The big problem with 17 inch rims, the size on the 4wdNewz Rubicon two-door, is that there are no 17 inch tubes. I've been looking and asking here and overseas for ages and is seems that the tube manufacturers have figured that there's no market for this size in a tubeless world. (If anyone knows of a source, please get in touch via the Comments, below.) Some people have suggested stretching a good quality 16.5 tube, but my expert – the technical manager of one of New Zealand's major tyre companies – reacts with horror at the idea, let alone the practice. Why bother with tubes? Only because the tyres can then be let down really low without coming off the rim or getting much stuck between the rim and tyre. It worked perfectly for years on the old Defender 90.
So plan B: go to 16 inch rims, a plan that comes with the disadvantage of price and the advantage of being able to fit tyres with taller sidewalls – in this case from 75 series to 85. Rims suitable for the Wrangler are thin on the ground in New Zealand and ridiculously expensive. As much as I like to support local companies, they sometimes make it awfully hard. I thought I'd hit motherlode when I found a reputable company in the US selling OEM alloy Mopar 16s (some American Wranglers wear 16s) for a crazy low $120 each. The Visa card vibrated as I wrote for a shipping cost. The company replied without a quote but asking for the vehicle's VIN. Sorry, you can't have them, came the reply. The wheels are not authorised fitment for the Rubicon. Despite explaining the reason, they refused to take the order.
No such problem at the usually excellent Quadratec, with whom I have been dealing for three years. They have several types of suitable steel and alloy rims. I was curious about the difference in weight between the two types and Quadratec customer service kindly did some research; the average difference is 4.5kg in favour of alloys. They also quoted shipping of $357 (at today's exchange rate) Fedex International economy for a set of six – five plus a spare in case I wreck one. I thought that was entirely reasonable. The bottom line is that I can land them and then pay GST and the Import Entry Transaction Fee for way, way less than a similar number of locally sourced steels! This is not meant as an attack on local wheel importers; I'm sure there are all sorts of reasons to charge what they do for Jeep rims but in this case, I'd prefer to go offshore.