the machining. Only now is the machining done, and because the grain structure is already aligned with the shape of the part via the cold die forging, the machining does not "cut across" the grain structure like the example shown in our tech article about machining non-forged metals.
The main body of the Rapfix is machined ...
Next an Alumite oxide film is caused to form on the surface of the aluminium and stainless steel by soaking the parts in an electrolytic liquid solution and changing the temperature to produce a surface with superior corrosion and wear properties.
This produces a hard alumite oxide film, that is harder than steel. Alumite performs beautifully on the exterior while reducing any wear from use ...
On the black version of the Rapfix II, Works Bell use a special treatment called hard almite to effect a black sleeve ...
On the Rapfix II the inside sleeve where the socket and plug slide is then treated with a special teflon coating to make it much more difficult to scratch the anodizing ...
So now the Rapfix II is ready for assembly ...
As you can imagine, Works Bell don't scrimp on quality here either. SUS304 stainless steel springs, SUJ ball bearings, and SUS XM7 stainless steel cap screws are used to assemble the Rapfix II.
Not only does using A5056 in the Rapfix II make it even stronger than the Rapfix I, but this also shaved 174g off the weight of the Rapfix II !
And then you have a finished Rapfix II ...
So as you can see, an enormous amount of precision, care and work goes into making every Works Bell Rapfix II Quick Release.
SAFETY STANDARDS AND TESTING
In addition, The Works Bell Rapfix II meets the safety standards set by ASEA (Auto Sports & Special Equipment Association) which is the Japanese equivalent of SEMA.
Works Bell's products have been subjected to a huge number of safety tests, including the following:
- Material Hardness Test
- Material Tensile Test
- JASO C713 Static load bending test on steering wheel
- JASO C713 Static load torsion test on steering wheel
- JASO C713 Static load fatigue bending test on steering wheel
- JASO C713 Static load fatigue torsion test on steering wheel
Test methods for steering wheels including boss kits in Japan are defined by the public JASO standards and JIS Standards.
For the Rapfix, high impact tests beyond what is normally met during accidents are conducted.
So just like Rays Wheels developed their own safety standard for wheels that exceeds the normal Japanese standards, Works Bell test their products to standards above the Japanese safety standards requirements.
Here is a photo of one of the test rigs which was used to put huge loads into a Rapfix II during the safety testing ...
And finite element analysis is also carried out ...
You can learn more about the manufacturing and safety standards of both the Rapfix II and the tilting verison, the Rapfix GTC-R in the Works Bell quality library site ...
If you have a fast connection (the Quality Library is bandwidth heavy), checkout the Quality Library at
LOOK AT WHAT THE TOP DRIFT TEAMS AND DRIVERS USE, AND LEARN FROM THEIR EXPERIENCE
Works Bell products are also used extensively in Formula D and D1.
They are used extensively by Formula D and D1 drivers like Nobushige Kumakubo (Team Orange), Kazuhiro Tanaka (Team Orange), Naoto Suenaga (Team Orange), Drift Samurai Imamura, Kenji Yamanaka (Team Hankook), Toshiki Yoshioka (Team DROO-P), Gen Terasaki (G.T WORKS), Yoshinori Koguchi (Team I&D), Hiroshi Fukuda (Fluke), Tetsuya Hibino, Yukio Matsui, Michihiro Takatori, Daigo Saito, Chikara Mizuhata (HPI), Takashi Tanaka (T-DEMAND), Tomohito Murayama, Shinichi Yamada, Takanari Kato, Hirotaka Hoshino, Shirou Deura, Hisashi Kamimoto, Kazuya Matsukawa & Waki Yoshirou, in circuit racing by Team Prova, as well as Option, ORC, Tamon and Road&Ster.
That's a long list of formidable racers, and top level racing teams, and it just shows the kind of reputation that Works Bell has in Japan.
The Works Bell Rapfix II and Works Bell Original Steering Wheel are exactly what JUN Automotive in Japan chose to fit to their mindblowing Mitsubishi Evo X project car so they are exactly the same quick release and steering wheel as JUN uses.
The fact that JUN could fit any quick release and steering wheel in the world, and chose to use Works Bell's products, speaks volumes about the quality of Works Bell's products, and their reputation in Japan. They are simply the very best available.
A photo gallery of various Drift Teams, Drift cars and drivers who use Works Bell's products can be viewed here ...
Buying a copy, knock-off or counterfeit quick release is like buying a counterfeit helmet.
Just like a helmet, if you fit a quick release to your car, it is a critical link between your steering wheel and your steering column shaft, and as such it should be chosen with the same care and attention to safety standards and testing as a helmet.
And if a copy or counterfeit breaks and the steering wheel comes off in your hand, the "extra cost" of a genuine Works Bell quick release becomes completely insignificant.
In many cases, some of the copies and counterfeits cost pretty close to the same price as our pricing on the genuine Works Bell ones, so I can't see any point in spending your hard earned money on a copy or counterfeit product.
The Works Bell quick releases are the real deal, Works Bell invented the ball lock system and hold the patent on it, they are machined in Japan by engineers who really know what they're doing, and Works Bell have sold more than 30,000 Rapfix quick releases worldwide.
Founded in 1950 in Tokyo as "Miyashita Manufacturing Co. Ltd", Works Bell has a 58 year history with a reputation for the finest engineering and innovation of any aftermarket manufacturer in the world.
There's a saying in the engineering business ...
"Any product can be be made more cheaply by making it worse".
Like almost all automotive products, this will ALWAYS apply to steering quick releases.
02-07-08, 04:39 PM
PS - A NOTE FOR RETAILERS
If you're a retailer reading this post and you sell knock offs or copies of the Works Bell Quick Releases, there's no need to get upset about this post - just give us a call and we'll be more than happy to supply you with genuine Works Bell products.
We're not trying to insult companies who sell knock offs or copies, we're simply stating facts about why the genuine Works Bell quick releases are arguably and demonstrably better products for you to sell than the knock offs and copies.
And of course we are simply acting in the best interests of retail customers (and Works Bell as their Australian Distributor), by helping to get the message out in the Australian market about the huge problems inherent in many counterfeits, copies and knock-offs.
By selling the genuine real deal Works Bell products instead of copies or knock offs, your customers will respect the fact that you're selling them a genuine extremely high quality product, and you'll simply increase your credibility by only selling the genuine, real deal products.
02-07-08, 07:04 PM
Photos of the full manufacturing process just added - interesting viewing.
27-06-09, 04:24 PM
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